Paper Towns Paper Towns discussion


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This discussion is for people who have read both Paper Towns and Looking For Alaska.

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Hawraa Naqi I've read many reviews of John Greens' book, and noticed that a lot of people keep saying that his characters are very similar, especially Margo and Alaska, and Quentin and Pudge.
And I strongly disagree with that, i think that they're nothing alike, and the only thing that makes John Greens' characters seem similar is the fact that they are incredibly clever, which is what makes John's books as awesome as they are in the first place.
What's your opinion on this matter?


Steph I think that superficially they are remarkably similar. If you were to try to sum up their relationships in a few words, they wouldn't be all that different. But when you look deeper, there is quite a contrast in their personalities and motivations.

The same can be said for the books themselves - on the surface they seem alike, but (as John himself said) thematically they are opposites.


Heather I think John Green is just writing what he knows, or what he feels comfortable with. I think he identifies with his lead male characters and that is why they are all similar. Although, I did not really like Paper Towns as much as I did Looking for Alaska.


message 4: by Pam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pam Williams I felt that Alaska was more fleshed out than Margo. I liked her better and felt that I understood her motivations better.


Anna I loved both of those books, and found them quite different. While the charactes are quite similar, what they stand for is very different. DFTBA ;)


Ranrick James Truth is I read Looking for Alaska first then Paper Towns, that was the first time I have ever read a John Green book, I thought that Margo like Alaska might be dead so there as time hen I though it was similar but the only similarity is that the guys in both books are smart and funny.


Fanzura i liked Looking for Alaska better than Paper Towns too... I mean i still remember that the lead guy in Looking for Alaska is Myles whereas i don't remember who it is for the latter.

The Characters might be a tad bit similar but the ones in Looking for Alaska were just more impressive


Kathy I enjoyed Paper Towns better than Looking for Alaska. Paper Towns is based on an awesome idea that paper towns don't really exist. It was a little hard to believe that Quenten kept finding all these seemingly random clues that actually led to Margo. I so identify with Margo. She is so filled with a need to do something monumental but she has no idea what that is.
I love John Green's writing style however, it became a bit redundant when I read Looking for Alaska. Myles listed his reasons why he thought something or decided to do something. This personality quirk worked for Quenten in Paper Towns but Myles was suppose to be a new character. I probably won't read An Abundance of Katherines because I don't want to plow through all the listings.


Caroline I loved both I am not sure which one I liked more, probably Looking for Alaska only because I learned more about her and her reasons.


Colby ...I may be the only one here who thinks that Margo is a fascinating character. Her motivations, her emotions...it's all very interesting to me. I love Alaska too.


Caroline Colby wrote: "...I may be the only one here who thinks that Margo is a fascinating character. Her motivations, her emotions...it's all very interesting to me. I love Alaska too."

Margo is definitely a mystery and an interesting character for sure. I also loved finding out about Paper Towns. I love road trips one day I would love to go to paper towns Its a very close for me. I read Paper Towns first and that is what made me look for his other books.


message 12: by Chelsea (new) - added it

Chelsea Hawraa wrote: "I've read many reviews of John Greens' book, and noticed that a lot of people keep saying that his characters are very similar, especially Margo and Alaska, and Quentin and Pudge.
And I strongly d..."


I think Margo and Alaska were similar in the way that they were so intriguing but they were different nonetheless. But I agree with you all of his characters are clever and thats what makes them seem similar but thats what makes John Green novels different from the rest.


message 13: by Leah (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah To me they are all seperate characters, i could see how that is for some readers but to me they are all different.
Pugde from Looking For Alaska and Colin from An Abundance of Katherines were similar in the way that Colin was a child prodigy and has to find the formula of the amount of time it takes for a couple to break up and how Pudge likes people last words. They both have awesome interests. :)


message 14: by Kai (last edited Jun 09, 2012 12:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kai I personally felt that Margo and Alaska were similar in many ways, the most prominent one being Pudge and Quentin's perception of them. To Pudge and Quentin, Alaska and Margo respectively are both beautiful, almost unattainable, adventurous, reckless, screwed up, up front girls. The two boys are completely in love with them. I noticed that in Looking For Alaska, he describes Alaska's looks (which are virtually the same as Margo's in body type, hair color etc.) the exact same way he describes Margo, big boobs, curvy, pretty. But John Green doesn't really describe much about their facial features, they are left up to the imagination. In this on the surface, outside way, Alaska and Margo are similar.
I liked Alaska a litle more than Margo. My friend made a great point while we were having this same discussion. She said that Alaska could be granted more sympathy because her problems were so painful, so real, so deeply rooted in the horrors of her childhood. You could understand why she was so screwed up, and it gave us insight into her character. Margo, on the other hand, seems to create her own problems. Her actions seem more selfish. And she has every right to be selfish. I think that was a point in paper towns that Margo was a human being who didn't have to fill Q's expectations because she wasn't living for him. But she let herself be the girl everyone thought she was, and she was at war with herself the whole time because she could't be crazy-fun-hot Margo all the time. She at the same time cultivated that image and tried to run from it. She sort of reaped what she sowed. Alaska's problems were more out of her control. I think that's the difference


Katrina When I read the two books, I also found a lot of similarities between Margo and Alaska. Reading this thread was helpful! I personally think that John Green likes and respects powerful females so he likes to incorporate them into his stories. I respect that about him!


message 16: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex I think the characters are similar in that they're both kind of hopeless...Think about Pudge and think about Quentin. Both are kind of in their own seclusion. It isn't until John Green brings them into a new arena - the sleep away/boarding school, or Margo's shenanigans, that they start to open up into more clever and snarky characters. Both Margo and Alaska are free spirited and sort of pushy girls. They force both boys out of their comfort zones. I agree with Kai, in that I liked Alaska a bit more.


message 17: by Rebekah (last edited Nov 15, 2012 05:38PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rebekah Lily wrote: "Even though it might appear that Alaska is more mysterious than Margo, we actually learn more about her. Alaska is more of a character in her book as opposed to Margo who is more of a theme."

I could not agree more with this comment. It is one of the main reasons that I love LFA so much more than PT. Don't get me wrong I liked Paper Towns but I need for my characters to be more dimensional than I thought Margo was.

On the subject that Q and Pudge are similar: I think they are both similar in their clever minds and wit. Don't forget their tendencies to be a bit self-deprecating.

However, the thing that I think separates Q and Pudge the most is that Pudge steps out of his comfort zone because he WANTS to. He wants a change in scenery, and Alaska provides that for him.

In my opinion, the main reason that Q goes off on his little adventure searching for Margo is because he feels like he HAS to. The reasoning behind that could be for some misplaced chivalry, the need to be the hero, or his obsession with Margo. Maybe all of the above.

Also I think that for all of Q saying that he loved Margo-and maybe he did- he would be perfectly happy with living in the same paper town with the same paper people. He would be content not to change. Pudge couldn't do that. Once Alaska changed him, he was changed. There was no going back to the ways things had been before, he wouldn't want to.

I get as I read this that I seem to be hating on Paper Towns ,which while I did not like it as much as I did Looking For Alaska, I still liked Paper Towns.


Georgia I dis-agree with people saying that Miles and Q are the same. They are different. But when it comes to Margo and Alaska I can see where people are coming from. They are both very rebelious and carefree. Did anyone else think that Margo had blonde/golden hair down to her shoulders, maybe a bit longer?


Aaliyah There are undoubtedly some parallels between LFA and PT but they have just as many differences, especially the themes and messages you get from both. I liked LFA but personally preferred PT, not too sure why but there was just something about PT that- for me- put it miles ahead LFA.


Jackie I think the reason why Miles and Quentin are kinda similar because they were modeled after John Green himself. He said it himself. And Margo and Alaska are both rebel-types, and are running from something, so the comparison between the two cannot be avoided.


message 21: by Natalie (new)

Natalie I see so many similarities between these two books in general. Margo and Alaska are both crazy, beautiful girls that love pulling pranks on people. They have lived their lived trying to be this person that everyone thinks they are, but they see themselves differently, and it tortures them. Quentin learns throughout PT that he has to see Alaska as a real person, not just this wild girl that he has always known her as. Alaska tells Pudge in LFA that he has been doing this same thing to her. Alaska says “Don't you know who you love, Pudge? You love the girl who makes you laugh and shows you porn and drinks wine with you. You don't love the crazy, sullen bitch.” She is saying that he loves only the crazy,fun, brilliant part of her, which is the same in PT. After Margo goes missing, Quentin goes through a series of clues to try to track her down. The Colonel and Pudge don't do this exact same thing, but in a way they do. They find Alaska's annotation in her book "The General in His Labyrinth" when she says "straight and fast." Quentin and Pudge do have many similarities, and so do their friends. In my opinion Ben and the Colonel are similar to one another too. These two books are about a search to find out who someone truly was/is; who they were behind the show they put on for the world.


Sarah i like looking for alaska more, but mainly because it was my first john green book and it's really sentimental for me. c:

both books are about socially awkward, nerdy teenage boys who fall in love with and go on a quest to find/understand a beautiful, rebellious, complex girl.

but all of the characters are different in who they are and why they do what they do. quentin isn't pudge and margo isn't alaska. the themes are different but are both relatable and compliment eachother.

either way, they're both great books worth reading, as are john green's other books.


message 23: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex All I can read anyone saying is that the characters are "essentially different" or "what the stand for is different". WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THEM? I like John Green, his books grab hold of me every time. But I think his characters are supremely similar.
WHY isn't Quentin like Miles, and WHAT makes Alaska and Margo so different?


message 24: by Erin (last edited Dec 29, 2012 03:42PM) (new)

Erin I have to admit that lots of the characters can come off as rather alike. That was the first thing I noticed about Alaska after meeting Margo in Paper towns. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing though. I enjoy John Green's writing style and creating fiery female characters are kinda his trademark. The same goes for his male main characters. Quentin and Miles are alike in their quiet demeanors but, again, not a bad thing.


message 25: by Sarah (last edited Dec 29, 2012 03:50PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah Alex wrote: "All I can read anyone saying is that the characters are "essentially different" or "what the stand for is different". WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THEM? I like John Green, his books grab hold of me ever..."

alaska is haunted by her past, margo is haunted by her own mind. alaska attempts to run from her memories by putting up a facade and basically aiming to eventually kill herself ("i smoke to die"). margo attempts to run from the ideals she believes exist in "paper towns." alaska believes she stands for something - feminism, etc. margo is ashamed of being a paper girl (materialistic, superficial) and wants to become more. alaska has real, deep problems that she's trying to run away from. margo wants to be a more interesting person, and runs away to accomplish that.

i haven't read either book in a while so i can't give you any details or anything but i think q and pudge are different as well.

for one thing: q has friends that he's apparently had for a long time. he's okay with his routine life (i think?) but takes the oppurtunity for an adventure because he loves margo.

pudge is bored with his life and his complete lack of friends, so he makes his own oppurtunity for change by going to boarding school.

i guess the difference is that miles originally sets out to find adventure. quentin kind of just wants to find margo, and in doing so, he has this whole memorable experience.


Emily I agree that John Green's books are all pretty similar, yet they are still unique in their own way. Alaska and Margo do have real qualities about them that are the same but in different ways if you get me? (they are mysterious, poetic, disappearing type of thing etc) and so do Quentin and Pudge (not just the clever thing). I have just finished reading all of his books back to back and have noticed very significant similarities. But each of his books is full of individual thoughts and concepts and long meaningful beautiful paragraphs and references to great literature. So, yeah, his books sometimes appear to repeat themselves a little, but they are all still so unbelievably brilliant.


Christian I loved both these books ,and I can't deny that both Q and Miles are very similar. But I think that's kind of John's point , He's writing based on real people , not superheroes with all kinds of different past and outlooks on themselves and their worlds. Q and Miles have always felt kind of bland , and I think a lot of people feel that way. And Alaska and Margo are similar in the sense that they are basically the theme of the novel , but like Q and Miles , I think that all of us have at some point felt that way about someone , that one person who we want so badly and yet we can't get them and they are a beautiful mystery we can never fully comprehend.

But besides that Looking for Alaska is about finding your place in life , and I think a sub theme is what happens after life too. We are all trapped in a maze and Miles is trapped in the maze of what happened to the girl he was looking for and found for a split second of his life.

Paper Towns was about how we can live right next to someone for so long and not know a single thing about them , everyone thought of Margo as one of the cool kids but she hated most of them and she hated the feeling of that crowd. Lacey is also a good example , Q thought that she was just another one of the popular girls but they even sort of develop a friendship where even Lacey said that she hopes they can stay friends through out their last summer.


message 28: by Larissa (new)

Larissa i think that it's hard to say much about Margo as she was kind of a very fleeting character that was never given a background or personality besides being popular and spontaneous. Through out the first half of Looking For Alaska, you came to know and begin to understand Alaska. It's hard to compare two things when you know much more about one of them and very little about the other.

As for Quentin and Pudge, they're similar in their obsession. They both become obsessed with "finding" this girl they think they are in love with. They both play a role as the skinny, passive, smart yet kinda dorky teenage boy, and I think that can only be attributed to the fact that John Green was that boy in his teenage years. In a lot of ways his books are situations he imagines for his teenage self, mixed with infinite humor, pain, and wisdom.

I happened to read LFA directyly before reading Paper Towns (like, I finished them both in the same week)so these comparisons were fresh in my mind and I did at times become frustrated with the repetition of these themes. As much I enjoyed both books, I found myself groaning "Okay I get it, you can never truly know a person for who they are. Okay Okay, you fall in love with your perception. OKAY ALREADY, you need to find these people because you need it for yourself and not for them."

The books are similar, and portray similar ideas. But they are hardly the same book, and they both take you on a wonderful adventure, one that you become very invested in.

Off the record, I liked Looking For Alaska better.


Sabrina john green is a fantastic author he puts alot of unanswered questions that make you think for yourself in paper towns and looking for alaska there are psycology threads, mystery and philosphical points of view. i really liked looking for alaska and i prefered it to paper towns because it was split into two before and after whilst most of paper towns consisted of Q just looking for her and not getting anywhere. they both explored how the human mind works from the point of a teenager who has been misunderstood. after reading these books i look at people alot differently in a good way i'm not to quick to judge people.


Kaitlin Wong I read Paper Towns (loved it) and then read Looking for Alaska, thinking it would be even better than Paper Towns because of the hype.

It was disappointing. I noticed how similar the two books were right from the start. I read them years ago and it still bothers me how similar they were.

The premise in both books: Oh look! A girl goes missing and the boy goes on an adventure to find her!


Astra I read Paper Towns first and then Looking For Alaska a few months later. Honestly, compared to so many people's reviews, I really prefered Looking For Alaska. I was truly disappointed when I read Paper Towns, I felt like there was something missing in this book. Don't get me wrong, I love John Green's writings, but it just didn't reach my expectations. Although the story is good, I just didn't click with the characters, I felt like I was out of the story, watching them. On the contrary, I really felt like I was put in the story while reading Looking For Alaska. I just recognized myself in the characters and the things they say and, I don't really know how to explain this but, I felt connected to this book. Now when I look back on it, it's been 8 months since I've read LFA, and it gave me so many good memories. I remember the feelings I got when I read it, emotions I couldn't ever explain. Anyway, I don't really have an excuse for not liking Paper Towns, I mean, it wasn't that bad but it wasn't that good either.


Meeranessa I honestly think that alaska and margo have a contrasting character. Though they were not really on the same goal for their life. But they have their similar thinkings. The thought where they both hate things/people and made them hate everything else but still they did not give up in hoping or believing in the sense of love. (which is the part that i really love) i really think they are of the same. Like "like mother like daughter" i dont know. But thats it.


Clarissa Two different books falling into the same ground of awesomeness.


Clarissa John Green is just the best author I've ever known in the history of my reading obsession.


message 35: by Meg (new) - rated it 2 stars

Meg Musngi They're similar with how they're described physically and the fact that they're basically an adventure, but they're not all the same. Alaska seems to actually be capable of attachment and love, while Margo decides to run away from all of that... Which is why I found it easier to understand while Myles loved Alaska than to understand why Q went through all that to find Margo.


message 36: by Erin (new) - rated it 2 stars

Erin I believe that while many of the physical characteristics are the same, the mental state of them is contrasting, although there are some similarities. Margo tries just about everything to shut off everyone and just basically stand still, Alaska does the opposite. She feels emotions times 10 and is quite impulsive. Although both do try alternate means of escape. Alaska's being in drinking, sex, and smoking. Margo's being writing, music, and running away. I felt that you could connect better with Alaska because she was a much more prominent character than Margo.


Charlotte Eriksson I think John Green was very clever with how he tried to reflect how two similar girls handle and deal with the same kind of emotion in two different ways. Both Alaska and Margo struggle with finding their ways, but while Margo's way to deal with it is through a physical escapism (running away), Alaska's doing the same through mental escapism (alcohol, drugs, losing yourself in other people). I think he's capturing how people always struggle with their own inner battles in their own ways even though it all seems fine on the surface. I love John Green's books and I think he's got the ability to create and paint amazing characters. It feels like they're all alive somewhere out there. :)
Charlotte Eriksson Charlotte Eriksson author of Empty Roads & Broken Bottles; in search for The Great Perhaps


message 38: by Tahjaya (new)

Tahjaya I liked Paper Towns better than Looking for Alaska, it was rather deeper than PT(Papper Towns) and I don't like the literaries I rate based on content and fictionality. In LFA (Looking For Alaska) there were more answers than questions, in PT there were more questions than answers, maybe because Quentin and Margo were so close as friends, the readers knew the relationship, but Myles and Alaska weren't that close. Alaska confused me and so did the book. I was waiting for 'The Great Perhaps' to happen, but it didn't. Well it wasn't GREAT. Perhaps it only happens when you pass. I didn't get the point of LFA it seemed like it missed a few things. In PT I got everything. Ben, Lacey, Radar, even Chuck I hated the engind because I was left wondering. Did Margo go back, ever? Did Quentin stay? Because it said 'I saw her perfectly in the darkness' the barn was dark, maybe he was saying that he was seeing her perfectly because he stayed with her in her darkness.


Hadeel I think that John Green's life included a girl that went missing or disappeared, I sense the similarity in the characters! yet the only difference is that Margo didnt die but what I like is the mystery of how he keeps the story going, I was bored while reading Looking for Alasak before her disappearance but then by the end, I kind of liked how he framed it, his feelings and all that. The thing about John Green's books is that the story could be boring yet you'd always find words of wisdom embedded in a very random scene! and that's what I personally like about John Green, the fact that he can say " she wanted a mystery so she became one" this for me is so deep and I would ponder on that line for a couple of minutes, it doesnt have to be relevant to the book, you start to relate some phrases to the content of your life.


Kajsa I liked Looking for Alaska much more than Paper towns actually because you got to know the main characters in a different way. You got to know more about Alaska and you soon started to sympathize with her. I think the main characters have a lot of similarities but as John Green said: the narrator in the story (Quentin & Miles) often makes themselves look a little smaller and less important while the other characters (Margo & Alaska) is portrayed as strong and big and mysterious.


message 41: by Lana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lana Personally I disliked both Alska and Margo because their personalites came of as rather bitchy at times. But other than that I dont really see many smililarites on their charachters. When it comes to Pudge and Q I really dont think their charchters were smimilar at all other than the fact that they were both obsessed with a certain girl, which is more of a plot smiliarity.


Jayla I for one liked Alaska 1000 times better then Margo. None of the characters are the same. I honesty didn't like paper towns all that much. Maybe its just the whole investigation part I found boring. Looking for Alaska was way better


Jacob Billotti In my opinion both books have opposite characters. Quentin is an oblivious and slightly ignorant character. He likes Margo not for personality, but for her looks. This is not a good thing in a person. Pudge is a good kind hearted person with pure intentions but is also curious and questioning. Alaska is against the whole idea of life. She even commits suicide, a cowards way out of life. Margo intends to live life to the fullest even if she ditches college. Don't get me wrong, both books are brilliant, but the characters In looking for Alaska are more 3D.


message 44: by Manasa (last edited Oct 06, 2015 11:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Manasa Hawraa wrote: "I've read many reviews of John Greens' book, and noticed that a lot of people keep saying that his characters are very similar, especially Margo and Alaska, and Quentin and Pudge.
And I strongly di..."

I completely agree.I could not bring about, any comparison between Margo and Alaska. They had completely contrasting characters and totally different views about love and life.


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