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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 34/100: Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns by Green, John (2009) Paperback - John Green

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge Item: A book that was adapted into a movie

This book felt a little uneven to me, and also like a bit of a rehash of the John Green I've read in the past ([book:Looking for Alaska|99561], [book:An Abundance of Katherines|49750], [book:Let It Snow|3213286]). This was somewhat intentional on Green's part, as he was attempting to use this book to deconstruct the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope he relied upon in "Looking for Alaska." I very much appreciated the themes in this book, which were the idea that we can never truly know someone and that there is a difference between our "idea" of who someone is and who that person REALLY is, and that the "ideas" that we project on to people for our own needs can be stifling.

Where the book is less successful is in ACTUALLY deconstructing the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope -- because we see so little of Margo, we never really get to know who she "really" is at all, so she mostly remains just an idea, albeit with a caution to the reader that that is not enough.

The story felt uneven in some places; the middle got a little dark and slow, and I was glad it didn't stay that way for too long. I enjoyed Green's typically quirky characters, particularly Radar, although I was sometimes impatient with the high school antics (prom, graduation, bullies, etc.) that seemed to intrude upon the larger plot of the mystery of what had happened to Margo. But that probably just proves how old I am getting. ;) I found the mystery itself to be compelling, although the clues were sometimes too convoluted to be believable -- both that someone would leave that sort of clue, AND that another someone would figure out how to interpret it. But I loved learning about Paper Towns (the author was inspired by one in South Dakota!), and this book made me want to go urban exploring.


[Also, the movie did a pretty good job of conveying the book's themes even without all the introspection, which impressed me. Quentin and Radar seemed well-cast, Ben seemed to be only like, 12, and all-in-all it was a three-star movie to go with a three-star book.]