Unfortunately, I was stuck in the airport for 8 hours this past weekend trying to get home, so I read Paper Towns. I think I was expecting something insipid and juvenile, but Paper Towns was so good that I kept forgetting that it’s YA. This is probably the best modern YA book I have read, ever. A lot of the time, I feel like writers have to sacrifice vocabulary or plot to write a book geared towards “the youth”, but Green does neither of these things.
For those unfamiliar, Paper Towns takes place in the final month of Quentin Jacobson’s high school career. Four weeks before he’s due to graduate, his paramour, neighbor and friend, Margo, appears at his bedroom window and convinces him to spend the night out with her. Margo has an intricate plan to get revenge on all her fake high school friends (highly relatable plot point) and Q helps her. The next morning, Quentin wakes up to realize that Margo has disappeared. The rest of the novel follows Q and his group of friends as they try to follow the trail of clues that Margo has left.
As Q tries to unravel the clues that Margo has left for him, he begins to learn more about Margo herself. Let me just say that I am glad I did not read this in high school, when I was completely in love with the idea of being in love. It would have made me cry like the sap I am trying to pretend I am not.
My favorite part about this book is the explanation for the title. Green describes a paper town as a town created by cartographers to protect against copyright infringement. For example, if a cartographer creates a map and adds in the made-up town of Agloe (real example from the book) in New York, he can then check all other maps made after his to make sure no one is copying his map. I have been unsuccessful in discovering if this is a real phenomenon, but I believe it might be.