Paper Towns

Paper Towns - John Green 3.5 starsView full review here!While reading this book I couldn't help but compare it to both Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines, which I'd read just before. John Green has found a formula that works and, though the stories aren't anything alike, the characters are. There's Quentin/Miles/Colin, the somewhat nerdy guy who is dead smart, a bit quiet and rather observant. He is in love with/obsessed by Margo/Alaska/Katherine, an unpredictable yet undeniably fascinating girl who seems to be out of this world. Somehow, Q/Miles/Colin can never quite get to this girl, which makes her a mystery as much as somewhat annoying. Still, everyone wants to meet/be her. I do love these characters/settings.But where with Alaska I really wanted to unravel and discover her secrets, Margo appears to be more of a plot device than a person throughout the story. Yes, I understand how she's always in for an adventure and, in order to let go of her old life, cuts everything off while running away, but I did feel she was a bit overrated as a character. In the beginning and right up until the very last chapters, to me, she was just Q's childhood friend who then ignored him for about ten years, suddenly developed an interest in him and leaves again.I did enjoy the story. Gosh, how am I going to do this without revealing all to many spoilers? I read the first part (The Strings) in less than an hour, because it's quick, funny and has enough mystery involved to make it a great story.But then comes the second part (The Grass), which was probably the hardest for me to get through. The first sixty pages of it were good: the aftermath of the night, the clues, the start of the search, a sudden shocker at the smell of death... but then it got long-winded. I put the book away for more than a week because I just wasn't interested anymore. The search for Margo led nowhere, but Q just wouldn't stop. At some point I was just begging for him to give up and leave the girl be. I thought she was frustrating anyway. But of course he doesn't and it takes him about one hundred pages to find the missing clue.Part three (The Vessel) was downright hilarious. The road trip, the six-minute stops, Ben's peeing in a bottle... and I even ended up liking Margo a little better. Refreshingly enough and much unlike Alaska, Margo isn't left to be an enigma, because Q realizes the following:"The fundamental mistake I had always made - and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make - was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl."My experience with John Green is that his characters are complex, but vivid and beautifully drawn, witty and outspoken. His stories are full of brilliant conversations, mixed with insightful life's questions, poetry and interesting quotes. I thought that Q, as a character, was amazingly realistic. He knows exactly who he is and what he wants, but he's also brave and endearing at times. He has his own background story and thoughts and beliefs. And not just Q, but Ben and Radar too. Lacey too. And even Margo, who I don't like as Q's friend and love interest, but do admire for her courage and insight.John Green also has the ability to let the characters stay true to themselves as the plot develops, which I think is truly amazing and real. Without revealing any more spoilers: I'm glad that it ended the way it did. It seems like the only possible option. If the ending would've been otherwise the characters would've ended up making choices that wouldn't make sense for them, and it would've completely ruined the entire purpose of the book and Margo's motives in the first place.I loved Q, I loved Ben and Radar, I loved the brilliant conversations, and I've grown to like Margo too. Though Paper Towns was long-winded at times and maybe I was expecting too much, it's still an amazing, insightful and very funny book and a really enjoyable read.