21 June 2010

Book of the Week (66): "Paper Towns" by John Green

Three facts are true about Quentin Jacobson: 1. He is a living breathing boy living and breathing in Jefferson Park, Florida. 2. He is going to Duke next year after he graduates high school. 3. He is incontestably in LOVE with his next-door neighbour Margo Roth Spiegelman.

So when the mysterious Margo appears at his bedroom window to enlist his help in a campaign of revenge, Quentin is powerless to refuse. What follows is an adventure more thrilling than he could ever imagine. And as the greatest night of his life finally draws to a close, Q dares to hope his life has changed forever, and maybe, just maybe he and Margo can be something more than neighbours.

But in the morning, Margo has disappeared, missing, and no one knows why. Plagued by worry Q starts to investigate his enigmatic neighbour, discovering the secrets she kept hidden from everyone, along with a strange trail of clues she has left that only he can follow. But who is the real Margo? And does she really want to be found?

With characters so vivid that you’ll forget they’re made of paper, John Green presents a rare gem of a book that tells us of the struggles of growing up trying to find the courage to stand up for yourself, of the pains of high school while trying to forge your own identity; all the while exploring just how deeply being in love for the first time can change you.

Few are the books that can claim to change your life, but Paper Towns certainly did for me; with its expertly crafted combination of mystery, humour, poignant sentiment, and the uniquely thought provoking philosophy of the incandescent Margo Roth Spiegelman. I hope that you find it as impossible as I did not to view yourself through the mirror that John Green flawlessly constructs, and I challenge you not to change from what you see.

Too much praise? I don’t think so. Paper Towns possesses insight, wit, and genuine human emotion captured in a relentless narrative of intrigue suitable for both old and young readers alike. Even should this book not change the way you view the world, it’s certainly a read you will not soon forget and never regret.

Recommended by Matthew Humpage

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