Tuesday, 12 August 2014

#22: Read a Book (Paper Towns by John Green Review)

Confused as to what this is all about? Read about my 25 things to do this summer here to find out more about the challenge.

As I have mentioned on this blog on several occasions, I struggle quite a bit with reading. My reading and fluency score is so low that I actually qualify for extra time in exams (not that I take it though, exams freak me out too much to stay in that room any longer than absolutely necessary) so this challenge was particularly difficult for me. However, after reading the Fault in our Stars in my study leave in under two weeks a few months back, my faith in my reading ability was restored and I felt like challenging my reading skills again had an achievable goal.

It was my sister, who is a total book worm, that suggested that I read another John Green book, Paper Towns, since I enjoyed TFIOS so much. The only catch was we had it on Kindle rather than in book form which, as a non-reader, wasn't an idea I was too keen on. Books are pretty straight forward when you think about it, machines on the other hand are not. Luckily, my concern amounted to nothing as the Kindle is very easy to use and I enjoyed the book just as much.

WARNING: As with nearly every review I write (I can only think of one really, from the top of my head), there will most definitely be some spoilers in the mix. You have been warned!

The book follows *posh name alert* Quentin Jacobsen, a dorky but lovable senior High School Student, on his quest to find a missing girl. However, this is no average girl. This is Margo Roth Spiegelman, the girl who Q has been obsessed with for pretty much his whole life. 

I love the beginning. It is action packed and exciting, adding in important information for the rest of the book whilst simultaneously kicking ass! There's nothing I hate more than a book or film that rambles on forever and ever before getting into the action. This book is most certainly not one of those books. Margo seeks revenge after her boyfriend Jase, captain of the football team and all round Mr Popular, cheats on her with one of her friends. So she gets Q, her neighbour, to drive her around town and help her get her own back on the people who did her wrong. Everything appears to be planned to the second (ridiculously unrealistic, what 17/18 year old is that organised?) and I am well and truly obsessed. I can think of a few people I would love to play these pranks on from my old high school and it's hard to not just love the fact that they did. They broke into Sea World for goodness sake! I cannot think of anything cooler!

This feelgood-vibe didn't last long as after this glorious adventure, Margo goes missing. This apparently isn't unusual behaviour for Margo which immediately screamed alarm bells for me as 'attention-seeker'. Q, however, was far more concerned over Margo's welfare than myself and apparently nearly every other character in the book and, after discovering clues she left behind, he goes on a mission to find her. You have to feel for Q here. He spends his final weeks of school searching for some selfish girl instead of studying for his exams, possibly jeopardising his whole college future, and missing graduation because he just wants to know she's still there. I think Margo clearly knows this is what would happen, with the exception of all Q's friends tagging along. She knows that Q is obsessed with her and is playing along with it slightly. But with a lot of the evidence pointing to suicide, the broken strings metaphor is a particular favourite of mine, guiding Q to think that is the case and he is hunting for a dead body is just cruel. 

I'm not going to spoil the end (you're just going to have to read the book), but I'm not sure if I really wanted it to end how it did. I get that it tied up the theme of seeing people for who they are rather than the image/expectation you have given them, but I almost wish that when they got to Agloe, all that greeted them was the black book which would then reveal to them who Margo really was rather than the alternative. I hope that hasn't given too much away as explaining it would probably ruin the whole book.

In case you haven't noticed, I don't think much of this Margo character. The more you read, the more mixed signals you get. On the one hand, you have Q who is completely in love with the adventurist side of her personality. He thinks she's awesome and, to start with, I believed him. On the other hand, you are gently fed through out the book a more outcast and lonely version of Margo, one who appears to be depressed and unhappy with her life. But I can't help but think that it is slightly her fault. She clearly had a good friend in Q from a young age but traded that friendship for popularity. The saddening part is that even though Q is still there for her years later when she has no one left, she still decides to run away without a word, only some dodgy clues. And yet he still goes to find her even though she clearly doesn't deserve his time. 

How you have imagined someone to be is rarely who they actually are. Like with Margo, Q believed she was this amazing adventurer but in actual fact, she felt very alone and isolated. I know the book meant it in a far deeper context, but if you think of all the people/celebrities you idolise, how well do you really know them? All you often know about these people are what you see and read on the Internet, most of the time you have never even met them, so the way you imagine them to be this totally amazing person may in fact be wrong. With the recent tragic deaths of Peaches Geldof and the news today of Robin Williams, you can never really know how somebody else is feeling and the expectation to be what everyone perceives them to be

It's not as soppy as The Fault in Our Stars, but I think that is what I like about it. I'm not a very emotional person (unless it's first thing in the morning and I'm tired... I'm just not a morning person!) so was not crying my eyes out whilst reading TFIOS, but I really enjoyed the adventure side of this book. Living on such a small island, sneaking out in the middle of the night to go on crazy road trips is a mere fantasy for me so naturally having this incorporated within the story was a big yes! I love the mystery between the disappearance and who the true Margo is too. Although I'm not the biggest Margo fan, it's the journey and realisations of Q that makes the book and the quest to find Margo a fantastic read.

Overall, I love Paper Towns despite not liking one of the main characters. It is full of adventure and mystery within the mix of school life. John Green is a fantastic author so if, like me, you aren't great at reading I would highly recommend checking out his work.

Ever read Paper Towns or anything else by John Green?

Tasmin x

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