Robert Pistocchi/ The Paisano
In his Edgar Award-winning novel “Paper Towns,” John Green gives his readers a darker side of teenage love. A dangerous game of a boy seeking answers about the love of his life will have readers questioning, not only their internal dialogue with themselves, but also the connections they share with the other individuals in their lives.
“Paper Towns” is set in Orlando, Florida and begins with the classic story of a boy falling in love with the girl who has lived next door since they both were in diapers. However, when they were both nine years old, the boy, Quentin Jacobsen (or Q for short) and the girl, Margo Roth Spiegelman, discovered a man in a park with a bullet in his head and blood spouting from his mouth. By page eight, the horrific event ends the what-would-have-been love story between Q and Margo – but the love Q has for Margo lingers.
Both are now high school seniors. Q is every parents’ dream come true. He is too responsible for his own age and is best friends with socially awkward Ben Starling and computer genius Marcus ‘Radar’ Lincoln. Margo is every teenage boy’s fantasy. She is notorious for her spontaneous cavalier adventures and her strong influence on those around her.
After ten years of not speaking more than two words to each other, Margo crawls through Q’s bedroom in the middle of a school night and beckons him on a meticulous, vengeful escapade that involves three whole catfish, shaving cream, Vaseline, Mt. Dew, one dozen tulips and a can of blue spray paint. After breaking a few laws, ruining a few of their classmates’ night, and coming home one hour before sunrise, Q imagines their relationship will finally pick up where they left off a decade before.
However, Q is disappointed the next morning when Margo is a no-show at school. When word gets out that she has run away, no one is surprised or worried – not even her parents. It’s just typical Margo. After a week without a word from her, it becomes evident that Margo is not coming back. Margo’s parents have thrown in the towel, and the police have claimed her as a lost cause. But Q refuses to give up.
Margo has been known to leave clues of her locations in the past, but no one has been able to solve her mysterious disappearance. This time the clues are for Q and he is confident that no one knows her better than he does. However, during his quest of finding the girl of his dreams, Margo quickly becomes the girl of his nightmares.
Unsure if he is searching for her corpse, Margo herself or the Margo he dreams of, he knows he cannot let her go. His obsession has put school, his friendships and lives on the line, including his own.
Like his first novel, “Looking for Alaska,” John Green uses the example of the awkward, somewhat nerdy guy falling in love with a beautiful disaster. However, if Green had written “Paper Towns” first, he may have titled it “Looking for Margo.” Throughout the novel, Q is looking for a Margo who may not even want to be found. In his search, he finds more questions than answers about Margo, life and himself.
Although John Green is famous for pulling at reader’s heartstrings, it’s safe to say tissues are not needed for “Paper Towns.” By using Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Green has shown that people are like poetry. We might think we understand someone at first glance, but after much scrutiny, some illusions dissolve.
The movie adaption of “Paper Towns” will be out in theatres June 5.