I love to read just about anything, as long as it's fiction. I read for me - that means I read what I want, when I want. My reviews tend to mostly be based on how I'm able to personally connect with the story/characters. They are not intended to influence someone to read, or not read, a particular book. I always encourage people to take a chance and make up your own mind.
Oh, and I love chocolate.
I have to say I'm a bit mixed about Paper Towns. On one hand, I love the many underlying messages in the book. It's about the dangers of becoming fixated on your personal perception of who someone is, rather than who they really are. It's about friendship -- real, fake, old, and new. It's about daring to be someone other than who you always thought you were. And mostly, at least for me, it's about being able to connect with the people and the experiences around you.
All these things are real struggles for teens, as well as adults. Yet, parts of it seemed so far fetched and fantastically fiction. The entire book was this kind of tug-of-war for me. I'm loving it, I'm not loving it -- rinse and repeat.
My struggle started with the idea that our main character, Q, could hold on to this obsession with his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, from the time he was 10 until high school graduation. In that time Margo Roth Spiegelman (because she could never just be Margo) ignores Q. Completely - until a week or so before prom when she climbs through his window asking him to drive her around and help her on some wild pranks. Of course he does, because he's been in love with her forever. Then he goes on this crazy scavenger hunt and road trip just to find her. I suppose I struggle with the idea that this type of dedication could stem from a 10-year-old obsession. Yet, on the other hand, I have a 10-year-old daughter and she STILL talks about her best friend who moved away 3 years ago. A friend she only ever saw in school and was only friends with for one year. So that turns me back around and I think it's possible. I do believe people can have an unexplained connection with someone else (even if the connection is not two-sided), and I suppose that it's possible for someone so young to experience it. Maybe if he would have at least made her work for it when she finally came calling, rather than easily agreeing to go along. Kind of a, "I noticed you ignored me for many years, and I didn't like it one bit."
Then there was my struggle with Q's journey of self-discovery. I like that he found a bit of himself as he searched for Margo. I liked that he realized he never really knew who Margo was. And yet, despite that, he often still picked searching for her over things that defined who he was for so long. I get that the point was probably that those things did not define him as a person, but many of the things he did felt like a huge leap in character. Maybe it would have been more believable if he had felt remorse or fear or guilt or something after the adrenaline wore off and he realized what he had actually done.
The story is structured in three parts. The first part flowed well for me and I enjoyed it. I felt the second part dragged in several places - but on the flip I can appreciate that. It's when Q starts to really discover himself. Finally, I really enjoyed the third part. Several elements made me laugh out loud.
Last but not least, Margo Roth Spiegelman. I did not like her. I understand what she represented in the novel and why she had to be in there, but I don't like how she never had any consequences for her actions. She was selfish in every possible way. While there are real people like that in this world, and many of them never do have consequences in this life, I just didn't like seeing it in a book for teens. I fear some might read her part of the story as if you don't like your life, just leave and all will be well. That can be very dangerous.