Joint Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Marianne’s Review

I’ve read John’s most popular books: Looking for Alaska & The Fault in Our Stars  and loved them both immensely. I thought with this book, “hey, it’s John Green OF COURSE I’m going to love it”. Boy was I wrong.

What I’ve come to realise with John Green books (after reading two of his books, mind you), is that there’s this special little formula that goes with his books.

  • Ordinary Girl/Boy meets Extraordinary Boy/Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
  • They live in the most nondescript/ordinary/boring place.
  • They have awesome times together. Love story ensues.
  • Suddenly, extraordinary boy/manic pixie dream girl disappears/dies/runs away.
  • Ordinary Girl/Boy realises the change extraordinary boy/manic pixie dream girl had on them, and thus must do something about it.
  • Road Trip/ Soul Searching/ Big Gesture occurs.
  • Book ends on uncertainty but with a hint that the once Ordinary Girl/Boy is now changed forever thanks to their extraordinary boy/manic pixie dream girl.

Paper Towns? SAME FORMULA. 

If there’s a word I can use to describe this book it would be pretentious. The main characters? Pretentious. The plot? Pretentious. The writing? PRETENTIOUS AS HELL. This book should’ve been called “Looking for Margo Roth Spiegelman” with how blatanly similar it was to Looking for Alaska.

Quentin is the ultimate ordinary boy. He is judgemental, extremely opinionated, and completely rude to his friends. He doesn’t seem to have a personality of his own, other than when he’s obsessing over Margo. He doesn’t care about his friends, unless they’re talking about Margo. He doesn’t care about school, unless Margo is in it. Margo, Margo, Margo.

“I don’t know how she is anymore, or who she was, but I need to find her.”

Speaking of, Margo is just a little bitch. So presumptuous of her to think she’s so special to warrant Quentin dropping everything and searching for the stupid clues she left behind. MARGO ROTH SPIEGELMAN WAS NOT WORTH ALL THAT TROUBLE. She was just a little girl who ran away from home that didn’t want to feel alone so she convinced this stupid boy (who she had not spoken to in YEARS, despite being neighbors) to drop all responsibilities and go find her.

Radar [To Quentin]: Tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that and all the days for the rest of my life, I am happy to particpate in your investigation. But I have a girlfriend. She wants to have a nice prom. I want to have a nice prom. It’s not my fault that Margo Roth Spiegelman didn’t want us to have a nice prom.
Quentin [to himself]: I didn’t know what to say. He was right, maybe. Maybe she deserved to be forgotten. But at any rate, I couldn’t forget her.

The plot itself was ridiculous. But I don’t need to go into detail about it. Just refer to the list add the beginning of the post. Quentin’s parents are so stupid. They were written to be “cool and hip” but just came off as weird and irritating. Quentin’s friends are not all that special either. There’s his friend, Radar, who has a girlfriend that you never see in the book at all. And there’s Ben, who you’ll want to punch in the face after another comment about the “honeybunnies”. They were just placemats to the story and didn’t really exist other than for Quentin to bitch at them about Margo.

“As time passed, I only got more pissed. It’s one thing not to give a shit about Margo. But really, Ben didn’t give a shit about me, either.”

The writing was like a bucket of cold water to the face. I don’t know if I finally opened my eyes, or it was this book in particular, but this time around I absolutely HATED the writing. It was so annoying. Full of idiotic metaphors that make ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE, endless paragraphs referencing Walt Whitman’s book, Song for Myself [which, by the way, if I wanted to know more about the book I would’ve read it myself, thank you], and mindless babbling. It’s like Quentin enjoyed to hear himself think/speak.

“These kids, they’re like tied-down helium balloons. They strain against the string and strain against it, and them something happens, and that string gets cut, and they just float away. And maybe you never see the balloon again. It lands in Canada or somethin’, gets work at a restaurant, and before the balloon even notices, it’s been pouring coffee in that same diner to the same sad bastards for thirty years. Or maybe three or four years from now, the prevailing winds take the balloon back home, because it needs money, or it sobered up, or it misses its kid brother. But listen, kid, that string gets cut all the time.”

The only fun part of all the book was the Road Trip, but even that couldn’t erase my disdain by this point.

Overall, for a book that advocates that you should never, for any circumstance, put people on pedestals (ESPECIALLY IF YOU DON’T KNOW THEM), this book puts Margo Roth Spiegelman on the highest pedestal of all. She is beautiful, she is flawless, she is brilliant, she is perfect. This book is utter bullshit.

We : 1 star (OBVIOUSLY)

Jennifer’s Review


I completely detested this book. As with Fifty Shades of Grey, I forced myself to finish it in order to fully comprehend it and make any ranting as accurate as possible.

Quentin was the most idiotic, obsessed, and metaphor loving dude ever. I hate every single cell of his imaginary fiction body. He had a very unhealthy obsession with Margo that I couldn’t understand. I’ve had my few obsessions with people, books, things, yeah, but never to the level he went to. He put Margo, who’s a complete queen bitch, on a pedestal and basically made her a god of sorts that was so perfect, so beautiful, such a mystery, so much of everything. She couldn’t have a single flaw in her body because she was freaking Margo Roth Spiegelman. Quentin reached such a level of obsession so high that he ignored his friends and family, lied to them, and then he got angry with them when they couldn’t abandon their lives like Quentin did, just to find his oh-so-precious Margo. If I were to represent Quentin with a single GIF, this one would be it:

As Gollum. Quentin is Gollum and Margo is the ring. And then Quentin got angry or ignored his friends when they told him that this was getting out of hand, to let others do the investigation, or simply let Margo be. If she had disappeared, it was for a reason.

Now Margo Roth Spiegelman… she was a complete bitch. She yelled at Quentin when she was found, treated him like crap, ignored him most of the time until one night she decided she needed him for her revenge plan before leaving town. In all honesty, even though she was gonna be found, I hoped she was dead. Killed very tragically or something. And that Quentin would find her dead and it would mean so much to Quentin that he’d make another stupid metaphor about how getting lost could destroy you or something of the sort. That would’ve been very interesting. But it didn’t happen.

Now, I had started this book with high hopes of liking it, of being wrong about John Green’s book formula, and having another favorite. I was disappointed. This is the third book I’ve finished by him. First The Fault in Our Stars, which I love to pieces. Then it was Looking for Alaska which I didn’t like much but was okay with. I tried reading An Abundance of Katherines but gave up when the narrative bored me, and then the spotlight fell on Paper Towns. I noticed that most of his books feel the same. Same character cast with different names and different plots. Ordinary boy falls for extraordinary and tragic self-harming female character or something. And a bunch of metaphors here and there that only succeeded in confusing and frustrating me greatly.

The only parts I truly liked of this book was the part Quentin and Margo did her revenge plan and then the road trip to find Margo, which was with Quentin and company. That was really fun and the only highlight of the book.

John Green is a great author and man, so it seems. But after reading Paper Towns I have decided to not try reading anything else written by him unless it’s new material. So long as it isn’t with his same formula. It wasn’t bad, I guess, but definitely not that type of thing I like to read about. I couldn’t connect long enough to the characters to care. I disliked it so much that I pondered the idea of burning my copy, or making paper crafts with it. Instead I’m gonna try to sell it to a more interested reader. I total and completely respect other’s opinions on this book and if you loved it, great! That’s fantastic, really. However, this wasn’t for me. I’ll just stay with the few quotes I liked and that’s all.

Also, Margo should’ve died. Death, have her, or Quentin! That’s even better! Have them both and bring Gus back to life so that he can be with Hazel Grace </3

Rating: 1 star


7 thoughts on “Joint Review: Paper Towns by John Green

  1. Too bad you didn’t care for this one. 😦 and yes, hopefully one day he does come out with something new to add to the plate. I’ve still never read his first two books so, feeling a little bit left out here. Hehe


  2. Wow, you two really hated this one! lol I think Margo is quite annoying too, but honestly, I think that’s the POINT. Quentin idolizes her but then realizes she’s just a normal girl…and not even that great of one. haha Anyway, thanks for sharing!



  3. This was my first impulse buy on my Kindle after seeing the movie trailer, but I still haven’t touched it. Now I’m kinda wary about trying it, haha. From what I’ve heard of his books, your formula sounds spot on. And Jennifer, you said that you loved TFIOS and maybe the formula just works a lot better in TFIOS because there’s an actual dramatic death to make it all feel much more important?


  4. I couldn’t agree more girls. My goodness, the format was exactly the same! As long as fans keep eating it up, I suspect anything he releases in the future will be along the same lines as well. I liked this more than Looking For Alaska though, that one seemed to have no point at all. I liked both when I’d first read them, but it wasn’t long after I returned to reading again and have moved onto much deeper reads since then. I’m the same. I won’t be reading anything else of his (even though I own them all) until he tries something new. Sadly, I think with even his shopping list being turned into a movie these days, I have a feeling he’ll rest on his laurels until the money runs dry, then will pen something new. Fabulous review ladies, absolutely loved it! ❤


  5. I’ve just come back from watching the movie and it seems like the movie left out most of the annoying points. It’s so annoying, I didn’t understand with Q was SO obsessed with this manic pixie dream girl. Margo was like a magical unicorn from out of space that is better in their imagination than reality. WHY would you declare your love for someone who basically USED you? Anyway, I knew I wasn’t going to like the book, so I didn’t end up reading it before I saw the movie lol.


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