Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Paper Towns—John Green





They'd given me a minivan. They could have picked any car, and they picked a minivan. A minivan. O God of Vehicular Justice, why dost thou mock me? Minivan, you albatross around my neck! You mark of Cain! You wretched beast of high ceilings and few horsepower! (232)
I've admired John Green for several years, watching his Vlogbrothers videos with Hank and following him on Twitter, even participating in the annual Project for Awesome when I am able. He just always seems like such a straightforward guy who is trying to do what he can to make the world a little bit better, and who can't relate to that? I really didn't start reading his books, though, until a bit over a year ago, when The Fault in Our Stars movie was coming out. I knew the basic plot points of the book, but hadn't actually read it yet. Well, I made it through TFIOS, and then needed an emotional break from John because it gave me all the feels. And I already have an overwhelming amount of feels. In spite of that mess I became, it left me craving more John Green writing in my life. (It probably helped that the friend I was reading TFIOs with told me that Hazel reminded her of me. That may be the nicest thing she's ever said to me.) I didn't intend to wait quite so long before starting back up.

In the spirit of only reading his books just before they are released as motion pictures—because regardless of anything else, you must read the book first—I borrowed Paper Towns from my little brother. (I had bought him a John Green box set for Christmas because I thought that he would appreciate them. He did. I'm the best big sister.) I've also heard John talk a lot about the book in his Vlogbrothers videos, both in relation to the actual existence of paper towns and in relation to Q's idealization of Margo.

In Paper Towns, Quentin spends one crazy, adventurous night with his across-the-street neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, who he's been in love with and idealized since she moved in when they were both children. After their crazy night, Margo disappeared without a trace...or so it seemed. Turns out, she left clues for Q to follow in order to find her. As their high school graduation fast approaches, Q gets closer and closer to solving the mystery that is Margo, and takes some of his friends along for the ride.

Although there was that undertone to the book, I actually really loved all of the bonding that Q did with his friends. A big chunk of the book actually doesn't involve the physical Margo at all, but rather focuses on Q and Radar and Ben trying to decipher the oftentimes ambiguous clues and then embarking on an almost 24-hour road trip to find Margo.

In the book, there's this line: "What a treacherous thing it is to believe a person is more than a person." For me, this is something infinitely relatable; who hasn't, purposefully or otherwise, made someone to be a different person in their head or put that person on something of a pedestal? It reminded me of an article that I read recently—You Don't Miss the Person, You Miss the Idea of That Person. It's a thing that I personally have struggled with: realizing that, after leaving a place, even if I go back to that physical location where I was once happy with that person, the circumstances can never be recreated. And it's a dangerous—and impossibly easy—thing to do, especially when there is distance. More often, we think we are missing the person, when you are instead missing the idea of that person, or the way that person made you feel. Reconciling oneself to that reality is often a struggle. It also seems to be quite easy to do these days with celebrities, especially with the increased celebrity presence on social media; I've observed more and more fans who feel as though they really "know" a celebrity because they follow them on Twitter.

I also adored the ending. I know that some fans were disappointed, but it was the most true-to-life culmination of the events that could have occurred. I would have frankly been doubtful if Q and Margo had ended up together.

More than anything, though, John Green's writing makes me feel like I've crawled into a cozy bed with a warm, fluffy comforter and a hot cup of tea. I just want to read ALL THE THINGS, but I'm attempting to pace myself. It's going pretty well so far.