Paper Towns

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Overview

From the #1 bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery
New York Times bestseller
USA Today bestseller
Publishers Weekly bestseller
  When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he...

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Paper Towns

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Overview

From the #1 bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery
New York Times bestseller
USA Today bestseller
Publishers Weekly bestseller
  When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

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Editorial Reviews

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"Green is not only clever and wonderfully witty but also deeply thoughtful and insightful. In addition, he's a superb stylist, with a voice perfectly matched to his amusing, illuminating material." - Booklist, starred review

Publishers Weekly

Green melds elements from his Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines- the impossibly sophisticated but unattainable girl, and a life-altering road trip-for another teen-pleasing read. Weeks before graduating from their Orlando-area high school, Quentin Jacobsen's childhood best friend, Margo, reappears in his life, specifically at his window, commanding him to take her on an all-night, score-settling spree. Quentin has loved Margo from not so afar (she lives next door), years after she ditched him for a cooler crowd. Just as suddenly, she disappears again, and the plot's considerable tension derives from Quentin's mission to find out if she's run away or committed suicide. Margo's parents, inured to her extreme behavior, wash their hands, but Quentin thinks she's left him a clue in a highlighted volume of Leaves of Grass.Q's sidekick, Radar, editor of a Wikipedia-like Web site, provides the most intelligent thinking and fuels many hilarious exchanges with Q. The title, which refers to unbuilt subdivisions and "copyright trap" towns that appear on maps but don't exist, unintentionally underscores the novel's weakness: both milquetoast Q and self-absorbed Margo are types, not fully dimensional characters. Readers who can get past that will enjoy the edgy journey and off-road thinking. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Booklist
[Green is] clever and wonderfully witty...he's a superb stylist, with a voice perfectly matched to his amusing, illuminating material. Starred review
VOYA - Molly Teague
Based on the cover, I never would have picked up this book on my own because I-and I think we all secretly do-judge a book by its cover. But once I opened it, I couldn't put it down and read ninety pages in the first sitting. The book is a perfect length; quick enough so you stay interested but slow enough to prevent it from being choppy or confusing. There is just enough humor to prevent it from becoming monotonous. I think this book would appeal to both male and female high school readers. Reviewer: Molly Teague, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Diane Colson
Quentin has been in love with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, since early childhood. Their connection was forever bonded when they discovered a dead body together at the age of nine. Now they are ready to graduate from high school. Although Margo has not been part of Quentin's life for many years, she shows up at Quentin's window late one night, enlisting his help with a wild scheme of revenge against her cheating boyfriend. Despite his natural reluctance to break the law, Quentin goes along with her, imagining that this teamwork will signify a new, more romantic turn to their relationship. But then Margo disappears, leaving only wisps of clues to her whereabouts and a tormented Quentin in her wake. In this story set in Orlando, Florida, Green perfectly captures the tone of this grotesquely over-developed town when Margo comments, "It's a paper town . . . look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were meant to fall apart." This theme is echoed as both Margo and Quentin struggle to discover what is real in their own lives. The writing is as stellar, with deliciously intelligent dialogue and plenty of mind-twisting insights. The book suffers a lull about midway through, as Quentin keeps hitting dead ends in his search for Margo, but even this hitch seems to be an accurate reflection of Quentin's stubborn determination. Language and sex issues might make this book more appropriate for older teens, but it is still a powerfully great read. Reviewer: Diane Colson
KLIATT - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Printz Award-winner John Green has crafted a story that explores the themes of honesty and image, of identity and friendship. Quentin is a high school senior who lives next door to his classmate Margo. Margo is an unusual young woman who lives according to her own rules. Late one night, she knocks on Quentin's window and drags him out of his studies and into a wild escapade. As he takes part in her revenge tactics, Quentin realizes how much he really cares for this crazy young woman. In the morning, she's gone. Margo has run away before, and Quentin remembers that each time she leaves clues to her whereabouts. Because he is concerned about her emotional state, he enlists the help of his friends Ben and Radar, and Margo's friend Lacey. The four hunt for clues with the help of Margo's little sister. While Ben and Lacey, Radar and his girlfriend attend their prom, Quentin spends the night alone and finds what he believes to be proof that Margo is in a deserted "paper town"—a town that exists only on a map. So instead of attending their graduation, the three embark on a wild cross-country road trip to "save" Margo. Quentin tells his story with laugh-out-loud humor and heartfelt poignancy. Language and situations make this a realistic high school experience as Green explores the issues and ramifications of authenticity and image. These are characters readers will remember for a long time. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
Melanie Koss
Quentin Jacobsen believes everyone gets one miracle in life, and his is living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman. Margo is the epitome of Quentin's dreams, and he will do anything for her. When she appears in his room in the middle of the night, dressed all in black, and asks him to go on a top secret mission with her, Quentin ignores his better judgment and goes. What follows is a night full of escapades, revenge, dead smelly fish, and the creation of a bind between the two friends. When Margo mysteriously disappears and leaves enigmatic clues for Quentin, he feels he must drop everything and find her. In his best book date, John Green provides original, quirky dialogue and enough twists, turns, and mystery to keep the reader turning the page. Once again John captures the essence of a geeky high-school boy who is pining for the out-of-reach girl, and fully develops the supporting cast of characters — Quentin's friends and the elusive Margo Roth Spiegelman. Reviewer: Melanie Koss
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

Quentin Jacobsen, 17, has been in love with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, for his entire life. A leader at their Central Florida high school, she has carefully cultivated her badass image. Quentin is one of the smart kids. His parents are therapists and he is, above all things, "goddamned well adjusted." He takes a rare risk when Margo appears at his window in the middle of the night. They drive around righting wrongs via her brilliant, elaborate pranks. Then she runs away (again). He slowly uncovers the depth of her unhappiness and the vast differences between the real and imagined Margo. Florida's heat and homogeneity as depicted here are vivid and awful. Green's prose is astounding-from hilarious, hyperintellectual trash talk and shtick, to complex philosophizing, to devastating observation and truths. He nails it-exactly how a thing feels, looks, affects-page after page. The mystery of Margo-her disappearance and her personhood-is fascinating, cleverly constructed, and profoundly moving. Green builds tension through both the twists of the active plot and the gravitas of the subject. He skirts the stock coming-of-age character arc-Quentin's eventual bravery is not the revelation. Instead, the teen thinks deeper and harder-about the beautiful and terrifying ways we can and cannot know those we love. Less-sophisticated readers may get lost in Quentin's copious transcendental ruminations-give Paper Towns to your sharpest teens.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
Printz Medal Winner and Honoree Green knows what he does best and delivers once again with this satisfying, crowd-pleasing look at a complex, smart boy and the way he loves. Quentin (Q) has loved Margo Roth Spiegelman since they were kids riding their bikes, but after they discovered the body of a local suicide they never really spoke again. Now it's senior year; Margo is a legend and Q isn't even a band geek (although quirky best friends Ben and Radar are). Then Margo takes Q on a midnight adventure and disappears, leaving convoluted clues for Q. The clues lead to Margo's physical location but also allow Q to see her as a person and not an ideal. Genuine-and genuinely funny-dialogue, a satisfyingly tangled but not unbelievable mystery and delightful secondary characters (Radar's parents collect black Santas)-we've trod this territory before, but who cares when it's this enjoyable? Lighter than Looking for Alaska (2005), deeper than An Abundance of Katherines (2006) and reminiscent of Gregory Galloway's As Simple as Snow (2005)-a winning combination. (Mystery. 13 & up)
From the Publisher
Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery

New York Times bestseller
USA Today bestseller
Publishers Weekly bestseller
A Booklist Best Book of the Year
An SLJ Best Book of the Year
A VOYA Best Book of the Year

“Green’s prose is astounding — from hilarious, hyperintellectual trash talk and shtick, to complex philosophizing, to devastating observation and truths.” —SLJ, starred review

“[Green’s] a superb stylist, with a voice perfectly matched to his amusing, illuminating material.” —Booklist, starred review

“Laugh-out-loud humor and heartfelt poignancy.”—Kliatt, starred review

“Green delivers once again with this satisfying, crowd-pleasing look at a complex, smart boy and the way he loves. Genuine—and genuinely funny—dialogue, a satisfyingly tangled but not unbelievable mystery and delightful secondary characters.”
Kirkus

"Stellar, with deliciously intelligent dialogue and plenty of mind-twisting insights…a powerfully great read." —VOYA 

"Compelling." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142414934
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 9/22/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 23
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

John Green is the award-winning, #1 bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan), and The Fault in Our Stars. His many accolades include the Printz Medal, a Printz Honor, and the Edgar Award. He has twice been a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. John was selected by TIME magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. With his brother, Hank, John is one half of the Vlogbrothers (youtube.com/vlogbrothers), one of the most popular online video projects in the world. You can join the millions who follow John on Twitter (@johngreen) and tumblr (fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com) or visit him online at johngreenbooks.com.

John lives with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Read an Excerpt

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Epigraph

 

PART ONE - The Strings

Chapter 1.

Chapter 2.

Chapter 3.

Chapter 4.

Chapter 5.

Chapter 6.

Chapter 7.

Chapter 8.

Chapter 9.

 

PART TWO - The Grass

Chapter 1.

Chapter 2.

Chapter 3.

Chapter 4.

Chapter 5.

Chapter 6.

Chapter 7.

Chapter 8.

Chapter 9.

Chapter 10.

Chapter 11.

Chapter 12.

Chapter 13.

Chapter 14.

Chapter 15.

Chapter 16.

Chapter 17.

Chapter 18.

Chapter 19.

Chapter 20.

 

PART THREE - The Vessel

The First Hour

Hour Two

Hour Three

Hour Four

Hour Five

Hour Six

Hour Seven

Hour Eight

Hour Nine

Hour Ten

Hour Eleven

Hour Twelve

Hour Thirteen

Hour Fourteen

Hour Fifteen

Hour Sixteen

Hour Seventeen

Hour Eighteen

Hour Nineteen

Hour Twenty

Hour Twenty-one

Agloe

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE

Acknowledgements

ALSO BY JOHN GREEN

Looking for Alaska

 
An Abundance of Katherines

DUTTON BOOKS
A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
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Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
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Australia Group Pty Ltd)
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Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 
Copyright © 2008 by John Green

 
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.

 
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

 
An excerpt from “Jack O’ Lantern” by Katrina Vandenberg in Atlas (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2004). Copyright © 2004 by Katrina Vandenberg. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions. (www.milkweed.org)

ISBN: 9781101010938

[1. Missing persons—Fiction. 2. Florida—Fiction. 3. Coming of age—Fiction. 4. Mystery and detective stories.]
I. Title.
PZ7.G8233Pap 2008
[Fic]—dc22 2007052659

 
Published in the United States by Dutton Books,
a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
www.penguin.com/youngreaders

To Julie Strauss-Gabel, without whom none of this
could have become real

And after, when we went outside to look at her finished lantern from the road, I said I liked the way her light shone through the face that flickered in the dark.

—“Jack O’Lantern,” Katrina Vandenberg from Atlas

 
 
People say friends don’t destroy one another
What do they know about friends?

—“Game Shows Touch our Lives,” The Mountain Goats

PROLOGUE

The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle. Like, I will probably never be struck by lightning, or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands, or contract terminal ear cancer, or spontaneously combust. But if you consider all the unlikely things together, at least one of them will probably happen to each of us. I could have seen it rain frogs. I could have stepped foot on Mars. I could have been eaten by a whale. I could have married the queen of England or survived months at sea. But my miracle was different. My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.

 
Our subdivision, Jefferson Park, used to be a navy base. But then the navy didn’t need it anymore, so it returned the land to the citizens of Orlando, Florida, who decided to build a massive subdivision, because that’s what Florida does with land. My parents and Margo’s parents ended up moving next door to one another just after the first houses were built. Margo and I were two.

Before Jefferson Park was a Pleasantville, and before it was a navy base, it belonged to an actual Jefferson, this guy Dr. Jefferson Jefferson. Dr. Jefferson Jefferson has a school named after him in Orlando and also a large charitable foundation, but the fascinating and unbelievable-but-true thing about Dr. Jefferson Jefferson is that he was not a doctor of any kind. He was just an orange juice salesman named Jefferson Jefferson. When he became rich and powerful, he went to court, made “Jefferson” his middle name, and then changed his first name to “Dr.” Capital D. Lowercase r. Period.

 
So Margo and I were nine. Our parents were friends, so we would sometimes play together, biking past the cul-de-sacced streets to Jefferson Park itself, the hub of our subdivision’s wheel.

I always got very nervous whenever I heard that Margo was about to show up, on account of how she was the most fantastically gorgeous creature that God had ever created. On the morning in question, she wore white shorts and a pink T-shirt that featured a green dragon breathing a fire of orange glitter. It is difficult to explain how awesome I found this T-shirt at the time.

Margo, as always, biked standing up, her arms locked as she leaned above the handlebars, her purple sneakers a circuitous blur. It was a steam-hot day in March. The sky was clear, but the air tasted acidic, like it might storm later.

At the time, I fancied myself an inventor, and after we locked up our bikes and began the short walk across the park to the playground, I told Margo about an idea I had for an invention called the Ringolator. The Ringolator was a gigantic cannon that would shoot big, colored rocks into a very low orbit, giving Earth the same sort of rings that Saturn has. (I still think this would be a fine idea, but it turns out that building a cannon that can shoot boulders into a low orbit is fairly complicated.)

I’d been in this park so many times before that it was mapped in my mind, so we were only a few steps inside when I began to sense that the world was out of order, even though I couldn’t immediately figure out what was different.

“Quentin,” Margo said quietly, calmly.

She was pointing. And then I realized what was different.

There was a live oak a few feet ahead of us. Thick and gnarled and ancient-looking. That was not new. The playground on our right. Not new, either. But now, a guy wearing a gray suit, slumped against the trunk of the oak tree. Not moving. This was new. He was encircled by blood; a half-dried fountain of it poured out of his mouth. The mouth open in a way that mouths generally shouldn’t be. Flies at rest on his pale forehead.

“He’s dead,” Margo said, as if I couldn’t tell.

I took two small steps backward. I remember thinking that if I made any sudden movements, he might wake up and attack me. Maybe he was a zombie. I knew zombies weren’t real, but he sure looked like a potential zombie.

As I took those two steps back, Margo took two equally small and quiet steps forward. “His eyes are open,” she said.

“Wegottagohome,” I said.

“I thought you closed your eyes when you died,” she said.

“Margowegottagohomeandtell.”

She took another step. She was close enough now to reach out and touch his foot. “What do you think happened to him?” she asked. “Maybe it was drugs or something.”

I didn’t want to leave Margo alone with the dead guy who might be an attack zombie, but I also didn’t care to stand around and chat about the circumstances of his demise. I gathered my courage and stepped forward to take her hand. “Margowegottagorightnow!”

“Okay, yeah,” she said. We ran to our bikes, my stomach churning with something that felt exactly like excitement, but wasn’t. We got on our bikes and I let her go in front of me because I was crying and didn’t want her to see. I could see blood on the soles of her purple sneakers. His blood. The dead guy blood.

And then we were back home in our separate houses. My parents called 911, and I heard the sirens in the distance and asked to see the fire trucks, but my mom said no. Then I took a nap.

Both my parents are therapists, which means that I am really goddamned well adjusted. So when I woke up, I had a long conversation with my mom about the cycle of life, and how death is part of life, but not a part of life I needed to be particularly concerned about at the age of nine, and I felt better. Honestly, I never worried about it much. Which is saying something, because I can do some worrying.

Here’s the thing: I found a dead guy. Little, adorable nine-year-old me and my even littler and more adorable playdate found a guy with blood pouring out of his mouth, and that blood was on her little, adorable sneakers as we biked home. It’s all very dramatic and everything, but so what? I didn’t know the guy. People I don’t know die all the damned time. If I had a nervous breakdown every time something awful happened in the world, I’d be crazier than a shithouse rat.

 
That night, I went into my room at nine o’clock to go to bed, because nine o’clock was my bedtime. My mom tucked me in, told me she loved me, and I said, “See you tomorrow,” and she said, “See you tomorrow,” and then she turned out the lights and closed the door almost-all-the-way.

As I turned on my side, I saw Margo Roth Spiegelman standing outside my window, her face almost pressed against the screen. I got up and opened the window, but the screen stayed between us, pixelating her.

“I did an investigation,” she said quite seriously. Even up close the screen broke her face apart, but I could tell that she was holding a little notebook and a pencil with teeth marks around the eraser. She glanced down at her notes. “Mrs. Feldman from over on Jefferson Court said his name was Robert Joyner. She told me he lived on Jefferson Road in one of those condos on top of the grocery store, so I went over there and there were a bunch of policemen, and one of them asked if I worked at the school paper, and I said our school didn’t have a paper, and he said as long as I wasn’t a journalist he would answer my questions. He said Robert Joyner was thirty-six years old. A lawyer. They wouldn’t let me in the apartment, but a lady named Juanita Alvarez lives next door to him, and I got into her apartment by asking if I could borrow a cup of sugar, and then she said that Robert Joyner had killed himself with a gun. And then I asked why, and then she told me that he was getting a divorce and was sad about it.”

She stopped then, and I just looked at her, her face gray and moonlit and split into a thousand little pieces by the weave of the window screen. Her wide, round eyes flitted back and forth from her notebook to me. “Lots of people get divorces and don’t kill themselves,” I said.

“I know,” she said, excitement in her voice. “That’s what I told Juanita Alvarez. And then she said . . .” Margo flipped the notebook page. “She said that Mr. Joyner was troubled. And then I asked what that meant, and then she told me that we should just pray for him and that I needed to take the sugar to my mom, and I said forget the sugar and left.”

I said nothing again. I just wanted her to keep talking—that small voice tense with the excitement of almost knowing things, making me feel like something important was happening to me.

“I think I maybe know why,” she finally said.

“Why?”

“Maybe all the strings inside him broke,” she said.

While I tried to think of something to say in answer to that, I reached forward and pressed the lock on the screen between us, dislodging it from the window. I placed the screen on the floor, but she didn’t give me a chance to speak. Before I could sit back down, she just raised her face up toward me and whispered, “Shut the window.” So I did. I thought she would leave, but she just stood there, watching me. I waved at her and smiled, but her eyes seemed fixed on something behind me, something monstrous that had already drained the blood from her face, and I felt too afraid to turn around to see. But there was nothing behind me, of course—except maybe the dead guy.

I stopped waving. My head was level with hers as we stared at each other from opposite sides of the glass. I don’t remember how it ended—if I went to bed or she did. In my memory, it doesn’t end. We just stay there, looking at each other, forever.

 
Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.

PART ONE

The Strings

1.

The longest day of my life began tardily. I woke up late, took too long in the shower, and ended up having to enjoy my breakfast in the passenger seat of my mom’s minivan at 7:17 that Wednesday morning.

I usually got a ride to school with my best friend, Ben Starling, but Ben had gone to school on time, making him useless to me. “On time” for us was thirty minutes before school actually started, because the half hour before the first bell was the highlight of our social calendars: standing outside the side door that led into the band room and just talking. Most of my friends were in band, and most of my free time during school was spent within twenty feet of the band room. But I was not in the band, because I suffer from the kind of tone deafness that is generally associated with actual deafness. I was going to be twenty minutes late, which technically meant that I’d still be ten minutes early for school itself.

As she drove, Mom was asking me about classes and finals and prom.

“I don’t believe in prom,” I reminded her as she rounded a corner. I expertly angled my raisin bran to accommodate the g-forces. I’d done this before.

“Well, there’s no harm in just going with a friend. I’m sure you could ask Cassie Hiney.” And I could have asked Cassie Hiney, who was actually perfectly nice and pleasant and cute, despite having a fantastically unfortunate last name.

“It’s not just that I don’t like prom. I also don’t like people who like prom,” I explained, although this was, in point of fact, untrue. Ben was absolutely gaga over the idea of going.

Mom turned into school, and I held the mostly empty bowl with both hands as we drove over a speed bump. I glanced over at the senior parking lot. Margo Roth Spiegelman’s silver Honda was parked in its usual spot. Mom pulled the minivan into a cul-de-sac outside the band room and kissed me on the cheek. I could see Ben and my other friends standing in a semicircle.

I walked up to them, and the half circle effortlessly expanded to include me. They were talking about my ex-girlfriend Suzie Chung, who played cello and was apparently creating quite a stir by dating a baseball player named Taddy Mac. Whether this was his given name, I did not know. But at any rate, Suzie had decided to go to prom with Taddy Mac. Another casualty.

“Bro,” said Ben, standing across from me. He nodded his head and turned around. I followed him out of the circle and through the door. A small, olive-skinned creature who had hit puberty but never hit it very hard, Ben had been my best friend since fifth grade, when we both finally owned up to the fact that neither of us was likely to attract anyone else as a best friend. Plus, he tried hard, and I liked that—most of the time.

“How ya doin’?” I asked. We were safely inside, everyone else’s conversations making ours inaudible.

“Radar is going to prom,” he said morosely. Radar was our other best friend. We called him Radar because he looked like a little bespectacled guy called Radar on this old TV show M*A*S*H, except 1. The TV Radar wasn’t black, and 2. At some point after the nicknaming, our Radar grew about six inches and started wearing contacts, so I suppose that 3. He actually didn’t look like the guy on M*A*S*H at all, but 4. With three and a half weeks left of high school, we weren’t very well going to renickname him.

“That girl Angela?” I asked. Radar never told us anything about his love life, but this did not dissuade us from frequent speculation.

Ben nodded, and then said, “You know my big plan to ask a freshbunny to prom because they’re the only girls who don’t know the Bloody Ben story?” I nodded.

“Well,” Ben said, “this morning some darling little ninth-grade honeybunny came up to me and asked me if I was Bloody Ben, and I began to explain that it was a kidney infection, and she giggled and ran away. So that’s out.”

In tenth grade, Ben was hospitalized for a kidney infection, but Becca Arrington, Margo’s best friend, started a rumor that the real reason he had blood in his urine was due to chronic masturbation. Despite its medical implausibility, this story had haunted Ben ever since. “That sucks,” I said.

Ben started outlining plans for finding a date, but I was only half listening, because through the thickening mass of humanity crowding the hallway, I could see Margo Roth Spiegelman. She was next to her locker, standing beside her boyfriend, Jase. She wore a white skirt to her knees and a blue print top. I could see her collarbone. She was laughing at something hysterical—her shoulders bent forward, her big eyes crinkling at their corners, her mouth open wide. But it didn’t seem to be anything Jase had said, because she was looking away from him, across the hallway to a bank of lockers. I followed her eyes and saw Becca Arrington draped all over some baseball player like she was an ornament and he a Christmas tree. I smiled at Margo, even though I knew she couldn’t see me.

“Bro, you should just hit that. Forget about Jase. God, that is one candy-coated honeybunny.” As we walked, I kept taking glances at her through the crowd, quick snapshots: a photographic series entitled Perfection Stands Still While Mortals Walk Past. As I got closer, I thought maybe she wasn’t laughing after all. Maybe she’d received a surprise or a gift or something. She couldn’t seem to close her mouth.

“Yeah,” I said to Ben, still not listening, still trying to see as much of her as I could without being too obvious. It wasn’t even that she was so pretty. She was just so awesome, and in the literal sense. And then we were too far past her, too many people walking between her and me, and I never even got close enough to hear her speak or understand whatever the hilarious surprise had been. Ben shook his head, because he had seen me see her a thousand times, and he was used to it.

“Honestly, she’s hot, but she’s not that hot. You know who’s seriously hot?”

“Who?” I asked.

“Lacey,” he said, who was Margo’s other best friend. “Also your mom. Bro, I saw your mom kiss you on the cheek this morning, and forgive me, but I swear to God I was like, man, I wish I was Q. And also, I wish my cheeks had penises.” I elbowed him in the ribs, but I was still thinking about Margo, because she was the only legend who lived next door to me. Margo Roth Spiegelman, whose six-syllable name was often spoken in its entirety with a kind of quiet reverence. Margo Roth Spiegelman, whose stories of epic adventures would blow through school like a summer storm: an old guy living in a broken-down house in Hot Coffee, Mississippi, taught Margo how to play the guitar. Margo Roth Spiegelman, who spent three days traveling with the circus—they thought she had potential on the trapeze. Margo Roth Spiegelman, who drank a cup of herbal tea with The Mallionaires backstage after a concert in St. Louis while they drank whiskey. Margo Roth Spiegelman, who got into that concert by telling the bouncer she was the bassist’s girlfriend, and didn’t they recognize her, and come on guys seriously, my name is Margo Roth Spiegelman and if you go back there and ask the bassist to take one look at me, he will tell you that I either am his girlfriend or he wishes I was, and then the bouncer did so, and then the bassist said “yeah that’s my girlfriend let her in the show,” and then later the bassist wanted to hook up with her and she rejected the bassist from The Mallionaires.

The stories, when they were shared, inevitably ended with, I mean, can you believe it? We often could not, but they always proved true.

And then we were at our lockers. Radar was leaning against Ben’s locker, typing into a handheld device.

“So you’re going to prom,” I said to him. He looked up, and then looked back down.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 870 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 870 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    This book changed my life.

    The first book I read by John Green was an Abundance of Katherines. I was hooked. This brilliant man who I knew through Nerdfighting and Brotherhood 2.0 videos had a completely different, and yet the same, side. He could write far better than almost any modern author I'd read- and that was only his second book. I read An Abundance of Katherines three times after I got it, and promptly bought a copy for myself. Then, I heard about Paper Towns. I had to read it. If it were even half as good as his other books, then it would be a miracle. But it wasn't. It was exponentially more amazing.

    I read the whole book in one day. I checked it out from the library in the morning at school and read it under my desk in class all day long. In seventh period, I read the last sentence, having heard nothing of class all day, closed the book, amazed, and excused myself to go deliver the book to one of my friends, who had begged me to lend her the book when I finished it, in her math class. I couldn't wait to pass it on.

    Everything about Paper Towns screams MASTERPIECE like nothing I've ever read. In the first fifteen minutes after the final punctuation, Paper Towns beat out each and every one of my favorite books, some of which I've called my favorite since elementary school, and became my favorite book.

    The characters are real, alive, vibrant. You can feel the story and live it along with them. John Green makes you cry one moment and laugh your ass off the next, all in one fluid motion. This book... is amazing. I feel like I've known Q my whole life. Hell, I'm even ordering a Black Santa online.

    If you haven't yet, buy this book. Read it. You'll never, ever regret it.

    Everything about Paper Towns is just beautiful. I can't say it enough. My way of thinking was changed. My way of writing was changed. My way of talking was changed. My way of life was changed. This book, though it is printed on paper, is NOT a paper book, to be passed by. By no means 2-dimensional, this book is like the V for Vendetta of literature- everyone should experiance it. Paper Towns changed my life, and my perspective of modern literature.

    Buy this book.

    156 out of 160 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2009

    Simply amazing

    When I first started reading this book I was completely in love with it. It was one of those books where you laugh out loud, cry, and think a lot. I think we can all relate to some of the situations in this books. It was really amazing. It kind of teaches us that we can chase somebody across the United States, but in the end our fantasies won't become real. I really liked the characters in this story. I would be reading in class and just bust out laughing. It was really good and now it's one of my all-time favorite books.

    91 out of 95 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012

    Mmhhhhhh

    Wow. I first read the fault in oir stars (also bby john green) and thought and still claim that it is my allbtime favorite book. So when i found paper towns i was like"YEAH BUDDY? GIMME MY FIX OF JOHN GREEN FOR THE NEXT 3 DAYS". because i already knew i would read this book in that minimal amount of time. But i was wrong. This book was so explicitly awesome that i finisshed it in 2 days. Paper towns has such a unique story line with amazingly funny, bright characters who make you hate your friends because they aren't like them. Super funny and in depth thinking, great for everyone especially teens. Mr. Green, if you happen to come across this review, i want you to know that if you ever. EVER, stop writng books, punch a wall. Yeah that,s right. Be intimidated by my wall punching. (I really hoped that made u laugh because i was trying reeeaallyyy hard hahaha). ANYWAYS! Every humam being should read this book.

    29 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A story of growing up, self discovery, endings and beginnings

    The story has so many layers it was like peeling the layers from an onion only to discover more layers underneath.

    Written in 1st person narrative, from Quentin's (Q's) perspective. Q was surprisingly easy to relate to even in my female dominated household. Q epitomises the boy next door stereotype. A good student and all round nice guy. John Green makes geek/nerd sexy.

    Margo & Q are tied together by a traumatic incident in their childhood. Although no longer friends, Q has had a crush on Margo from an early age. Following their night of adventure and Margo's subsequent disappearance, Q has to analyse how well he knows/doesn't know Margo.

    The notion that we are different versions of ourselves with different people really comes under scrutiny within the narrative. How well do we really know someone when we only see a single side of them. In the same context how well do we know ourselves, when we are different with different people. There are a complex set of psychological theories beautifully entwined in the plot.

    Making Q's parents psychiatrists in the story adds an extra dimension to the analysis. Elements of the nature versus nurture debate especially with the contrasts between Q's parents and Margo's.

    The use of Walter Whitman's poem Leaves of Grass within the plot adds another layer to the story (see what I mean about peeling the layers of an onion). The analysis of the poem parallels the analysis of people within the plot.

    Q evolves tremendously throughout the book. At the start he has always been on the periphery of his own life. Through his search for Margo, he discovers who he really is. I think that is why finding Margo became a compulsion for him, as he was also finding himself.

    I adored John Green's writing style, the use of metaphors & similes were fantastic. Decay never sounded so good :0)

    A story about growing-up, self discovery, endings & beginnings. The realisation that the world is a big place and we are just a small part of the whole. A highly recommended read :0)

    24 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    in One word Amazing

    Wben you look at the headline of my review, you may be turned off by my random capitalization, but that actually is a portion of the book, and a very clever one, at that. Paper Towns is a book that you pick up, you laugh a lot, you cry a little, you think a lot, you piece things together. It is everything a realistic fiction book needs and so much more. The characters are lifelike beyond words and MANY things said in the book remind me 100% of my friends. This is officially one of my favorite books now, a real page-turner to say the least.

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2008

    A great, thought provoking novel

    Margo Roth Speigleman is one popular girl. On the outside she appears to have it all, the looks, the friends, the personality but in all honesty her inside is a mystery to the world. Margo is especially a mystery to Quentin, or Q, who¿s been her neighbor ever since they were little kids.<BR/><BR/>When they were young they used to do everything together. Some may have even considered them to be best friends. Now though they are about to graduate high school and they barely even acknowledge each other¿s presence. One night though Margo appears in his window dressed as though she was ready to go rob a bank.<BR/><BR/>She¿s on a mission to pay back all the people who have wronged her and she is determined to complete her list before the next morning. Using Q as her mode of transportation, she gives him the night of his life. Then she disappears and is now an even bigger mystery to him. Leaving him few clues and a lustrous heart Q is determined to find Margo, and maybe even himself.<BR/><BR/>John Green has done it again, except maybe even better then the last two times. Both his other books have always been near and dear to me, but this one was particularly special. It was compiled of all the classic Green elements of, nerdy guy wanting amazing girl, girl being a little out there, guy finding himself on the way to getting the girl, but it also had this extra wow factor included that easily made it his best book yet.<BR/><BR/>I could really feel not only the characters emotions, but also the author¿s in every sentence. Many times I found myself laughing along, feeling upset, or just plain frustrated with the events in the story and started wondering if this was a real life experience. There was such truth and purpose to each word that the book seemed alive in many aspects. The characters had real personalities and it was easy to imagine them as real people and these characters dealt with mostly real life situations that I could easily picture myself in. I loved how everything felt so real and alive that most of the time it was excruciatingly hard to come back to reality.<BR/><BR/>For me the plot line was very original and compelling. It was also really easy to relate to. I know in this case that everyone can find someone in the story that they know. Whether it be yourself or a really good friend, you¿re sure to find someone similar enough for the story to really hit home. I know in my case I was really able to see where the very complex and interesting Margo was coming from. She reminded me a lot of a close friend and helped me see where she might be coming from. It was very evident that the author put a lot of time and effort into developing his characters, which I know as a reader is the mark of a truly great author.<BR/><BR/>This book is one of the deepest and quickest reads you¿ll find. You¿ll never want it to end and you¿ll find great meaning in it. Paper Towns is truly an unforgettable book that is easily the best of the best. With no doubt I am sure it is the best book of 2008 and one my of my new personal favorites.

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    Amazing book!

    Definitely a must read for John Green fans. This book plays with your mind on the ups and downs of a "paper perfect" town. The book leaves you with immense feelings of awe. I cant even describe how i felt after this book was over. It was just so good. GO NERDFIGHTERS ;)

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Made of Awesome!

    I loved Paper Towns. That's basically it. But seriously, I only got it in January (yay for Barnes and Noble gift cards!) but I've already read it twice and I'll probably be reading it for a third time very soon. That's how good it is- I've owned An Abundance of Katherines for over a year and have just now gotten around to reading it a second time but Paper Towns? Twice in three months and it never got dull. The awesomeness that comes out of John Green's mind is unbelievable. Yeah, I love your books John. And Hank rocks too :D...DFTBA!

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    I mostly liked it for the humor...

    It was a deep and good feeling book with a lot of humor. If you have a taste for mysterious stories this is a good one.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    another great book from John Green

    John Green has once again given us the gift of an awesome novel.<BR/>He doesn't have a cult-like following for no reason. He is very talented and unlike many other modern Y/A authors. Mr. Green writes well, something that many other Y/A authors forget to do while they are constructing familiar plots full of empty, but attractive, "characters". <BR/><BR/>Paper Towns is an entertaining mystery that I just could not put down. Q, Ben & Radar are hilarious and engaging and Margo Roth Spiegelman is interesting and mysterious (that's kind of the point, isn't it?). I thoroughly enjoyed Paper Towns and I have suggested it to all of my friends.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    i reread the first 60 pages over and over and just could not get

    i reread the first 60 pages over and over and just could not get into this book. i put it away for 2 months then tried to read it again with no luck.

    4 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2014

    Great!

    The book was, in my opinion, fantastic! Every aspect, details incorporated, the clues; it was all very well put together and flowed perfectly. Another book well done, John Green. Keep it up. (:

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2015

    I read The Fault In Our Stars and love it very much. My mother r

    I read The Fault In Our Stars and love it very much. My mother recently bought this book for me for Christmas, and I started it a while ago. While the story itself was okay, the language in it was terrible. I understand these are high school kids, but John Green seriously disappointed me. If you are a Christian and want a nice book to read, this is not it. It basically got to the point for me that I had to keep a black pen with me and scratch out the terms he uses. I understand that many people use God and Jesus in derogatory ways, but this was terrible. The plot line to the book was semi-interesting, but I could not finish this book because of the language. So if you are a young adult who also loves God, I would not recommend this book in the least. John Green is a great writer who writes very interesting books, but this was a flop. Please choose something else to read.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2014

    Why this deserves 5 stars

    This books actually makes you think about seterotyping people before you even know who they are, which we all do. Also it makes you realize tht not everything is two sided but three dimensional.
    John Greene developed his characters beautifully as always and although the ending was a little upsetting, even for Q, it does not take away from the book.
    Finally if you are reviewing a book please do not compare it to other books you've read, no book is exactly the same and no book deserves to be down graded because it was not as good as TFIOS (for example). You do have the right to your opinions just please keep them out of the reviewing. PS I know i am currently villating my own rule...please dont call me a hippocrit

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2014

    Oh boy

    Love John Green. However really really disliked Margo on so many levels and it's hard to like a book when you despise the central character.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2014

    It was okay but not his best.

    Thus story was okay, but I found myself wondering why the protagonist and his friends missed the last few weeks of their senior year, including graduation, to find the antagonist when she didnt want to be found. The antics preceeding the antagonist's departure were entertaining, as well as the process of solving the mystery of where she went, but I feel the story premise was lacking. Also, I skipped the car ride chapters after Hour Four, and just went to the chapter on Algoe NY just so I could get to the ending, which was lackluster.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2013

    Its alright

    No real depth to it. Margos character should of been in it more

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2013

    Paper town

    Strange but inspiringly beatiful

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    This is the first John Green book that I have read, and I must s

    This is the first John Green book that I have read, and I must say that I am really impressed. His writing is simple; yet, at the same time really rich in meaning. I didn't think that a senior in high school, could teach me anything about life that I didn't already know myself but I was definitely wrong.




    I adore Quentin, the narrator. He reminds me a bit of myself: having a schedule and always sticking to it, planning his life out and doesn't take any detours. Until he goes on this one night crazy adventure with Margo, and his whole perspective changes.




    The adventure that Q and Margo went on was hilarious, and fun. Something that you would only see in the movies, but wish could happen in real life.




    I really like Q's journey throughout the story, where he learns about Margo and his friends and most importantly, about himself. What is he willing to change, and what he is not.




    This book has a chuck full of memorable quotes, and crazy adventures with characters that I wish were real.




    Can't wait to read other books from Mr. Green! I am so glad that I bought the autograph box set, since I have three other amazing books to choose from.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2013

    Not a good gift

    I bought this book for my 12 year old grand daughter. After reading
    the first few chapter to see if this book is any good, I decided
    to just get rid of it. It is not appropriate for early teens.

    2 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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