Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Book Review: Paper Towns
Paper Towns, John Green
I liked The Fault in Our Stars -- enough to buy it.  I did not like Looking for Alaska -- enough to talk trash about it amongst friends.  So I went into Paper Towns hopeful but cautious.

Unfortunately for me, it was more like Looking for Alaska.  Good news for you,- if you're a fan of that!
  • The writing: there are some sharp and beautiful moments -- some truly poetic ones too -- and metaphors I could really get behind.  Buuuut...I felt like it became allusion- and metaphor-heavy, in some portions -- there was so much, so self-consciously, I either detected or imagined the hopes of the text's inclusion in an English syllabus.  I don't like being abruptly transported out of the narrative present because I feel like author intention is interrupting.  I could hear "Please, pick me apart!  Quote me!  Love me!" screaming over the monologues.  Maybe Green didn't feel this way at all...but I believed he did while I was reading anyway.
  • There were zero likable characters, for me.  Not a one.  Worst of all, there's another black hole of a femme fatale in it (like Alaska).  I know girls with deep and dark depths of feeling exist...but reading about how special these girls are and how they get otherwise-good-boys to do their bidding is so sad for me.  Messed up, self-absorbed daredevil BEAUTIES with boys trailing after them.  Note to boys: yes, accept and be there for people with problems, but also: consider devoting some time to females that don't treat you like dirt.  And girls: please, please do not think the attention these characters are getting for their misadventures is desirable; they are black holes.
  • I didn't find the book/characters funny.  I found multiple characters in The Fault... very funny.  This one?  Nope.  The only time I came close to being amused by the humour was by the characters' usernames online. 
  • The language and many of the episodes were cliches. There was hardly anything they did or said that I didn't expect, or think, "Done.  SO done."   That wouldn't be a problem if it was portrayed as a done thing, but it wasn't...I felt like it was sold as creative / unique / "how fun and different are these teenagers?"  Peeing in a bottle isn't new.  Gluing something to yourself while drunk isn't new.   Being naked under your graduation gown -- nope, you're not special.  Breaking into places?  Not new.  All of the acts of revenge that are sold as new, are in fact...again...not new.  Like I say, I don't expect a book to be a treasure trove of things I've never heard of before...I just hope for a fresh spin, or acknowledgement of tropes when they're used.  BUT...I did love the road trip stops.  
  • There is swearing and uber-lame sexual references.  The latter really paint a picture of certain characters, I get it...but meh.
  • I did really want to know what happened, and so read pretty quickly.  I thought about boycotting because of Margo's black hole was a couple times
Overall:  Not for me.  I will probably pass on his next book unless one of you tells me I will like it.  I bet this works better as a movie -- because the actors, director and everyone involved have a shot of injecting some likability into the jerk-/idiot-fest, and there's something easier on the brain about seeing "done" things than reading them spelled out.  For me, it is more painful in print than in a high school flick.  In fact, I just watched the trailer, and I already like the movie more than I like the book.  The score helps too.

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