Genre: Realistic Fiction.
Audience: 9th-12th grade.
Read-Alouds: The first Read-Aloud demonstrates the theme of friendship and also shows the tone of the novel.
This Read-Aloud shows the humor in John Green’s writing.
Summary: John Green’s novel Paper Towns takes place in an Orlando subdivision in Florida. At nine, Quentin, the nervous protagonist, and Margo, an adventurous, beautiful neighbor, found a dead body in the park. Since this occurrence, Margo has been a girl of mystery. Fast forward a few years and Quentin associates with people in band while Margo is apart of the in crowd. It is a few weeks before their Senior graduation and Margo solicits Quentin to drive her around for a few dangerous tasks at midnight. After their completed mission, she disappears. Left to bask in the location of where Margo went, Quentin deals with friendship, with the disappearance of Margo, and with the last few weeks of High School as the world around him falls apart.
Themes: One of the themes in the novel is the notion of the future. Margo represents the attitude of ‘you can only live once.’ She claims people worry too much about what will happen and, as a result, lose sight of the present. This is seen when Margo is telling Q about humans’ lifespan being prolonged. Back when people lived for only thirty years, people only had ten years of adulthood to worry about. She says people never think about what is currently happening. When driving Margo around, she says she doesn’t understand why people care about school, college, establishing a career, money, or housing. She says it does not matter. In contrast, at the beginning of the novel, Q is overly anxious about the future and worried about if Duke will accept him.
Friendship is another theme addressed in this novel. Both Margo and Q have friends they dislike. It takes Margo’s ex-boyfriend to cheat on her with her best friend for Margo to stop associating with her old friends. Margo talked about how Lacey would give backhanded compliments. Lacey would say things like ‘”You’re so spunky. I love how you just make guys fall in love with your personality” (50). Only one of Margo’s friends told her when her ex-boyfriend was cheating. One out of many. Q’s friend Ben starts to become more popular. With Ben’s popularity, Q notices Ben was friends with him more so out of convince.
The theme of image is also addressed in this novel. Margo mentioned how it seems ridiculous to her that people are around other people because they are pretty. She compares picking a friend because of how they look, to picking a cereal to how it appears and not how it tastes. After Ben becomes popular, he does not associate with Q because he does not want to be seen with him.
Connections: One could show a clip from a mystery show like CSI or Scooby Doo to grab students attention when introducing this novel. The poem “The Road Not Taken” would be a good poem to pair with this novel. Paper Towns and the poem share the theme of making choices. “Thanks for Remembering Us” is also a poem that can be paired with this novel. In Paper Towns, Margo gives several gifts when Q and her are completing her mission. The poem “Thanks for Remembering Us” has to do with a person finding a gift from an unknown giver. One could relate the poem and the novel.
Reactions: The language and characters are well written, along with the rest of the novel. Most pages left me wanting to know what was going to happen next. I enjoyed how this novel left the reader guessing. When Q was helping Margo complete her tasks, I really wanted to know what all the tasks were. Of course, the tasks were revealed right before it was time for the task to be completed. In this novel, there are several good one liners. I loved the line about how people shouldn’t like people due to their appearances and the comparison to cereal. When I was reading this, I felt like I was in a different world.
Reception: A person on Good Reads proclaimed “reading “Paper Towns”by John Green was both entertaining and uplifting. It is a relevant, poignant and simply-written story about growing up, and becoming.” The story is also about a boy coming of age. Paper Towns is written in an humorous tone.
Another person on Start Narrative Here states the “mystery surrounding the narrative of Margo Roth Spiegelman demands the readers attention…In Paper Towns, John Green again creates quirky outsiders just on the edge of full-blown geekery.” The characters in this novel are well developed. The main characters have a set of quirks specific to them and are memorable.