Paper Towns leaves unforgettably disappointing mark

Paper Towns leaves unforgettably disappointing mark

Robyn Anderson, Staff Writer

Paper Towns by John Green is a 305-page mystery novel. The book centers around the main character Quintain Jacobsen and his fascination with old-friend Margo Roth Spiegelman. Quintain and Margo were childhood friends who eventually stopped speaking, but Quintain never lost his interest in her. When Margo comes to him for a night filled with hijinks, Quintain believes he and Margo will start over, but Margo goes missing the next day. After a bit of wondering why Margo left and where she could be, Quintain discovers a clue as to where his missing friend could be. The rest of the story follows Quintain searching for and picking apart Margo’s clues in hopes of finding her.
The idea of Paper Towns is an excellent one; two characters who fell apart come back together for a night of adventures before one character vanishes, leaving the second character to search for them in a story of mystery. Unfortunately, Paper Towns fails to hit all the right targets needed for this plot to succeed. The first and most crucial is having a likable main character.
Quintain Jacobsen suffers from what I like to call ‘Main Character Syndrome.’ With Main Character Syndrome, the character believes they can do nothing wrong and that anyone who questions their actions is automatically the villain. Some stories have main characters that you are not supposed to relate to, such as Scott Pilgrim from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, because those characters have toxic personalities or are truly evil. Quintain, however, is a main character we are supposed to like.
During his search for clues, Quintain drags along his friends Ben and Radar along with Margo’s friend Lacey. Quintain is extremely unappreciative of Ben and Radar; he ignores the sacrifices they’ve made for him, such as lying to family members, skipping out on important activities, and damaging their own property. He pushes Lacey aside countless times despite her being closer to Margo than he ever was. His actions towards them are selfish, only keeping them around when they support his chase for Margo.
The pacing of the book is stagnant. It’s slower than thought-to-be necessary and wastes time that could be used to deepen the plot to focus on mediocre things such as Quintain trying to fall asleep or waiting for the sun to set. The pacing quickly picks up when the story gets to the more interesting parts, but those parts are done as soon as they started.
What’s more disappointing than the pacing and the unlikeability of the main character is the ending. While it is always pleasant to put a twist on a cliche ending or to throw the reader for a curve, there is a difference between new and completely anti-climatic. You would hope there would be a point to Quintain’s selfish and somewhat stalkerish tendencies, but there isn’t. He and Margo go their separate ways pretty much the second he finds her.
If you’re interested in a book with horrible pacing, an unlikeable main character, side characters that do more than the main character, and an ending more disappointing than the prequels to Star Wars, then feel free to read this book. However, if you don’t want to waste two weeks of your time as I have, I’d recommend leaving Paper Towns on the bookshelf.
I give Paper Towns by John Green two stars out of five.

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