by John Green
Published: 1st October 2008
Publisher: Dutton Books
Who is the real Margo?
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificent adventures Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life – dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge – he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues – and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…
Considering the fact that I really enjoyed both The Fault In Our Stars and Looking For Alaska, this book had been sat on my bookshelves for far too long. I finally decided to pick it up so I could read and appreciate it before the release of the movie adaptation. I’ve heard lots of good things about this book, but I noticed it’s not raved about as much as the other two I just mentioned. This made me even more curious and eager to read it, and to form my own opinion about it.
It has a very strong opening prologue, we learn a lot about our protagonists in such a short space of time. Quentin is reserved and is self-proclaimed ‘adjusted’ into society. He speaks very eloquently and he communicates his story well. On the other hand, Margo Roth Spiegelman has an independent spirit. She’s very curious and inquisitive. She’s not afraid to put herself out there, and doesn’t care what people think about it. I thought they were both interesting characters from the get-go, especially Margo who “loved mysteries so much, she became one.”
Once I’d read further into the book, I realised that the characters are quite clichéd. Margo is the ‘pixie, perfect, dream girl’ that the ‘quirky, geeky guy’ falls for from afar. We’ve seen this trope a lot before. Regardless, the author makes up for it with a gripping plot and exceptional dialogue. This is what I’ve always rated highly about this author – and it’s something we see emulated often, ‘the next John Green.’ Paper Towns is another great example of effortless style, his dialogue is witty and it strengthens the characters. The dialogue moves them away from the clichéd character frame and gives them a lot more depth and dimension.
The book is truly hilarious, and there were so many moments when I laughed out loud. I’m not one that usually does, so that’s a testament to his writing. The first third of this book is the best in my opinion, as Quentin & Margo wreak havoc on folk in the town. Granted, in this section I could have lived without the inclusion of Seaworld – but that’s a conversation for another day. The second third of the book is also fantastic. However, the pace slows down just a little bit too much. It’s made up for with a road trip that has some of the best laugh out loud moments. This section really propels you through to the end of the book, making this a one sitting sort of book and a real page turner. The only disappointment for me was the ending, to be honest. It wasn’t predictable – I wasn’t expecting it to end that way, it was more just an anti-climax – very much an ‘Is that it?’ sort of ending.
Overall, I’d say the majority of the exciting, mysterious plot easily outweighs the lacklustre ending. The writing style is a joy to read and it’s clear why this author continues to be quite popular. I’m quite looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation now. I hoping that they keep the spirit of this book and make use of the source material’s exceptional dialogue.
If you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh, with a gripping plot – this book is for you.