I spent the first part of my recent vacation getting my John Green on, because aren't beach vacations all about the good books you pack? They are for me! The premise behind the title Paper Towns is that, at one time, map companies actually placed fake towns on their maps so they would know if other map companies plagiarized their work. Keep this in mind as you immerse yourself in the story of Quentin (Q), who has been in love with his next door neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman (yes, you need to say her whole name each time you refer to her) forever. And then Margo disappears. I loved most of the book, as Q follows the clues that he believes Margo has left for him alone. After a 21-hour, 1,100+ mile dash across the country with his friends Radar and Ben and Lacey . . . well, I'm not going to throw out any spoilers here, but I was not happy with the ending. And it's not that I have to have a happy ending to be satisfied with a book, but I just felt the ending was a bit underwhelming. HOWEVER, I would still recommend the book, because it's John Green, and you might like the ending more than I did!
I was lucky enough to catch David Levithan at the NCTE convention a couple of years ago, and I just LOVE John Green, so choosing this book was a no-brainer. The hook to this YA book is that Green wrote half the chapters about Will Grayson #1, and Levithan wrote the other half of the chapters about Will Grayson #2. The two stories eventually merge in a porn store in Chicago (long story), and the two Will Graysons meet. The two Will Graysons' lives continue to touch each other through each of their connections with Tiny, Will #1's gay best friend, although not always positively. Will #1 feels his best friend is rejecting him; Will #2 struggles with depression and thinks Tiny is better off without him. All the Will Graysons come together at Tiny's autobiographical high school musical Hold Me Closer. A goosebump ending for me. LOVED IT! (Warning, adult readers--teen situations and language abound)
I finished this book the last day of school--it was the first thing I did when I got home for the summer. Basic premise--two cancer kids fall in love. You know things are not going to end well. But Hazel Grace and Gus take us along for a sweet ride before the final curtain. Another author who got the teen voice exactly right. Knowing what was probably coming, there were days I just had to close this book and let it sit for a while, because I just didn't want to have to go where I knew Green was ultimately leading me. After you've read the book, you MUST see the movie (with many tissues in tow). They also got the casting exactly right (I know John Green doesn't have anything to do this, but I like to think he was pulling for this cast!)