|Publication date||October 16 2008|
|Media type||Print (Hardback, Paperback)|
|LC Classification||PZ7.G8233 Pap 2008|
Paper Towns is the third young adult novel by John Green, published on October 16, 2008 by Dutton Books. It debuted at number 5 on the New York Times bestseller list for children's books and was awarded the 2009 Edgar Award for best Young Adult novel.
Paper Towns takes place in Orlando, Florida. The novel begins in a subdivision called Jefferson Park. The protagonist and narrator, Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, and his neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman, both high schoolers, go to the park and discover the corpse of Robert Joyner, a divorced man who has committed suicide. The novel flashes forward to Quentin and Margo as high schoolers who have grown apart. One night Margo shows up at Quentin’s bedroom window wearing all black and black face paint. She convinces him to sneak out and help her get revenge on people she feels have hurt her.
The first characters they visit are Margo’s ex-boyfriend Jase and the girl with whom he was cheating on Margo, Becca. Quentin calls Becca's parents to inform them about their daughter having sex with Jase. As Jase attempts to escape, Quentin takes a picture of him. Then, Quentin and Margo break into Becca's home, graffiti a blue ‘M’ on her wall, and leave a dead catfish for her. The second person they visit is Karin, a character mentioned only once throughout the story. They leave her a bouquet of flowers, as she is the character who informed Margo that her boyfriend was cheating on her. Upon hearing the news, Margo cursed her in disbelief. After that they go to Jase’s house, break in and leave him a fish and a blue ‘M’. They then visit a character named Lacey, who becomes a more prominent character in the last half of the book. Margo felt that Lacey had never been a good friend to her, and that she had ridiculed her too often and made backhand comments that were truly meant as insults. They leave a fish for her in her car and graffiti a blue ‘M’ on the roof of her car. At 3:15 in the morning, they enter the SunTrust bank building and they relax on one of the higher floors for a short while. This is the first time Margo calls their town a "paper town", describing it as “fake” and “not even hard enough to be made of plastic”. Once they leave the SunTrust building, Margo asks Q who he would like to get revenge on, and he chooses the high school bully Chuck Parson. Margo and Q sneak into his house, remove one of Chuck’s eyebrows with hair removal cream, and slather Vaseline on all of the door handles in his house. After getting revenge on Chuck they break into SeaWorld, but leave disappointed because none of the animals are in their showcases.
Margo and Q return to their homes close to the time they are supposed to be getting up in the morning to go to school. The next day at school all Q thinks about is how things have changed. He wonders if Margo will start hanging out with him and his friends, Ben and Radar, but Margo doesn’t show up to school that day. After Margo has been missing for three days her parents file a report. Margo had run away five times in the past so her parents were more frustrated than worried. After learning that Margo has run away, Q notices a poster of Woody Guthrie taped to the back of her shades. The poster leads him to a song called Walt Whitman's Niece, which, in turn, leads him to a book of poems, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. The poem has highlighted sections that Q believes to be clues left by Margo to lead him to where she is. Q continues to search for clues and finds an address scrawled on a small piece of paper located on his door. Hoping it will lead them to where she is hiding, Q and his friends skip school the following day and go to the place on the piece of paper. They find an old abandoned mini-mall which contains evidence that Margo was recently there, as well as a spray-painted message on the wall that leads him to believe she has committed suicide, and expects him to find her body.
Eventually the clues lead Q to believe that Margo may be hiding out (or buried) in one of the many abandoned subdivision projects around Orlando; what Q’s mother likes to call "pseudodivisions". He drives to all of the pseudodivisions where he feels she may be hiding, but has no luck locating her. While getting ready for graduation, Q makes a connection using a map he found searching for her, which leads him to discover that Margo has been hiding in a fictional town in New York called Agloe, which was created as a copyright trap by mapmakers. Q, Radar, Ben, and Lacey all opt to skip graduation to drive to New York to search for her. They make the drive from Orlando, Florida to Agloe, New York in just shy of twenty-four hours. They find Margo living in an old dilapidated barn. But instead of being grateful for them finding her, she reacts negatively. Margo had not intended for them to find her. Angry that Margo is not grateful for all their efforts to find her, Radar, Ben, and Lacey leave and spend the night at a motel. Q stays behind and talks things over with Margo. She decides to go to New York City. Margo and Q kiss and Q wants to stay with her but it's implied that he will return home with his friends in the end, possibly to reunite some time in the future. They take separate paths.
Quentin “Q” Jacobsen- The protagonist and narrator of the story. Has had a crush on on his neighbor Margo since they were kids, however that crush develops into love and before long Q realises he's in love with Margo. Throughout the story he follows clues he thinks Margo, who has gone missing, left behind for him to help him find her. And he becomes obsessed with finding her with his every waking thought being about her.
Margo Roth Spiegelman- Margo is a self described Paper Girl who runs away from home only to be pursued by her childhood friend, Q.
Ben Starling- He is one of Quentin's best friends. He is in the school band and also helps Quentin find Margo, and in the process, becomes Lacey's boyfriend. Towards the beginning of the book, Ben has an obsession with prom and refers to girls as "honeybunnies".
Marcus “Radar” Lincoln- One of Q’s best friends. In the novel he is constantly editing pages on a website called Omnictionary (which is very similar to Wikipedia). He was nicknamed by Quentin and Ben after the character from M*A*S*H. His parents own the world's largest collection of black Santas. He is in the school band. He assists Quentin in finding Margo.
Lacey Pemberton - She has been Margo's friend since kindergarten (even though Margo feels Lacey has been judgmental of her throughout the course of their friendship). In the second half of the novel Lacey becomes involved in the search for Margo. She goes with Q to find Margo.
The novel is written in parts. Each individual part is named for a specific metaphor used considerably in that section: Part One: The Strings, Part Two: The Grass, Part Three: The Vessel. Each individual chapter within these sections is labeled with a number. Additionally, the third part of the novel is divided into smaller sections by the hour.
Also, throughout the novel paper towns are mentioned numerous times. Green's first experience with paper towns occurred in his junior year of college while on a road trip. He and his travel companion came across a paper town in South Dakota called Holen. According to Green, the story of Agloe presented in the novel is mostly true. “Agloe began as a paper town created to protect against copyright infringement. But then people with these old Esso maps kept looking for it, and so someone built a store, making Agloe real.”
Paper Towns received mostly positive reviews. Publishers Weekly noted that, "The title, which refers to unbuilt subdivisions and copyright trap towns that appears on maps but don't exist, unintentionally underscores the novel's weakness: both milquetoast Q and self-absorbed Margo are types, not fully dimensional characters." They also commented that the novel is "another teen pleasing read." Kirkus Reviews praised the novel as "a winning combination". A School Library Journal review said of the book, "Q is a great social outcast main character who sometimes thinks a little too much, but is completely relatable. Though we only really see Margo for the first third of the book, the clues really create her character and give us the feeling she's a complex person. Finding out who Margo is through the things she left behind was a really great way to develop her character."
Rebecca Swain, reviewing the novel for the Orlando Sentinel, said, "Paper Towns has convinced me that jaded adult readers need to start raiding the Teen's section at the bookstore. Green, who grew up in Orlando and uses the city as a backdrop for the story, taps into the cadence of teenage life with sharp and funny writing, but transcends age with deeper insights." Booklist awarded Paper Towns a starred review, praising it as "wonderfully witty" and "deeply thoughtful and insightful".
Robert Corwin of Arizona State University also reviewed Green’s novel and commented that “some readers may find the authors use of language and sexual content objectionable.” Chelsey G.H. Philpot, editorial assistant of The Horn Book Guide, commented that “the end breaks your heart, and yet it feels right.” Michael Cart wrote, “Green ponders the interconnectedness of imagination and perception, of mirrors and windows, of illusion and reality.”  Rollie Welch called Paper Towns “Green’s best work.”
Green announced in a vlog that the movie rights to Paper Towns have been optioned by Mandate Pictures and Mr. Mudd. He wrote the first draft of the screenplay. However, on April 2, 2010, Green stated on a live-streamed show it was unlikely that the film would be made due to a difference of opinions on "what makes a good movie".
In Paper Towns the characters frequently use a website called Omnictionary - a massively collaborative online encyclopedia similar to Wikipedia. Radar is obsessed with editing this website in the book. A similar website was created, containing 2,849 articles, most of which are centered around Paper Towns characters, Nerdfighters, and the life of John and his brother Hank Green, but it has since been disbanded.
- Green, John (2008). Paper Towns (First ed.). New York, New York: Dutton Books. ISBN 978-0-525-47818-8.
- Siegel, Tatiana (Oct. 24, 2008). Mandate, Mr.Mudd ready to roll ‘Paper’. Retrieved 14 March 2012. Unknown parameter
- "Best Sellers". New York Times. November 2, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- "Edgar Award Winners". Mystery Writers of America.
- Cart, Michael (June 1, 2008). Paper Towns. Retrieved 14 March 2012. Unknown parameter
- Green, Authror’s Note, John. Author’s Notes. New York, New York: Dutton. ISBN 978-0-525-47818-8.
- "Paper Towns". Publishers Weekly (Dutton). 9-8-08. p. 51.
- "Paper Towns". Kirkus Reviews. 1 September 2008. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- "Paper Towns Review". School Library Journal.
- Rebecca Swain (2008-10-11). "Review: Paper Towns by John Green". The Orlando Sentinel.[dead link]
- Paper Towns, by John Green | Booklist Online
- Corwin, Robert (February 2008). "Paper Towns". Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. Retrieved 16 March 2012.[dead link]
- Philpot, Chelsey G.H. (July/August 2010). What Makes a Good YA Road Trip Novel. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- Welch, Rollie. "‘Paper Town’ is author John Green’s best work". Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- John Green (2008-10-24). "Paper Towns Movie!!11!!!".
- March 17, 2009, (at 2:48).
- Paper Towns: John Green: 9780142414934: Amazon.com: Books
- Paper Towns (Book) by John Green (2010): Waterstones.com