They are neighbors and have known each other since they were little but ended up growing apart and having their own group of friends.
Quentin lives a pretty “normal” routine: school, video games with friends and a platonic love for Margo, who is adventurous and unpredictable.
On “the longest night of his life”, Quentin is surprised by Margo at his bedroom window, dressed all in black and summoning him for a night of pranks and revenge – she had just found out her boyfriend was sleeping with one of her closest friends.
They drive around Orlando spray painting houses and cars, hiding fishes in closets, taking pictures of her ex naked and breaking into buildings. I liked the notes she left with the fish, as a reference to The Godfather: your Friendship with ms Sleeps with The fishes. The capitalization is also an interesting concept: Margo says she doesn’t agree with the rules because they are not fair to the words in the middle.
On the top of a building, they look out at the city in the middle of the night and she talks about paper towns, about how fake everything is and about how people are living their lives:
“All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I've lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters.”
As his friends obsess about prom and graduation, he can’t stop thinking about finding Margo and maybe proving that he is good enough to be with her. He tries to know her better through her clues and realizes each person has different perceptions of one another. His Margo wasn’t his friends’ Margo or even her parents’ Margo.
Isn’t that the way it is? People are but what we believe they are. Will we ever truly know a person?
John Green has again created an easy to read, young adult novel with great food for thought and charming characters. Margo has a compulsion for leaving, for going somewhere she could be herself and not have to go down the road of graduation-college-job-house-marriage-babies. Needless to say, I resonate with her.
Oh, and it also features a family who owns the world’s largest collection of Black Santas!
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