Paper Towns by John Green

I wanted so badly to give this book five stars. For the majority of it, I was fully prepared to. But I just can’t. (just a warning to those who haven’t read this book yet: explicit spoilers will not be given, but if you want to be absolutely surprised by the ending you should stop now.)

Seventeen-year-old Quentin, nicknamed Q, has lived next door to and been in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman for most of his life. Q and Margo were friends as children, but grew apart in high school.She is awesome – she once orchestrated a widespread plan to TP more than 200 houses in one night, and another time ran away to Mississippi to join the circus briefly. Then one night, Margo shows up at Q’s bedroom window and tells him they’re going on an adventure, the details of which I will not reveal here because they should not be spoiled. The next day, Margo has disappeared. She left behind clues, however, that may point to where she went, and Q decides to find her.

Everything that follows is amazing and funny and brilliant and (because at one point Q suspects Margo may have killed herself) terrifying. There’s a fantastic scene where Q and his friends break into an abandoned minimall searching for Margo, and it’s so suspenseful and scary and amazing it practically made me short of breath:

“Standing before this building, I learn something about fear. I learn that it is not the idle fantasies of someone who maybe wants something important to happen to him, even if the important thing is horrible. …This cannot be addressed by breathing exercises. This fear bears no analogy to any fear I knew before. This is the basest of all possible emotions, the feeling that was with us before we existed, before this building existed, before the earth existed. This is the fear that made fish crawl out onto dry land and evolve lungs, the fear that teaches us to run, the fear that makes us bury our dead.”

I read sections like that, and hoped that the ending could live up to the rest of the book. I really, really wanted John Green to pull it all together and make an ending that was just as amazing and emotional as the rest of the story.

I was disappointed, and at risk of giving away spoilers will leave it at that. This is why the book gets four stars instead of five: John Green was supposed to blow my mind at the end of the book; instead he just sucker punched me and ran.

Verdict: four out of five stars

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