I don’t think I have ever read a book that can make me laugh so hard I cry, and cry so hard I laugh in the space of a couple chapters. If anyone out there has read “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, then you must understand what I mean. However, I would like to focus on two other books by Green; a little less famous, but equally witty and overall brilliant! The books I’m talking about are Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines.
Though it seems like John Green uses a similar format in most of his books- two incredibly philosophical teenagers become friends because of an odd set of circumstances and soon end up falling in love- it clearly doesn’t bother the majority of teen readers in the world. Obviously he is very successful with this formula, because it is done so subtly that it is very hard even to notice it is being done.
Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Spiegelman are an epitome of unrequited love. This book starts out with the strange flashback of a younger Quentin and Margo discovering the body of a man behind a tree- from that moment on, Quentin was in love. I know what you’re thinking- it’s creepy that a dead guy made him realize he liked her, but I think his attachment sprung from the fact that they had been through something horrible together. Quentin was sure that their friendship would blossom (I too had infinite hope for their relationship to become boy-next-door-esque) but, sadly, John Green had something else in mind. I didn’t really see where this plot was going, until Margo showed up at Q’s house with revenge in mind. After one hilarious night spent righting wrongs against cheaters, faux friends, and bullies, Quentin’s life is changed forever. As a reader, I assumed that afterwards, they would begin to build the relationship that I craved and then…she disappeared. Margo Spiegelman vanished into thin air, leaving a heartbroken Quentin with only a couple clues in her wake.
Throughout this novel, I struggled with Margo. Did I like her, or didn’t I? Even as I sit here writing this, I’m not sure. Margo had an element for drama (which I can admire), and was extremely philosophical in nature. She was the girl who “loved mysteries so much, that she became one (page 16, Paper Towns, John Green) .” It seemed to me like Margo was the creator of her own demons. She was openly critical of her life being made of paper and when she realized that she was a little flimsy too, she ran away. Maybe she didn’t know just how drastically her disappearance would affect Quentin, but maybe she did. Maybe that’s why she left; to know that someone would be waiting for her.
I think that the character development in this novel was stunning, and I loved the minor protagonists as well. The overall symbolism and the extended metaphor- which John Green loves to use- of the ‘paper town’ was beautiful to read and Green’s typical humorous style was spot on, as always. My last remark on this novel would have to be the ending. Everyone always wants to discuss the ending. Though I’m not going to release any spoilers, I do want to say that personally, I thought the big revelation at the end was a little bit of a let down. It seemed to me that the ‘legacy’ that Margo left behind her fell flat, when what truly happened was revealed.
Now let’s move from Margo to Katherine. But not just one Katherine! This novel tells the story of no less than 18 different Katherines to be exact! Quite an abundance (hehe, pun intended)! Colin Singleton is a recently graduated, child prodigy, anagram loving dumpee that is trying to find himself. After being dumped 18 times, by 18 Katherines, Colin doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. In his post-breakup slump, he and his crazy friend Hassan decide to take a road trip to…well…they don’t really know, in an attempt to help Colin get over his lost love. Already this book is beginning on a lighter note. They find themselves in a small town in the middle of no where, called Gutshot. Yes, Gutshot. There they meet Lindsey and her slightly eccentric mother, Hollis.
While there, Colin begins to work on a theorem that could detect (before a relationship even begins) who will be the dumpee and who will be the dumper of that relationship. The math included in this book was a little over my head, but I suppose I shouldn’t feel bad considering the fact that Colin is a prodigy. But don’t let that deter you from reading! While at Gutshot, Colin and Hassan find love in unexpected places, go hunting for the first time, stay in a pink mansion, and learn quite a lot of history.
Where I’m sure my opinion will differ from a lot of readers is that I think the true meaning of this book lies deeper than a miserable boy who got dumped…again. I believe that this book was more the story of a couple average teenagers who take an unexpected ‘journey’ to find themselves. They just graduated from high-school and were preparing for college- a scary time for most people. They knew how the world perceived them and they knew what their family expected of them, they were just trying to figure out how they fit into the equation.
One of the developing plots (spoiler!) was a little predictable, but in a way that still made you smile along with the characters, and cheer them on as the story progressed. I also don’t quite understand how a boy like Colin, who had to be coached on his social skills managed to have 18 girlfriends in 18 years- quite an impressive record! I think this was one of the most out-of-the-box plot lines that John Green has come up with so far, and I loved Hassan most of all, because of the development that his character underwent- something we don’t often see in smaller characters. This book would get a high review, for it’s overall ease and light tone, giving a general boost to anyone’s day!
I would like to say that these two novels were written for a teen audience. If you would like to read this book, please keep that in mind, as there is some language and content that is too mature for a younger audience.
THIS BOOK REVIEW (WRITTEN BY YOURS TRULY) IS PUBLISHED ON MY MONTHLY COLUMN IN THE INSPIRED KIDS MAGAZINE. FOLLOW THE LINK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS INCREDIBLE MAGAZINE WRITTEN FOR, AND BY KIDS!
Let me know what you have to say about either of these books! Did you particularly like or dislike one of them? Do you have an opinion that you would like to share? Or do you have a good book that you would like me to read and review? Fill out the contact from on my ‘about’ page so I can hear what you have to say!