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Young Adult Fiction Review – Paper Towns

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Paper Towns by John Green

Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)

Paper Towns won the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery, was number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and was written by the same author who gave us The Fault in Our Stars.  I had very high expectations.

Meet Quentin and Margo, neighbors who were close as children, but who have grown apart as teenagers.  They have had very little to do with one another until Margo climbs into Quentin’s window one night during their senior year of high school.  Margo takes Quentin on a reckless ‘adventure’. Margo dishes out some teenage justice to those who have wronged her and Quentin lets go of some of his ‘good boy’ personality for a few hours.  And then Margo is gone.  Did she run away or did something more malevolent happen to her?  Thus, begins a quest to find Margo.

There were a couple of things I really liked about this book.  One, Quentin’s friendship with Ben and Radar and two, the dialogue between the characters. Ben and Radar reminded me of those fabulous friendships where you can say almost anything to one another and still be loved.  They provided the brutal honesty and constant ribbing perfect for any situation or for any emotion.  Ben and Radar provided the levity that was much-needed in the more complex, difficult to understand mentality of Margo.  And Green did not disappoint with the dialogue between the characters.  Witty and quick-paced, it read like a natural conversation and had me smiling or laughing out loud at times.

While there were things I liked about the book, I did feel it was a bit of a letdown in the end.  In my opinion, the character of Margo and her perceived complexities came off as artificial and forced. I thought the other characters were much stronger, so having the character I considered the weakest at the center of the story made it a bit harder to truly appreciate the novel as a whole.

Overall, I think the premise was a good one but the lack of character in Margo impacted the result in the end, so I give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend The Fault in Our Stars more heartily than Paper Towns.  You can also read my review of The Fault in Our Stars on the PaperBackSwap.com blog.




Young Adult Review – The Fault in Our Stars

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


A Letter to John Green by Mirah Welday (mwelday)

For my review of The Fault in Our Stars I thought I would do something unconventional.  I decided to write a letter to author John Green about his book, who knows maybe he’ll one day get to read it.  If you’ve read the novel, what would you want to say to John Green?

Dear John Green,

The Fault in Our Stars is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I don’t care that I’m quite a bit older than your target reader audience; I loved your book and would recommend it to anyone, regardless of age. I worked at a residential high school for six years and developed an appreciation for the honesty expressed by the typical (in my experience) American teenager.  They have a way of acknowledging and verbalizing what adults think they should not say out loud because of social convention.  You have given voice to those teens in your book.  You have allowed them to stand up to cancer and death in their own way, not caring if their responses are considered irreverent by others’ standards. 

Death is a scary prospect for most of us, I think whether we want to admit it or not.  We don’t want to face leaving our loved ones or leaving our life with regrets or things left undone.  Thank you for sharing with us Augustus and Hazel, two teenagers who find love and a deeper understanding of themselves and the world in the face of death.  In spite of waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop at any time, they teach us not to give up on life when it appears it is already lost.  They are contemplative and sarcastic, yet understood and appreciated by one another for not sugar coating their circumstances.  Their honesty and spunk attracts them to one another and that attraction eventually transforms them into the support system the other is looking for and needing. I became so absorbed in their lives, I couldn’t put down your book; I felt a connection to your characters and laughed and cried with them.

Thank you for the beautifully written reminder that it is never too late to really live.  Whether we have years, months, days or hours, we can make choices so we can truly live in those moments.  Embracing every moment in our lives, in spite of illness or good health, is absolutely our choice and no one else’s.

With much appreciation,

Mirah Welday