After reading almost all of Looking for Alaska in one day while waiting for my flight to be cancelled at the airport, when I went back to catch my re-booked flight three days later, I needed a new book. I was going to get The Fault in Our Stars, but they had sold out, so Paper Towns it was.
I actually like this book more than Looking for Alaska. At first it took me a while to get into the characters; they’re a bit more cartoonish almost and I had a hard time getting to see them as real people. But interestingly that first impression really fits in well with what the book is about. By the end I was much more interested in Q and Margo and Ben as people than I had been with, say, Alaska.
There are definitely similarities in the books. For example, both 1. have lists written in sentences when 2. characters have a bunch of things to say and 3. I don’t really have much more to add but 4. I want to illustrated what I’m talking about.
What’s really much more interesting is the way the book focuses on the difference between how things are and how we see them. How we anticipate an adventure will be versus actually doing it. What one person is like based on how they behave versus what they’re actual motivations are. Sides of people that you didn’t even know existed even as you thought you knew someone really well. These are things that I sympathize with a lot.
What really hit home that this message had sunk in with me was when I went on to read my next book, Cockroach by Rawi Hage, in which the main character is a hypocritical shallow piece of crap who sees everybody else only as their paper selves while complaining that nobody understands him. That post will come later, but I really wonder what Q would have to say about him.