Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Challenge 2, Day 19 - A hijacking long, long overdue

Reporting live from the scene at home base, this is Sean, the brother of your regular blogger, checking in with the latest on the Unplugged Challenge. Ash is surviving the separation from her television and computer fairly well but it remains to be seen what will happen if some of her siblings drop purposefully vague comments about what she's been missing some of her favorite television shows... more on that later... maybe. After all, just because she's not going to be able to read this for about another two weeks doesn't give me the liberty to use that window to embarrass her (though I must confess, as her younger brother, it is oh so very tempting). That being said, I owe her a review! Be warned, it's not going to look very much like one of the regular reviews but then, I never promised I'd follow the standard format.

Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Format: Paperback
Pages: 305
Genre: Real Life/Mystery/Adventure/I-find-the-concept-of-genre-too-limiting
Date Started: April 26th, 2010
Date Finished: April 26th, 2010

While trying to think of something to review, I was considering writing about the new Doctor Who series when this book literally fell into my lap. Right off the shelf, no joke.

The Barnes and Noble Summary: Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge— he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues— and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.

For starters, the summary you've just read -- assuming you did read it but, if you didn't, I shall be very cross -- doesn't really tell you what Paper Towns is about. It certainly does a good job of telling you what happens, but it swings so wide of the real purpose of the book that it nearly misses it entirely. But I wasn't asked to do a review of a book summary, so I shall instead provide my own:

Take a look at the people around you. Whatever it is that you think you know about these people is wrong, and no one learns this in a more powerful way than Quentin Jacobsen as he questions everything he knows about how we see each other and ourselves while he searches for a girl that only existed in his own mind.

So that would be a better, fairly accurate summarization of the book that doesn't really give anything away. Now on to the review bit.

Honestly, I really didn't know what to make of this book as I sat down and began to read it. I'd heard the first chapter before - the author read it in a video on his youtube channel - and so I was expecting something exciting. In fact, this one section unfolds so slowly that my first attempt at reading the book ended after the first chapter, and I didn't look at the book again for several months.

This has turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made in regards to a book. The book quickly picks up the pace again and maintains this high energy right until the very last page. The interplay between the characters is excellent and frequently had me laughing out loud which is, given the fact that I was sitting on a crowded bus while I was reading, really saying something. But perhaps the best part of the book are the internal monologues that the main character uses to describe the action happening around him, which are witty, imaginative, and just plain fun, which made him easy to relate to and that made the book that much more enjoyable.

As much as I like this book, there are a few points that I have against it. As I mentioned earlier, there's the slow-down early in the book. But then there's what I found to be the greatest problem with the book. When the author created characters in this story, he made them fairly typical, secular, American teenagers, and he remained true to the language of your typical secular American teenager, which means that I can't recommend this book to younger readers (I won't attempt to define what age that constitutes). But then, this book does come from the Young Adult section and contains some plot elements that would go right over the heads of many readers below the target age range. That being said, I give this book an A- for young adults and up and an F for younger readers. For those of you who decide to give this book a go, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And now I need to hurry and get this posted... I've been working on it on and off for 13 days now so I'm a bit late (hence why I don't blog at all regularly). Ciao!

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