I have been waiting, waiting, waiting, for my copy of John Green's Paper Towns to come in at the library.
So when it came in last week I immediately started it, even though I've got about forty other books that are going to come due first that I should be looking at. It's not like I've been out partying, having a crazy good time lately, so I figured, what the hell? I've earned this.
For those of you who don't know him (and why don't you? Sure, he's the author of books for teens--"YA" or "Young Adult" books for those in the book and library biz--and may therefore be under your radar. That is no excuse), John Green is the author of the fabulous YA novels Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and now, Paper Towns.
What's important here is not really the story, which can be nutshelled as follows: Quentin Jacobsen, who's harbored a longtime crush on his next-door neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman (known far and wide for her adventurous exploits and hijinks), is shocked when she shows up late one night to take him along on a night of pranks aimed at those who have wronged her (including her unfaithful boyfriend). Immediately thereafter, she disappears, and Quentin and his friends spend the rest of the book trying to find her. Want a better synopsis? Visit Bookshelves of Doom.
What IS important is the world into which Green dumps his readers, and his writing skill. In my opinion, Green is hands-down, one of the best writers at creating quirky characters you wish you could be or know (except, well, maybe with just a few fewer neuroses) since J.D. Salinger. Interestingly enough, when I read his books, I never particularly want to be or know his female characters, who are all somewhat troubled, offbeat, and brilliant but complicated young girls. I want to be his male characters, who always have an interesting group of friends and a thoughtful nature.
Case in point? Q is friends with Ben and Radar. Radar's parents just happen to have the world's largest ollection of black Santas:
"In total, Radar's parents owned more than twelve hundred black Santas of various sorts. As a plaque beside their front door proclaimed, Radar's house was an officially registered Santa Landmark according to the Society for Christmas.
'You just gotta tell her, man,' I said. 'You just gotta say, Angela, I really like you, but there's something you need to know: when we go to my house and hook up, we'll be watched by the twenty-four hundred eyes of twelve hundred black Santas.'" (pp. 22-23.)
That's right, black Santas. I love John Green.