This is the third John Green book I've read to date (the others being The Fault in Our Stars and An Abundance of Katherines) and it is by far the best. Green can't seem to resist his manic pixies and overly-philosophical teens, but in this book those elements came together in a far more enjoyable way. I liked Q and Radar and Lacey. They were funny and interesting and the right amount of quirky. Ben was more caricature than character. His teenage assholeyness was too exaggerated for me to like him, and I found myself, along with Q occasionally, wondering why anyone was friends with him. I couldn't feel much of anything for Margo. For being so central to the book, she never felt entirely real to me, which is actually a huge part of the theme, but it made it a little harder to invest in Q when he was so invested in Margo. I'm not even sure if that will make sense to anyone outside my head, but there it is.
It was almost a four-star read for me, but the appearance of some of my pet peeves detracted from my enjoyment of the story. Take, for instance, the random switches to present tense. Tense changes bug the crap out of me and pull me out of the story every single time. It happens twice in Paper Towns (three if you count that random-ass past tense paragraph on page 333), and neither switches felt the least bit necessary. And. Then. There. Were. The. Full. Sentences. Broken. Up. With. Extra. Puctuation. For. Added. Emphasis. I freaking hate this. This device, to me, represents lazy writing, like conveying emphasis any other way is too hard so instead you throw a bucket of punctuation at it. It drives me nuts.
Conclusions I have reached after three Green books:
1. He's better at writing from male perspectives.
2. He's better at writing in first person than third.
3. He's better at past tense than present.
4. He's not doing anything remarkably different from his peers and his massive popularity is a result of a combination of his YouTube fame and genius marketing. John Green is not the savior of YA, but he plays one on the internet.
I hear the Paper Towns movie is filming and slated for release next year. I'm actually curious to see how this will be adapted to film, unlike TFiOS, which I'm not the least bit curious about. One more Green book to go in my physical collection. Fingers crossed.