I read PAPER TOWNS by John Green last week while on my outgoing flight. It didn't live up to my expectations. In fact, I was left feeling rather cold afterward.
I would say I'm having bad luck with books or something, but I read THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN and absolutely loved it. So, that isn't it.
After finishing PAPER TOWNS, I sat there (like you do on a plane) and just stared at the back of the seat in front of me for probably a half hour, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. I was laughing so hard at the start of the book. I couldn't stop. Seriously, this was John Green's humor at its finest. And I loved, loved, loved the "cast." There was nothing really wrong with the book that I can think of, so there was no reason for me not to love it, right? Well, the absence of bad doesn't automatically equal greatness.
Okay. This is weird, but I keep comparing JG's work to the music of The Killers. HOT FUSS has a certain sound, a certain feel. For the most part, I loved it when it came out (for the second time). SAM'S TOWN also has a certain sound and feel to it--a very different sound and feel from HF. But there is still a certain Killers-ness about both. (Incidentally, I am more hooked on SAM'S TOWN than HOT FUSS. But my favorite album of theirs at the moment is SAWDUST, which contains the B-sides from their recording sessions of both of those albums.)
Now, what I keep hoping for is that the forthcoming album DAY & AGE will have some of what I loved about HOT FUSS and SAM'S TOWN with something new mixed in there as well. From the "Human" single, it sounds exactly like that. Which is awesome! But, if the rest of the CD ends up sounding like "Smile Like You Mean It" (my least favorite Killer's song of all time), I will be disappointed in DAY & AGE despite "Human" being on there.
And I guess that's what happened with PAPER TOWNS. Some element (that I can't quite put my finger on) which I'll call "Smile Like You Mean It" was in LOOKING FOR ALASKA, but I didn't mind it so much at the time. Then it was largely absent in AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES so I felt like JG was moving forward. But with PAPER TOWNS, "Smile Like You Mean It" showed up all over the place. It felt like a big step backward.
Anyhow, all this is not to say that PT is a terrible book or I don't find JG's writing enjoyable. It just didn't move me or resonate with me in the way I'd hoped it would. I keep reading comments from others who say it helped them open their eyes and see the people around them in a whole new light. It's so cool to see how it is changing people's views and lives with that. Maybe it doesn't have that effect on me because I've already made those types of revelations in my own life a long time ago? I don't know. The emotions and deep realizations just weren't there for me.