This is the third book I’ve read by John Green, and he never fails to craft emotional books which are completely absorbing. But I do think my enjoyment of this one was diminished slightly due to the fact that I’d read Looking For Alaska earlier this year. I hate to say it, but his novels starting to feel a little bit…samey? But despite that, I still enjoyed and would recommend this book.
The book’s protagonist, Quentin (known to his friends as Q), has always loved his neighbor Margo Roth Speigelman (now that’s a mouthful) from afar. Growing up they were childhood friends, but drifted apart in high school as Margo’s popularity grew and Q found his own place on the outskirts of the popular crowd. So when Margo knocks on his window late one night and invites him on a journey of adventures to get revenge on her popular friends, he can’t resist. After their night of intrepid adventures, Q wonders if things will be different between them at school the next day. And he’s right, things are different – Margo goes missing.
So begins Q’s own adventure; with the help of his loyal friends, he sets out to track down Margo based on a series of cryptic clues she’d left behind. This part of the novel was really enjoyable; Green creates an intriguing little puzzle which is revealed to the reader as the characters start to piece it together. Q was a likeable narrator; a truly nice guy with authentic emotions surrounded by a great circle of loyal friends all on a quest together to find Margo while dealing with the usual high school dramas of high school, graduation and prom. While the mystery of Margo was always lingering, it was easy to get caught up in the high school life and the friends’ relationships with each other. I loved their bickering and at the heart of it all their friendships felt so strong, warm and real – there’s plenty of laugh-out-loud moments amongst the drama.
The only character I really couldn’t get on board with was Margo. I get what John Green was trying to do; dispel the myth of popularity, creating a queen bee character who in her heart felt troubled and wanted to escape it all. He epitomises it perfectly with this quote; “What a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person.” It’s a poignant point, but I just couldn’t get past how innately selfishly I found Margo. She threw so many people’s lives off course leaving them riddled with worry and fearing for her life, particularly Q who just seemed like such a good guy. It bugged me.
There’s definitely some beautiful writing in this book and Green deploys some clever metaphors to help his characters look at life in a different way. This one has to my favourite – it’s long, but needs to be quoted in its entirety.
“Like each of us starts out as a watertight vessel. And then things happen – these people leave us, or don’t love us, or don’t get us, or we don’t get them, and we lose and fail and hurt one another. And the vessel starts to crack in places. Once the vessel cracks open, the end becomes inevitable. Once it starts to rain inside the Osprey, it will never be remodeled. But there is all this time between when the cracks start to open up and when we finally fall apart. And its only that time that we see one another, because we see out of ourselves through our cracks and into others through theirs.”
I just wasn’t quite as emotionally invested as I’d liked to have been in order for this writing to affect me the way it should. I don’t know if it’s the book or me – I may have just had my YA contemporary fill for the year. I’d definitely recommend it to John Green fans all the same.