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Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr
Amulet 7: Firelight by Kazu Kibuishi
Avatar: The Last Airbender: Smoke and Shadow Part 2 by Gene Luen Yang
Babymouse: Dragonslayer by Jennifer L. Holm
Booked for Trouble by Eva Gates
Camp Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm
Cat In The City by Julie Salamon
Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko
The Circle of Lies by Crystal Velasquez
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Ellen's Lion: Twelve Stories by Crockett Johnson
Food Wars!, Vol. 1 by Yuuto Tsukuda
Fridays with the Wizards by Jessica Day George
Ghostbusters: Mass Hysteria! Part 2 by Erik Burnham
A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
Knitting Bones by Monica Ferris
Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
The Locksmith issue 1 by Terrance Grace
Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
A Most Unique Machine by George S. May
My Little Pony: Micro-Series: #4: Fluttershy by Barbara Randall Kesel
My Little Pony Micro-Series: #6 Applejack by Bobby Curnow
Oz: Road to Oz by Eric Shanower
Paper Towns by John Green
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
RoadFrames: The American Highway Narrative by Kris Lackey
Serendipity and Me by Judith L. Roth
Shoplifter by Michael Cho
Sparky! by Jenny Offill
Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins
To Be A Cat by Matt Haig

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Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



Paper Towns: 05/31/16

Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns by John Green is a book I read for my road narrative project. Quentin "Q" Jacobsen is about to graduate high school, though not in any particular stellar way, when he's pulled into web of mystery that is Margo Roth Spiegelman. When she goes missing he can think of nothing but figuring out what happened to her.

This book reads more like a trilogy of novellas, than a single, coherent novel. The first act or novella is an extreme version of a senior prank, an all nighter of mayhem in the suburbs that spills into Orlando proper. Q because he has access to a car (a minivan) and isn't popular enough to be drinking himself into a stupor at one of the senior parties is recruited by Margo to drive her to all the parts of her caper.

This section is my least favorite part of the book. It's positively reeking of male privilege and "boys will be boys" and a group of young men who will probably grow up to be mansplaining predators whining about how they can't "get any."

Then Margo comes in and I suppose she's supposed to be this alluring, powerful female character. Why she'd give Q and his loser friends more than a minute of her time, I don't know. Sure, he has wheels. And maybe she can see how ridiculously gullible he is. But he's also scary.

The second act is a missing person mystery. Margo has vanished. Her family doesn't care because she's an adult and that means their problem child is no longer their problem. That's another weird aspect of this book — how little the teens speak to their parents.

It's in looking for Margo that Q discovers two things: Walt Whitman and a burning desire to go on a roadtrip. In Walt Whitman we have the young adult recapitulation of Kris Lackey's RoadFrames thesis: that for the white male road trip, the experience is primarily a desire to experience the self discovery central to Transcontinentalism.

Margo, already gone, is taking the classic feminine road trip: namely that of escape. If men go to find themselves, women leave to escape — to find safe-haven, betterment, freedom, typically from the sort of patriarchy that Q represents.

The final act is Q and his friends ditching high school graduation (with their parents' permission; hello absentee parents!) to find Margo. In a replay of Dumb and Dumber (including the peeing in beer bottles) these nitwits head after Margo, believing there is a ticking timebomb tied to the time of graduation. Because of course they believe that they are so damn important to Margo that she will do something to herself to hurt them.

Given the urgency of their itinerary, allowing themselves only six minutes per stop to refuel, buy food, and pee (though they mostly seem to pee whist driving), they are hunters after prey (Margo). This isn't a romantic road trip reunion, though it is disguised as one.

Yes, Margo did leave clues behind. And maybe at some level she did eventually want Q and others to know where she had gone but his gathering up of a posse to go get her isn't a romantic gesture. I don't think it's what someone like Margo would have liked.

So in the end, Paper Towns was a paint by number road narrative. This is Dumb and Dumber taken seriously. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Three stars

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