Paper towns by John Green
Plot: The book opens as nine year old Quentin and Margo Roth Spiegelman (one of those names you say all in one breath) find a dead body in the park. Then jumps to senior year of high school, where Quentin, now called Q, is still enthralled by Margo Roth Spiegelman, who has become one of the 'in' crowd. She dates the right guy, hangs out with the right people, and doesn't speak to Q, though he suspects that she's the one who keeps the bullies from leaning too hard on him and his band geek friends. Then one night about a month before graduation Margo show up outside Q's window and leads him on a night full of pranks before disappearing and leaving only a few mysterious clues, an upset best friend, and angry parents who seem just as happy she's gone.
Q with the help of his two best friends and Margo's best friend follow the clues a bit farther than Margo expected and skip graduation for a wild road trip from central FL to central NY state in just a little over a day.
Thoughts: I wasn't a huge fan of Green's before reading this. I admired what he did in Katherine's and in Looking for Alaska, but they were by no means favorites of mine. I've read reviews and comments where readers (both professional and teen) ask why Green keeps writing books about the 'ideal' girl who teaches the boy something and if all the books aren't just rifts on the same story. I don't get how they can say that after reading _Paper towns_ though. I would argue that Margo doesn't teach Q a thing. Oh, yeah she takes him out and gets him to loosen up on their night of pranks and he feel drawn to the clues she left, but he learns so much more once she's gone. He learns it from the journey, from looking into the clue, from the process of learning that the Margo he saw wasn't real. Ultimately, he learns about himself from himself and his friends NOT Margo. And Margo, as little as you see her, learns from Quentin. The reader doesn't find this out until the end of the novel, but Margo learns that the person she thought of as weak and cowardly, was probably the bravest and most daring person she never knew.
This novel is at turns serious and thoughtful and at others it's hilariously funny. In the end, these two teenagers learn that people who were the corner stone of their lives and definition of themselves are real people and had very little in common with who they thought they were.