If you want to write compelling characters, captivating stories, and true-to-life detail that makes readers smile, and sigh, and tear up a little - write like John Green. If you want all that AND for me to to find it completely un-put-down-able so that even while knocked down by the flu I still read way too late into the night, weave Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass throughout your story in a way that is as illuminating as it is natural.
This is my second John Green book, and his magic is consistent. A part of me wishes his writing was a touch more developed, but since his books are considered Young Adult, I guess that wouldn't work as well for the actual target audience. While The Fault in Our Stars verged occasionally into the morose, Paper Towns suffers mainly from its unrelenting middle-class privilege.
The assumption that all children get a car on their 16th birthday or at graduation, and high school students with their own credit cards, reveals more about the author than it does about the reality of most children in America, let alone the rest of the world. The American middle-class may be culturally dominant, but they are not even a majority in their own country.
I enjoyed Paper Towns - not quite as much as TFIOS, but Paper Towns comes earlier in Green's career, and he's definitely developed his craft. There were a few draggy spots, some of the characters are annoying (being teenagers often has that side-effect), but as I mentioned before, I found it un-put-downable despite its minor flaws. I almost missed my bus stop one morning with a bad case of 'I just need to finish this page.' Ha.
The real magic in Paper Towns are the occasional sparks of wisdom that stick with you. In the mouths of 18 year old they are sometimes slightly contrived, but the Greenian perspective on the world is one worth being exposed to.
Yay, book club! Especially, yay book club's December Potluck. So much great food. So much fun. And Christmas hats for everyone. What more is there to say. :)