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Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns

Paper Towns

Age Level: 12-14

Buy Paper Towns

Paper Towns by John Green

About the Book

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life — dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge — he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues — and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew. With nothing left to guide him but a seemingly random collection of maps, books, online entries, and an annotated copy of Walt Whitman's Leave of Grass, Q and his friends must find Margo and unpeel the ever-changing layers of meaning behind her "paper towns."

About the Author

John Green is the celebrated author of Printz-medalist, Looking for Alaska, and the Printz Honor Book, An Abundance of Katherines. Both books have been finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, received many starred reviews, and been placed on numerous state award lists. John's work has been translated into eleven languages.

He has been a commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and reviewed books for publications, including The New York Times and Booklist. John was also one half (with his brother, Hank) of the enormously popular video project Brotherhood 2.0, which has been watched more than 10 million times. Although John grew up amid the subdivisions and theme parks of Orlando, he now lives with his wife, Sarah, in Indiana. You can visit him online at or at

Reprinted with permission from Penguin Books © 2007.

Possible Discussion Questions

  • When Margo and Quentin are nine they make a horrible discovery, and respond in very different ways. Quentin says, "As I took those two steps back, Margo took two equally small and quiet steps forward" (p.5). Do these descriptions still apply to the characters when they reach high school? When the story ends? What changes?
  • Describe Q's best friends. Where do they fit into the caste system of Winter Park High? If you had to choose one of these characters as your best friend who would you pick? Why?
  • How does Quentin struggle at times with his friendship with Ben? How does Q learn to accept Ben for who he is? How does this relate to Q's changing understanding of Margo?
  • Why do you think Margo picks Q as her accomplice on her campaign of revenge?
  • Do you think the characters Margo targets for revenge get what they deserve? Does Lacey deserve to be included?
  • When Margo disappears after her outing with Q, it's not the first time she's seemingly vanished for a long period. Describe Margo's other adventures and note any common threads between the trips. What makes her disappearance after her night with Q different from the others?
  • Do you think Margo wants to be found? Do you think Margo wants to be found by Q?
  • Why does Quentin begin to believe that Margo may have committed suicide? What clues make this seem like a viable solution to the mystery of her whereabouts?
  • Describe Q's tour of the various abandoned subdivisions he visits on his quest to find Margo. How are they different? How might these differences parallel the evolution of Q's search?
  • Q’s parents describe people as “mirrors” and “windows” (page 199). What does this mean? Do you agree with this metaphor?
  • The book is divided into three sections: The Strings; The Grass; and The Vessel. What is the connection between the sections/titles and the content within those sections? How do the sections/titles connect to the themes of the book?

Extension Activities

  • Research the concept of paper towns. See if you can locate one (or more) in the area where you live. Find out its real story and then write a fictionalized version involving members of your school or town.
  • Write an entry for Omnictionary about one of the major events or characters in the book.
  • Radar says, "Coltrane's playing is literally the most convincing proof of God's existence I've ever come across" (p.112). What music would be this important to you? Create a playlist that could be listened to as you read Paper Towns or could be used as the soundtrack of the movie version.
  • Create a trailer for Paper Towns. Use actors or voice-overs. Find real locations or create your own. Use graphic images or real life objects and people. When you're finished, post it online.

Additional Books

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

Age Level: 14-16

John Green won the Printz Award for this debut novel that follows the life of Miles "Pudge" Halter during his first year at an elite Alabama boarding school. Dreaming of finding Francois Rabelais' the "Great Perhaps," Pudge learns many life lessons from his new friends, especially the stunning and self-destructive Alaska Young.

Buy Looking for Alaska