John Green's New Novel: Paper Towns

Ransom Riggs

I know, I know: shut up about John Green already! He hasn't worked for mental_floss for like three years and yet you blog about everything he does! Gahh!

To this, and similar criticisms, I say: yes, it's been awhile since John worked here, but he's still responsible for like 50% of the books we ever published, which people are still buying and reading and infotaining themselves with. Also, I haven't blogged about John in a long time, and he just published an awesome new novel, which is more than blogworthy.

Also also, John's novel is about, among other things, growing up in that strange disposable exurban wasteland that is (or can be) Florida, a topic I we both find pretty darn compelling since we both grew up there. And a very significant portion of the book centers around what John calls "paper towns" and what I have called "aborted suburbs" -- suburban communities that are platted out, the roads paved, perhaps even lots for the houses cleared, before the developers ran out of money or some bureaucratic epic fail sent the whole endeavor to Hell, leaving a place which is a town on paper, but not much else. (I did a Strange Geographies blog about one of these "towns" awhile back, which was just a few miles from my childhood home, and the deserted streets of which Mexican drugrunners used to use as landing strips.)

I've read Paper Towns, but this isn't a book review. But I will say that I think it's John's most mature and heartfelt novel to date, full of wit and wisdom (and plenty of floss-worthy facts, unsurprisingly). Or as John's editor describes it, Paper Towns is "the funniest serious mystery novel ever written about love and Walt Whitman." I couldn't have said it better myself.

You can buy it on Amazon, or watch him read parts of it on YouTube.