Paper Towns Historical Context 📌

‘Paper Towns’ was written right near the start of the 21st century. The language used by the characters is very much in keeping with the era.

Paper Towns

John Green

Paper Towns is in line with a push on Young Adult fiction to be more adult and step away from fantasy settings. Having said that the use of a road trip as a plot device is a classic move for works of this type.

Paper Towns Historical Context

The novel looks at modern-day youth. It includes items that one would associate with contemporary youth culture. A prime example of this is that many of the characters focus on their school prom and afterward there is a party with various drinking games. One of the drinking games is embedded in US culture where cans of alcohol are secured to a person’s hands. This is referenced in the book but also in US sitcoms such as How I Met Your Mother.

It is not just alcohol use that ties in with this image of teen culture. Cell phones are prominent throughout the novel. The characters use their phones to call their parents with excuses. They use them to search for information on the internet and perhaps most prominently they are involved heavily in Margo’s revenge scheme which is the most prevalent action in the first section of the book.

References to Literature

One of the novel’s main plotlines revolves around searching for clues to try and find Margo’s location. One of the biggest clues that they find is the poem ‘Leaves of Grass‘ by Walt Whitman. They disseminate this poem and try and use it to track down Margo. Q chases a red herring as he becomes obsessed with the idea that it suggests that Margo wants to take her own life.

Of course, this is partially true, but this is not the clue that Margo was trying to leave. The clue was to take the door off its hinges. The irony here is all the clues that Margo leaves are not so Q can find her but rather reassure him that she is safe.

Publication and Legacy

The exact sales figures for ‘Paper Towns’ are tough to come by. John Green has entered the upper echelons of writers as his books have all joined the bestsellers list. In fact, The Fault in Our Stars was competing admirably with the likes of the Game of Thrones series for sales.
John Green has made more than 3 million in book sales and that’s without considering the income for movie deals for his works as well as his social media streams. The author is creating quite a legacy for himself.


The film adaptation of the novel stars Nat Wolff as Q and model-turned-actor Cara Delevinge. The movie did not receive the best critical response with Rotten Tomatoes rating it around 58 percent based on 141 reviews with an audience score of just 47 percent.


What is the message behind Paper Towns?

The message behind ‘paper towns’ is that friendship and love are the most important things in one’s life.

Why is the setting of Paper Towns important?

The setting is important as it represents an important symbol in the novel. It suggests that some places are fake, like paper, and just as flimsy.

What is the climax of Paper Towns?

The climax is when the main characters in ‘Paper Towns’ decide to go on a spontaneous road trip in order to find Margo.

Lee-James Bovey
About Lee-James Bovey
Lee-James, a.k.a. LJ, has been a Book Analysis team member since it was first created. During the day, he's an English Teacher. During the night, he provides in-depth analysis and summary of books.
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap