Reading books like Paper Towns is like reading the diary of our youth; that’s what author John Green does so brilliantly in all his novels. There’s plenty of drama mixed with the joy of first love – usually followed by the heartbreak of first love – and the discoveries we make about ourselves and the world we live in.
In Paper Towns, young Quentin’s (Q) life changes when he falls for his new neighbour, Margo Spiegelman. They become friends and bond over finding a dead body in the park but as the years pass their friendship turns to more of an acquaintance but Quentin wants it to be more.
The main story takes place nine years later when Margo sneaks into Q’s bedroom and tells him she needs his help to get revenge on people who have hurt her. Q agrees but after their quest, he wakes up to find Margo has gone. She has left clues about where she is and Q decides to find her with the help of some friends.
This is a humorous look into how we perceive people differently and if you enjoy novels like Paper Towns then read on; I have an excellent selection for you.
Books like Paper Towns
Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
What better way to follow a John Green novel than by suggesting another John Green novel?
Turtles All the Way Down is similar to Paper Towns – wrapped with the themes of friendship; being a good daughter/student and love – with the added stress of dealing with OCD.
Most of the narration is from the inner dialogue of sixteen-year-old Aza Holmes and how she deals with her ‘thought spirals’ while everyone else around her carries on with their normal lives.
Her best friend, Daisy, is opposite in personality to Aza: she’s fearless and open while Aza is often ensnared in her own mind, so they make a good team when they’re not irritating each other.
When an Indianapolis CEO and billionaire, Russell Pickett, disappears under mysterious circumstances, Aza asks Daisy to help her investigate as there is a substantial reward and she knows Pickett’s son, Davis.
They visit Davis and Aza connects with him over the loss of a parent. A relationship forms between them while Aza attempts to control her compulsions.
As always, Green is insightful about mental illness and weaves it into a story everyone wants to read.
Mosquitoland, by David Arnold
This book like Paper Towns has won so many awards that it seems rude not to read it!
When Mim Malone’s parents divorce, she is forced to move with her dad and his new wife. She hates Mississippi and misses her mum desperately. When she learns that her mum is sick, she steals $800 from her step mum’s tin and buys a bus ticket back home to Ohio.
This is where her story begins – the road trip to see her mother – which is told through Mim’s diary pages and letters to Iz. We meet her fellow travellers along the way and follow what happens to her and how she handles it.
There’s a message in every situation in this book exposed by Mim’s quirky character.
If you enjoyed the unconventional characters in books like Paper Towns then give Mosquitoland a place on your bookshelf.
The Paper Girl of Paris, by Jordyn Taylor
If you’ve ever dreamed of falling in love in Paris then The Paper Girl of Paris will drop you right there. This story is told by two girls who lived seventy years apart.
Sixteen-year-old Alice is in Paris trying to find out why her recently deceased grandmother left her an apartment that has been locked up for the last seven decades. Using Paul, a student with whom she struck up a friendship, she tries to figure out why her grandmother never mentioned a family she left behind after the war. They learn that Alice’s family is keeping something a secret, and no one is saying anything about it.
Adalyn, a socialite teenager in Nazi Germany, struggles to survive in the midst of everyday horrors as the story moves back in time. In Luc, the leader of a French resistance group, she is encouraged to fight back, but the longer she fights, the more dangerous it becomes for both her family and herself.
If you like books like Paper Towns and want to broaden your horizons as a reader, this one is a must-have.
Fateful, by Claudia Gray
Fateful is one of the most memorable accounts of the Titanic’s final voyage.
As the Lisle family’s longtime housemaid, Tess Davies has kept a secret and painful past to herself. Tess intends to leave the family once they arrive in the United States and start a new life on her own.
RMS Titanic has been reserved for their trip.
Upon meeting one of the first-class passengers named Alec, Tess cannot help but be drawn to him, despite the fact that something sinister has followed Alec onboard.
Despite being pursued by werewolves, love blossoms between Tess and Alec.
The plot of this supernatural love story is bizarre, but the characters and storyline are compelling, and the conclusion is surprising. Paper Towns fans should definitely check out Fateful if they’re looking for a little fantasy with their mystery romance.
The Rules for Disappearing, by Ashley Elston
Trying to figure out who you are and where you belong can be difficult in adolescence, but try to imagine having already lived in six different places and taken on six different identities by the age of seventeen!
Megan Jones, as she is known in the novel The Rules for Disappearing, is a subject of the Witness Protection Program. She is woken up in the middle of the night and forced to change her appearance before being relocated to a different location. She’s had it with him yet again, and she’s had enough.
In the meantime, her father won’t tell her how they got into this predicament, and her mother is turning to alcohol for solace. Find out if Meg can do anything to help her family by learning the truth.
Ethan Landry, a boy she has met, has noticed some discrepancies in her backstory and is helping her in her quest. Although their journey will be perilous, it is possible that she will finally be able to leave.
If you enjoyed Paper Towns, you’ll enjoy this one just as much.
From A Distant Star, by Karen McQuestion
If you were a fan of John Carpenter’s 1984 film Starman, starring Jeff Bridges, and you haven’t read From A Distant Star, you should. With a little science fiction thrown in for good measure, this book is a lot like Paper Towns.
On the night of Lucas Walker’s full recovery from an incurable illness, his girlfriend of seven years and his best friend Emma are shocked to discover a strange bright object has fallen into his backyard.
Emma notices something odd about Lucas as his friends and family gather to celebrate his miraculous recovery. His dog is scared of him because he has a different way of speaking. Why did the government collect this object? She wants to know what happened to him and how he was killed.
On their quest to learn more, they embark on a cross-country road trip, where they meet both new friends and old foes.
If you liked Paper Towns and like your romance with a dash of science fiction, then you’ll love this book.
All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven
Our two main characters’ journey of discovery begins with a sad situation and ends with a romantic road trip in All the Bright Places.
This unlikely love match is brought together when Violet Markey and Theodore Finch both attempt to jump from the school tower. It’s hard for Violet to shake the guilt she feels because she didn’t die in the car accident that killed her sister, and Finch has an unhealthy obsession with death.
In this story, two very different people are shown to have a significant impact on one another simply by being themselves.
This book is a must-read for those who enjoy books like Paper Towns because Violet and Finch’s journey to find love and sanity is depicted beautifully.
Has this book already been read by you? Here is a list of books that are comparable to All the Bright Places.
Marina, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Finally, I’ve gone off the beaten path in order to enrich your reading experience. The romance and adventure of Paper Towns-style novels are still present in Marina, but it is also a gothic horror novel, so readers who aren’t scared of the dark should keep reading.
Oscar Drai, a 15-year-old boarding school student, is the protagonist of the story, which takes place in Barcelona in 1979.
In an old mansion, he meets the German painter and his daughter, Marina, after following a song he heard. A woman in a black veil leaves a rose on a grave that has no name, but only an open black butterfly’s wings. Marina invites Oscar to join her in watching this ritual.
There are three stories that take them around and even under Barcelona, and they decide to follow the woman.
In a similar vein to Paper Towns, this book will take you on an emotional roller coaster, leaving you exhausted but satisfied.
Romance, intrigue, werewolves, and other fantastical men abound in this story. I hope these tales have motivated you to put down the video game controller and pick up a book.