Mystery; Young Adult Literature
Since Paper Towns received an award from the Mystery Writers of America (the Edgar Allan Poe award, no less), then it must be a mystery—mystery writers know a mystery when they see one. So what makes Paper Towns a mystery? We define mystery as fiction dealing with the solution of a crime or the unraveling of secrets. While there's no crime here (except the fashion crime of Confederate Flag shirts), the book is about unraveling Margo Roth Spiegelman's secrets. (More like Margo Roth Secretman. Well, no, she's not secretly a man. Ahem. Anyway…)
Quentin plays Sherlock Holmes and tries to follow the trail of clues Margo Roth Spiegelman has left… even when she swears she hasn't been leaving any clues at all. Hmm, maybe mystery writers make mysteries where there aren't any? In the end, it's elementary, our dear Margo Roth Spiegelman, and Quentin cracks the case—and Margo's formerly impenetrable façade.
As for this being young adult lit, it's about young adults, it's written for young adults, and it deals with young adult problems like prom, the girl next door, and what to name your minivan.