The protagonist of the novel, and the novel’s narrator. The story is told in the first person through Quentin’s eyes. Quentin, nicknamed “Q,” is a high school senior who is ready to graduate and go off to college at Duke. He is a genuine, normal, somewhat nerdy, but essentially well-adjusted kid. He does well in school, has good friends, and seems to be on track for a successful life. The major drama in Quentin’s life is his obsession with Margo, the cool girl who lives next door.
Quentin’s next-door neighbor, and Quentin’s long-time crush. Quentin has known and liked Margo since they were children. In Quentin’s descriptions of her, Margo is the stereotypical cool girl. She’s a queen bee at school, but she’s also somewhat of a rebel, and cultivates an air of mystique around her through her adventures and wild stories. Margo is also quite self-centered, and she holds deep grudges.
Quentin’s best friend. Ben and Quentin tell each other everything. They are both near the bottom of the social totem pole, which is how they first became friends. Ben is much more outwardly obsessed with his image and his place in the high school hierarchy than Quentin is. Although Ben plays along with Quentin’s obsessive scheming about Margo, Ben is convinced that Margo is being a drama queen, and doesn’t get as emotionally invested.
Quentin and Ben’s other best friend. Radar’s parents have the world’s largest collection of black Santa figurines. Radar spends most of his time obsessively editing Omnictionary, a Wikipedia-like crowd-sourced encyclopedia. Unlike Quentin, who fantasizes about Margo, and Ben, who is fixated on finding a prom date, Radar appears relaxed and mature about his relationship with his girlfriend, Angela.
Read an in-depth analysis of Radar.
One of Margo’s close friends, and one of the popular girls at school. Margo is mad at Lacey because she thought that Lacey knew that Jase and Becca were sleeping together, but it turns out that Lacey didn’t know anything. Lacey gets really worried about Margo and joins Quentin’s quest to find her.
Quentin’s parents, who work as therapists. Together, they have raised Quentin to be extremely well adjusted. Quentin’s parents are kind and compassionate, and Quentin has a very trusting relationship with them, but they also don’t appear to pay terribly close attention to what he’s doing.
Margo’s parents. Unlike the teenagers in the novel, who are in awe of Margo and idolize her every move, Margo’s parents are frustrated with what they perceive to be bratty and rebellious behavior. Instead of trying to help her, they back away from these issues.
The detective assigned to search for Margo. Quentin trusts the detective and tells him as much as he knows. The detective often speaks in metaphors, referring to Margo as a “balloon” with cut strings. He is convinced that Margo isn’t particularly special, but rather one of many teenage rebels.
Margo’s ex-boyfriend. Jase cheats on Margo with Margo’s former best friend, Becca Arrington. Jase is a popular jock and a jerk.
Margo’s former best friend who sleeps with Margo’s ex-boyfriend, Jase.
A meathead who has bullied most of the kids at school, including Quentin. When Margo asks Quentin on whom he would like to take revenge, she suggests Chuck, and Quentin readily agrees.
The security guard at the SunTrust building in downtown Orlando. Gus was a senior when Quentin and his friends were freshmen in high school. Margo is friendly with Gus, and she has explored with him.
Margo’s eleven-year-old sister. Ruthie mostly doesn’t get involved in Margo’s schemes.
The Spiegelman’s dog, a somewhat neurotic and wheezy creature, whose second name is another word for “fictitious entry.”
Radar’s girlfriend. Angela doesn’t hang out with Quentin and Ben very often, but she and Radar seem to have a comfortable, mature relationship with each other.
Quentin’s English teacher who helps Quentin analyze a Walt Whitman poem.
Gus’s two friends whom Quentin, Ben, Radar, and Lacey run into in the abandoned minimall. They enjoy urban exploring.