Paper Towns (Book Club at the Movies)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Paper Bindings - Paper Towns

Tisha: Book: 3 stars; Film: 2.5 stars
Tracy: Book: 3 Stars; Film: 4 stars
Stephanie: Book: Not Read; Film: 3 stars

*Spoilers Ahead.*

Book Vs. Film

Tracy: "Paper Towns" is the third book I've read from John Green which include "The Fault in Our Stars" and "Looking for Alaska". Oh, and I guess his part in "Let it Snow" counts too. I have to say that I liked "Paper Towns" the least.

It's not bad by any means but I thought the story moved along way too slowly and I thought Q's obsession with Margo was creepy and actually hindered an otherwise great character. Though perhaps that was the point. Q's so focused on the fantasy of magical, whimsical Margo that he overlooks the much more real and awesome friends that he does have right at home.

Growing up in Orlando, Florida (The idea of Orlando as a "Paper town" is spot on) would be my idea of hell so I understand Margo desire to get out but I don't think I've ever read a more self centered, ridiculous character before - and I say this as someone who has read about Alaska Young. Still, "Paper Towns" is worth the read just for the great friendship between Q, Ben, Rador, and Lacey and the unforgettable trip they take.

Furthermore, the book nicely captures all the wistful parts of senior year of high school. As always, John Green is at his best when it writes about people and how messed up we all are. It's the same here but perhaps a bit more disappointingly muted then his other efforts. (review)

Tisha: In the book, I never hated two main characters (Margo and Q) more. Granted, I did appreciate Margo's point of view on the "life rightly lived---college and job and husband and babies and all that bullshit" as she says, but I never read a book with two more self-centered people. Some Margo quotes:

"I was going to push you toward being a badass. This one night, would, like liberate you. And then I could disappear and you'd always remember me for that."

"I looked down and thought about how I was the flimsy-foldable person, not everyone else. And here's the thing about it. People love the idea of a paper girl. They always have. And the worst thing is that I loved it, too. I cultivated it, you know?"

"Oh, bullshit. You didn't come here to make sure I was okay. You came here because you wanted to save poor little Margo from her troubled little self, so that I would be oh-so-thankful to my knight in shining armor that I would strip my clothes off and beg you to ravage my body."

Still, I gave the book three stars because it is well written and I like the meaning behind it. I can see elements of where Green used Into the Wild as a helpful aid. Q from Margo’s view is a straight laced average guy. He’s most likely not going to do anything spectacular, but live a normal, boring life. And Margo is the tortured artist type who views the world so different from everyone around her that she feels out of place.

As for the film, they changed a lot. Especially the last thirty minutes or so. Some things were good like adding more with Rador's girlfriend, Angela - that pair was one of the best things of the film. And that cameo! However, though the film changed a lot of what I disliked about the characters and tried to make Margo and Q much better people then they are in the book, I should have liked it, but for some reason it really bugged me. It's okay that these characters aren't likeable. Teenagers can be self absorbed. Margo and Quentin are trying to figure themselves out and take from those around them pieces that will eventually make them into adults.

Stephanie: I haven't read it. In fact, the only John Green I've read is his short story in Let It Snow (which I actually wasn't impressed by). I liked the movie enough that I told Tisha that I was actually interested in reading the book now. However, based on what I enjoyed about this movie, and what the writers changed about the book, she thinks that I won't like the book. She's probably right.


Tracy: The acting was pretty good and I liked that they made the characters actually look like teenagers. Nat Wolff, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, and Jaz Sinclair were at their best when they were in a group together. Cara Delevinge was not bad either, considering this is one of her first roles. She honestly isn't in the film much.

Tisha: I really enjoyed most of the main cast. Nat Wolff, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, and Jaz Sinclair all seemed like fun (and realistic) high-school kids. Cara Delevingne was serviceable as the Manic Pixie Dream-girl. The main thing I liked about this movie was the friendship between the main characters. And when the girls (Sage and Sinclair) were added for the road-trip, the dynamic only got better. Radar and Angela (Sinclair and Smith) were the cutest couple, I loved them. The only character I didn't like was Margo, which scares me because I've been told that movie her is way nicer than book her. I was a little annoyed by Ben (Abrams), the typical pervy sidekick, but not enough to really dislike him (even if I did find him obnoxious). I imagine that's the dialog's fault though, not the actor's.

Stephanie: I thought the acting was great. I loved the chemistry between all the friends and thought that Cara Delevingne did a good job of both being the Manic Pixie Dream-girl and then just a messed up girl who's a bit lost all at the same time. I absolutely hated Margo in the book but thought Delevingne added a nice humility to her.


Tracy: Pretty average, though the scene in the office building was beautiful. All of the scenes in the abandoned store were eerie and beautiful too. Tisha astutely pointed out the continuity error of it being autumn in New York despite it being June in Florida so the pretty trees on the road-trip don't count.

Tisha: Oh my goodness, did the fall like trees in what was suppose to be June in New York annoy me while watching. Plus most of the Orlando scenes didn't look at all like Orlando. Tisha looked it up and I believe that it was filmed in Pennsylvania, which showed. That said I do think the cinematographer nicely captured the feel of being 18 and about the graduate.


Tracy: The movie starts slowly, and while I really enjoyed the middle (abandoned store through the end of the road-trip), it declines rapidly at the end. The final scene was cute, but not finding/then actually finding Margo was anti-climactic. I kind of wish they'd given up on Margo once they realized she wasn't waiting for them and just detoured to NYC for some sightseeing on their way home.

Go to your High School graduation for Pete's sake. I'm glad the film fixed this. Still, the message is clear, no one is who you think they are and you should appreciate what you have. However, both the film and the book aren't as moving as it wants you to think it is.

Tisha: I really liked the movie. I had some issues with the book, namely the fact that I thought it portrayed that idea that unless you're like Margo, you're not living life. I hated how Margo in the book kept putting Q down for wanting the white picket fence and all that comes with that sort of life. Why is her way of viewing the world the only way it should be? Why can't every get to have their own dreams and have those dreams matter? The movie nicely allows that to be true.

The focus in the movie shifts off Margo for the most part and is really about realizing what you have and making you own go of it in the world. Q's a lot less annoying and both characters aren't as pretentious and self- centered as I thought they were in the book. The focus is on the friendship between Radar, Q and Ben which I think works brilliantly on screen and what I thought was the best part of the book.

Stephanie: The movie made my appreciate the book a lot more and I think they nicely complement each other as the book gives fuller characters while the movie has a better plot. I also liked that the movie makes it clear that John Green was trying to deconstruct the idea of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. It's a much better book to movie adaptation both in writing, plot and themes than "Fault in Our Stars."

"This was the first time in my life that so many things would never happen again... It is so hard to leave- until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world" (pg 228).
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As an INFJ Tisha doesn’t like she obsesses. Luckily, she has television, film, and books to keep her busy. Although YA is her favorite, she loves all types of books especially historical fiction. This resident Gryffindor also enjoys traveling and seeing where her wanderlusting nature will take her. Twitter


  1. I still haven't decided whether or not I want to read this...

  2. Replies
    1. You don't think I'd hate everyone in it? lol


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