Book vs Film // Paper Towns // REVIEW

Before we begin there may be some spoilers so if you don’t want to find out what happens don’t read on (but do read the book, it’s pretty damn good!) John Green – the guru for teenage girls and the phenomenon known to make every person in the world cry whether that be for happiness or sadness.

A few years ago I was given the whole John Green collection as a friend of mine had been crazing me about him. She said that they were some of the greatest books she had ever read so I thought that by reading them my life would be somehow positively transformed. After reading An Abundance of Katherines (which has to be my favourite of them all), and the majority of his incredible collection I thought it was time to read the one book I Paper Towns was being produced into a film I should probably read that too.

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The book itself was gripping. Each time I said I would read up to a certain chapter I somehow continued for a few more. I loved the adventure within the book, the chase between the two main characters and their secret passion for each other. From both the book and the trailer I had high hopes for the film which gave me terrible mixed emotions.

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My favourite films in the entire world are: Pulp Fiction, Whiplash, Jurassic Park, Midnight In Paris, Ginger and Rosa, Populaire, Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Snow White. With  a weird mix of movies and a lover of most genres (except horrors) I have to admit as a teenage girl I do have a true guilty pleasure for romantic comedies. There is something about unrealistic expectations and a soppy romantic proposal that I hate to say but sort of find great. Unfortunately Paper Towns didn’t give me the same satisfaction.

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The book was written with such talent and passion that I feel the film didn’t do the book justice. Like the majority of book to film adaptations Paper Towns didn’t really work for me. When reading a book you, as a reader, have so much interpretation you imagine the characters how you want to see them. In a film however you don’t have the power to change the story to see it as you want to see it. Admittedly a film producer only has two hours to get a 300+ page book down to a T and non-surprisingly there was a lot that was missed out.

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I went to a fan preview of the film with a friend of mine who had never read the book so had a completely different perspective to what I had. She said that she didn’t build up a strong connection with the characters, that she had no background information on anyone so couldn’t figure out why they were all so keen to help each other in times of need. For those who don’t know what happens in the book (in short and I mean in literal terms with no emotional attachments) a girl named Margo from Orlando runs away and a guy named Quentin, who fancies Margo, takes his friends and their girlfriends to New York to find her. In the book only one of the ‘girl friends’ on the road trip, however, in the film one of the other girl friends tag along which changes the plot completely. In the film they are travelling to find Margo wanting to be back for prom, whereas in the book prom has already happened and they leave to find her half way through graduation.

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I personally found that the humorous parts of the book were left out and were replaced with a new script with new humour that admittedly was quite funny! They also left out important quotes and moments that make the story flow. I also wasn’t a fan of Cara Delevingne. The model, actress and singer definitely increased the profits of the film but for me she wasn’t the actress the film needed. Right now I feel it’s so difficult to explain the plot in writing without spoiling it when you have possibly not read or seen the book/film but what I’m trying to say is that the book was better, but books are always better.

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I think that sums it up really… books are always better. With books you can imagine the characters, setting and everything in between how you want it to be and I believe interpretation is one of the favourable thing about reading a book. Please do read the book before seeing the film or else I’m afraid it won’t make too much sense! I assume the film will have a high income but probably not as high reviews.

Sorry to be so doubtful about a film it’s just I had such high hopes after reading such a brilliant book. I feel bad for John Green and I hope he doesn’t feel the same as I do. To my dearest moon shines: read books, it’s 200x better for you and so much more enjoyable than watching a film but sometimes it’s so much easier to watch the film. Whatever you decide to do, do it will confidence because you’re so worth it.
Peace and love,
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Broadcast Journalism student and lover of all things film! Into Film Reporter, Smooth Radio Street Team, Fly FM presenter Tuesdays 6-7pm & BFI Documentary Alumni

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