I recently read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green for the first time, and was really surprised. I had heard so many opinions, almost all of them extremely good or extremely bad. So needless to say, I was nervous. But I read it, fell in love with it, bawled my eyes out for the entirety of the last 100 pages, and I knew I had to read more of John Green. So I picked up Paper Towns.
I’ve now read the book, and shortly after watched the film. And honestly? I don’t quite know how I feel. I keep jumping between a 3 star and 5 star review, and I think there’s really only one reason for that.
I didn’t like Margo Roth Spiegelman.
Maybe it was the fact that we didn’t spend a lot of time with her, so couldn’t really get to know or relate to her character. Sure, she was the “cool girl”, but I find something so unappealing about the cool girl or guy. Where’s the depth? Most of us weren’t the cool kid in high school, it’s hard to relate, to sympathize. Of course, she wasn’t the main character, but she was the focus of the main character.
In the end, Green delves into the fact that she was so much more than just an idea, that the idea and thought of her was cool, but she herself was just a girl. And in truth, she was alright by the end. But that’s the thing. Sure, in the last couple of pages she was decent, but it took 300 pages of dislike to get there. Green is an author that adores metaphors, so maybe that’s all she really was. Maybe she was just a metaphor for the whole concept of viewing people as ideas. Maybe she was supposed to be disliked. Then again, maybe she just wasn’t that great of a person.
Q, Ben, Radar, Angela, and Lacey are characters that are almost instantly likable. Ben is the comic relief, Radar is just a genuinely nice guy, Angela’s a sweetheart, Lacey is the girl we were lead to believe to be the mean girl, but ended up being a really sweet person. And Q? He’s a pretty fantastic guy. Romantic and shy, but willing to risk it all for the things that matter. And these characters make me want to give Paper Towns a 5 star review. But maybe it’s the ending that’s holding me back. If I’m being honest, I enjoyed the film’s ending more than the book’s. I felt like it gave more closure.
The book ends with Q realizing that Margo is just a girl, and they’re different people and want different things. And that’s that. This long and suspenseful journey that has been building up comes to a sudden end. And it left me wanting more. It left me without closure. But the film? It ends after that, with him taking the bus home, getting dressed and running into his prom, dancing towards his friends and saying he doesn’t listen to the rumours about Margo anymore. It proves that his life is more than just Margo Roth Spiegelman. He has amazing friends, he has his life ahead of him, and it’s not just the sum of MRS. And that’s the closure that the book was lacking. And so, I think this is one of those extremely rare cases that I actually enjoyed the movie more than the book.
Maybe it’s the movie that made me question my 3 star review of the book. Because the film gave me the closure and comfort of a perfect ending that I just didn’t feel from the book. Not only that, but the book felt dragged out. Everything happened much faster in the film, which usually makes it worse than the book, but in this case, it’s exactly what needed to happen. It had a better pace, I found. But then again, the film would have never happened without Green’s writing. So, in the end it all goes hand in hand. Maybe it’s not the most satisfying answer, but it’s the most truthful.
So I guess I have made up my mind about Paper Towns after all. Maybe I just didn’t want to admit it. After all, the film being more enjoyable than the book is such a rare occurrence! But every now and then it happens. I don’t know if I would have enjoyed the film as much if I hadn’t have read the book, so all in all, I think both the book is worth a read, and the film worth a watch.