How the Paper Towns Movie Loses the Deeper Insights of John Green's Young Adult Novel

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At this time where technology is already part of our everyday lives, if we ask people what they prefer, to read or to watch, I assume most would say that they would rather see a movie than to read a book which would consume too much of their time. But did you know that some great movies that you have watched were actually adapted from a book? It’s interesting how a movie can convey the story of a certain book in just a limited screenplay time regardless of how many pages it consists of.

One of my favorite books that have been turned into a movie is Paper Towns by John Green. It is about a guy, Quentin Jacobsen, who went looking for his neighbor and childhood sweetheart Margo Roth Spiegelman after she went missing. Often, she likes to disappear and go on adventures, leaving clues to the people she left behind to give hint where she went. Until one day, he thought that the clues she left were for him and so he went on to search for her.

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The movie did a good job though the differences between it and the book were noticeable. While the movie has a much lighter genre, the book version gives deeper insight and understanding about the story.

It is understandable that the minor characters from the were not emphasized in the movie and some were even removed for certain reasons like the budget and time for the movie were limited. However, even some of the slightest changes can greatly affect the story or its delivery.

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When Quentin and Margo found a dead man by the tree, both did not act hysterically just like a normal child would. Instead, Margo got curious and Quentin seemed fine. However, it wasn’t established in the movie that Quentin reacted this way because he is a well-adjusted guy since his parents were therapists. Additionally, Margo’s personality in the movie wasn’t portrayed well.

The book described her as a real and troubled girl who is actually suicidal so when she went missing, he looked for her instantly, afraid that he would find Margo’s dead body. In the movie, it appeared like Quentin was looking for her just for the reason that he loves her. This is how even the slightest detail changes or affects the whole plot, story, and the mood.

When it comes to the timeline, there were some changes and the movie missed some events written in the book. The night before Margo went missing, she went to Quentin’s room to ask for help to execute her revenge plan which consists of 11 parts. However, in the movie, there were only nine parts. Unfortunately, an interesting part of the story, a trip to Sea World, has been cut out in the movie. Furthermore, the ending of the movie was also different from the book. At the ending of the movie, Quentin saw Margo as a figure who helped him find himself and he went back to attend the prom just on time and had a picture-perfect high school dance scene.

However, in the book, he realized that Margo wasn’t a very special person as he thought she was, it was just all on his mind and Margo was just like every other person. After their talk, Quentin and Margo kissed and went their separate ways. The book was open-ended, yet it offered the readers a more realistic closure than the movie had.

Books provide readers a more personal connection through the point of view of the character/s and allow them to have their own visualization of the story through the descriptions written in the book. In Paper Towns book, all of Quentin’s thoughts, ideas, and feelings were written thus, this gives the readers a deeper insight and understanding of the character. This allowed them to feel as if they were part of the story and made them feel what the characters in the book were experiencing.

“The book will always be better than any adaptation because it is always better at being itself.” Books can bring people to magical places and different dimensions through imagination.

Its story could also be a realistic one like the book of Paper Towns which was turned into a movie. The movie did entertain the audience, but the book made the readers felt something which made them realize some important things on life. This is because everything was elaborated and described excellently in the book through the character of Quentin, thanks to John Green.


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How the Paper Towns Movie Loses the Deeper Insights of John Green's Young Adult Novel. (2022, Mar 31). Retrieved from

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