Book to film review: ‘Paper Towns’

Literary man-child John Green’s novel “Paper Towns” is being adapted by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the team who wrote “(500) Days of Summer” and “The Spectacular Now.”

It will star Cara Delevigne (the model with the eyebrows) and Nat Wolff (Isaac, the blind best friend in “The Fault in Our Stars”). If the success of “The Fault in Our Stars” – Green’s New York Times # 1 best-selling novel-turned blockbuster film – is any indication, “Paper Towns,” the film, will be a hit.

The question is not if you should see the movie (you should), but if you should read the book before seeing the movie. The answer: a resounding yes.

“Paper Towns” may not be Green’s most widely read or critically-acclaimed novel, but it certainly proves why he is the uncontested king of the young adult genre.

“Paper Towns” centers around the relationship between Quentin, a shy and nondescript high school senior, and Margo Roth Spiegelman, Quentin’s neighbor and longtime crush.

After Margo breaks up with her boyfriend, she and Quentin go on a night of revenge-based adventures. The next day she vanishes, leaving a trail of clues for Quentin.

I borrowed this book from a friend and didn’t give it back until she asked me the third time. The dialogue is snappy and entertaining; the reader is never bored.

Where Green really thrives is his development of scene-stealing, caricature-like secondary characters. Quentin and Margo’s best friends force the reader to look deeply at each character and see past the box high school characters are so often put in.

The pretty girlfriend is so much more than just a love interest; the funny best friends are so much more than comic relief.

My only critique of “Paper Towns” is the lackluster characterization of the main character, Quentin.

While the supporting characters defy stereotypes with their unique quirks and flaws, Quentin seems to be little more than a generic high school boy whose sole characteristic is his undying love for Margo Roth Spiegelman, a girl he barely knows at all. Also, he’s too similar to the main character in Green’s debut novel, “Looking For Alaska.”

In the end, Green leaves you with a note of optimism, but also that ambiguous sense that things might not work out the way you hope they will. But that’s okay, because reading Paper Towns helps the reader “remember that sometimes, the way you think about a person isn’t the way they actually are.”

Page count: 305

Publisher: Dutton Books

Release date of film: July 24, 2015 (The one-year anniversary of “The Fault in Our Stars” movie release)

Other works by John Green: “Looking For Alaska,” “The Fault in our Stars,” “Will Grayson, Will Grayson,” “An Abundance of Katherines.”