I recently went through the full “Paper Towns experience” after both reading the novel and watching the movie. After thoroughly enjoying the book, I felt that it was imperative for me to rent the movie and further my obsession. The movie ended up being very different than I had imagined, and overall it was just disappointing. Here I will compare the movie to the book and outline where I felt the movie fell short.
The novel was about a boy, Quentin Jacobson, who reunites with his childhood friend, Margo Roth Spiegelman, for a crazy adventure. With Quentin’s help, Margo attempts to punish all of those who have crossed her. After their exciting night, Margo disappears, leaving Quentin bewildered. Although Margo’s family was by no means concerned for her well-being, since Margo was notorious for running away, Quentin felt that something was wrong. Instead of focusing on his close-coming graduation, Quentin tries to piece together the clues that Margo left behind. In the book, the impetus for Quentin’s search is the lengthy amount of time she was missing and the new side of Margo that he discovers through the clues she left behind.
The movie adaption of Paper Towns strays significantly from the novel that I enjoyed. The way in which it was pieced together gave the plot a different meaning and made it less powerful. The movie barely went into any character development, leaving all of the characters a bit flat. The clues that Margo left behind were too easy for the characters to solve, and the audience never learns anything about Margo from their efforts. Also, the urgency created for Quentin to find Margo was returning home in time for prom which removed some of the importance of him finding her. Although movies adapted from books must be altered a bit to make them more suitable for the big screen, Paper Towns did so in surplus and sacrificed the quality of the original plot as a result.