Book vs. Movie: Paper Towns by John Green

Grey image with movie icons and Don't Judge a Book by its Movie title.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Movie is a feature on The Candid Cover spotlighting and reviewing book to movie adaptations.

Paper Towns is a book vs. movie post that I have struggled to write. The Paper Towns movie is one of those films that is a love hate relationship for me. I am a huge fan of John Green and his book Paper Towns, so it was disappointing to me that when comparing the movie to the books, it did not live up to all of my expectations. While the film is well done, it veered too far from the original for my liking.

Book vs. Movie: Paper Towns by John GreenTitle: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Also by this author: An Abundance of Katherines
Publisher: Dutton
Cast:  Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith
Director: Jake Schreier
Screenplay: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: October 16, 2008
Rating: four-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows.

After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...

Amazon “iBooks” “”

Book vs. Movie: Paper Towns

My experience with the book Paper Towns is the incredible audio version that is narrated by Dan John Miller. Listeners will be lured into this mysterious book with ease. It is brimming with well-developed characters, connections to contemplate and a storyteller that mesmerizes. Also, Paper Towns is a five star audio book that will engage the listener and delight anyone willing to use their detective skills. It is one of my favourite books of all time as it has some real laugh out loud moments. John Green’s personality absolutely shines through in the main character, Quentin. This is one book that is not to be missed!

❀ Movie Doesn’t Resonate as Much as the Book

Recently, I attended the Night on the Towns event at a local theatre. This was a special screening of Paper Towns that included a live stream event with Tyler Oakley, Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, John Green and many others that were members of the creation of the movie. There was definitely a lot of hype before and during this movie that was hard not to miss. I must admit that I was quite disappointed in the entire event. The movie was good, but it didn’t resonate with me the way that the book originally did. Nat Wolff’s acting, however, is phenomenal in this film and it is his accurate and brilliant portrayal of Quentin that saves the film for me.

❀ Major Differences Between the Paper Towns Book vs. Movie

There were some major differences between the book and the screenplay of Paper Towns that will leave fans of John Green’s book shaking their heads. First of all, while the movie seems to start off on the same foot as the book and the major story line of Quentin’s heroic search for Margo is included, there were some changes to the story. While I don’t want to include spoilers in this review, there are certain elements that are completely altered or left out altogether. Also, there are some new scenes that actually offended me as a viewer. There is a love affair between two of the characters that is thrown into the plot and it seems as though it was plunked in for a Hollywood effect. Lastly, I felt that Cara Delevingne wasn’t the right choice for Margo, as John Green certainly does not depict her as a super model in the original story.

❀ Don’t Read the Book First

After reading this Paper Towns comparison, you might feel as though I really dislike this movie. I did enjoy this film as it’s own entity, even though I was grossly disappointed in how much the story changed when it hit the screen. The acting is wonderful and it is quite a fun film that will be enjoyed by many. This is definitely a movie that you will want to watch without having read the book first, however.

About John Green

Image of John Green

John Green is the award-winning, #1 bestselling author of Looking for AlaskaAn Abundance of KatherinesPaper TownsWill Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan), and The Fault in Our Stars. His many accolades include the Printz Medal, a Printz Honor, and the Edgar Award. John has twice been a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and was selected by TIME magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. With his brother, Hank, John is one half of the Vlogbrothers  and co-created the online educational series CrashCourse.


About Lori

Avid reader. Contributor to The Candid Cover. Educator.

9 thoughts on “Book vs. Movie: Paper Towns by John Green

  1. Jaime Lynn says:

    I haven’t yet read anything by John Green, but this one is the one that sticks out the most for me and I can’t wait to read it. The movie looks good too, though, so I think I will probably watch the movie before I read the book. That way, I can enjoy the movie first, and then the book can blow the movie out of the water!

  2. Josephine says:

    I still haven’t watched the film! I really enjoyed the book though. I feel like from just watching the trailer that Nat Wolff is such a great fit for Quentin. Cars as Margo? That’s a little iffy.
    Great post! I’m sure the movie is great in its own context when not compared tp the novel!

    Josie @ Josie’s Book Corner

  3. Olivia Roach says:

    I actually haven’t read the book yet or seen the movie. I am actually not a big fan of John Green’s books so I don’t know if I will actually read this one before watching it. I did read TFiOS and while the book was okayish, the movie was AHMAZING which made me so happy. It’s a shame it seems like the adaption here was too far from the original book for a bookworm to be satisfied.

  4. Daniela Plume says:

    I consciously make room for adaptations when watching a film of a book I had previously read. The only time a movie has captured every essence of the original book was the First installment of Lord of the Rings.

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