John Green is one of my absolute favorite writers, and not just in the YA genre but as an all-around person too. He is funny and quirky and intellectual in the perfect mash up of awesomeness that only a Green can be (obviously this also gives a nod to his equally rad brother, Hank). So, with my major adoration of all things Green, it pretty much goes without saying that I’ve read everything I could get my hands on by him and have also followed the brothers in their podcasts, tweets, facebook posts, and etc. BUT there is one book that I haven’t read and that is Paper Towns. I know, I can’t quite believe this either but it’s true. It is the one novel that I have owned for several years now but I have yet to dive into it. At first I thought that this was because it was the last book of his that I had left unread. You know the whole idea that if you don’t finish something, it isn’t really over? That’s how I thought about this book, at first, and then after so much time passed and the movie was announced and then arriving in theaters all over town, I realized that maybe I just didn’t want to read it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am practically frothing at the mouth over the mere mention of Green’s next book (whenever he FINALLY writes another one) but I guess the premise of Paper Towns never really grabbed me.
Having said all of that, I went and saw the movie with my mom because I like the people who were going to be in it. Nat Wolff alone, who definitely stole a piece of my heart when he played Isaac in TFiOS, was enough to draw me in, but the mystery over Cara Delevingne also intrigued me. Who is this girl that is all of a sudden everywhere I turn my head? She is the talk of the town AND she was in the Bad Blood video with Taylor Swift, who I heart big time, so clearly she is a cool chick right? (Yeah I see how fangirl that sentence is, let’s move on.) Well, I don’t really know much more about her now than I did prior to seeing the film but I can say that I think she is a bit goofy and that made me like her because I resonate with people who are openly different. But I digress. The point here is that I went to see the movie and while I didn’t find it as entertaining as I thought that I would (I have an unrealistic idea that all things John Green must equal out to being amazing every. single. time.), I did take some things away from it that I really enjoyed.
1. Margo isn’t the main character like I originally was led to believe based on the movie trailers. This is entirely a story about Q and how he is growing from a boy with a longtime crush on a mysterious girl into an almost man braving the reality of entering adulthood and leaving his past behind him. It was incredibly inspiring to see his growth throughout the movie, which I am sure is fleshed out more so in the novel as these things usually are, but it was still a good portrayal nevertheless.
2. The “nerdy” boys, or “Nerdfighters,” weren’t so nerdy, at least not in the typical way that these roles are usually portrayed. I mean, sure there was the expected social divide in the ranks within the high school where you had the “cool kids” and the “nerd kids” but, all in all, it wasn’t uncomfortable to watch like other movies are because I didn’t feel badly for the nerds, probably because I am a nerd too. Instead I was resonating with them and enjoying their journey as they experienced some things for the first time (ex. losing your virginity, getting wasted at a party, pulling pranks on others, kissing a girl/boy for the first time, taking your first road trip, thinking about college and the ultimate next steps after graduation, leaving behind your first real friends, etc.). It is a movie of many lasts but ultimately it was about first experiences and it made me feel nostalgic.
3. The main takeaway from this movie for me was the incredible friendships between the three main boys: Quentin, Radar, and Ben. It felt like a real high school with real friends just hanging out while somebody filmed their every move…wow, that kind of sounds like the makings of a horror flick, eh? Anyway, you get the point. Everything was very organic between the actors in the film and I liked that. It seems that Green’s work has that affect on people.
4. Ansel Elgort – or as us TFiOS lovers refer to him: Augustus Waters – had a cameo in the film. It was cute, contrary to a lot of the comments I’ve read about it. I smiled, he smiled, it was quite the meet cute.
5. The mystery of where Margo went was obviously the focus but it was the clues that they kept finding that really held my attention. I didn’t even care if they found her or not, all I cared about was uncovering more clues and seeing how the friends came together in this “farewell from high school” journey. It was pretty epic as adventures go, especially considering how cool Q’s parents were about him just up and driving from Florida to New York on a whim with his two best friends and two pretty girls. That combination alone is a recipe for some serious shenanigans to go down, but the parents “chillness” wasn’t surprising either. I, too, have parents that trusted me to do all sorts of things at that age that many other parents wouldn’t even consider.
6. I promise not to give away anything but the end of the movie, the very last two sections for those of you who’ve seen it, were my absolute favorite parts. It was in those moments that I saw Quentin come full circle and realize what his feelings were telling him all along and he was finding clarity in where he was heading going forward. His friends had the same evolving moments and the whole thing felt good.
Overall it wasn’t the type of story that blew my mind or anything, and there weren’t any deep rooted emotions felt along the way other than nostalgia, but it was a sweet coming of age story that was very sweet and had some real inspiration in it. I may even dust off my copy of the book and finally give it a read to see how the movie stacks up to it.
So, have any of you seen the movie and/or read the book? I’d love to know your thoughts. 😀