How Is 'Paper Towns' Different Than The Book? 19 Ways The Movie Version Changes Things Up
One of the reasons fans of John Green's book, The Fault in Our Stars, loved the movie version so much is that for the most part, it stayed true to the novel. Sure, there were a few big differences — no ex-girlfriend for Gus, no best friend for Hazel, the addition of Gus' scene in the airport — but the majority of the movie was practically identical to its beloved inspiration. Yet in Green's second book-to-film adaptation, that's not the case; rather than just a few minor changes, there are actually many ways in which the movie Paper Towns is different than the book.
That's not a bad thing, necessarily — Paper Towns is a smart, funny movie that's just as enjoyable as Green's book. Some of the changes made actually improve upon the novel, such as the increased role of Angela, a black, female character who only has a small part in the novel. Yet some of the differences are less celebratory, and while the filmmakers must've had their reasons, there's bound to be frustration from fans hoping for a movie that sticks closely to Green's novel. Here are 19 ways Paper Towns, the movie, differs from Paper Towns, the book (spoilers ahead):
1. It's A Lot Less Dark
In the book, the driving force behind Q's efforts to find Margo is that he's afraid she's committed suicide. When he searches the abandoned warehouse, he's scared he'll see her dead body, and notes from her referencing the "broken strings" inside her only add fuel to the fire. It's a serious and important part of the novel, as it adds substance to the argument that Margo is not a manic pixie dream girl, but a real and damaged individual.
In the movie, though, all that is gone — there's nothing hinting that Margo might be suicidal, and Q's reason for finding her has to do with his desire to see her, not his fear that she'll take her own life. The change makes the movie much lighter and more fun, but it does take away the suspense and intensity of the novel.
2. There's No SeaWorld Scene
At the end of their night of pranks, Margo and Q, in the book, sneak into SeaWorld. A guard catches them for trespassing, but they manage to leave without getting into trouble. This scene is entirely absent in the movie, but for a good reason; in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, producer Wyck Godfrey said that the issues revealed in the movie Blackfish convinced the filmmakers that there was no reason to give more attention to the theme park.
3. Margo Pulls Less Pranks
It's a minor change, but in the book, Margo's revenge plan consists of 11 parts. The movie has it as nine.
4. Ben And Lacey Don't Date
They do develop a friendship in the movie and they end up going to prom together, but it'd be a far stretch to say that they're actually dating.
5. Karin Isn't A Character
Book Margo leaves flowers for the girl who informed her that Jace was cheating, but no such character exists in the movie, so the scene isn't there.
6. Myrna Mountweazel Barely Has A Role
Sorry, Myrna Mountweazel fans; Margo's beloved dog only gets a brief mention in the movie.
7. Jase And Lacey Don't Get Fish
They lucked out here; movie Jace and Becca only get a naked photo and a Saran-wrapped car, respectively, rather than fish in their rooms that Margo leaves in the book.
8. Q Doesn't Want To Get Revenge On Chuck
In the book, Margo tells Q to pick anyone he wants to pull a prank on, and he chooses Chuck, the school bully. In the movie, though, Q is apprehensive about doing anything to Chuck, and only takes off his eyebrow after pressure from Margo.
9. Margo's Parents Are Less Worried
Rather than filing a police report, like they do in the book, Margo's parents don't do anything to attempt to get their daughter back. It's not that they're so nice in the novel (they plan on changing the locks so she can't return), but still, it's a harsh change.
10. Radar Doesn't Work For Omnictionary
Although the Wikipedia-like database is seen in the movie, there's no hint at Radar's involvement as an editor.
11. Q Doesn't Drive To All The Abandoned Buildings
Since Margo's suicide isn't a threat in the movie, Q doesn't search for her in the pseudovisions like he does in the book. He looks around the one store where she left the message because of the possibility of clues, but that's it.
12. Angela Is On The Trip
A minor character in the book, Radar's girlfriend Angela becomes a significant part of the story in the Paper Towns movie, even accompanying the group on their journey to find Margo.
13. They're In A Rush Because Of Prom, Not Margo Leaving
The novel has the gang skipping their graduation to find Margo, and being on a time crunch because Margo indicated on Omnictionary that she'd be leaving Agloe soon. The movie, however, has the road trip set two days before prom and doesn't include Margo's note, and so the team's only time concern is making it back before the dance.
14. They Don't Find Margo In A Barn
Instead of finding her living in an old barn, like in the book, the movie group leaves before seeing where she is. It's only Q who spots her, walking down the street past the bus station, and it's not said where she's living.
15. There's No Real Fight
In the book, the group becomes furious upon seeing Margo and realizing that she didn't want them to find them. They want her to be grateful they came, and they can't understand why she isn't. Yet in the movie, Q's certainly frustrated that she's not more appreciative, but mostly, he's just embarrassed that he read her clues wrong.
16. There's No Motel
Since the movie has everyone but Q driving back to Florida to make it to Prom, there's no need for any of them to stay overnight in a New York motel, like they do in the book.
17. Q's Realization Happen Much Faster
The movie loses something by having Q come to the realization that Margo isn't his to be "saved" and that his reasons for finding her were selfish as fast as he does, but the change is understandable, considering how much shorter a movie is than a book.
18. The Clues Are All Found Faster, Too
And earlier, when Q tries to figure out where Margo has gone, he finds and deciphers the clues much faster than he does in the novel. Again, makes sense.
19. Margo Doesn't Go To New York
Or maybe she does — in the movie, she admits that she has no clue what she's doing next, despite deciding to head to NYC in the book (meaning there's also no talk of Lacey putting up fliers around the city).
There's some more minor stuff, too — Q isn't gifted with the keys to the van, Radar doesn't throw a party (but don't worry, the Black Santas are still there), there are no graduation gowns because there's no graduation — but these 19 changes are certainly the most noticeable. Whether they're good, bad, or just different is up for debate, but regardless of how they're received, it's good to know that the Paper Towns movie isn't afraid to put its own spin on John Green's work.
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