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Movie Review: Paper Towns

I saw the Paper Towns movie (complete with souvenir necklace), and I’m here to tell you if it’s worth seeing or not…

Spoilers ahead in the Book Adaption section.

Movie Review: Paper Towns

paper towns movie review ya book

As a Movie

I have mixed feelings about the Paper Towns movie. From the standpoint of the average movie-goer, I’m not sure what the movie has to really offer.

I’m not saying the movie wasn’t necessarily good, but the movie takes a lot of time to ramp up any momentum. In the book, it didn’t feel like “waiting,” but in the movie I felt like it took forever to really get to any action.

The Paper Towns film also lacked any real substance. It follows the book fairly closely (more details below), but I felt more reading the book.

In the watered down, condensed version on screen, Q is less relatable and authentic. I partially blame Nat Wolff. I don’t think he is the best actor, and I was directly comparing him to Ansel Elgort because of The Fault in Our Stars…which isn’t a kind comparison, let me tell you.

I think the best quality of the Paper Towns movie is the friendships. Q, Ben and Radar are still as adorably nerdy as ever, and I loved Andrea and Lacy in the mix. They all had a genuine chemistry I loved.

I thought the movie was just ok. A solid “good.” If you haven’t read the book, I’d recommend reading it first and then gauging your interest in the movie.

As A Book Adaption

Warning: book and movie spoilers ahead!!

The movie did a pretty good job of keeping things accurate. The Seaworld break-in scene was omitted (John Green explained why in an interview), and Angela was included in the road trip (she was originally left behind).

However, the biggest change is Margo Roth Spiegleman. When Quentin finds her at the end, she is…kinda nice. He realizes she’s “just a girl” because of a pleasant exchange they have, not because she’s confused and lost and kind of a jerk.

Also, prom plays a MUCH LARGER role in the movie, which is kind of hilarious but also appropriate from high school.

It reminds me of this quote from Pretty in Pink: “I have this girlfriend who didn’t go to hers [prom], and every once in a while, she gets this really terrible feeling–you know, like something is missing. She checks her purse, and then she checks her keys. She counts her kids, she goes crazy, and then she realizes that nothing is missing. She decided it was side effects from skipping the prom.” DRAMATIC MUCH?!?!

As a book adaption, I think the movie did well factually. Emotionally, though, a lot was lost. I didn’t feel as invested in Q’s journey to find Margo, and she kind of annoyed me the whole movie anyway (maybe that was the point?).

ALSO: I loved seeing some real shots of Orlando in the film!! All the scenes where Margo and Q are at Suntrust building were totally shot here!! And when Q is driving to the sketch mini-mall, too (keep it classy, Orlando).


As a Paper Towns fan, I’m glad I saw the movie, but I wouldn’t really recommend it to those you haven’t read the book. And, I definitely don’t plan on seeing it again. I would keep your expectations level for the Paper Towns movie.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Thanks for the recap. Although I enjoyed the book, your review of the movie makes me think I need to wait for it to come to cable, if I decide to watch it at all. I’m rather surprised, given that #TFIOS was great as both a book and movie.

  • Great review of the movie. I thought the book was just okay, so I was on the fence of watching the movie. I think I may skip this one. Thank you for the review!

  • Stefanie Topping

    **Movie Spoilers**

    I saw the movie yesterday, and I think you make a lot of good points. The movie overall was just Ok, maybe a cute rental but I don’t really plan on watching it again. I may have felt differently if I had never read the book.

    I think how they altered the timeline was helpful for the movie. In the book I felt that the ending was a bit abrupt, and I enjoyed that the movie had a (somewhat) up-beat ending. However, I agree that Margo’s reaction to Q at the end of the movie took away some of the depth that the book had shown.

    P.S. Why would Lacey tell the “gas station attendant” that she didn’t like dragons?! I would learn to love dragons. lol