Is Paper Towns the Next Big Hit? by Spencer Wade
After the runaway success of YA novel-turned-motion-picture The Fault In Our Stars, author John Green is back with another book for the big screen. Paper Towns, his third story for a YA audience, debuted at number 5 on the New York Times best-seller list when it first was published in 2008. It also won the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery. The story has even been praised by educators: filled with Whitman passages and the antics of a feisty new heroine, it’s not hard to see why it’s being taught in high schools and universities all over the country.
Green is a gifted fiction author, capable of creating multi-dimensional characters through which he illuminates, examines and questions dominant facets of youth society and culture.
His ability to realistically portray teenagers in the midst of their most turbulent, challenging years is unparalleled, even in the genre of YA fiction. His youths challenge concepts of public image, personal identity and the effects of bullying while, like all of us, they struggle to remain completely “alive” while coming to terms with what it means to survive as an adult.
His skillful prose imbues the lives of these teens with a poetic drama; as their stories unfold we recognize a modern classic in the making. In the story, Margo, Quentin’s long-time crush, disappears after a night of adventures with him. Following clues he believes she left him, he sets out to find her. The clues lead him and his friends on a road trip to New York. Of course, what he finds when they arrive at their final destination is something no one could have predicted.
Despite the high caliber of the novel in question, Green’s rocky relationship with Hollywood almost prevented the film from ever being made. In one interview, when asked whether there would be a film based on the book, he replied “Probably not…” and continued to say that producers thought the first draft of the screenplay was “literary”. Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber persevered, bringing the film to audiences six years after initial release of the book. After The Fault in Our Stars became one of last year’s most surprising hits (visit this site for details on where to watch) it was clear there was a readymade fanbase for the film. Producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey of Twilight fame add an element of continuity to the two pictures, as they produced both.
When asked in a recent interview whether the movie would remain true or close to the book, Green replied “I think it’s faithful to the book’s themes, which really matters to me. There are a lot of details that are different, and things that are changed around.” An example of one of those changes is the scene filmed at Sea World – which was cut to avoid a potential boycott by animal lovers. “All that matters to me is that trying to find a way to visually tell and share that idea: of matching people complexly, and the potential challenge and responsibility of humanness.”
As teenagers, we struggle both to understand ourselves and our place in a world we are only beginning to understand. Green-despite being well out of his teen years himself – is able to portray the difficulties of these years with sensitivity and wit, crafting superb stories of personal growth.If he feels that the movie is similar enough to the book to do justice to his vision, fans will likely feel the same way. This film is “coming soon” to theaters, with a release date scheduled for July 24th. For many readers, soon can’t come soon enough.
Spencer Wade is a freelance entertainment, film, and pop culture blogger. He can almost always be found with his face in a book or glued to the T.V. He lives and works in Chicago where the winters only serve to encourage this type of behavior.
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