Book To Film Talk : Paper Towns

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*Warning – this post is not spoiler free*

I first discovered John Green’s books through a friend. We were wandering aimlessly through a Waterstones store looking for a new book but coming up blank. My friend then had the wonderful idea of us picking a book for the other person: something we thought they might like. I gave her a copy of Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, and she gave me The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I was sceptical to say the least as I had come out of what I call my “contemporary phase” and had moved on to fantasy in the Young Adult genre. But, part of the deal was we had to buy the book and read it. So I did. Now, to anyone on the planet who has read The Fault In Our Stars you’re probably aware of how hard it is not to fall in love with that book. I am an “author reader” in the sense of when I discover a new author, I read everything they’ve released and move on while I wait for them to write more.  I unfortunately found most of his books to be subpar compared to TFIOS until I read Paper Towns. 

Brief summary here: Paper Towns follows Quentin, a boy who has been “in love” with his neighbour Margo ever since she moved onto his street. They had a few good years of friendship but as happens with all children moving into their teens; they grow apart. Cut to their senior year of High School and one night, Margo climbs in through Quentin’s bedroom window and says she needs help “righting wrongs and wronging some rights” as she puts it. They have a nightly adventure and the next day she’s gone. Quentin realizes clues have been left for him and that Margo wants him to find her.

Now that’s out of the way onto some of the cast:

Quentin played by Nat Wolff

Nat Wolff
Margo played by Cara Delevingne

Cara Delevinge
Ben played by Austin Abrams

Austin Abrams

Radar played by Justice Smith

Justice-smith

Lacy played by Halston Sage 

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Angela played by Jaz Sinclair 

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When casting was first announced I was quite surprised to see Nat Wolff given that he was actually in the TFIOS movie. However, he seemed like a decent fit. The bigger shock came in the form of Cara Delevingne. Yes, she is that “model with the eyebrows” you see adorning most billboards of the massive labels. So naturally, people were not very happy about this choice as this was her first acting role (she’s also due to be in the upcoming Suicide Squad and Pan movies) so having a model playing the “manic pixie dream girl” didn’t seem to go down well. (However, people were skeptical about the casting choice of Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters when that was first announced)

Having said that, acting wise, Cara was by far the best actor in the film and due to the plot, she isn’t even in most of it. Nat has taken to playing samey characters. In all the films I’ve seen him in he’s the awkward teenager who mumbles whenever he talks to girls. Austin played Ben as the typical best friend who’s kind of funny on rare occasions. Justice was as spot on as Radar could get and as for Halston, I don’t have much of an opinion. I really warmed to Jaz in the role of Angela. Like I said, Cara is the stand out in this film. When she is on screen, she dominates the attention in such a subtle way that you feel like if you take your eyes off her for a second you may miss something.

The central thing that makes me love Paper Towns as a story is the idea of romantic obsession. Whether we dare admit it or not, we’ve all had a time in High School where we were attracted to someone and look back on it several years later and say “my god, if only I could go back and slap myself silly!” This story takes that idea but looks at the negative side of it: what you stand to lose. The stand out points in the movie for me were when Ben and Radar find out there’s going to be a party, they’ve never been to one, and like the idea of going to at least one party before they graduate. Quentin says they can go without him because he has to solve the clues in order to find Margo. When Radar rings a few hours later, at the party, worried about Ben and needs Quentin’s help, he only agrees to show up when Radar says there may be clues at the party since it’s hosted by Margo’s ex. Even then, he leaves Radar to deal with Ben on his own. The second stand out point is when they arrive at Agloe, New York and (veering from the book) Margo isn’t there. On the trip some big things have happened: Lucy asked Ben to prom, Radar and Angela had sex. These things are pointed out as good outcomes of the road trip despite not finding Margo. Quentin however, has a big rage that the trip was a waste of time and “not fun” if they didn’t find her. He pushes his friends away to the point where they drive back home and leave him to fend for himself.

Quentin does eventually find her walking around the so-called “paper town” and they go for a drink. It’s revealed that Margo never intended for him to follow her, and we start to see the break down of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl while Quentin learns nothing will happen between him and Margo, he has a revelation that he’s been so focused on lasts due to High School ending when actually, there’s been a lot of firsts happening too. Example: this was his first road trip, the first time one of his friends had sex.

Everything I’ve mentioned so far worked well in the film but it fell very, very short of what it needed to get across. The breakdown of the manic pixie dream girl wasn’t done anywhere near enough of you, as a viewer, to see that Margo is in fact just a regular teenage girl and she isn’t the “miracle” that Quentin describes her to be. The romantic obsession, while in your face at times, doesn’t push the limits it does in the book and as as my boyfriend said to me after watching it, it felt very “hollywoodised” that this was a romance story about teenagers. Especially in the ending voiceover where Nat Wolf says that he’s stopped listening to rumours about Margo because he knows that she’s just a girl now, but then goes on to say that she’s “really something” and probably out there “doing something great.”

The film has its positives that’s for sure, Cara was the saving grace.
Everything else, just fell really flat.

Also, watch out for your may see a wild Ansel Elgort roaming around in one of the scenes. *wink wink*

If you’ve been to see the movie, let me know your thoughts!
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A Thousand Nights – E.K.Johnson

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Blurb: “Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not be next. And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead.”

*I was sent this book by the publisher but the publisher but this in no way affects my review*

The premise for this book may sound very similar to The Wrath and The Dawn which was recently very popular in the Booktube world. That’s because they’re both based off the fairy tale One Thousand and One Nights.

The story opens with a village waiting nervously for Lo-Melkhiin to arrive and pick a new wife. The protagonist – unnamed- expresses her worries that her sister will be chosen because she is both intelligent and beautiful. Not wanting this series of events to come true, she approaches her mother’s sister and begs to be made to look like her sister: “dress me in my sister’s clothes, braid my hair as you would hers and give me those charms she would not grieve to lose.” (Think of it as a less dramatic “I volunteer as tribute” moment from The Hunger Games) The plan works and Lo-Melkhiin takes the protagonist back to his city and marries her. On their first night together, he asks if she is afraid on him and she says no. He then says he knows that she took the place of her sister and asks about her. The protagonist -surprised – wakes up the next day and the next… and the next.

The protagonist struggles to meet and talk to people as they all avoid her, believing that she will not be around long enough to get to know, so naturally she’s feeling iscolated. She gets to meet Lo-Melkhiin’s mother who is intrigued by the protagonist because she doesn’t fear her son. The mother says she will tell her a story about what made Lo-Melkhiin the way he is now.

The basis for the rest of the plot is the protagonist exploring her new home and getting to know her new husband.

So it’s clear that the latest “trope” in Young Adult literature is fairytale retellings. Which is all well and good, I love fairytale retellings! However, there is a way to make a good retelling, and this wasn’t it.

While I really enjoyed the world building that, for me, was the only redeeming quality of this books.

There were no names given apart from Lo-Melkhiin. This made it very hard for me to feel like the protagonist was more than 2D and throughout reading the book I just felt disconnected. Characters are referred to as “my sister”, “my father’s father” stripping them of any identity which would have vastly improved the reading experience. On top of this, there were no descriptions of the characters. It’s hard to care or connect to a story when they plot and ideas are there but the characters are wibbly wobbly figures that don’t really fit in place.

I know the bare basics of the original story but in terms of the relationship between the protagonist and Lo-Melkhiin and the fact it’s Young Adult, it’s only natural to expect some kind of creepy relationship to form as a result of the forced marriage. But that was not the case. Nor was there even a mutual respect between the pair by the conclusion.

Because the story was so lacking in terms of character, I actually found myself skipping sections and even, dare I say it, hoping it would end.
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Into A Million Pieces – Angela V. Cook

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Blurb: “Allison McKready is a succubus. So is her twin sister. But while Allison spends her summer break hiding in the library behind her Goth makeup, Jade fools around as often as she can. Allison can’t believe Jade would ignore their mother’s fatal example so recklessly, but concealing a cursed bloodline and its dangerous effects is far from Allison’s only problem. Mean girl Julie’s snob mob is determined to ruin her summer, and Aunt Sarah’s bible thumping is getting louder. Only her new friend, Ren Fisher, offers safe haven from the chaos of her life.

*I was sent this book by the publisher but this in no way affects my review*

The story opens with the protagonist – Allison – walking through her town, describing details of her surroundings in such a way that I felt as if I was walking alongside her. The basis of Allison’s home life is her parents are dead so she and her twin sister Jade live with the their religious aunt. However, Jade is rarely home leading Allison to naturally feel quite isolated. To add insult to injury, she’s not the most popular girl in school: choosing to dress in a stereotypical “goth” way makes her the target for bullies.

As mentioned in the blurb, Allison is a succubus and so is her sister. If you’re not sure what a succubus is, here’s a little bit of information. The main example of why it’s best to just stay clear of boys is given by the aunt: Allison & Jade’s mother fell in love with their father and he started to become ill. They got married and he died. The mother then took her own life out of grief and self-blame.

Allison chooses to dress the way she does in order to keep men away from her, whereas Jade actively goes out of her way to try and seduce even her friend’s boyfriends. When one of her seductive attempts goes terribly wrong she becomes a recluse while horrible rumours about her spread across the internet. This book does do a very good job of showing the negative side of the internet and how in the modern world, it’s just too easy to bully others and the “delete” button doesn’t mean it’s definitely gone forever.

While this plot element goes through the motions, Allison spends a lot of her time in the library only to stumble across Ren, a significantly-higher-on-the-high-school-food-chain boy, who just happens to work there. Of course, Allison has her preconceptions about him just as Ren does about her. But as they spend more time together they start to see each others faults and fears. I really enjoyed this part of the story because we all have our expectations and preconceived ideas of other people before we get to know them and find out that what we actually thought about them isn’t true at all.

The use of first person perspective was fantastic. It worked so well in telling the story and I felt like I really knew Allison and as if she was telling the story to me, rather than me actually reading a book. She also made a wonderful protagonist, her outlook on things, despite her situation was intelligent, she spoke like you’d expect a teenager to and she was relatable But maybe that’s down to the fact I went through a goth/emo phase in High School. *hastily burns all photographic evidence*

I went into this book  feeling like it would be focused on Allison, which for the most part, it is. But the plot took a rather sickening and unexpected turn. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you! While this is the sign, for me, of a good book, the introduction of this plot twist made the last few chapters of the book feel very rushed and liked there was a specific point it had to end on and wasn’t allowed to go beyond that.

This book does contain mature themes which may be unsuitable if you’re at the younger end of the YA age bracket, but as always, I’m not one to tell you what to and not to read.
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Ultimate Book Tag

I was tagged by the wonderful Jenny over on her blog so, here we go!

Do you get sick when reading in the car?

I don’t really get sick as much as bored if it’s a long journey and I need to take a break. I tend to read a lot in the car.

Which Author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?

Lemony Snicket. A Series Of Unfortunate Events was the first book series I ever read and there’s just something really compelling in his writing that I am yet to find in any other book.

Harry Potter or Twilight saga? (Give three reasons why)

Who on earth would pick the latter here?!
1) It was the first book I read in which I related to one of the characters: Hermione.
2) There’s magic
3) Some of the best, closest friends I have, I made because we both love Harry Potter. Jenny is one of those!

Do you carry a book bag? If so, what’s in it? (Beside books)

Typical things like keys, ipod, phone, tissues and the “Honey Trap”  lip balm from LUSH.

Do you smell your books?

Can you really call yourself a book lover if you don’t?

Books with or without illustrations?

Apart from maps, I prefer my books not to have illustrations because it prevents the imagination from creating its own image of the characters. Kind of like when you read a book after seeing the film. You’ll only see the cast as the character, right?

What book did you love while reading but later discover wasn’t quality writing?

I’m most likely going to get attacked for saying this but Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling. Let me set the scene for you: I’m sat in my first ever Creative Writing class at University and the teacher asks how many had read Harry Potter. Naturally, we all raised out hands. Then she dropped a bombshell: “J.K.Rowling is a good storyteller but not a good writer.” BLASPHEMY we silently declared. When I re-read Half Blood Prince a few months later, I realised she was right. That doesn’t mean I love it any less.

Do You have any funny stories including books from your childhood?

In Primary School me and two of my friends used to recreate the Gryffindor vs Slytherin Quidditch match from Chamber of Secrets. One of us would be Harry, the other would be Malfoy and then the third would be the balls and would run around doing gestures to represent the bludger, snitch and the quaffle.

What is the thinnest book on your shelf?

The Great Winglebury Duel by Charles Dickens.
It’s one of Penguin’s 80 classics for 80p

What is the thickest book on your shelf?

A Clash of Kings by George R.R.Martin

Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as an author?

I’m a writer and I hope to get published.

When did you get into reading?

As a child, I guess. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading.

Favourite Classic?

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

If you were given a book as a present that you’d read before and hated, what would you do?

I’d keep it, but probably never read it.

In school was your best subject English?

Yes. I did both English Literature and Language in college and my degree is in English and Creative Writing.

What is a lesser known series you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games?

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.

What is a bad habit you do when reading?

I get sarcastic at characters and yell at them.

Favourite word?

Serendipity – the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Are you a nerd, dork or dweeb?

Nerd, I guess.

Vampires or Fairies?

This is so hard! ummm Fairies!

Shapeshifter or Angels?

Neither.

Spirits or werewolves?

Werewolves.

Zombies or Vampires?

Vampires.

Love triangle or forbidden love?

Forbidden love.

Full on romance or action packed with a few love scenes mixed in?

Action with a few love scenes.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

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For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings