Sunday, 23 August 2015

Book to Film Review: Paper Towns

John Green is an intelligent writer, a Youtuber and a romantic who happens to love philosophy and embraces the nerds of the universe  (I believe he even has his own 'online community' known as NerdFighters). In Paper Towns, Philosophical Green does well not to overwhelm his readers with a multitude of life lessons regarding growing up. He lets us enjoy the story first and foremost, leaving room for his various pearls of wisdom to crop up naturally and organically throughout the novel.  Green has a knack for observing real teenagers living their ordinary lives, usually choosing to focus on the underdog,  he somehow manages to merge everyday truths with elements of fantasy and adventure. There are many quotable golden nuggets scattered within this novel, so below I have included a few of my favourites that stuck with me. 
"Nothing ever happens like you imagine it will," she says.

"But then again, if you don't imagine, nothing ever happens at all." 
“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.” 
“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” 
These quotes, said by Margo Roth Spiegelman possess a rather sinister tone, perhaps due to the fact that they are rather negative but also honest and truthful on some level as well as being relatable to us. This sense of familiarity and our ability to identify with the words of such a seemingly mysterious and troubled character such as Margo somewhat brings a sense of discomfort to us. As evident in almost all of his novels, Green has a unique ability to really get into the mindset of teenager and to write on their behalf in a very natural and oddly accurate way. In fact Green's ability to get in touch with his former teenage self reminds me of JD Salinger's writing style in Catcher in the Rye, written in first person through the mind of troubled teenager Holden Caulfield. Come to think of it, there are many similarities between the two novels, but that's for a whole different blog post. 

Within Paper Towns, the concept of “mirroring” seems to have a presence - 'mirroring' is a concept in psychology in which an individual exhibits similar actions, attitudes, and speech patterns to another person, as a result that person is lead to believe that this individual is more similar to them and thus more likely to be their friend. In the novel, Quentin has the ability to understand himself better through the feedback given by various individuals that he engages with. Quentin begins to 'mirror' Margo in order to establish a rapport with her. Green indirectly uses the character of Margo Roth Spiegelman as a way for Quentin Jacobsen (Q) to begin to understand himself better and to come to terms with certain aspects of his life, including his struggles with unrequited love and the end of high school drawing near. Through mirroring Margo's actions and thought process, Q has the ability to experience things that he would have never dared to do otherwise- such as stealing his parents car, defacing classmates homes/automobiles/facial hair , slow dancing on the top floor of a closed office building in the middle of the night, not to mention bunking off school and driving all the way to New York State to search for the girl he has been pining after. Up until the end of the novel, Quentin places Margo on a pedestal, seeing her almost as an indestructible immortal being. Following on from this concept of mirroring, studies show that individuals are more likely to mirror the person of higher status or power within a situation (as Q does with Margo) and that this act of mirroring an individual of higher power may create an illusion of higher status, or create rapport with the individual in power. Linking to this, there was one quote in particular, said by Quentin that struck a cord within me as it reflects the many times that we build people up in our minds to be far more powerful and exciting than they could ever really be in reality.

”Yes. The fundamental mistake I had always made — and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make — was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl."

Similarly to how Margo was just 'a girl' and nothing more, the ending of Green's novel appeared to be'just an ending' and nothing more, as there was no great plot twist or huge reveal, the ending simply is just ending. 

I recently saw the film adaptation of the novel starting Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne (with *spoiler alert* a guest appearance from TFIOS actor Ansel Elgort) and I have to say I am still in favour of the novel. I will link the trailer below, although I am sure you have all already seen it. 

What are your thoughts on Paper Towns? Did you read the book first? Let me know in the comments or find me on twitter @Olivia_CA95 

P.S If you are interested in learning more on the concept/psychology of mirroring here is a link to the Wikipedia page I viewed:

- Olivia Charlotte Alice

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