Personal Post: Thoughts on the Paper Towns Movie

Thoughts on the paper towns movie
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Thoughts on the Paper Towns Movie

I should preface this by making it clear that I love John Green. I think he’s an amazing Youtuber, and no-one has done more for the nerd community that him and his brother, Hank. The VlogBrothers played a big part in how comfortable I’ve become with my intelligence, and my passion, and for that I’ll always love them.

But I don’t like John Green’s writing. Particularly, Paper Towns.

For me, John’s voice is just too strong. When I’m reading his books, I can hear his voice; the fast pace, stopping only to take a breath; the emphasis on multi-syllabic words; the jovial tone. For example:

Your twenties are not destiny, your thirties are not destiny. Destiny is not something that happens all at once, it’s something that happens only in retrospect.

Compared to:

I’m starting to realize that people lack good mirrors. It’s so hard for anyone to show us how we look, and so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.

Can you tell which is John, and which is Quentin? (The protagonist of Paper Towns.) I couldn’t. Of course, to a certain degree this is expected. A writer without a voice of their own, is a sales assistant. But there’s a limit to how much a writer’s own voice, should affect that of the character. I got particularly irritated by the fact that Quentin – who struggles to interpret the meaning of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, and who worries that he might fail an English test – can somehow quote obscure T.S. Eliot lines like pop lyrics;

Light, the visible reminder of Invisible Light.

I studied Eliot with enthusiasm at university, but I never got round to reading ‘Choruses from the Rock’. How Quentin – a boy who apparently struggles with basic English Lit analysis – is supposed to know this line is beyond me.

My qualms with Green’s writing style aside, I thought perhaps the story would translate better on screen. After all, who doesn’t like a good teen romcom? Then I made the mistake of watching the trailer, and ruined it for myself.

The trailer is ridiculously spoiler heavy. It covers almost the entire plot, from Margo and Quentin’s night of revenge, through to Quentin getting out of the van at the end of the road trip he takes with his friends. The only thing that’s missing is the story wrap up, which (unless they’ve changed it) is incredibly disappointing. For a book that supposedly subverts the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, it sure turns Margo into a complete ass.

As for the casting, well, Cara Delevingne was a bit out of nowhere, and I can live with it. But seriously;

  1. They could have left her tattoos uncovered – Margo is supposed to be a bit of a rebel, and they had already picked a girl that looks nothing like the original description. Why not let her have her own flair? Go big, or go home.
  2. That poster (see above) – Whoever chose the photo needs their head checked. Having her hair in front of her face does not make her look “mysterious”. If anything, it sort of makes her look like Zack Efron in drag (see below). I mean no offense to Cara – she’s a beautiful woman – but that photo is just bad, bad, bad, and the marketing team should know better.

thoughts on the paper towns movieUltimately, I know it will do well. Fans of the book, and those who just like a good romantic comedy, will be all over it. Hell, I might even give it a try when it inevitably ends up on Netflix.

I suppose my conclusion is this; for the love of God, Green, get a decent marketing team. One that is not going to give away the entire plot of the movie in a two minute trailer.

If you haven’t seen it, the trailer is below. However, if you intend on watching the movie when it comes out in July, I’d recommend skipping it. Otherwise you’ll just be spending £8 to watch the end, and the end is not worth £8.

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Review: The Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook
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The Silver Linings Playbook

Warning: Small spoilers in some of the gifs.

If you were following my tweets on The Silver Linings Playbook, you may have noticed how much I struggled to keep up a witty commentary for this one (see poor attempt at humour above). In part, it was because the book was good; so good that I kept forgetting to come up for air, and would have quite happily drowned in it if it weren’t for you people (I joke, I joke). However, largely I struggled because I couldn’t bring myself to make light of what is a serious topic, and one that hit quite close to home.

That’s not to say that the novel itself isn’t amusing, but it certainly slips into the “black comedy” genre like the proverbial hand into a glove. Every laugh is accompanied by a wince, a pain,the silver linings playbook a “Honey, NO!” I became incredibly attached to Pat, with his child-like voice bringing out the mother-hen in me. It was jarring, to have someone talk about such adult topics as marital separation, with such childish vocabulary as “apart time”. On the other hand, that tone was part of what made Pat feel so well-rounded; as if losing a significant chunk of his adult memory, had somehow given him back the innocent optimism that makes children so resilient. It was a necessary part of him, and a necessary part of the book.

Silver Linings rang true in many ways. I recognised many of the secondary characters; the loving and over-protective, the The Silver Lingings Playbookuntrusting, the awkward and speechless. The novel shines a light on how we treat mental health patients and shouts, “Don’t be that guy!” Obviously, having a loved one with poor mental health, can be a difficult world to navigate, but it starts with talking. It starts with truth. It starts with providing help in whatever form necessary.

I was also struck by Pat’s concept of life as a series of movies. It was something that I had been thinking about on the day of my the silver linings playbookgraduation way back in July. It felt like the end of a movie, where I had run out of plot, and had nothing left to do but watch the credits role. Quick, however, has convinced me of the danger in this concept. If we live by a some secret self-made plot, then life becomes one long series of the same day; getting up, having breakfast, exercising, etc. etc., waiting for our story to start. It is only when Pat realises that life rarely works like this, that he can begin putting himself back together.

Ultimately, The Silver Linings Playbook is one of the few books I’ve read recently that actually kept me guessing, which means it automatically gets five stars from me. It is a heart-warming narrative of healing and acceptance. I would recommend this to anyone, but in particular, those suffering with mental illness, or those looking to find a better understanding of a friend, or family member with a mental illness. It may not give you 100% clarity, but The Silver Linings Playbook is a novel that knows scars don’t always fade completely, and that’s okay.

Now Starting: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

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I’ve just got in from a massive book store rampage. Still figuring out which of these beauties to keep and which to give away in celebration of reaching 100 followers! So for now, I’m going to sink my teeth into something new. Join me over on @EMLetsRead now!

The First for the Shelf

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I’ve decided to create a new rule:

If I can’t bring myself to read a novel for over a month, then that novel get’s shelved and I move on.

So unfortunately, Welcome to Sharonville by Sharon Zink, is going to be the first on that shelf.

What started off as a hopeful but clunky piece of fiction, didn’t get any stronger, and there is only so long a reader can hang on. Honestly, what finally pushed me over the edge was the description of an attractive doctor’s thumbs as “hamsters” peeping out of his pockets. It just reminds me of something I would have written in the first year of my degree, and suggests poor judgement and sloppy editing.

That being said, I was quite fond of some of the characters, and may come back to this novel when I have more time. However, at the moment I’m searching for work and writing pretty much constantly, so I need to be reading for pleasure. And that means reading something that won’t irrationally irritate me with me with hamsters.

So, as of tomorrow, Sharonville will be shelved, and I’ll be starting The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, which I’ve been gagging to read since it arrived months ago.