John Green on What He Would Change About His Novels If He Had the Chance

Margaret Lyons in conversation with John Green at Vulture Festival. 2015 Getty Images

Audiences had a rare opportunity to hear young-adult novelist John Green explain what he’d change about his novels at the second annual Vulture Festival Saturday morning. In conversation with Margaret Lyons, he said he wouldn’t touch Looking for Alaska, that there might have been a bit too much Walt Whitman in Paper Towns, and, by the way, he preferred the ending of The Fault in Our Stars film to the novel:

Looking for Alaska is a good book. I think it’s very personal and it feels that way and it has that authenticity to it. That said, it feels a little inadequately ambitious at times. I wouldn’t change anything about Looking for Alaska because if I started to tinker I think it would fall apart. I actually had the chance to tinker with it for the tenth anniversary, and it all fell to crap. An Abundance of Katherines is, at times, oh-so-smart. I guess I would have tried to do a better job of bringing out that this character cannot tell a story, the idea of narrative itself escapes him. I tried to do that, and looking back I don’t think I did it as well as I should have. And then Paper Towns, there’s a lot of Whitman in that; looking back I could have slimmed some of that down, but I’m quite fond of Walt Whitman. I like The Fault in Our Stars, but I think I like the ending of the movie better than the ending of the book. I thought they did a really good job of solving a problem that I solved less efficiently.

Regardless, they both end in a cry-fest. Watch the full interview below: