Below are a few book-to-movie adaptations I’ve recently read and/or watched.
Into The Wild – I have not read the book but the movie blew me away. The main character chose a way of life that many of us only dream about.
Life of Pi – LOVED the book! Disappointed by the movie.
Hunger Games Trilogy – I love both the books and the movies. I think the film adaptions have done a great job at capturing the world of Panem and the cast is exceptional! I recently reread the Hunger Games series in preparation for the release of the final movie adaptation. **SPOILER** The only part I didn’t like about the movie adaptation was the prologue at the very end. The characters seemed much too happy. The ending of the book holds much more wonder and darkness.
The Kite Runner – I fell in love with The Kite Runner novel this year. The characters spoke to me; their actions infuriated and inspired me. Its a novel that will stay with me for a long time. I have been avoiding the movie adaptation because I hold the novel so high, there is no way the movie will meet my expectations. (Or am I being too pessimistic?) If you’ve seen the movie and read the book, please comment with what you thought.
The Great Gatsby – As one of My Favorite Books of All Time I made sure to see the 2013 movie adaptation in theaters. I thought it was a great adaptation with an excellent cast and superb staging/scenery.
Pines – I watched the ABC TV series, Wayward Pines, this summer and LOVED it! It was one of my favorite TV shows of the year and I’m glad to hear they are coming out with a second season, even though they created the first assuming it would be the one and only. After watching the show, I read the Blake Crouch novel it was based on and was sourly disappointed. The novel was poorly written and contained large sections that I found irrelevant to the story. See my full review here.
It doesn’t happen often, but I enjoyed the TV show Wayward Pines more than I enjoyed the book it was based on. I fell in love with the show instantly! The creepy mystery surrounding this seemingly perfect little town didn’t make any sense and I needed to know why.
This M. Night Shyamalan-directed show on FOX captured the creepiness of the town to perfection. During the day Wayward Pines, Idaho is a peaceful law-abiding town where everyone knows there place. But why is no one allowed to talk about their past? Why can’t Ethan connect with anyone outside this town? And why is there a rotting corpse in a house just outside of town that doesn’t seem to worry the sherriff?
One thing the TV show left out is Ethan’s flashbacks to a time he was tortured during the war. I think this was an excellent choice by the TV writers. The flashbacks don’t have any effect on the present story. And the scene itself is not as enticing as the main plot. Every time the flashbacks came up, I just wanted to get past them and back to the main story.
The book was at a disadvantage because I already knew what mysteries lie in the page ahead but the main reason I didn’t enjoy the book was because the writing was weak and wordy. Although there was some good dialogue in the book, it also seemed forced at times.
The paragraphs were the shortest I’ve ever seen throughout an entire book. Paragraphs were often only one or two sentences long, and sentence fragments were common throughout. Most writers know how to use this style to create a quick-reading, high-suspense feel but because Crouch wrote the entire novel this way, it didn’t have that effect.
I did love the first chapter. Because our main character wakes up in Wayward Pines not knowing where he is or what has happened to him, it places the focus on the town and small details about our character. It was an effective way to focus the reader on the strange aspects of the town.
Although I don’t plan to ready the other books in the trilogy, I loved the TV show and will be thrilled if they come out with a second season.
What TV shows/movies do you like better than the books they were based on? Or does that sentence seem like total blasphemy to you? 🙂
The Prestige by Christopher Priest will have you clueless and confident, astonished and suspicious, charmed and furious, all at the same time.
The Prestige is a two-sided story of a pair of feuding magicians in the late 1800’s. The story is told two generations later as their grandchildren read the magicians’ journals. The feud begins when Alfred Borden interrupts a fake séance of Rupert Angier’s, revealing him as a fraud. The event enflames a life-long feud as both magicians rise to popularity. Continuously trying to disrupt one another’s performances, the feud pushes the magicians to the very boundaries of magic, deception, and life itself. As the story encounters many twists and turns, so do the lives of Borden and Angier.
The unique structure was my favorite part of the novel. The magicians’ story is told through their journals and interweaved with the present story of the grandchildren who are now in their 30s. Borden’s journal comes first, covering many years of the feud in a linear fashion. The journal reveals some of Borden’s secrets and provides our first impression of his rival, Angier. After we are told the entire story from Borden’s point of view, the story jumps back to the very beginning and is retold from Angier’s point of view.
Even though the reader is already aware of what is going to happen, Priest does an extraordinary job at exposing new secrets and Angier’s insights to keep the story fresh and exciting.
Old Story, Fresh Point of View
As the reader is introduced to Borden first, and is told the story from his POV, one is driven to take his side and believe his view that Angier is a petty, sometimes cruel man who will not let go of a silly, old grudge. But once the narrative changes to Angier’s POV, that belief muddies. The reader becomes aware that every story has two sides, and depending on who tells the story, the “facts” and the attitude behind them changes drastically. There are multiple points in the second retelling of the story that things that initially seemed unreasonably dramatic make sense once both sides of the story is told. Once the story flips to Angier’s point of view, we realize he had strong reasons for acting the cruel way he did. Slowly but surely, Angier becomes the character I wanted to trust and wanted to come out on top of this feud.
How Priest Keeps an Old Story New
By switching narrators halfway through the novel, Priest pulls out a lot of tricks that need delicate balance. The contrasting personalities of the two men adds interest to the retelling of the story. During each magician’s telling, we must not only learn new, interesting things about the same story but also connect with each narrator at the time of their telling. The deception that magicians live with in order to become successful on the stage is a perfect cover for this structure because in order for a retelling of the same story to be successful, certain secrets must be unknown by each narrator.
Angier’s story, the second journal, extends past the point where Borden’s journal left off. This is another necessary choice by the author to keep the reader interested and the story moving forward. The novel ends where it began, in present time with the grandchildren of the magicians. Although the grandchildren’s story starts off as a slow way to give context to the journals, it ends with a flash of action that ties the entire novel together in an unexpected twist.
5 stars! The plot, the characters, the structure, the mystery, the suspense, they all deserve 5 stars. I specifically recommend the book to all writers because unique, creative structures are something every writer should keep in their “tool box.”
The Prestige was adapted into a major motion picture in 2006 staring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Although the movie does vary slightly from the book’s plot, it stays true to the major themes of the story. The acting is excellent. The movie and the book are both worth one’s time. If you are a fan of the movie, read the book! It varies enough to keep you interested but you will still enjoy the same main premise.