There are a lot of expectations when it comes to book to film or TV adaptations. We spend so long imagining the story, the characters, and the world in our minds that sometimes it can be a disappointment when we see it on the big screen and it’s not all we’d hoped it would be. There are exceptions, The Book Thief and Stardust are two of mine, but I feel like there are far more disappointments out there.
I’ll be one of many talking about movie adaptations I’ve hated, or about new book editions with the film poster as the cover which I can’t stand, but there are positive for every book to film/TV adaptation even the terrible ones (here’s looking at you, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief).
Why I Love Book to Film/TV Adaptations (Even the Terrible Ones)
A little while back I was in my local Waterstones, not an unusual occurrence that’s for sure, and I overheard (I wasn’t eavesdropping, it’s just not a massive store) two people talking about the book they’d come into the shop to buy; Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. You could tell these were two people who hadn’t been to Waterstones in a while (the Young Adult books have been in the same place for years now) and eventually they had to ask one of the cashiers to help them find it.
By this point I’ll fully admit I was eavesdropping (I couldn’t help it, Simon Vs. is one of my favourite books and I was curious) and as they struck up a conversation with the cashier I heard that they’d just seen the film Love, Simon and heard it was based on a book so they’d come straight into Waterstones for the first time in ages to buy a copy.
That right there is the benefit, the reason I love book to film or TV adaptations even when they’re terrible. Maybe a long term fan of the book would hate the film because it didn’t stay true to the story or the world the author created, but someone who hasn’t read the book wouldn’t know that, and if they loved the film maybe they’ll then decide to read the book as well. Maybe the new book editions with the film poster as the cover are terrible when fans of the book know how gorgeous the original covers were, but they make it easier for these new fans to find the book they saw and loved so much on screen.
The Percy Jackson movie, as a book to film adaptation, was terrible. Ask anyone who read the book first and then saw the film and they’ll tell you in detail, but when I first saw The Lightning Thief I hadn’t read the book and I ended up really enjoying the film. I’ll be honest even now I still quite enjoy the film, I just take it separately from the books. The reason I picked up the book, many years later, was partly because of the reviews I was seeing on WordPress from people who grew up with Percy Jackson the way I grew up with Harry Potter, but also because I remembered seeing the film and remembered actually enjoying it.
Thank to a terrible adaptation, which I can admit having read the books was really a terrible adaptation, I discovered a series I love and an author whose work I can’t get enough of.
I’ve got so many other examples as well. Stardust was the film which led to me discovering Neil Gaiman’s books, and I finally picked up The Book Thief after having left it on my TBR list for years because there was a film being released. There are even genres and books I picked up that I never would have considered reading before, that I not only read but really enjoyed because I saw the film and was curious enough to check out the book; The Great Gatsby, Life of Pi, Cloud Atlas.
Maybe as long terms fans of the books – as people who have read and loved these stories, and hoped and prayed for an adaptation so we can see our favourite series on the big screen – we’ll be disappointed by what we see in the film or TV show, but for every one of us left disappointed maybe there’s someone else in the audience who loved it so much they’re about to rush into Waterstones for the first time in years to buy a copy of the book.
Now Onto the Discussion Part of This Post:
What are your thoughts on book to film or TV show adaptations? Do you love them or have you been left disappointed by too many to get your hopes up for the next one being released?
What are your thoughts on the movie-tie-in book covers? Do you love them, hate them, or are you not bothered because in the end the book inside is still the same?
What books have you discovered because of their adaptation?
What is the best and worst book to film/TV show adaptation you’ve seen?
Let me know in the comments below.