Reading the Book before the Movie or Show: Pros, Cons, & Bragging Rights
Young adult and adult novels make it to the big (and little) screen fairly often these days. So, just how smug should you feel when you have already read the book? There is no easy answer – so to tackle this issue I have broken down the movie/show tie-ins into categories.
The Book Series Made into a Show
You can feel superior, but do tread lightly as you enter this murky zone. When translating a series of novels into a series of shows major plot elements are likely to be changed to allow for the continuity of the show. Examples of the book series made into a show include Pretty Little Liars (based on the series by Sara Shepard), Gossip Girl (based on the series by Cecily Von Ziegesar; a 2003 Quick Pick & 2009 Popular Paperback for Young Adults), The Walking Dead (based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Tony Moore), and Game of Thrones (Based on the “Song of Fire and Ice” books by George R.R. Martin.)
- Pros of pre-reading the book series made into a show:
1) You read the books, you loved them…you watch the show and get more! You can translate your book reading experience into an on-going show and keep the story alive after the series is over and/or whilst you await (impatiently) for the next book.
2) Deviations from the book make for some fun and unexpected surprises. You thought you knew all there was to know about white walkers in George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series… but after watching the HBO show– what?!
- Cons of pre-reading the book series made into a show:
1) Deviations from the book make for some shocking unexpected surprises. Yes, this is both a pro and a con. These changes may call into question your precognitive skills. For example AMC’s Walking Dead’s many plot changes as compared to the graphic novel series.
- Bragging rights earned from pre-reading the book series made into a show:
Monday morning talk when there was a Sunday night cliffhanger: does <insert character name> die? Then they look your way: do you know? Oh, yeah.
The Stand Alone Adaptation
Many stand-alone YA books have been adapted into movies which are quite fantastic; often they are independent productions. Some examples are Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallflower (2000 Best Book for Young Adults, 2002 Popular Paperback for Young Adults, and a 2000 Quick Pick for Young Adults), John Green’s The Fault in Our Star and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2006 Alex Award). Some stand-alone novels adapt well into a series such as Orange is the New Black (based on the memoir by Piper Kerman) and Hemlock Grove (based on the novel by Brian McGreevy).
- Pros of pre-reading the stand alone book made into a film or series:
1) A great book turned into a spectacular film with no over-saturation.
2) An added sense of “legitimacy” to the YA book and film world.
- Cons of pre-reading the stand alone book made into a film or series:
1) The real dud of a film – when a beloved book turns into a seriously craptastic movie.
- Bragging Rights earned from pre-reading the stand alone book made into a film or series:
OK, I admit in these cases there is not much of a smugness-factor. But since often times these quality stand-alone books make really fine films or series, that’s really the point, right?
The Uber-popular Movie Tie-in of the Mega-seller Series
You know the ones… here we are talking about books like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (Best Books for Young Adults 1999 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 & Teens Top Ten 2004, 2006, 2008), Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga (Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers 2006, 2007, Best Books for Young Adults 2009, Teens Top Ten 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009), and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy (Teens Top Ten 2009, 2010, 2011 & Best Books for Young Adults 2010, 2009, Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers 2009).
In this case you will typically not be special for very long just because you read the book; once the craze hits, many viewers will also become readers. Often it is the case that moderately popular titles such as these become mega-sellers after the release of a first successful movie. Typically with this kind of movie tie in, the movie versions follow the books very accurately with no huge plot deviations.
- Pros of pre-reading the uber-popular movie tie-in of the mega-sellers:
1) The addition of a soundtrack to enhance your love of a good book. (See the end of this post for some of my favorites).
2) Being able to see what you envisioned come to life in a real way (Diagon Alley: how did they get it so darn right?) This phenomenon really helps one appreciate the shared human experience aspect of reading.
- Cons of pre-reading the uber-popular movie tie-in of the mega-sellers:
1) Watching a movie that is SO like the book you just read it can actually turn into a huge snooze fest.
2) The play-out factor of something being ubiquitous and then you start to kind of hate it.
- Bragging rights of pre-reading the uber-popular movie tie-in of the mega-sellers:
In cases such as this you could build up your ego in a respectable and subdued manner about having been one of the early fans.
Forthcoming and Rumor Mill
Sometimes the most exciting aspect of the pre-reading phenomenon is the anticipation of forthcoming films and shows: who will be cast? where will they film it? will anything change? Some of the following films have a definite release date we can be excited for and some have been “optioned” for a film adaptation but it is not certain when or if they will actually be made.
If I Stay by Gail Forman. The title was a Quick Pick For Reluctant Young Adult Reader in 2010)– the movie adaptation is due to be released on August 22, 2014.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner. The title was a Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers in 2011 and a Best Book For Young Adults in 2011 –the movie adaptation is due to be released on September 19, 2014
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn– a movie adaptation due to be released on October 3, 2014.
Daughter of Smoke and Bones by Laini Taylor. A movie adaptation is currently in development with no release date.
Legend by Marie Lu. A movie adaptation is currently in development with no release date.
This one is rechnically already released but included here since it’s under the radar: Delirium by Lauren Oliver has been made into a pilot but the series was not picked up. Therefore, no more episodes will be made at this time. It is now possible to watch the pilot on WIGS and HULU.
There are TON more on the horizon…
What are some of your favorite book to film or show adaptations?
Some Favorite Soundtracks
-Tara Keho, currently Reading: Stray by Elissa Sussman