Hello bookworms!! Welcome to Top 5 Tuesday!! This week’s topic is top 5 books I liked better than the adaptations.
Well… last week we probably all surprised ourselves and came up with a lot of adaptations that were better than the original. But let’s get back onto our high horses, because the book is always* better.
Yes, that’s right. Today’s topic is all about hailing those books that far surpass any adaptation that has been attempted. Now, I’m sure that some of you, like myself, struggled to stick to five this week. But bring your epic lists, and let’s get comparing!!
*Of course this is excluding all the ones we talked about last week!! 😂
top 5 books I liked better than the adaptations
The Southern Vampire Mysteries / True Blood
I started reading the Sookie Stackhouse books (originally called The Southern Vampire Mysteries) in around 2007, which was about a year before the TV series aired. Which means that I was in DEEP by the time it aired. And by deep I’m pretty sure I was 8 books in and all sorts of shit was going down.
Now, admittedly, the first season of True Blood was … good. It stayed pretty true to the first book, and the characters were well cast. But by the time we hit that season finale, cracks were already starting to appear between the book-world, and the tv-world. And by cracks, I mean the storyline went to hell and WTF was that disaster that was airing on my television??
I also have to admit, that while I read every single book, I stopped watching the show. Three episodes into season 7. Which is the last season. So I only have 7 episodes left to watch. And I still cannot bring myself to do it. That show was f***ing trash, and not good trash. The only good thing to come out of it was Alexander Skarsgård. However, if you’re into paranormal books, this series is actually great.
The Mortal Instruments / Shadowhunters / City of Bones
Look, I’m not saying the books are great – they’re highly problematic – but the absolute shitshow that they created BOTH times they tried to adapt The Mortal Instruments genuinely kills me. I kind of want them to try again, but honestly I don’t think I could sit through another adaptation of this. It hurts.
I just don’t understand how they can screw up plot, casting and well… everything… when it’s all set out in a six-book series!! That has OTHER books in the same world. Plus a trilogy that’s set in the middle of it. What are they doing??
Now, I know some people like the tv series, and that’s fine. I guess it has its place in the world. (So long as that place is far away from me, I’m ok.) But if I had to choose between the two adaptations, I’d choose the movie. But it’s for two reasons: Robert Sheehan as Simon, and Godfrey Gao as Magnus. I even liked Lena Headey and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Jocelyn and Valentine.
It’s just a real shame that I haven’t liked Clary or Jace yet… 😅
Looking for Alibrandi / Looking for Alibrandi
I was so excited when it was announced that one of my favourite books of all time was being turned into a movie. I first read Looking for Alibrandi when I was about 13, and reread it MANY times until we had to study it for our Year 12 exams. The movie came out when I was in Year 11. And WHAT a disappointment it was.
The book focuses on Josie’s family drama and internal torment about not knowing what she wants to do with her life, with the romance being kind of a side plotline. The movie almost creates this weird love triangle and that uncertainty about university and her future almost disappears completely.
The book and the movie may show the same story, but it’s told from entirely different perspectives. And because of that I feel like the movie loses that poignant moment that I think we all feel around the end of high school where we ask ourselves “what now?” and “where do we go next?”
The Rook / The Rook
I don’t think I can explain the depth of disappointment that I had when watching the tv show adaptation of The Rook. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, raised by wolves (or you’re new here), The Rook is one of my all-time favourite books. Which then became a duology, and is soon to become a trilogy. The concept of the story is utterly fascinating, and the delivery of an amnesia trope (could have gone any way, really), was spectacular.
So when it was announced it was being developed as a tv series, I was so excited. Possibly more excited than any other tv show announcement to date. And I was utterly and completely let down.
It’s not even a casting or acting decision – both of these were fine. It was that they ultra-modernised it (for no reason whatsoever considering that it is set now), and they cut half the characters out. Including some of my favourites. There are PLOT REASONS those characters should have made the final cut. But instead they also cut half the plot. In a paranormal murder mystery series, it was hard to pick “whodunnit” when there were 7 possible suspects… it’s a lot easier when they cut it down to 4.
The show also tried to push more diversity than the book had, which isn’t always a bad thing. But to completely change a character’s story so that they could add someone in a wheelchair isn’t really something that translated well, or shows a good understanding of the source material. It also felt like a token gesture to people with disability.
Stephanie Plum / One for the Money
Hello, my name is Meeghan, and I will read pretty much anything that Janet Evanovich publishes. Is it problematic and trashy? Yes. Do I enjoy it anyway? Hells yes I do. So imagine my delight when I heard they were making the first Stephanie Plum book into a movie. A proper Hollywood production with a budget! You don’t have to imagine, I was excited.
And most grievously disappointed. In fact, I was so disappointed I’ve never actually finished watching the movie. I walked out about 30 minutes in. Because it was THAT BAD.
Whoever was in charge of casting this film should be very disappointed with themselves. Katherine Heigl as a Jersey girl with mobster ties? No. And the guys who played Morelli and Ranger? Hells no.
I can’t even really comment on the film itself. I don’t really remember watching the part that I did see, because I was so appalled by the characters. Maybe it was fine. But the fact that there are 27 books and only one film doesn’t really lend any credence to that.
bonus 3… (I can’t help myself, ok?!)
Vampire Academy / Vampire Academy
Again, the Vampire Academy series aren’t greatest books, but I enjoyed the universe they are set in. I even liked the movie. Was it a good adaptation? Absolutely not. But I saw the movie before I read the books, so that helps some.
However, I have since read the books. ALL of the books. And I’m actually pretty psyched that they announced that it’s being made into a tv series since I wrote my post on books I wish were tv adaptations.
In all honesty, the movie was pretty trashy. But it’s also from that era where there were a lot of trashy teenage girl movies, so I can forgive it somewhat. I mean, I also enjoyed Wild Child and St Trinian’s at the time. So… it’s good trash?! But the books are still better!!
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda / Love, Simon
Ok, so hear me out, because I do love the movie for this one. The casting was literally perfect. I even cried while watching it. (Honestly, seeing Simon and his parents talk it out was heart-wrenchingly emotional.) But I still liked the book better.
It’s really because of the ending. The ending of the book was so emotional because it was just shared between Blue and Simon. There was no fanfare, it was just them being honest and sweet and adorable.
But, I felt like the changes they made to the end of the movie cheapened it. It became this show-off thing with an audience. This special, intimate moment became something that everyone watched and cheered for. Which wasn’t what the story was about at all. It changed the whole meaning of Simon’s fight against being outed and having his heart bared to everyone, without his permission. And I don’t think it did the story any justice.
Inkheart / Inkheart
I was a fan of Brendan Fraser. Until I saw this movie. I don’t even know if I can truly describe how much this adaptation disappointed me, because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it or read the books. But I’m going to try anyway!!
Reading Inkheart felt like you were being drawn into a fairytale come to life. It had this magnetic feeling of magic, treachery, betrayal and adventure. I know that this feeling is hard to capture in film, but it can be done. (Maybe we should get Peter Jackson to redo the films??)
However, the film (and they only made 1 from the trilogy), felt like an action movie. It was all chase scenes and sword fights and (very bad) special effects. They changed the characters and their motivations to make the film more exciting. It didn’t need that. The magic in this story is told in the quiet moments as well as the tense ones. And I often think that’s something that isn’t done well in a lot of films.
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What are your top 5 books you liked better than the adaptations?