Book-to-Screen Adaptations: The Good, the Bad, and the Anticipated

Posted on April 4, 2022

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “the book is always better than the movie,” and in most cases, I tend to agree. I often get frustrated at movies or TV shows because they have a tendency to leave out important details or events that happened in the book. On the other hand, sometimes the visual adaptations surprise me and actually do the book justice. Here is a list of my favourite book-to-screen adaptations, ones that missed the mark, and some that I am extremely excited about.

The Good

Normal People (2020)

Image Credit: The New York Times

Starting off strong, the Normal People TV series is probably my favourite book-to-screen adaptation of all time. For starters, they nailed the casting. Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal portrayed Marianne and Connell perfectly, even better than I imagined them when reading the novel. The directors and cinematographers were really able to capture all of the frustration, anxiety, and heartbreak that was present in the book and that is a really difficult thing to do. The TV adaptation was so accurate to the point where I could even pick up my book and follow along with their lines. This series is certainly a must-watch!

Little Women (2019)

 Image Credit: MoMA

I’m going to be honest here and admit that I haven’t read the book…yet. However, Little Women is such a great movie that I just had to include it on this list. Once again, I really loved the ensemble cast consisting of Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Emma Watson, and Laura Dern. From what I have heard, many parts of this film are quite accurate to the original novel. The few major changes that were present were conscious choices by the director, Greta Gerwig, in an effort to modernize the story. By integrating more modern values into this classic story, Gerwig was able to focus on women’s right to choose their own paths and I think it was very successful.

The Bad

All the Bright Places (2020)

 Image Credit: The New York Times

I read the book All the Bright Places in the summer of last year and really liked the book. It’s a young adult book so it had its cheesy moments but overall I thought it dealt with a lot of important topics, specifically mental health. As a result, I had high hopes for the movie adaptation, however, I was very disappointed. It sounds harsh but I didn’t like much about it. I thought the characters were unlikeable and cringey, and a lot of the parts that made the book so emotional were left out. I honestly regret watching the movie because I feel like it ruined my perception of the story. Overall, I thought that the movie felt rushed and definitely didn’t do the book justice.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Image Credit: New York Magazine

This one is probably a controversial and unpopular opinion and I should clarify that I don’t think this movie is bad, however, I did feel like it didn’t live up to my expectations. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my favourite books so maybe I expected too much out of the movie. I will say that I really liked the casting, and overall vibe of the movie, however, I think some of the emotional impact was lost. Maybe a miniseries, similar to Normal People, would have allowed the book to be adapted more accurately and with more detail. Despite this, I do think that the movie on its own was really good, just not when compared to the book.

The Anticipated

Finally, I wanted to talk about some book-to-screen adaptations that are currently in the works that I am very excited about. The first one, Daisy Jones and the Six is in production to become a miniseries. I really enjoyed this book and think that it will translate really well to the screen. It is all about a band and the gruelling life of music artists so I think there are lots of opportunities for cool scenes and visuals. The other series that I cannot wait for is Conversations with Friends. It’s being adapted by the same people who made Normal People so it’s safe to say that my expectations are set very high.

Adapting novels to films or TV shows is definitely no easy task, however, some have been very successful. Let me know your opinions on book-to-screen adaptations!

Posted in Blog.