Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Sunday Symposium is a weekly feature in which I'll be discussing various bookish topics and asking for your commentary, as well.  This week, let's talk about books being adapted into movies and television shows, shall we?

Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1)The 100 (The Hundred, #1)In the last couple of years, it seems like nearly every successful YA book or series is being adapted for the screen.  In fact, the movie rights to some novels are being purchased before the books have even made it to readers; for example, Ridley Scott's London production company purchased the rights to Moira Young's Blood Red Road a year before the book was published (source) and Kass Morgan's The 100 is already slated for the CW's fall lineup (source), even though the novel won't be released until September.

Personally, when I hear that a book I've read, favorite or not, is being adapted for the silver screen or for television audiences, I'm initially excited.  The thought of seeing a book come to life is exhilarating...but also unimaginable.  And so, soon after talk of a movie is addressed, I find myself worrying that the movie could never live up to the preconceived notions I have from the book.  (They rarely ever do.)  Then the casting begins, and I'm left even less sure of the film's success in my own mind, let alone the thousands of other readers who will be weighing in.

If I forbid myself from re-reading the book prior to a movie's release, I'm less likely to judge the film so harshly.  That was the case withThe Host and with Warm Bodies earlier this year.  Also, if I watch the movie first, I tend to find it more appealing than the book, as with The Neverending Story and The Princess Bride.  Basically, it comes down to timing, I suppose.  How recently I read the book.  If I even read the book prior to seeing the movie or tv show.  These are definitely big factors in how much I enjoy an adaptation, as are casting and how true the story remains to the original book.  Some I have control over, some I do not.

But sometimes, TV and movie execs get it right, whether they remained true to the story or not.  As with the CW's The Vampire Diaries.  I only read the first two novels in the series, and to me, they were complete shite.  There's no nice way to say it.  I read them over the course of a couple of weeks at the gym, and in the end, I flat-out hated myself for it.  And I swore I'd never waste my precious time watching a show based on such a farce of a story.  But then I saw that Boone from Lost was a recurring character, and well, eye candy is eye candy.  So, I gave the show a shot.  And then I was addicted, much to the dismay of my husband.  But that dismay didn't last long...he's as hooked as I am now, and we both kind of stared open-mouthed at each other after last Thursday's season finale.  Did. Not. See. That. Coming.

Anyways, book adaptations...they can be a good thing, or they can be a really, really bad idea.  There are a lot of aspects that affect the success, or lack thereof, of a book-to-screen adaptation.  And it goes without saying that no two adaptations will have the same results.  Obviously.

What makes or breaks an adaptation in your eyes?  What are some of your favorites?  Which ones were big ole flops, as far as you're concerned?  Are there any that you're particularly excited about?  Or maybe over-protectively leery of?  :P

And what say you on the recent news that FOX decided not to pick up the series based on the Delirium books by Lauren Oliver?  (source)  I'm actually relieved about that one.  With the slew of changes that the producers had decided to back, I was sure it would make for a pretty good tv show, but as an adaptation?  It was going to be awful.

I know it will never work out this way, but I wish adaptations would appeal to the readers first and then to the masses.  *sigh*

Any and all commentary, chastising, and public flogging is welcome, as per usual.  And thanks for stopping by!


  1. No book I've read has ever been made into a tv show, which is why I was kind of excited for the Delirium show. I wasn't thrilled on the changes, but I still remained hopeful. I'm a little sad it's a no-go, but not terribly so.

    I find if I read a book before the movie, I can be disappointed, but sometimes if I see the movie first, I like it better. I don't know, I go both ways. lol

  2. This was a great post and I completely agree with a lot of your points. For me Warm Bodies and The Perks of Being a Wallflower were both better than the book and I read the book before watching the movie. It's very rare that happens.

  3. great topic. I am always excited myself. I just love seeing my characters on the big screen or weekly on a tv show. I stay away from the books now when it is close to the movie or show coming out. For the same reasons you do. I love Vampire Diaries. One of my all time favorite shows. I have not seen the finale yet but I have it dvrd. That show always ends with my mouth hanging open. I never see any of it coming. Great post.

  4. I absolutely love this post, Jen, and completely agree! I thought about that for a little bit, but never fully realized how important timing is. Can't reread too soon before the adaption, but I can't watch the movie before the book either and I'll most likely love the movie more. And I so wish that they would appeal to the readers before the masses as well. Great post!

  5. I think you're right not to read a book too close to the film's release--one always influences the other. I hadn't heard that The 100 was optioned, so thank you for that tidbit--although I guess I should just assume ALL books have been optioned, hah.

    Sometimes adaptations are great, but I admit I'm usually fairly suspicious of them. A lot of it depends on who's involved, and/or if they feel they have to adhere too closely to the story.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden


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