Do you like book-to-screen adaptations?

06/10/2019 Discussions, Reading 10

So the big news on book Twitter the last few days has been the casting of the Netflix adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows. These books are pretty beloved in the book blogging world, so it hasn’t surprised me that quite a few people aren’t happy with the casting choices (the main casting choice people seem to have a problem with is Jesper, who they’re saying hasn’t got dark enough skin for the role).

This got me thinking a lot about book-to-screen adaptations though, and how really, they’re always going to be a minefield for creators. In a lot of ways I think makers of film and TV would be better coming up with their own stories, simply because by using ones with an existing fan base, they’re never going to win. No matter how good the casting choice is, they’re never going to conjure up the exact image of the character that’s in every reader’s head. It’s inevitable that people will be disappointed, yet Hollywood and TV companies still continue to churn out either adaptations or remakes of everything going.

Personally I know that whenever I hear that a book I love is getting an adaptation, I’m always a little worried, but also intrigued. I’m curious to see how they’ll adapt it, who they’ll cast in it, what they’ll miss out, add or change…but I’m also praying they do my beloved book justice and don’t ruin it. For example, I’m kind of worried that Netflix is going to fall into the usual trap of adapting a YA book and make Six of Crows super cheesy…but at the same time I can’t wait to see it. And personally I didn’t overly disapprove of any of the casting choices announced so far (and it really isn’t cool that people have been directly tweeting young actors to tell them they’re wrong for what is probably the biggest role of their career so far!).

And thinking about it, there hasn’t been that many book-to-screen adaptations I’ve seen that I’ve genuinely hated. I tend to prefer the books, but I’ve enjoyed the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films as well as the Game of Thrones TV series. And it’s nice to think that through these adaptations people who don’t read can have access to some of the incredible stories they would have otherwise missed out on.

Like imagine some people not having been able to experience the wonder of Harry Potter? And the Game of Thrones series became its own phenomenon, even passing the books story-wise and gaining thousands, if not millions more fans for George R.R. Martin’s story. And it made fantasy TV shows a thing, which I’m certainly not going to complain about!

I think the key really is to try and consider adaptations as their own, separate entities. Not liking an adaptation or something about it doesn’t change your feelings about the original book, and at the end of the day you don’t have to watch an adaptation. But I do know that as a fan it can be hard to see something you love taken and changed, or morphed into something completely different (and thanks to the internet it’s now easy for fans to make their thoughts known…the controversial end to Game of Thrones being a good example).

In short, I have nothing particular against book-to-screen adaptations, in fact a lot of the time I’m curious to see them. But messing with existing fandoms is a risky business, and you can’t please everyone…So maybe Hollywood should try coming up with its own ideas more often?

So I’d love to know you’re opinions on book-to-screen adaptations! Do you love them or loathe them? What do you think of the Grisha/Six of Crows casting so far?

10 Responses to “Do you like book-to-screen adaptations?”

  1. Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books

    This is such an interesting discussion! I have to say, just like you, I’m always a little nervous about adaptations, because I have this image of the story in my head, the characters, the world and what it’s supposed to be and I’m scared the adaptation will ruin it all, haha. Then again, I completely agree when you say we should look at these adaptations and the books as two different entities, lately thinking of it that way has helped me a lot. I’ll always cherish the book more, but I feel like I can enjoy and get lost in an adaptation a little more when I see it as something separate 🙂

    • Laura

      I feel the same. I can definitely get lost in an adaptation a bit better when I think of them as separate entities to the book. I try to just watch them as they are, and not to spend the whole time comparing, as I generally always like the book best.

  2. Angela

    I like book-to-screen adaptations because it’s so neat to see the characters and stories come to life. I think Ready Player One is a great example, where you can tell from the book that the scale of the world-building is incredible, but seeing it on the big screen just makes it that much more fantastic. I know that inevitably there will be changes made, and most of the time I’m fine with them (except when they change the ending – looking at you, The Devil Wears Prada).

    • Laura

      I’ve still never seen the Ready Player One adaptation, but I loved the book, so I’ll have to watch it soon. I can definitely see how it would make a good film! 🙂

  3. Rachel

    I think the only adaptation I was super against was The Passage, mainly because the show didn’t feel in tune to what I remember from the books. I *thought* I was going to be just as disappointed with A Discovery of Witches, but I actually kind of enjoyed the first season once I got over the casting choices. I agree that, as a fan, you have to (at some point) separate the book and media adaptation. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, and it becomes more of a question like “can this adaptation be faithful to the essence of the book?” more than if its a straight scene-by-scene adaptation.

    • Laura

      I’m glad you ended up enjoying A Discovery of Witches, even though you didn’t expect to! I’ve been meaning to watch that but I still haven’t got round to reading the book, and I want to read it before I watch the show.
      And I totally agree with you that it’s more about whether or not they capture the essence and atmosphere of the book, rather than recreate it scene-by-scene.

  4. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I typically don’t mind movie and TV adaptations—I mean, sure, I’m a little nervous that they might not do a book justice, but most of the adaptations I’ve seen have been pretty decent. I think TV can sometimes be better than movies because there’s more time to capture more of the book; but then they also tend to veer away from the original source material more often. Still, I’m generally all for adaptations.

    • Laura

      I agree, TV can often be a better format for adaptations. I feel like films tend to miss a lot more out, but as you say, TV series do tend to veer more from the source material.

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