The Book is Better (most of the time)
The book was better – a statement that book lovers and avid readers the world over have been proclaiming since our beloved stories began to be adapted to the movie and television screen. It is a statement that we avid readers know can be spoken with complete and utter confidence. That no amount of special effects, amazing script writing or solid acting chops can compete with a reader’s imagination. We avid readers have been disappointed time and again with the promise of our favourite story heading to the big screen, hoping that perhaps this time, they will get it right. And sometimes they do get it right and we high-five each other with huge smiles on our faces and tears of joy streaming down our cheeks. And sometimes – most of the time – they get it wrong. So wrong. And when that happens, we book lovers get on our pedestal and cry out; “THE BOOK WAS BETTER!”
“The Book Was Better” is our war cry, our tag line, our chance to annoy the few or to enlighten the many. It is our constant, our altar of book supremacy – that books will ALWAYS be better!
Most of the time.
It is a rare, sad moment when a book lover reluctantly admits – the movie was better.
To admit that a movie is better than the book? Who would do such a thing?! Is it not the secret convenance of book lovers everywhere that no matter what, no matter how, the book is always better?
Nope, not in this case.
I watched How I Live Now last night. A movie based on the Young Adult novel written by Meg Rosoff.
Without getting too much into it, the story is about a troubled American teen who goes to live with her cousins in England for the summer. The world is on the verge of World War 3 when she goes and as she settles into her new life, war officially erupts. It is about how she survives with her cousins – a Red Dawn meets Lord of the Flies meets The Incredible Journey type of concept. Which sounds great hey?! Gotta love those depressing dystopian novels that seem to be ever prevalent in the YA section. And the movie was pretty great – kept me engaged, good tension and the child actors were all very charismatic, especially the one who played the youngest cousin Piper.
You know what wasn’t so great?
It pains me to even say that people. It hurts my tummy and gives me a frowney face and we all know that it takes way more muscles to frown than it does to smile so I am actually expending more energy frowning than smiling which leaves my body depleted and more vulnerable should there ever be a zombie apocalypse. So while I would prefer to smile – I can’t say the book was better in all my usual book-loving righteousness. I can’t. I won’t. The book was painful for me to read.
Do you want to know how long it took me to read the book? 30 minutes. I sped through it just to get through it. So what made it hard for me to read? It wasn’t that it was YA – I’ve read a few YA novels and been quite pleased; though there is a fine line for me. Too clichéd and I get turned right off. Too immature sounding and I get bored. Too focused on the worth of a girl being dependent on the love of a boy and I am ready to burn something. What made it hard to read was how immature the story felt (I could say the author did a great job of sounding like a young teen but I don’t know for sure – it’s all perspective). What I do know is the voice of Daisy (or Elizabeth) turned me off. It moved so fast and breathless (but not a good breathless), that it felt like the story was filled with run on sentences. Like the one I am about to launch into.
So the story seemed to move way too fast and you don’t get a strong sense of where Daisy is in the story and more than anything you get annoyed because it is just moving way to fast like I said and what about all the horror and pain of being separated from her family and there just was so much more that could have been savoured. It was like the character was talking without breathing and that she had a lot to say and that we are supposed to get that it is essentially like her diary but then when you get to the parts about the war and surviving it kinda moves at a really unbelievable speedy pace where suddenly she’s taken and then just as suddenly she’s on the move and then she’s back home just like that.
Did that above paragraph annoy you? It annoyed me writing it. That is what I got from the novel though. The story itself, the story of survival and love and family was glossed over. It didn’t have enough impact for me and I ended up not caring. I know this type of YA style of writing is not right for me and I am sure this novel brought joy to many others, but I can’t read this type of YA novel ever again. I got this book as a Christmas present which is how it ended up in my hands. If I had picked it up and read the first page myself in the book store, I would never have brought it home.
But the movie – the movie had impact. It brought the story to life, the tension and the pain to life. I felt in the movie what the book was trying to exude. So in this case? Movie for the win.
But don’t get used to me saying that.
So fellow “the book was better” warriors – any examples you can share with me where the movie was better than the book? I would love to know so I don’t feel so alone.
This blog post brought to you by the letter B and the A to Z Challenge.
Posted on April 2, 2014, in Book Reviews, General Musings & Thoughts and tagged a to z challenge, books, how i live now, lord of the flies, meg rosoff, red dawn, the book was better, the incredible journey. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.