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_button-r53470cd820f2402b8c2fc7b7c3492a84_x7j3i_8byvr_324

“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.

SACRILEGE!

BLASPHEMY!

HERESY!

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?

The book.

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.

condescending wonka book

 

This blog post brought to you by the letter B and the A to Z Challenge.

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About Geeky Book Snob

Learning stuff since birth. Happy introvert who likes socializing when she's not busy being an introvert who likes to read.

Posted on April 2, 2014, in Book Reviews, General Musings & Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. What a brilliant (and brave) post. I think most of us default to ‘the book is better’ and some of us (like me) will rarely watch a film if I’ve enjoyed a book but I do like the film Atonement and I loved the book, but for different reasons. I thought the film lifted some of the elements of the book although I think in many ways I enjoyed the subtlety of the book…

  2. I can’t really think of a movie that I liked more than the book off the top of my head. I did enjoy KPAX the movie version for the movie that it was (Kevin Spacey was awesome). The book was its own thing. I think I didn’t compare them as much because I watched the movie first. I think that is the best way to enjoy a movie based on the book. If you have the book details fresh in your mind, the movie will rarely come to par.

  3. I am as well in the ‘book is better’ category although there were few occasions where the moving pictures didn’t disappoint and met the challenge. One of those is the aforementioned Atonement where I actually liked the film little better than the book. But that was probably influenced by the presence of James ‘blue eyes’ McAvoy.
    I also think that Game of Thrones is doing pretty well on the small screen.

    I can understand why people want to bring books to life. I get it. They inspire to create something new. What I don’t get, is wanting to transform a bad book to a film….unless it is for making it into something better. But then I probably still wouldn’t watch it because I didn’t like the book….

  4. I can’t think of any offhand, but there have been a couple of movies that were faithful to the book and were good movies; The Help, To Kill A Mockingbird. There may be others, but my brain isn’t dredging them up from the depths at the momen.

  5. TBH, I kind of enjoyed the Hunger Games films more than the books, despite the absence of Madge in the first movie. And while the movie adaptation of ‘How to Train your Dragon’ was very far from the books, I ended up loving the story and world built in the film. But in most cases…the book was better! *cough Percy Jackson cough*

  6. Interesting question. The first one that comes to mind is The Bourne Identity, but I like the movie and the book, just for different reasons. Still, I’d rather rewatch the movie than reread the book, so I guess that counts.

    Also, Solaris was a decent book, but half of it was made up of these long, dry descriptions of the anomaly on the planet’s surface. I skipped probably most of those. The original Russian movie from the 50s was also pretty dry and cerebral, but it had more movement and was pretty to look at. The modern version with George Clooney cut out much of the high concept stuff and put in a nice twist at the end, so I found it more entertaining, but by then it was almost a different story.

    I never saw the 70s movie adaptation of I Am Legend (the one with Charlton Heston), but the modern version with Will Smith was more entertaining than the book … right up to the end. The original ending of I Am Legend (the book) was SO awesome that the movie ending just paled in comparison. The long panning shots of an abandoned New York City, though, with all the little tricks that Will Smith used to get by–that was pretty interesting. And to be fair, the alternate ending on the DVD version paid an adequate homage to the book. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad.

    Interesting post–looking forward to reading more!

  7. It’s a pretty old book, and one that is OK in itself, but the movie is better (although the movie is pretty old too): The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers.
    (I do agree though, the book is nearly always better)

  8. One that pops into my head is The Princess Bride-while the book was good, the movie was better (the book has a lot of filler that could have been cut out). Great post, and I’m now following your blog 🙂

    Finley Jayne
    http://finleyjaynesbookshelves.blogspot.com/

  9. This will probably get me lynched, but Lord of Rings was far more enjoyable to me than the books.

    But, to me a movie will not definitely better than the book. A movie is a different thing with different goals, and aims. A movie adaption, shouldn’t copy the book, because it won’t be a full, enriching experience it was meant to be. Each form of media should be respected for what it is.

    If you go in with the mind set one WILL always be better you are robbing yourself of a wonderful experiences.

    • I understand where you are coming from. I read the Lord of the Rings at a younger age and I remember thinking how much descriptive prose there was when I wanted more action so the movie fills that need. I love the book and the movie equally and can’t fault anyone for loving either. Both are worthy of love.

  10. I dont think many would agree with me.. but I preferred Devil wears prada movie version better than the book. Else, I am faithful to book is always better concept.. so much so that.. I am that person who points out the different ways the movie was not faithful to the book and how book is better ( during the movie 😉 )

  11. Totally agree with both ‘The Princess Bride’ and ‘The Devil Wears Prada’…another one I thought of was ‘Big Fish’. The movie had a lot more humor than the book, and the stories Edward told flowed together a lot better.

  12. I have read the book and loved it (no judge against your post!) ☺ but I haven’t seen the movie.

  13. I love the book and the movie of “The Princess Bride” — but the movie version is my favourite movie, and the book merely one of my favourites, so I think that says where my heart lies. However, I think it’s a special case — I don’t know of any others where the novelist and the screenwriter were the same person, and very accomplished at both forms. Indeed, didn’t William Golding win an Academy Award for one of his screenplays?

    Someone asked me this question a while ago, and apart from The Princess Bride the only one I could think of were backwards-novelizations; which I don’t think count. It is an interesting question.

  14. You so nailed it! About the general rule of the book being better than the movie usually. (Better to avoid tackling now how the first movies are usually better than the first sequels–such as Ice Age.) And about the run on sentences, … And I’m tired of dystopian YA–and others too. Btw, I’ve always thought that the James Bond movies were better than the books–not all, of course–but I read my sister’s Bond books just because they were there and found them boring, as I recall.

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