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04th Nov 2021

8 books that are better than their adaptations!

Katy Thornton

Sorry to be that person, but I’m going to be that person

I’m not going to say the book is always better than the movie. There are a lot of examples of adaptations that simply bring the visual storytelling to a plot that a novel cannot. However, that the book is nearly always better is a clichéd saying because it is true. So here’s our top list of books that outshine their movie counterparts. And don’t worry, there will definitely be a list of movies that do steal the limelight in the near future.

1. Bad Day In Blackrock – Kevin Power

I am a huge fan of this book. That might imply my judgement is blurred when it comes to this adaptation, but I disagree. The movie adaptation is called What Richard Did (2012) and it’s main crime is that it did not stick to the character descriptions at all. There was also an entirely different ending, which in some adaptations I’ll allow (if you’ve seen My Sister’s Keeper, I can understand why they changed it), but in this, it just didn’t work. If you saw and disliked the movie, I implore you to read the novel instead.

2. The Passage Series – Justin Cronin

Vampire series have been done to death (get it) and somehow the written is always better than the performed. The Passage is an apocalyptic novel series that documents the end of mankind due to a deadly virus. The trilogy of novels is amazing, well written, descriptive and enthralling. They’re all mammoth novels, but they keep the reader entertained. The television series, starring Zack Morris, I mean Mark-Paul Harry Gosselaar, flopped completely, moving too far from the source material, and unable to find its feet in such a huge series. The series was cancelled after one season, and honestly, I was relieved.

3. Enduring Love – Ian McEwan

One of the best openings that there’s ever been to a novel is within the pages of Enduring Love. It’s gripping, intense, and sets up the entire novel to perfection. When a group of people witness a terrible accident they couldn’t have prevented, one of the group becomes obsessed with another. I was excited to watch the movie adaptation starring Daniel Craig (No Time To Die, Knives Out) but unfortunately not even he could save this film. As with the previous adaptations, it strayed too far from its source material, and suffered as a result. That said, the book is brilliant, and I highly recommend it.

4. We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

Now, the 2011 movie adaptation of We Need To Talk About Kevin is not terrible. I didn’t actively dislike it as I did with the others. It’s just that it couldn’t come close to providing the same level of detail that the novel does. Although Tilda Swinton as Eva and Ezra Miller as Kevin pull off stellar performances, the book is just too good. When teenager Kevin commits a series of vile and fatal acts, his mother Eva reminisces on her skills as a mother and Kevin’s childhood.

5. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

Like We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Kite Runner (2007) is not a bad adaptation. The book is simply breathtaking. It’s emotionally poignant and devastating, and it drives home difficult truths. Amir and Hassan have been friends forever, despite their differing social standing. Hassan’s father works for Amir’s father, but that’s never been an issue for the boys. Until one day a dreadful incident drives the boys apart. All I’ll say is read the book if you haven’t already, and get some tissues ready.

6. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

The television adaptation of Little Fire Everywhere starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington was pretty good. I won’t say that it wasn’t. I enjoyed the performances, but Ng just has a way of writing that’s difficult to translate to television, and for that reason, I have to say the book was better. Mia (Washington) and her daughter Pearl move to Shaker Heights and rent a small apartment from Elena (Witherspoon), a wealthy mother of four. Elena wants to get to know Mia and her daughter, but they’re harbouring secrets. I definitely recommend the novel for anyone who loves to read.

7. 11/22/63 – Stephen King

James Franco pulls it out of the bag in the television series of 11/22/63. However, the novel is over 1,000 pages long, and it was borderline impossible for the adaptation to include everything the novel does. Jake Epping is lost, until his friend Al tells him of a time portal he can take to the 50s. Al is terminally ill, and ask Jake to go back and stop the JFK assassination, believing it was the root of many of the world’s issues. Lost in his own time, Jake decides to do it, plotting and living in the past, and falling in love in the process. A magnificent piece of work; Stephen King is at his best in this!

8. Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

Amy Adams (Arrival, Enchanted) and Patricia Clarkson (Easy A, Shutter Island) star in the TV adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. The story follows Camille (Adams) as she returns to her hometown to cover a story and finds herself being smothered by her overbearing mother (Clarkson). Flynn also wrote Gone Girl, and it’s one of those adaptations I actually can’t decide which I like better. The book and the movie are interchangeable, both brilliant. However, while the novel Sharp Objects is glitteringly dark, the series just falls a little flat, losing the run of itself halfway through before ramping up for the finale. The novel is short and concise, exactly as long as it needs to be, and is a brilliant read for lovers of thrillers.

Let us know if you pick up any of these novels, or if there’s any you think we missed. We may just have enough for a part two!

Header image via Instagram/khosseini

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