Screen versus book?

Hi all,

What do you all think about watching a TV series or film, that has been based on a book (or series of books)?

Most of the time I end up reading the books way before they become films or TV series. And based on my experience, sometimes the screen version is recipe for disappointment, in that it can never do the books justice. For example, I loved book The English Patient. Couldn’t wait to see the movie version…. And was, frankly, a bit disappointed. Maybe if I’d seen the movie first, I’d have been wowed by it, like so many people have been. Maybe reading the book afterward, I would have been envisioning scenes from the movie in my mind, and the experience of reading the book would have only been enhanced by the exquisite cinematography. Who knows?

Looking at it completely the other way around, there’s the TV series Bones. (Sealy Booth! *drools*) I adore this series–love what the writers have done with it. And probably only last year did I get around to reading a couple of Kathy Reichs’ books featuring Temperance Brennan. I really really enjoyed the books, though I admit to being rather shocked at first by how very different the books–and especially the character of Dr. Brennan–are from the series. It’s almost like the writers of the TV series were only interested in the “high concept” of Reichs’ books–renowned female forensic anthropologist solves murders–and rewrote from scratch based on that. But hey, the series is great, even if it does barely resemble the books. And did I mention Sealy Booth? *VBG*

Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series is another interesting case. I love these books. Sookie has a dignity about her that is humbling. But the True Blood TV series? OMG. That’s like a totally twisted, totally x-rated version of the books. Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the series, because I do. (I mean to say, Alexander Skarsgard as Eric Northman? What’s not to like about that? Duh. Nothing!!!) And the writers are surely on the right track to scooping a wide audience for the TV series, because DH would never read a paranormal romance like Dead Until Dark, but he will watch True Blood. Clever writing indeed!

And this kind of leads me to A Game of Thrones. I watched the first episode and was blown away by it. The attention to detail, the way it’s filmed, the cast–everything…. It truly is epic. I immediately ordered the book from the library, and I have to say, since it was first published in 1996, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as the TV series. Soooo wrong! It was brilliant. Only trouble is, now I’m almost regretting having read the book. It’s making watching the TV series an even richer experience, and it’s a pleasure to have all these extra little details and background knowledge about the history of the world and the characters stored in my head while I watch the series. But the killer is that ultimately, I know what’s going to happen! Plus, whenever I read a book I like to form my own mental pictures of what the characters look like. And after watching even one episode of TV series before I read the book, all I could “see” while reading it was Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Lena Headly etc etc. That said, if you asked me which I preferred–book version of A Game of Thrones, or TV series–I wouldn’t be able to choose between them.

One last thing before I sign off.

Here’s a line I’d like to share with you from The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff:

“Her gaze was direct, full of a sadness so raw and crystallized that I could see the shape of it. It ringed her pupils in rusty starbursts, but she was grinning–this terrible ferocious grin. It made her look like she wanted to tear someone’s throat out.”

It’s not often I read something so evocative that I “have” to put the book down and search out pen and paper to jot it down. This description still gives me shivers.

And yes, the book was a fantastic read–and totally deserving of this cover quote from Maggie Stiefvater, author of Shiver: “I loved this eerie and beautiful story of ugly things. It should be read aloud after dark, at a whisper.”

Yeah. What she said! This is not your normal fairy tale.

And here’s my reading list for July:

  • Photographs and Phantoms by Cindy Spencer Pape
  • The Spurned Viscountess by Shelley Munro
  • Deathwish by Rob Thurman
  • Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler
  • An Unwilling Conquest by Stephanie Laurens
  • Nightshade by Andrea R. Cremer
  • Her Mediterranean Makeover by Claire Baxter
  • The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
  • One Wicked Night by Heather Boyd
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
  • First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones



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2 Responses to “Screen versus book?”

  1. I always go from one adaptation to the other without trying to expect the same – otherwise I’m usually disappointed. I agree with you on all the TV series you mentioned. Bones and True Blood are totally different.

    I’ve seen two episodes of Game of Thrones and it’s amazing how close it is to the book – go George R.R. Martin and being an exec producer.

    I loved all the Harry Potter films but wonder if they made it into a series like Game of Thrones, how much more depth they would have had. Things like dealing with Elf rights were not in the books, and also is something showing the characters. Hermione loves Ron more in the last book because he thinks of the safety of the elves. :)

    So I become a realist and say it’s the same but different :))

    • Eleni, I think they’ve done an incredible job on the TV series of Game of Thrones. It’s just stunning! And, OMG, to see Harry Potter treated like that for a TV mini series? That would be amazing. Imagine the nuances and richness of detail we’d be treated to. One day perhaps someone will do it? In the meantime, I’m eagerly awaiting Peter Jackson’s film version of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, starting with His Majesty’s Dragon.