I love a good film adaptation, but like a lot of readers, I tend to want to read the book first. That usually makes me even more excited to watch the film, although I am also more likely to be a bit more critical (but that’s fine; I like being critical). When it’s the other way around, however, meaning when I see the film first, I’m usually not very inclined to pick up the book afterward. That happened to me with Everything, Everything, for example.
Over the past couple of months, I read a couple of books mainly because I was excited to see the films: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Marie Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows (wow, that’s a mouthful), Room by Emma Donoghue and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
I thought it’d be fun to write a post comparing these books and films because I had very different reactions to all of them. It ranged from loving the book way more than the film, preferring the film over the book and thinking both were great in their own right.
So, let’s get to it!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation and of a society as extraordinary as its name.
This book first caught my eye when my mother received it as a gift for her birthday years ago. The title didn’t make any sense and that intrigued me, but I didn’t pick it up right away. In fact, I only picked it up in May of this year because I heard the film was coming out (and it was going to star Michiel Huisman).
I have to admit I wasn’t sure I was going to love the book at first. It’s written in the form of letters that the characters are sending to each other and I’m not a big fan of epistolary novels. Usually, that is, because I loved this book. I couldn’t stop reading and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Also, I really want to visit Guernsey now.
So, I adored the book, which made me even more excited about the film. Unfortunately, the film was a pretty big let-down for me. It felt to me like they took the easy way out and simplified the story so much that it just ended up being a terribly generic film, while the book was so much more. Where in the book the story is built up in such a way that it all makes sense and fits together perfectly, the film rushes things along a lot, making it feel very unbelievable at times. It felt bland and as if the makers of the film didn’t really have their heart in it. I had expected much more!
Final verdict: I gave the book 5 stars on Goodreads, but the film definitely doesn’t rate higher than 2.5 stars with me.
It’s Jack’s birthday and he’s excited about turning five. Jack lives with his Ma in Room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures 11 feet by 11 feet. He loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real. Until the day Ma admits that there’s a world outside.
This is another one of those books that had been on my radar for ages. I heard so many good things about it and lowkey kept looking for it at bookstores, but they usually just had the film edition and I wanted the pretty blue cover. As my best friend kept telling me the film was amazing and we should really watch it together, I decided to finally pick up the book during Bout of Books a few weeks ago.
As with Guernsey, I didn’t have very high expectations of Room. Perhaps it was all the hype and praise (which often makes me suspicious), but I went into it not expecting all that much. Boy, was I wrong! Although it took me a little while to get into the story, once I got sucked in that was that. I just had to keep reading. I got so invested in the story and I was very impressed with how Donoghue manages to portray both Jack and Ma and their relationship so perfectly.
And then I watched the film and got sucked in all over again. What I loved about the film is that it gives you another perspective. The book is completely told through Jack’s eyes, which means you never really know what Ma thinks and feels unless she says it. The film was really smart in the way it worked with facial expressions, for example. Jack might not notice those nuances, but the viewer definitely does.
Overall, the story was the same, of course, but there were a couple of significant differences. Usually, significant changes in adaptations don’t do the story much good, but here it was different. The film was incredibly well done, as was the book, and I can’t tell you which one I liked more. They were both amazing in their own way.
Final verdict: I gave the book 5 stars on Goodreads and the film earns a solid 5 stars as well!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her – one for every boy she’s ever loved. She can say anything she wants, because the letters are for her eyes only. Until the day they’re sent out…
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t planning on reading this book at all. I’d seen it around the blogosphere and on bookstagram a ton of times, but I just wasn’t that interested. Then the film was announced and everyone went crazy. Like, actually batshit crazy – it was amazing. I loved how enthusiastic everybody was and it made me all excited to see the film as well, even though I hadn’t read the book.
And then the film actually came out and it was like bookish Twitter had exploded. Everyone was talking about how much they loved the film and how amazing it was. I got seriously hyped, so I ordered the book. I didn’t want to have another Everything, Everything situation, where I saw the film and then didn’t feel like reading the book anymore, so I was set on reading the book first. I read it and liked it, but didn’t love it. I loved Lara Jean and her family, but I wasn’t a big fan of Peter Kavinsky, even though everyone was raving about him. But I was still excited to see the film – and that what reading the book had all been about, after all.
So, when my boyfriend was away one evening, I settled in with pizza, a blanket and the film on Netflix. And I loved it. I absolutely adored it and kind of wanted to watch it again straight away. People had been saying on Twitter that they’d already watched it three times, and at first I was like “why?!” but after I’d seen the film I totally got it. It’s so wonderfully warm and feel good. And I’m one hundred percent in love with film-Peter Kavinsky. My love for the film also made me love the book a little more and I’m excited to read book two and three!
Final verdict: I gave the book 3 stars on Goodreads, but the film gets a whopping 5 stars from me!
Do you agree with my verdicts? Watched any other good adaptations recently? Let me know in the comments!