Discussion: Book Adaptations, good, bad or somewhere in between?

Right now, in the aftermath of Thirteen Reasons Why (see my opinion on this in this post), the book has become widely popular again. The book is back at the top of the best sellers lists. While the book has been about 10 years old, the hype is back, all of this because of the new tv series.

The Good

For writers, the new wave of book adaptations is a gold mine, that is, for the writers that wrote the books the adaptations are based upon. Books are sold like hot cakes, and for the fans of the series or movie, it often opens a whole new world (namely that of books). There are a lot of teenage girls (and boys of course) out there that don’t read on a daily basis or even weekly basis, like most of us here in the bookish community do, and for those, sitting down to read a book is the exception instead of the rule. Actually, I got into reading The Mortal Instruments series because of the movie and that lead to me reading all of the books and eventually even more books.

Having such an “easy” way into reading, namely by reading a book with a story you already know and love, can just make the difference between becoming a bookworm and not becoming one. 

Sometimes the movie or series captures beautifully the vibe of the book, which is an incredibly hard thing to do. This is something that sets the tone of the entire adaptation and also the way in which it is received by the fans, and if the person is not a fan yet, this can cause some annoyances. Often the fans that are fans because of the movie/series, and not because of the book, are often considered not real fans, which is, of course, nonsense, because the word itself already implies that all you need to do to be a fan is loving something. 

Examples of amazing series are not hard to find, The Hunger Games is one of those, with amazing acting, it’s a beautiful book-to-screen adaptation with almost all the original aspects kept. Thirteen Reasons Why, of course, needs to be put on this list, and the Harry Potter movies obviously as well.

The Bad

Personally, I’m not always on the bright side of the adaptations, for example, the Shadowhunter series, I think is a bit “meh”. There are many things changed, which is a disadvantage of adaptations. Many of these adapted books already have a big fandom, and when the book is adapted to the screen, this can cause a lot of disappointment and even anger under these fans. The adaptation doesn’t always do the book justice or simply changed so much it’s barely the same story anymore.

I don’t like it when the actors in the movie don’t match the idea in my head, and that image on the screen then adapts the entire image in my head. The characters of the adaptation then merge together with the original and somehow form an entirely different image, which is something that I don’t particularly like. Especially, when the characters are very different. I can no longer see Clary as how she was in my head (you know, with actually bright red hair and being very short), all I see is a merged picture of Katherine McNamara and Lily Collins.

Several examples of series that were on the “meh” side of book adaptations (according to me) are Shadowhunters (the characters are changed a lot and not always in good ways, acting isn’t very good, but on the other hand, there is a lot of diversity added), The Hundred (ugh just horrible, those characters, I can’t stand them and how dare they delete my somewhat favourite character), Wayward Pines (the first season was amazing, the second not. at. all.).


There are many many tv-adaptations or movies I haven’t watched yet, simply because I’m afraid it won’t match up to my expectations. So whether it would be better there was no adaptation at all or whether there is a bad adaptation, that’s a question yet to be answered. I don’t know. I guess having more people in the fandom and creating a reason for people to read more, is amazing, but the adaptation can also be very disappointing.

What’s your opinion on adaptations, good or bad? Would you want to see an adaptation of your favourite book or series? I would love to see an adaptation of the Lunar Chronicles, but what if it’s not like I imagine it to be, it would be extremely disappointing. Which book would you want to see adapted? What’s your favourite adaptation?

34 thoughts on “Discussion: Book Adaptations, good, bad or somewhere in between?

  1. I think the lunar chronicles would be AMAZING on the big screen but I would only want it if it’s done right. I am excited for the raven boys TV show (especially since I think it’d do best on TV) but I’m so scared it won’t be done right.

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    1. Yes me too! I’d love to see the TLC characters come to life on screen but if they do it wrong I don’t think I want it. I have to read the Raven Boys! I’ve once read the first book but I can’t remember pretty much anything about it.

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      1. The first book isn’t my favorite of them, but if you can’t remember it you should re-read it because the little details matter the most. I hope you decide to read it one day 🙂

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      2. I only remember something about the girl’s family (who’s name I forgot, was it Blue?), something about leylines and lost kings and not kissing haha, I’m going to reread it, I heard about a series readathon which comes up soon so I was planning to read it then.

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  2. I like those book to tv adaptations that use one of two of the stories from the books and then deviate and follow their own story arc – Rizzoli and Isles, and Murdoch Mysteries being the only two I can think of at the moment. They’re completely different from their books, but I reckon I like them more than most because I started watching them before I realised they were based on books. I think that makes a huge difference because then one doesn’t have a preconceived idea of what the on-screen characters should look like and how they should act etc. When I finally picked up the books I knew that they would be completely different so it didn’t bother me at all, and I could look at both the tv show and book as two separate entities.

    On the other hand, I gave up watching Shadowhunters because I assumed it was going to follow TMI and then when it didn’t I was peeved. Plus they made changes I wasn’t keen on.

    What seems to work better, in my opinion, are those series that are adapted from historical fiction because then when those original stories have ran out, the writers can use actual historical events, social issues etc to further the series if it continues – BBC’s Call the Midwife being a good example. The first three series use most of their stories from Jennifer Worth’s actual books but due to the success of the series, and the depletion of original material, the writers had to come up with other stories that fit the setting and the characters. It works so well because they continue to be relatable, consistent, and true to the times.

    Wow, I didn’t mean for that to turn into an essay!😀

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    1. I get what you mean, when the book and the movie/series is separated you don’t have the expectations and disappointment if it doesn’t feel the same. I do like that, that they keep the characters but give them a new story line.

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  3. This is a tough one because I absolutely love when one of my favourite books gets adapted and it’s good. I mean the harry potter films are some of my favourite because they were just done so well😁. However, a lot of adaptations just don’t cut it for me. I have never read the the shadowhunters book but I did watch the first season of the new tv adaptation and I didn’t enjoy it at all, I just thought the acting was really bad…One book I read when I was younger that I would love to see as a film is skullduggery pleasant, I’ve wanted it for so long but I’m also terrified it would ruin the books for me 😔! Great post!!

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    1. Yes I love it too when it’s done right! I agree on the Shadowhunters series. I haven’t read skullduggery…


  4. There definitely does seem to be a lot of books being picked up for tv shows/movies recently but knowing there’s a very high possibility it’s going to be disappointing just kinda ruins it for me 😣 I love the raven cycle series, but I can just see the upcoming TV show being terrible 😶

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  5. Ooh, a toughie! Generally I hate book-to-movie adaptions because they almost ALWAYS ruin the book. But in the exception that the movie actually stays true to the book, then I’ll like it. XD For example: The Raven Cycle is becoming a TV show??? My first thought was AGH YES THIS WILL BE AWESOME and then my second thought was NO. They’re going to RUIN it! ALJFLAKJSDLKFA NOOOOOOOOOO. XD So yeah. I do think that toooooo many books are turning into movies though. They were WRITTEN to be BOOKS for a REASON.

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    1. I need to continue with the Raven Cycle, everybody has been raving about it and I didn’t even know there was a tv show coming! I definitely have to binge it before the series comes out. I hope they won’t ruin it… I do like the idea of books turning into movies but that is if the producers don’t destroy it for us 😥

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  6. I’ve seen some adaptations done very well such as Harry Potter, and then some that were horrible such as Divergent. I actually like watching adaptations just to see how well they are done. I’ll always think the books are better though.

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  7. There are so many coming up that I’m really excited for – The Raven Boys particularly! I can’t help but compare them, but I really try to keep them separate in my mind. I’ve stuck with Shadowhunters, which has definitely improved in the second season. I also really liked Poldark as an adaptation – it’s quite faithful to the source material. I’m also excited to see American Gods!

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    1. That’s a good thing! That you separate them in your head, it’s really hard to do so though! I haven’t continued with the Shadowhunter series, I did watch the first season but I don’t think I’m going to watch the 2nd. Maybe one day when I’m bored, I pick it up again.


  8. Really loved this discussion! I like the idea of books that have been out for a while getting a new lease of life, but I think it’s easy for film-makers to be like ‘this was a bestseller, it would make a great film’ without thinking that isn’t always the case! I’d love to see Jenny Han’s Lara Jean series as a film, if only to give a young Korean actress a chance in the spotlight! – Maddie x

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    1. I’d like to see Lara Jean as a movie as well, I think it would work very well as a movie. Yeah, it feels like book-adaptations are an easy way to go for producers when they’re out of movie ideas, but like you said, it doesn’t always work!

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  9. This is a really good subject to talk about, especially like you said, with the adaptation of Thirteen Reasons Why out. (Which was amazing!!) I personally really like book to movie adaptations. Even if the movie doesn’t cover everything in the book or even changes it up a little, I still end up liking the movie. I think it’s a matter of separating the book and the movie before seeing it. Or you can just not put your expectations too high. 🙂

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      1. Yeah it isn’t easy. Sometimes when I’m watching the movie for the first time all I do is think about how it’s nothing like the book and that’s not how I pictured the characters but if I watch the movie more than once it gets easier to separate the two.

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      2. I rarely watch movies to be honest, it just doesn’t happen often so if I do, I’m not often rewatching either. It’s something I’ll definitely try, just watch again and see whether it’s different than the first time.

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  10. Aah! This is a fascinating & thoughtful post! I do think that there’s both good and bad in TV/movie adaptations, and it can depend a lot on how they do it. Sometimes they can really add something to the original text, but I think a lot of work does have to be done to transfer from one medium to another — although on one hand I want an adaptation to be faithful to the story, it can’t just copy out the book. And finding the overall vibe can be very difficult!
    Omg, I would love to see a Lunar Chronicles adaptation. I sort of feel like it would work well as a TV series? I also think that a Studio Ghibli-style adaptation of a Rainbow Rowell book would be excellent. (Maybe not Carry On since it has a very different vibe. But Landline & Fangirl & Attachments, yes.) I also still think that Harry Potter would make an excellent TV series, and I love the suggestion I’ve heard for like a TV series of the inside lives of Hogwarts professors haha.

    (This is…a long comment, whoops.)

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    1. YES a Lunar Chronicles TV show would be amazing! I’d probably binge that! I’ve only read Fangirl and Eleanor and Park, but I think it would work very well as an anime movie/series. A TV series about Hogwarts professors… that sounds intriguing! I’ve always wanted a marauders adaptation, a movie or series would be perfect!

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