Monthly Archives: September 2014

Every Book is a Movie

I hate how nearly every movie is a remake or “based on” a book. It’s hard to translate the subtlety of the printed word to the big screen and these movies are often terrible. YA books seem to be the most likely to be given this treatment. Likely because their stories are already watered down and made highly digestible for teens (and weirdos like me). The bad bit is that YA fiction needs its readers to not have that easy out. Teenagers are the most likely to opt out of a book in favor of a movie. And besides the wonderful experience of reading, these kids will lose out on so many tiny, immeasurably important details.

You might think I have a list of exceptions for you. I do not. I loved the Harry Potter movies but they compare not at all to the books. One simply cannot stand them side by side and expect the movies to hold up. The amount of things that needed to be dropped (or just were, for one reason or another), added on, and watered down, cheapened the world they were based on. If you read the books, you might see the movies as a supplement. That’s fine. But if you only saw the movies? To say you were missing out would be a gross understatement.

The Hunger Games have, so far, been worse. I enjoy those movies. They’re good movies. But if you haven’t read the books? You have no idea what’s going on in a lot of parts. The film makers chucked a handful of bones to the book-reading audience that leave the uninitiated audience mystified.

The Giver. Oh, man. I’ve loved this book since I was twelve years old and using one of my electives to be a librarian’s assistant. Its orange cover caught my eye, I opened it up and was immediately ensnared. This book. This book. They ruined it! That movie was a damned nightmare. Important details changed to fit the new story that they wrote. I guess because they original one wasn’t commercial enough? I have no idea. What I do know is that book had a simple, workable story, that they could have added to in order to make a movie. They declined that option. Instead, they took the basic premise of “guy gives memories to kid” and then wrote a whole new story. Ridiculous.

Some might argue it gives teens and kids a reason to pick up the books. I’ll accept that premise. It does raise awareness of the existence of the books. But it’s laughable to suggest that all or even most of the kids who see a movie are going to then read the book. They know the story, they’re done, they didn’t have to do any work. That’s the human condition, to seek the easiest way to accomplish a task. Kids are just worse about it.

Look, I just want kids to read books. Any roadblocks thrown up in front of that goal really ticks me off. That’s all I’m saying.

OK. I might also be saying that I hate movies based on books. For the record, if you ever see “based on a novel by Stephen King” and the movie isn’t Sissy Spacek’s Carrie, The Shining, or The Langoliers, do yourself a favor and read the book. King novels end up as terrible, terrible movies.


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YA Problems

I enjoy reading Young Adult fiction. I know, I know, I’m a grown woman. It’s not for me. But it feeds into my two greatest pleasures: quick, easy reads and complaining about stuff. Oh, man, do I love complaining about stuff.

The biggest problem with YA is of course that all the characters are teenagers. And teenagers are stupid. They’re hormonal, self-absorbed and completely unable to see the bigger picture. Not unwilling, mind you, unable. They seriously don’t get it because the only way you can understand certain things is by experiencing it. Gaining wisdom from it.

A prime example is the series I’m currently reading, Maze Runner by James Dashner. There are going to be slight spoilers in this example but I will be as vague as possible. It’s not an amazing series but it’s definitely not bad, so I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. The main character had his memories taken away by a group of people and then subsequently had a bunch a terrible things done to him by the same people. Now those people want to give him his memories back so he can understand why they did what they did.

A smart adult might think, I’ll get my memories back and make my own decision with both sets of memories. He thinks, I don’t want those memories back because I think I used to agree with these people like I used to. I have these new memories and these ones must be right. Refuses the memories of his entire life because he’s 16 years old and he can’t possibly be wrong about anything ever. So. Very. Frustrating.

Percy Jackson is much the same way. Katniss Everdeen. Harry Potter. Oh, man, the 5th Harry Potter book is the very bane of my existence. I love so many parts in it but I can’t ever read it because of the dozens of short-sighted teenage things that young Mr. Potter does. Just open the package Sirius gave you! It would fix everything! DAMN IT!

Moving on.

My love of YA fiction is coming in handy as my little reading buddy gets older. I can pre-read books to recommend to her (or tell her to never read ever, in the case of Divergent). I’ve already compiled a list of books I’m going to insist she read when she gets into high school. Hunger Games and Beautiful Creatures and possibly Maze Runner. So, at least, out of my complaining comes something nice. Let’s all pretend it evens out.

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