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.