It is the eternal argument that plagues mankind; which was better, the book or the movie?
Every second book these days -particularly YA- seems to be thrown into the yawning vortex of film adaption. Here they are prone to being stripped of character backstories, those tightly planned plot-twists, and thus every ingredient that ever made the book good; and then this odd, pared back version is wonkily embellished with random, irrelevant sub-plots (“This book needs an inter-special dance-off!”) all in the hopes of drawing moviegoers. Every plot line is torn apart; and even beloved characters (*sniff* Uriah) deleted entirely from the script. I won’t deny, however, that it will be fun to see how Edward is factored into the Insurgent adaption after his subtractio from the entire Divergent movie. Flashback, anyone? When the movie rights are sold, destruction does not always ensue -but when it clearly states ‘Based on the book by Lois Lowry‘ on the trailer for the Giver, it seems like foreshadowing of the fact that we aren’t getting a play-by-play 18 hour behemoth of a film, including every scrap of dialog and every detail humanly possible. Which would be nice.
I think the most irksome part of the whole thing, though, is the infallible way that a movie spawns random fans who don’t even bother to read the book. (“I love the Hunger Games!” Ah yes, tell me more about Madge?) If you watch Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters and then tell me, “Oh, I think they made a book of that! It sounds like you might enjoy it, it’s an amazing movie!” I will throw a book through your face. I’m not saying you can’t be a Divergent fan if you haven’t read the books, but if you liked it so much, why not read the book? It has everything (or thereabouts) from the movie, plus heaps more new characters, twists, and details. I will 99.990999999909708979% of the time enjoy the book more than the movie, because I feed off of all that detail that the movie kind of sacrifices to fit into the two hour time expectation. One positive, though, is the way promoters seize the opportunity presented and produce lots of posters, t-shirts, mugs, and spin-off books. If I can leech one more piece for my fan shrine from the Harry Potter series, I am happy.
Some people find enjoyment when they see others happily watching films of their favourite books, simply excited that somebody else has been introduced to this magic, no matter what media exposed them. Sometimes, you read a book and when you finish you kind of well up with this frenzied giddiness, ‘and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.’ (John Green) But sometimes, a book is so, so special that you want to lock it up in a safe for only your eyes and fight off fellow readers and movie directors with a machete. Most books I love happen to fall into the latter category. I’ll admit to going five-year-old on this one (“It’s my thing and I don’t want you reading it!”)
I will eternally prefer reading the book. It’s hard, once you’ve seen the movie, to retain those private mental etchings of characters and places you get when you first read something, after your eyes have just been assaulted with one person’s visual conveyance of this book for two hours. Some books no movie can touch; Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings. But I will forever see Hazel Grace as Shailene Woodley now; I can’t unsee how stubbornly retro Four’s apartment is. And those unique images I sculpted from the clogged recesses of my brain are somewhat dispelled, and now they are kind of foggy, as movie images violate that little private screen I have in my mind. Because that’s something I love about reading, to fashion this vivid mental picture, with free creative control. If urukhai are getting too scary late at night, I can stick some goofy clothes on them, give them high pitched voices, like a boggart! Another downfall; less-dedicated fans are slightly overwhelmed by the movies, so although they read the books, it kind of overshadows the pale fragments placed there by their half-hearted reading of the original. Unless we were devoted to it and re-read the books into the early mornings with a fuzzy sting persistent in the eyes, memorising each detail and surrendering all creative talent we possess to writing fan-fiction, we remember the movie better. I’ll admit, the Hunger Games wasn’t one of my favourites, so I kind of remember the movies more.
Actually, the perfect compromise would be having a book fan and movie fan edition. A book fan version being the 18 hours of perfect detail I so desire, and the movie fan being the basic, big-picture version we are so often bombarded with at the theatres.
On an ironic note, I am looking forward to the Fault in Our Stars premiere in New Zealand!
P.S: If you feel as strongly as I, take the pledge, and read the book first wherever humanly possible!
What book should I read before it hits the big screen?