Book To Movie... Or Movie to Book? by Joy Preble

Which Did You Like better, the book or the movie? That question gets asked a lot-- especially with Netflix grabbing a zillion YA properties to make into films! We know what answer is supposed to be, right? We loved the book more than the movie. The movie was okay, but it skipped this or that or it hit the complex plot lines only broadly, or that character I loved wasn't portrayed the way she was in my head. Or whatever.

But is that always true? Is the book always better? For me it has always depended on the book.. and the movie.

Honestly? I absolutely did not get what the fuss was about with the first Twilight book.  I really didn't. The writing didn't grab me, the narration annoyed me, and back then I was a huge Buffy the Vampire fan and so Edward didn't do it for me, either. (Does anyone remember all those Angel vs Edward memes?) Anyway. Bella and sparkly Edward. Not my cup of tea.

And then I saw the movie. And I was like, Ohhhh. Now I see what people like about the Edward and Bella. Okay. I'm not saying the story was ever my favorite. I think by the end of the series, Bella had gotten what she wanted but sacrificed like zero. I think it glorified her dying to get it. And I don't think the films are perfect, either. There are, for me, far better movies. But the visual medium of film made me understand the story in a way the books never could do.

Often, though, a movie can't capture all the nuance of the book's words. Gayle Forman's Before I Fall is brilliant-- one of my favorite books. It uses the casual time loop so successfully. The film didn't quite do it for me, not in the way of say, Groundhog Day, one of the classic time loop movies.

And sometimes both the book and the movie are their own perfect things. I'm looking at you Simon Vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli and its movie version, LOVE SIMON. The movie diverges a bit here and there but it captures the essence of the characters, especially Simon and his family, and it nails the emotions perfectly. The recent Netflix version of Julie Murphy's adorable DUMPLIN' gets close, too. Netflix's take on Julie Han's delightful To All the Boys I've Loved Before also changes up a few key things but is deliciously watchable.

Of course you are entitled to disagree. Art is about taste, after all.
And there are dozens and dozens of other YA book to movie examples. (I haven't even touched on the whole John Green oeuvre.)

What movie versions of books you loved satisfied you? Which ones didn't?


  1. One reason the Twilight movies were better than the books: they made significant changes in the movies to give them more action than the books contained.

  2. I adored the Love, Simon movie!! It was perfect. Not a huge fan of the Divergent movies.

  3. I remember the first time I ever bumped into a movie that I liked better than the book was a zillion years ago, with BEACHES. (I was shocked that it actually happened!)


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