The Best Of: Book To TV Adaptations

Nothing makes me happier than hearing that my one of my favourite books is going to be adapted into a TV show or film. Although there is always that worry that whoever is adapting it is going to get it wrong. 

I’m not too sure if there have been any adaptations that I really didn’t like, I need to have a good think about this. However, I want to keep this a positive post as I know a lot of people really hate on adaptations with the classic line ‘the book was better’. Yes of course it was better the book is the original idea and came straight from the author, what did you expect? 

Below are four of my current favourite TV adaptations (they are also ones where I’ve actually read the book AND seen the adaptation). I am by no means saying that they are perfect adaptations and that everyone will like them, but I do and I’m the one writing this post so deal with it I suppose. 

Shadowhunters (Freeform) – The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

I was so scared for this to come out as it is one of my all-time favourite series. Don’t even get me started on how nervous I am for The Infernal Devices series. I genuinely really enjoyed this series and thought that a lot of the casting was pretty spot on. 

The biggest issue people had with this series was that it was almost nothing like the book. I was also quite annoyed about this at the time, but looking back I like that they changed it. I think it actually made the show more interesting as even if you have read the entire series and knew every little detail (like myself) you never really knew what was coming next. 

I will say that they definitely messed up the ending and I really was not happy with it. I won’t spoil in incase anyone hasn’t seen it, but oh my was it a rollercoaster. 

Freeform genuinely did a good job with this show and it’s a real shame it got cancelled.

City of Bones Goodreads synopsis: “When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

The Witcher (Netflix) – The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski

I can’t really comment too much on this one as I have only read the first book, however as there is only one season out and it is based off that book I think I’m ok. 

I loved this show. I know it confused a lot of people as it has a non-linear storyline, and I myself was a bit confused at times,  but it was just all-around exciting. 

For me, one of the best parts was the great balance of action to humour. I’m sure a few people found Jaskier to be annoying, but he’s my favourite character. The moments of comic relief were perfectly timed whilst not taking away from the action. 

It’s action-packed, has an incredible cast and each episode left me wanting more. I am unbelievably excited for the next season to be released next year. 

The Last Wish Goodreads synopsis: “Geralt the Witcher—revered and hated—is a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Yet he is no ordinary murderer: his targets are the multifarious monsters and vile fiends that ravage the land and attack the innocent.

But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good… and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.” 

His Dark Materials (BBC) – His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman 

His Dark Materials is probably my favourite show right now. Season two has just started and just two episodes in I am already hooked again. 

I think we all remember The Golden Compass film from when we were younger and at the time it seemed great, but it doesn’t even hold a light to the TV show. The show feels more magical and is definitely more mature than the film. 

The casting was also done very well in this and all of the special effects and CGI are amazing. 

Plotwise the first season is a mix of books one and two, however, if you have never read the series before then you don’t need to worry. Everything is well explained and the pacing is set really well. 

Northern Lights Goodreads synopsis: “When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him.

The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies – and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her – something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights..”

Looking For Alaska (Hulu) – Looking For Alaska by John Green

I really did not think I would like this show when I first heard about it. I somewhat enjoyed the book when I read it way back in 2014, however now I am much older I wasn’t sure if I would still like it. 

It is by no means a perfect show and honestly, I read the book so long ago that I can’t remember if they’ve got every little detail or not. However, this is the type of show that leaves you thinking after each episode. It has this weird atmosphere to it where you’re never really sure what you are feeling. 

You can always sense that something bad is going to happen as there is a strange tension created by the dialogue and camera work. This is actually something I quite enjoy about the show, even though I know what’s going to happen I can still feel everything building up. 

I actually haven’t watched all of the episodes yet, but I can already tell that the finale will be an emotional one. Hulu did a great job of adapting Looking For Alaska as a TV show. I personally don’t think this would have worked at all as a film. 

Goodreads synopsis: “Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . 

After. Nothing is ever the same.”

Let me know some of your favourite book to TV adaptations in the comments!

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2 comments

  1. I definitely agree that we’re too hard on book to film/television adaptations. Personally I believe series do better as television series versus film simply because they have more time to tell the story. Alias Grace was in my opinion a fantastic show although the ending was changed slightly in comparison to the book. They got the character’s spot on!

    I also really enjoyed The Witcher and loved Jaskier! Even the few moments where Geralt made a little joke were wonderful. When it comes to action (and even tragedy) I think balancing it with a sprinkle of humour is excellent. It feels more natural that way…and makes the other scenes all the more intense!
    I highly recommend listening to Jaskier’s actor read the book. Jaskier’s name is “Dandelion” in that version.

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