Young Adult books are all the rage lately to make into theater movies and TV shows. They’re HUGELY popular (“Hunger Games”, anyone?) and teens are clamoring for more … mostly. There are the ones that tank, and there’s a big reason why: the story in the movie or show straying too far from the book’s plotline.
Sometimes they do a decent job. Obviously, they can’t pack everything from the books into a movie, even when they break it into two pieces, so we shouldn’t be too critical.
For instance, I think they did a good job with the Hunger Games trilogy.
Sure, I missed some of the secondary characters like Madge and it’s true Peeta didn’t lose his leg, and the cat changed from black and white in the first movie (wrong!) to orange in the last ones (right!). I always pictured Haymitch fatter and Wiress dingier and not as childlike as she was… but those are all nit-picky things.
Fact is, they held to the heart of the story. The bones were all there, even if the skeleton was missing a few of the less important ones. The movies were solid enough and close enough to the books to satisfy most people. And one thing in the movie — the ship with Effie and Haymitch — wasn’t in the books. But, according to my teen daughter, she’s glad that ship sailed.
Also recently, MTV did a mini-series based on The Elfstones of Shannara. This is actually a book I read as a teen. My kid hadn’t even heard of it, but liked the idea, so we watched it.
It’s been awhile since I read the book, though I very clearly remembered the end because it upset me terribly. However, I re-read it after watching the show and I think they did a decent job … right up until the end. Yes, the traumatic thing that happened in the book still happened, but they ended with one of the characters in peril and Will heading out to save her. I think they did it so next season has the same characters, but in the books, their story was ended. So … that was frustrating. Still, all-in-all not a horrible adaptation.
The Mortal Instruments
So … these books are hugely popular. Several years ago, there was a movie made based on City of Bones and it was horrible. The casting was bad (Alec should have been younger, Isabel should have been taller, Valentine should have been older…) and the story omitted some very important characters. They made it into some odd love story between Jace and Clary, which honestly ended up being a little creepy. Jace came across as a creepy stalker and Clary was incredibly stupid in the movie.
Now, years later, there is a new TV show being made based on them called ShadowHunters. The author has said she’s going to change some things in the storyline so readers won’t always know what to expect. And they have changed some things. But, the show is certainly better done than the movie was. No, it’s not perfect, and some of the casting is weird (though I think they got Jace and Clary pretty close and that’s really the biggest thing). The Mortal Instruments is pretty diverse, but the show has turned things on their heads. Yes, it’s still diverse but characters that were latino in the book are white, white ones are black and so on. I don’t suppose it makes that much of a difference, but I don’t understand why they did it when the books’ characters were already pretty “colorful”.
The Divergent Series:
Okay … the first movie was pretty decent. Like Hunger Games some things were left out, but the meat of the plot worked. Yeah, Four was “security” instead of working IT so they had to give him a different way to figure things out and a different way for him to be used at the end. And, yeah, Edward just sort of disappears from the story. One minute he’s there, topping the board and the next we never hear of him again. IMHO, it matters that he joins the factionless … but … it wasn’t a deal breaker.
Then came Insurgent. And here’s where it got ugly. “The Box” was the be all, end all of the story. When I saw the previews I looked at my kid. “What box?” She shrugged. There’s not a locked box anywhere in the book. And the story totally went off the rails. I left the movie feeling a little shell-shocked. They were so focused on the flash of the filming, the entire plot changed. And it mattered to the fans who’d flocked to see the movie. Because they didn’t flock to the next one … Allegiant was a flop. Worse, as Hollywood is apparently wont to do, they broke the final book into two movies. And now there is discussion as to whether part two will be made and released theatrically. Or if it’ll end up a TV movie. Or maybe even straight to DVD. And some of the stars are talking about not participating. It’s a hot mess, people. Hollywood screen writers should learn a lesson from this: DON’T MESS WITH THE STORY.
There are others we could talk about, too, and I’d love YOUR input. What did you think about the Harry Potter movies? Or The Maze Runner, The Giver, The Fifth Wave, The Lightning Thief or other teen book to movie adaptations? I’d love to discuss it with you! Leave me a comment and let’s talk.