From the Book to the Big Screen: The Ones That Got Away 2

Earlier in the month, I mentioned that one of my bookish goals was to watch TV and film adaptations of books I’ve read. If you read that post, you also know that I failed miserably at it in 2020. Even though I spent a lot of time at home, I didn’t spend time watching movies rated over PG. Only kindergartner-approved films were consumed! So here are the adaptations I’m most looking forward to viewing…someday.

  • Enola Holmes (Netflix), based on the Enola Holmes Mysteries series by Nancy Springer
    • When Enola Holmes’ mother goes missing, she calls on her older brothers for help, but quickly ditches them and goes off on a quest to find out where her mother is and why she didn’t take Enola with her. Another mystery hooks Enola along the way, and she uses her smarts to solve it. A fun update to Sherlock Holmes. 
  • Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu), based on Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
    • A book about race, class, and what it means to be a mother. With nods to ‘90s pop-culture and a suspenseful secret I was itching to uncovering, Little Fires Everywhere lived up to its hype.  
  • All the Bright Places (Netflix), based on All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
    • Violet, already dealing with the loss of her beloved sister, finds escape and hope with Finch, a classmate who is familiar with darkness. Violet gives him a new lease on life, but is it enough? I’m also a fan of Jennifer Niven’s Holding Up the Universe.
  • To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (Netflix), based on P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
    • Lara Jean returns in the sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but this time, she and Peter are having some growing pains. Lara Jean spends time with another one of her letter recipients: John Ambrose McClaren. 
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 2 (Hulu), based on The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    • Atwood’s book about a religious regime that has overthrown the government and stripped women of their power and autonomy is a classic. I was stunned at how incredible the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale was. Dare I say, it was even better than the book? While terrifying, this show is so well done that I can’t wait to see what happens next. 

Not Released Yet:

  • Chaos Walking (film), based on The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
    • Read about my excitement here
  • Shadow and Bone (Netflix), based on Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
    • Leigh Bardugo is a pro at creating fantasy worlds for YA readers. This series is supposedly going to combine her Shadow and Bone series along with Six of Crows – which take place in the same universe. I also really enjoyed her recent adult release, Ninth House, so I’m hoping Bardugo’s work translates well on the screen.  
  • Paper Girls (Amazon), based on Paper Girls comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang
    • This is one of the most original and awesome graphic novels/comic books I’ve ever read. Set on Halloween night in the late 1980s, four pre-teen newspaper delivery girls get tangled up in a war between time travelers. In each subsequent volume, the girls get flung backwards and forwards through time, piecing together a mystery as they try to get back home. There is cool technology, humongous monsters, evil cavemen, new languages, body doubles, and twists and turns galore. So clever and amazing. Vaughan is attached to the Amazon series, so I hope that means this project is in good hands. 

Here’s to hoping that I’ll be able to cross a few of these titles off my list in 2021! 

From the Book to the Big Screen: The Ones That Got Away

My four year old likes to watch Paw Patrol. And Shimmer and Shine. And Vampirina, and Puppy Dog Pals, and PJ Masks. She likes a lot of shows. But for some reason, she does not want to watch HBO, or go to the movie theater with me, or watch anything that isn’t animated. Thus why I’ve missed out on so many great book-to-screen adaptations in recent years.

If I had it my way, I’d love to catch up on all of these adaptations (I’ve read all of the books already):

  • 13 Reasons Why
    • Book: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

  • Ready Player One

    • Book: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Love, Simon
    • Book: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • The Hate U Give
    • Book: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • A Wrinkle in Time
    • Book: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
    • Book: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Every Day
    • Book: Every Day by David Levithan
  • Wonder
    • Book: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Looking at this list, I realize that I’ve posted something about just about every one of these books – and that many of them are personal favorites. I’ve got to get these watched!

Anyone have suggestions about which titles I should tackle first?

Casting The Madman’s Daughter


So truth? I’m not sure I would actually go see the film version of this book because…it’s scary! I’m not into scary movies, and it was a surprise to me that I liked this dark, creepy book. I even liked it enough to read the next two books in the trilogy, too. While the third book would make the most fun movie, the first book really sets the stage for all the strangeness, so let’s start there.

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd takes the story of H.G. Wells’s Island of Dr. Moreau and imagines what it would be like if the doctor (who experiments with animals so that they are able to walk and talk like humans) had a teenage daughter. This daughter, Juliet, must decide if her father is a genius or a mad scientist who needs to be stopped. Along the way, she is caught in a love triangle between Montgomery, her father’s assistant whom Juliet has loved for many years, and Edward, a mysterious shipwreck survivor she meets on her father’s island. Both Montgomery and Edward have secrets, but so does Juliet. After all, Juliet may have a little madness in her as well.

In book two of the Madman’s Daughter trilogy, Her Dark Curiosity, the author uses some of the same characters to pull readers into the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. In the third book, A Cold Legacy, Juliet and friends take on a Frankenstein-inspired tale. These dark, gothic reads are revamped for the modern age and are a great way to get young adults interested in classic literature. The writing is clever, fresh, and totally enjoyable.

Clearly, I’m not the only reader who enjoyed these books. The first novel has been optioned for film and has a screenwriter, but so far, that’s all the progress this project has made. Read about it on the author’s blog:

 If they needed a little help casting the film, here are a few of my suggestions: 


Have you read this trilogy yet? Who would you cast in the film version?

Dishing on Divergent: The Film


**Contains spoilers—if you haven’t seen the movie yet,

you may want to stay away**

**For real, you’ve been warned! Spoilers up ahead!**


I may have been harsh on Allegiant, but I am pleased to announce that I thoroughly enjoyed the film version of Veronica Roth’s Divergent novel. After reading the book twice and loving it just as much the second time around, I had high hopes for this film.

When I saw that Shailene Woodley and Theo James were chosen as the lead characters, Tris and Four, I was a bit skeptical. They weren’t quite what I had pictured in my head. According to the book, Tris is supposed to be petite and blonde—compact so that Four can carry her all over the place! Her size makes her seem more vulnerable and weak, so her rise to the top of the leader board trisandfouris more impressive. Since Shailene isn’t a tiny girl (she’s 5’8”—tall for a lot of Hollywood actresses), I was worried about how she would look with Theo James on screen. But my feelings changed as I watched the film. Shailene became Tris for me, and I liked that she’s a healthy, normal looking girl. Theo’s soft voice was perfection. He was the perfect amount of brooding, mysteriousness, and protectiveness. The audience certainly seemed to think so, too—as there were several catcalls and giggles of delight when he removed his shirt to reveal his tattoos!

Other Things I Liked About the Film:

  • I thought the film did a great job of explaining how the society was set up and how each of the factions function. My husband hasn’t read the book, but he could understand the story. This is different from The Hunger Games, where he had lots of questions about how things work afterwards.
  • I also enjoyed the overall setting of the film. The dilapidated Chicago skyline was cool to see, as was the incredible fence built around the city. It’s not how I had imagined the fence looking, but the sheer magnitude was impressive. If I saw a fence like that, I would certainly be curious about what was on the outside. The Dauntless Pit was pretty cool too. I pictured it a bit more natural and rocky looking, but the film version probably makes more sense since it’s inside a building, right?ericormacklemore
  • I had a little crush on Eric as soon as he appeared on screen—odd, because he’s Four’s rival and not a very nice person—but I loved his Macklemore look and cool voice! (Don’t worry–I’m still Team Theo!) The cast in general was great—I liked Zoë Kravitz’s tough-girl persona for Christina, and I liked seeing Tony Goldwyn (aka Fitz from Scandal) in another role. Ashley Judd made a great mother for Tris, and Maggie Q was a perfect Tori.
  • Oh, and the music—the music was excellent. Every time an Ellie Goulding song came on, I just thought, “Yes, this is perfect.” I’m kind of thinking about purchasing the soundtrack…or maybe an Ellie Goulding CD!
  • The feeling and tone of the film was spot on. It was exciting—it was romantic—it was fast-paced. I sat in my chair and smiled for most of the film, but I also teared up when Tris and Caleb decided to leave their parents and Abnegation (even though I knew it was going to happen!), and I was on the edge of my seat whenever people had to jump on or off the trains (they were moving a lot faster than I imagined in the book!).


Yes, there were plenty of changes between the book and the film version. jeaninematthewsKate Winslet’s character Jeanine Matthews certainly got a lot more screen time and lines than the character in the book does. This especially comes into play at the end of the film when Tris slams a knife through her hand. That seemed like a pretty major change to me. However, it certainly sets Jeanine up as the villain (perhaps pounded that into our heads too much…), and the audience fully understands how much Erudite wants to keep the faction system and be the leaders.

Besides Will, Al, Christina, and Peter, the other initiates weren’t really given names. Edward is listed in the cast of Divergent on IMDB, but I didn’t really notice anyone being called Edward in the film. Also, Edward doesn’t end up with a fork in the eye in the film. And what about Zeke, Uriah, Marlene, Lynn, Cara, Susan, and the rest of the gang? Will they appear in Insurgent, or has the cast been trimmed down?

The Take Away

Go see Divergent! Books are always changed when adapted to film—but this one was done well. It kept the integrity of the film and the cast does a superb job with the characters we’ve all grown to love so much.

How about for you?  Does Divergent get a yay or nay?

Entry #6: Adaptation


Entry #6 — Adaptation:  Normally the motto is “don’t judge a book by its movie,” but sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised – which book-to-movie conversion was one that you liked?

I know I’ve been guilty of saying, “The book is so much better!” plenty of times in my life, but there were also times when the film adaptations took me by surprise.  It seems to be if you read the book first, you prefer the book.  If you watch the movie first, you like the movie.  This is probably because if you read the book first, you have created mental images of what the characters and scenery should look like.  When you see a film adaptation, you’re let down by the choices a director made.  For example, my mom never read any of the Harry Potter or Twilight books—but she loves the movies!  She loved the characters and the plot, and didn’t care about how much was “wrong” or  “missing.”  She didn’t know that she should be upset!   

As stated in a previous post, The Outsiders was a great film adaptation.  This was partly due to the fact that the cast was so fun, and partly due to the fact that the movie was requested by teen readers.  There was a need to stay truthful to the story.  It’s said that the first viewers were disappointed that certain scenes were missing, so these scenes were later added to the movie.  Readers get attached to their book characters and directors have a lot of pressure to remain true to the original story.

Another great movie adaptation is the 1995 version of A Little Princess.  The film, starring Liesel Matthews as Sara Crewe, was absolutely stunning.  Sara’s enchanting life in India is contrasted with her strict new life at a boarding school.  The characters are wonderful and the costuming is lovely.  I watched this VHS tape over and over as a child.  I wish I had it on DVD so I could watch it again now.  Several years after watching A Little Princess, I read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s original 1905 story.  I was bored by the novel, and found out that the movie had changed much of the story.  However, I preferred the movie version and couldn’t get into the novel version. 

Stardust was another film that I preferred over the book.  The 2007 film stars Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Ricky Gervais, and Henry Cavill.  For a cast this impressive, it is underappreciated and very few people I know have ever seen it!  Again, creative liberties were taken with the film—but I liked those liberties.  They made sense to the story.  There was more romance, more violence, and a faster pace to the movie.  It was a fairytale that adults could enjoy.  On the other hand, Neil Gaiman’s novel was a bit too sweet.  There were moments of vagueness (characters didn’t always have names), there were chapters that didn’t make any sense whatsoever (why is a lion fighting a unicorn for a crown?), and the villain gives up on their quest.  Take my advice, and rent Stardust.  Skip the book version this time around.     

Other Notable Mentions of Movies I Preferred to Their Book Counterpoints:  

  • The 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, trumps Jane Austen’s 1813 novel.  (I know I may not be very popular for admitting that!)
  • 1971’s musical Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, trumps Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I love Roald Dahl, don’t get me wrong, but this film is a classic.
  • The 1987 film, The Princess Bride, will forever remain one of my favorite movies of all time.  However, I didn’t fall in love with William Goldman’s 1973 novel of the same name.