Discussion: Book to Film/TV Adaptations: A Blessing or a Curse?

Hello, everyone! As promised, this is my first ever discussion post! Β *Sets off fireworks and dances around because she doesn’t have a GIF to express these things*

Bringing books to the big screen is nothing new. It’s been happening for decades, but let’s say the act of adapting books to film gained the most attention when Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter were brought to theaters. And then let’s jump a few years forward and say that book to film adaptations gained even more attention following Twilight’s debut into the world of motion pictures.

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I’m fairly certain Twilight opened up the floodgates to YA film adaptations but I’m no expert. All I know is that once I saw those TERRIBLE (albeit endearing) films, I wanted to see more of my favorite YA books adapted into film because (1) I wanted to see if they could get any better and (2) I REALLLLLY wanted to see my favorite characters brought to life in a visual medium.

The Blessings

There’s a sort of magic in seeing literary characters and settings transformed from words into pictures. Film allows our favorite stories to become one step closer to reality. It’s one thing imagining and establishing a connection to a book and its characters, but it’s another thing entirely seeing it with our own eyes. Film solidifies our imaginings and gives them a definite shape.

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Also, for those of us who enjoy movies, we now have another avenue of entertainment that satisfies both our bookish inclinations and moviegoer tendencies. There’s nothing better than having two different mediums to enjoy the same story. Even if the movie is inaccurate or unfaithful to the book, at least we have another (structurally condensed) interpretation of a beloved narrative.

Because of Hollywood’s recent obsession with YA books, we finally get to see fantastic YA books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Paper Towns, The Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda,Β and many other beloved books and series on-screen.

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The Curses

But on the other hand, not all book to film adaptations are good. Case in point: Twilight. Off the top of my head, we also have The Host, Eragon, Percy Jackson, Beautiful Creatures, The Vampire Academy, The Mortal Instruments, and so many other films (including some mentioned above) and TV series that don’t quite live up to their fullest potential and, as some would argue, do not do the book justice. This is all subjective of course.

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One of the main issues with YA to film/TV adaptations is casting choices. Not all the actors/actresses chosen match the descriptions in the book, which is bothersome to say the least. I’m usually okay with casting choices as long as the character’s personality is portrayed correctly. But if they don’t appear as stated in the book and the actor behaves nothing like the character, then I get all kinds of angry.

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There’s also the never-ending issue of a novel’s plot-line being condensed (and completely changed) to fit a film’s run time. I understand practicality, so that doesn’t necessarily bother me. I think I’d lose it if I had to watch a four hour film that included every single scene from the book. But it does bother me when a novel’s plot is morphed into something I don’t recognize at all *coughPercyJacksoncough* and many important scenes or dialogue are omitted.

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Final Thoughts

I don’t really have a definite opinion on the matter. I see book to film adaptations as both a blessing and a curse. I usually try to see most of the YA book/film movies no matter how the trailer looks. Most aren’t that great, but at least quite a few are. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Hollywood has in store for us bookworms.


Discussion Time:

What are your thoughts on book to movie/tv adaptations? Do you enjoy them or do they often prove disappointing?

Which are some of your favorite book to film/tv adaptations? How do you decide whether a film or TV series does the book justice?Β 

Do you go see a book to film adaptation whenever it comes out or do you usually avoid them?Β 

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49 thoughts on “Discussion: Book to Film/TV Adaptations: A Blessing or a Curse?

  1. Such a great post and yes I can’t decide really. There are cases of both good and bad adaptations. In fact I just did a post of movie adaptations that I didn’t like and I’m going to do one about the ones I did like next week. I think my favourite though is Paper Towns. Even though they did change the plot to quite an extent, the movie in itself was really amazing and gave me a new perspective on the books.

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    1. Thank you! I’ll have to check out that post πŸ˜€ I really liked Paper Towns. I definitely believe it’s one of my favorite YA adaptions. I really love that our favorite YA books are being turned into film, but sometimes, it just turns out horribly. And by horrible, I mean we get a completely different story with the same title and bad acting and questionable casting choices. That, for me, is when I question the film to book adaptation movement, but I still really appreciate that it’s happening!

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  2. I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to adaptations, especially films. A TV series can take their time and leave in just about everything that was in the book. A movie has to cut a lot due to time restraints.

    The only thing that really drives me nuts is when a movie basically uses the title and the name of a main character and then goes and does their own thing. Case in point: I Am Legend. Such a great story with an ending to really make you think. Then the movie took a dump all over the book and the screen at the same time.

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    1. I agree. I’m much more lenient with film adaptations because of time constraints, but I also expect the integrity of the story to be preserved. When BOTH the characters and the plot are ignored, then there’s no way for me to get past it LOL.

      I heard the I Am Legend was nothing like the book. I’ve only watched the movie, which I enjoy, but so many people have warned me that it’s a completely different tone/story than the original. I can see how frustrating that would be 😦

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      1. I might have to try to watch I Am Number Four again. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Still haven’t read the books so I won’t have anything to compare it to. So far, the only YA films I really like (after having read the books) have been Hunger Games, Paper Towns, and The Maze Runner (which I actually like more than the book…)

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      2. Oh… you have no idea… haha I liked the movie too! a lot! that is why I wanted to read the book, then I watched again. From that moment, nothing was the same ever again haha

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  3. I was very excited to see your first discussion post Azia, and I love the topic you picked for as well! πŸ˜€
    Personally I’m in two minds about book to film adaptations. There are some I love, like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and some I really didn’t like, most of the others I’ve seen if I’m being honest. For me the main thing is how they change the events of the book to fit everything on the big screen, and I get that sometimes you need to change events that happened in the books but as fans of the books it’s always disappointing when we don’t see our favourite scenes or characters represented.
    The other thing is the actors themselves. I mean don’t get me wrong they’re great actors, most of them anyways, but they don’t look anything like the characters. Like how in the Percy Jackson films they’re supposed to be 12, but they look way older than that. I think the actors were in their 20’s or something when they were filming the first one. How is that accurate?
    Still one good thing film adaptations have done is get me reading more books, the main reason I finally picked up The Book Thief was because they were releasing it as a film! πŸ˜€ ❀

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    1. Thank you, Beth! I really love talking about this topic because it’s so relevant. There are actually a few film adaptations I like, but only because I’m not as overly critical of movies as I am books. I love movies, even if I know they’re cheesy. All I want is to be entertained and a good number of YA films have managed that. Others, though, not so much… I always thought TV series would be more befitting of some YA series, but sometimes not even that is done well (i.e. Shannara Chronicles and Mortal Instruments).
      It really IS disappointing when producers cut out favorite scenes or characters for the film. And even MORE disappointing when the film’s casting does not do the original cast of characters any justice. I totally get you on the Percy Jackson thing. I enjoy those movies, only because I saw them before reading the book. Imagine my surprise when I found out the characters were supposed to be 12 LOL. It made no sense. And the plot was so DIFFERENT. I still like those movies, but I now know they do not represent the books in the least haha
      And yes! THat’s why I love YA films. They bring so much more attention to different books and authors, and they inspire more people to read the stories for themselves. So, in a way, even if the movie’s bad, at least we can hope it’s encouraged more people to look into the novels!

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      1. That’s all right! πŸ˜€ Oh definitely relevant, everyone has strong feelings on book to film adaptations because we’re all so close to the books and we have set expectations for the adaptations too. I have strong expectations if it’s a book series I enjoy, but a lot of the time I’m just happy to see my favourite story on the big screen.
        Overall I think TV series work better, Game of Thrones for example, can you even imagine that as a movie instead of a series?!
        I’m the same with the Percy Jackson films, coming out of the showing of the first I said to my friend that I really enjoyed it but she, having read the book, didn’t. Now I’ve read the book I can see where she’s coming from. πŸ™‚ I still like the movies too, now I just take them as something completely separate from the books.
        They really do, there are a fair few books I’ve only picked up because of the film adaptations.

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      2. It’s hard not to have high expectations for some YA films, especially if you’re already a huge fan of the novels. Despite everything, I’m usually happy to hear my favorite stories will be transferred to the cinema.
        I agree, TV series make the most sense for many stories. A Game of Thrones movie would be killer. But LOTR was made into three films and those books were pretty huge. So it might actually be possible!
        I like my cheesy YA movies haha. I save them for rainy days. The bad acting and special effects always put a smile on my face πŸ˜‚
        Yeah. I actually picked up Maze Runner after seeing the movie!

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      3. Same here, they’re making Simon Vs into a film and I’m eagerly keeping myself updated on the cast and process of that. πŸ™‚
        Yeah I guess, but if each season of Game of Throne is one book can you imagine how that’d translate into a movie?! It’d either need to be a massive film or there’d be a lot missing I think.

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      4. Me, too! It’s looking really good so far πŸ˜€
        Yeah, if it were a movie, they’d have to cut so much out of it. I can only imagine what was cut from LOTR haha

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  4. uff what a topic jesus! I love it haha
    I think the adaptation of texts to movies have happed way before our time.

    I think that we all can agree that fidelity on adaptations is impossible. They are adapting a single media text (words) into a multiple media work (light, music, sounds, special effects, characters, acting, and mise-en-scene). On top of that, a text is a life element, and what do I mean with this? That all readings of a text have different reactions and even the text react to us. Some people could relate completely to a text and find it as the biggest and best work ever, and some other people will find it as β€œmeh”. This takes me to the other point, a text can have thousands of interpretation; therefore, thousands of adaptations. A movie is usually the interpretation of the director, and his or her interpretation cannot and will not be the same of all the audience.

    However, I just don’t like when the whole story is changed and the only things that we can find from the text is the setting and some characters coffthescorchtrialscoff. However, this is also related to the budget and the possibility to accomplish the special effects or the narration of the novel (monsters, robots, lightning and a lot of extras dying). Regarding the characters, I think that is one of the hardest parts to accomplish… it is either physical resemblance or acting skills… the better the actor, the more expensive he or she is…

    So, I will say that we must see them as separate works and not related or expect it to be our interpretation on text.

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    1. l love this topic πŸ˜€ Everyone’s making such interesting points! And oh yeah, book to film adaptations have been happening loooooong before our generation was born haha. We just jumped on the bandwagon once Harry Potter and Twilight rolled around I think πŸ™‚ Well, I know I did, at least!

      I agree, the ability to remain faithful to a novel’s structure and story while transferring it from text to screen is near impossible. Too many elements come into play once a simplified medium (such as text) is reproduced into a multi-media platform. And it becomes even more difficult when audiences have different perspectives and opinions of the same story. So no matter how well or how differently a book is adapted, there will always be different interpretations of the story!

      The most frustrating part about adaptations is certainly the chance that a story is completely changed and that no part of the original narrative is maintained, like…Scorch Trials, yes LOL. I actually really like the movie by itself but in comparison to the book, I will readily admit that the film has NOTHING to do with the book haha. I’m okay with casting choices as long as the entirety of the characters personality (if not their physical appearance) is preserved.

      Movies are such an enjoyable part of life. I usually see YA films before reading the books so I can enjoy them as two separate forms of art. And even if I do read the book beforehand, I still do my best to see the merits in the film version, no matter how cheesy or horribly adapted it may be πŸ™‚ I love movies too much to be TOO critical of them!

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      1. And I agree, I prefer personality over physical appearance. You can always gain or lose some pounds, dye your hair, etc. But if the personality is all messed up, you lost me. I read Paper Towns and even though I did not love the book that much *hated it*, there were some characters and interactions that I found lovely and amazing, but the cast of the movie was so MEH… ugh… I don’t mean Margo or the actress haha she missed bitchiness though haha I am trying to do that since this year and I started with Harry Potter. I liked the movies so much and until now I am reading the books, and I am trying to stay positive and see both pros and cons of the movies.

        There are some other movies that I have watched, but have not read the book like… Me Before You, and other example where I loved the movie way more than the book, even when I loved the book, and I am talking about The Silver Lighting Playbook.

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      2. Lol, I think Paper Towns (or just John Green books in general) are either hits or misses. I really liked the characters in the book, and the casting was pretty good (not perfect) for the film! I still need to read the HP books!

        I’ve only watched Me Before You, too. I thought it was really enjoyable. Haven’t read Silver Linings but watched the movie. Thought it was fantastic. I also love The Princess Bride! Haven’t read the book, but the film is more than enough for me haha

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      3. I dont know which is “The Princess Bride” haha Silver Linings is like Perks of Beinga Wallflower but more mature ❀ it is really good! A friend told me to avoid reading Me before you 'cause it was too boring, and the book is expenice so I have not tried it haha and John Green… hmmm I haven't read other books yet… so I will left that pending XD I will elaborate later on haha

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      4. Oh my goodness, you MUST watch The Princess Bride. It is so endearingly cheesy and silly. A classic! And that’s a good way of describing Silver Linings Playbook πŸ™‚ I haven’t really been interested in reading Me Before You. I liked the movie, but I don’t think I need to read the book. Plus, I’ve read some mixed reviews about it, too, so I think I can leave that one off my TBR for now. So far, John Green hasn’t impressed me much. I’ve read 3 books and only liked 1 of them :/ I’ll be interested to see which book of his you pick up first!

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      5. I made the mistake of reading Paper Towns first… haha mistake haha but I want to read the fault in our stars :3
        Me Before You will not happen for me either haha I will added to my sticky notes here and I promise I will watch it soon! haha

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      6. Oh yes! You mentioned reading that one lol. Well let’s hope your next Green book is a bit better? I personally dislike TFIOS but you may enjoy it! Yes, please watch Me Before You. It’s pretty sad but cute πŸ™‚

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  5. Adapatations always make me so nervous. I want all of them to be good movies (even if that means changing the plot a bit to fit the medium) and have great casting (I hate it when they mess up the image of the character in my head) but obviously that’s wishful thinking πŸ˜€ There are a lot of bad ones out there, but, hey, I can accept the bad if it means we’ll have some good ones too. It definitely doesn’t mean I’ll give up on adaptations.
    Random note: I’m so so excited for the Simons vs. movie! I’m going to be so mad if they get it wrong because it’s one of my favourite books.

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    1. I’m thankful for adaptations but more often than not they end up messing up the images of both character and setting I had in my head. Some are welcome changes, but most aren’t really LOL. Even so, I still get excited when I hear my favorite YA will be turned into a movie. I just enjoy movies so much that it means one more movie for me to watch!
      Oh my god, I’m so excited for Simon, too!!! So far the casting has been ON POINT. With such perfect casting, I really hope that it bodes well for the movie as a whole! πŸ˜€

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  6. You never know what you’re going to get with an adaptation. I hate it when they vastly change the plot from the original, little things I get but major deviations, it’s like – the book was popular for a reason guys! A lot of people have complained about Percy Jackson. I’ve just bought the books so hopefully I’ll see what everyone’s talking about.

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    1. I know right!? I can’t stand it when they use the same name as the book and then come up with a completely different story than the original. I mean, come on. I feel like that defeats the purpose of adapting the novel into film haha. I still need to read all the Percy Jackson books but the first book and film adaptation were NOTHING alike LOL.

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  7. I totally agree with you. Some adaptations are epic, others are just tragic. But even though they’re tragic I still enjoy them! I loved The Hunger Games and Divergent, they’re literally the perfect example of great adaptations.

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    1. I enjoy watching tragic movies almost as much as I enjoy watching good movies. Both are amusing in their own way LOL. I mean, I still watch Twilight and Percy Jackson even though I know they are HORRIBLE haha. Hunger Games is, so far, my favorite YA series of films! I haven’t read or watched Divergent in its entirety just yet!

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  8. What I find most interesting is that in the film industry most movies were first books and that is something that I believe has been a thing well before Twilight. There is something about creating a movie for an already established audience that is irresistible to film makers.

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    1. Yes, most movies during the rise of the film industry were based on books, classics like Gone With the Wind, Beauty and the Beast, Grapes of Wrath, and Where the Red Fern Grows. Twilight seemed to be the beginnings of the YA film movement for today’s generation. I think it’s almost more risky for film makers to bring book narratives to film, because there is already an established audience with expectations, but I’m glad they do it anyways. Some people prefer a visual story over a written one, so bringing books to film allows wider accessibility, I think πŸ™‚

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  9. I agree with most of what you said. Book to movie adaptations are mostly a hit or miss for me and it’s almost impossible to know for sure how I’ll react to them beforehand. It’s much worse when it’s a beloved series or book, of course. All the others are pretty okay in my book. I definitely think they should keep doing them. There’s no harm in allowing something to come to life, as long as done properly. Yes, it’s always hard to satisfy every single person but at least try!
    I felt The Hunger Games, for instance, was a bit better than the books. It just felt like a story that would do better on screen rather than on paper. The Maze Runner had more impact visually, too. It didn’t work so well for me while reading it, probably because the writing was terrible. Overall, an okay series. I also enjoy superhero movies a lot! And I’ve read some of the comics. Usually, they’re pretty faithful but there are exceptions, of course.
    If I know an adaptation is about to be released (and it’s one I’m interested in), I usually run to get the book and read it first. But sometimes I get too curious and end up seeing it first hahaha More often than not, I end up enjoying it regardless, and it’s always fun to pinpoint the differences between the two (yup, I can be that person).
    Great post, Azia! πŸ™‚

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    1. I’m really lenient towards book to movie adaptations, mostly because I try not to read the book beforehand. That way I avoid holding such high expectations, but even if I do watch the movie after reading the book, I’m still a little more forgiving than others because I just like movies in general. All I want is for the characters’ personalities to be preserved, the integrity of the original story to be maintained, and the film to be fun and entertaining. If not one of those elements are included, then it’s a complete miss for me. Still, it’s hard not to compare when I’m already a huge fan of a book, so it’s something that’ll always be a factor in a movie’s success haha. But I love that film makers are acknowledging YA books and readers. It’s really fun to see our favorite books on the big screen. I just wish the majority of them were a little better than they are LOL

      I loved The Hunger Games movies. I thought they did VERY well adapting those ones into a visual story. And I prefer the film version of The Maze Runner, too! I watched the movie first, and really enjoyed it. And even after reading the book, I still preferred the movie. The book, in my opinion, isn’t well-written and the characters are much less likable than they are in the movie. I don’t read many comics, but I know the basic storylines of them. I usually end up enjoying most superhero movies, though. They’re just so much fun to watch.

      Thanks so much, Sophie! ❀

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      1. Yup, absolutely! YA gets a bad rep but we all know who the bad seeds are hahaha
        True, I’d rather they take longer to produce them but really do them the right way. They’re just breaking our hearts XD
        You’re very welcome, hon! ❀

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      2. Yes, yes we do LOL XD
        Yeah, I wish that were the case, too! But, I guess we’ve just got to deal with what they give us now. At least they’re getting a little better, yeah?
        ❀ ❀ πŸ˜€

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  10. I think some of them are so brilliant there are no words for it, for example, “Gone with the Wind”, “The English Patient”, “The Virgin Suicides”, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. However, some of them are just meh…I mean I loved the first two Harry Potter films, but I thought the fourth book adaptation was horrible and rushed. You might be interested in my list: https://dbmoviesblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/girl-power-20-great-book-to-film-adaptations/

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    1. Those adaptations are certainly brilliant. YA adaptations of today, though, are usually hits and misses (more misses than hits, unfortunately). I really like the HP movies, but only because I haven’t read the books just yet 😱 Although I heard the 4th movie was just okay in comparison to the others! I’ll definitely check out your list πŸ˜€

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      1. I can’t say if I agree or disagree with the faithfulness of the movies to the books, but it sounds like you made some really good arguments! Great post. I’ll be interested to see your opinion of the Hunger Games! πŸ™‚

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  11. Not all book to TV or Film adaptions are good. Mainly in regards to trilogy book/film adaptions. Plot points get missed and characters are not able to be fully developed. Hunger Games and Twilight could have been better had the film adaption been a little more like the book plots. I felt the romance in both film franchises were forced more than the book had. I enjoyed some film adaptions such as Perks of Being a Wallflower, Fight Club, Holes, The Help, Silver Linings Playbook, Precious, the original Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (RIP Gene Wilder). I haven’t read nor watched Game of Thrones. I’ve only read and watched the first Harry Potter. The Fault in Our Stars was OK. If Full Metal Jacket and Platoon were books , I did not read them but the movies were good. Queen Sugar is a great TV , even though I have not read the book. I still need to see and read Hidden Figures and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I’m also excited for the film adaption of A Wrinkle In Time. The main thing with making books into films or TV shows is making sure you cast right and do not do anything to piss off the fan base.

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    1. No, not all are done well. I actually thought Hunger Games was interpreted fairly well, but I agree the romance was forced more than necessary. I enjoyed all those films as well, but only because I haven’t read the books. I had nothing to compare them to. But they were enjoyable nonetheless. I wasn’t much a fan of TFIOS, but the movie was all right. Haven’t heard of any of the other books you mentioned, except Hidden Figures but the film was phenomenal. One of the best I saw this year. I just heard about A Wrinkle in Time but I have never read the book. I didn’t even know about it until I read When Dimple Met Rishi. But the cast for the film looks amazing. Casting, I think, is the most crucial part to creating a successful book to film adaptation. If that isn’t done well, then the story better save it. And if it doesn’t, then the film is pretty much doomed to fail, I think :/

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    1. Oh I love iZombie. I didn’t even know it was based on an actual comic series. I thought the opening sequence was just a stylistic choice LOL. But I love the memory absorption concept and Rose’s performance is so believable and well-acted. The show has gained recognition since season 1 but not nearly enough that it deserves πŸ™‚

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  12. Great post! I think a lot of YA adaptions have cheaper budgets and are handed over to lesser known directors, which, in turn, often results in lower quality. With that being said, like you, I do hope to see more, hopefully improved YA adaptions in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And yes, that is definitely a factor of why YA adaptations are not as advanced and well-written/directed as they could be! But I think with more exposure of well-written and magnificently developed YA books, I think YA adaptations have the potential to be much better in the future! Fingers crossed πŸ˜€

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