Whether made for enjoyment or a curricular activity, books can be very influential to those who take the time to read them. They can be enjoyed by people around the world and, if they become popular enough, can be picked up by the movie industry. But how often do these companies get the narratives correct when adapting them to the silver screen? Here are a few examples of books that the film industry did right.
One of Us Is Lying
This YA mystery novel follows four kids accused of murdering their classmate, the school gossip Simon Kelleher, after an unfortunate event in detention. As the main characters try to clear their names and solve the mystery of ‘whodunnit’, secrets are revealed that makes each character look even more guilty. Rotten Tomatoes reviewer Brad Newsome said, “It deftly tweaks its balance of suspicions to keep things interesting, but it’s [actors] McKenna and van Grootel who really pull focus.”
With major plot twisting events, Peacock TV show director Van Grootel, has a lot of aspects to collect and perfect when it comes to capturing this book correctly. Up for the cinematic challenge, he released the first season on Oct. 7, 2021. But how did the book and characters truly compare?
Casting is always an important aspect when creating any TV show. The audience wants to be able to engage in the characters’ feelings and actions and hope they are similar to those in the book. Representations of the characters’ physical appearance in this TV show were astonishingly similar and, at the same time, different from the book. People of different ethnicities were represented in the group of main characters, and the idea of same-sex relationships was challenged. Straying from the book, the TV show created a few relationships that were influences on the main characters. The directors also decided to include a lesbian couple, hoping to appeal to all sexualities and make more relatable content for some teenagers today. These couples helped carry along the drama factor and jaw-dropping moments to help engage the audience and keep them watching.
With the screen time of each character correctly distributed for each of their own lives, this TV show does well at balancing both the secrets and scares that the book had to offer, and is a must for teen mystery lovers.
The Hate U Give
This fiction young adult novel is a groundbreaking story of a young African American woman, Starr Carter, defying and standing up against the racial inequality and police brutality going on around her. With her brothers and community support, they take a stand and protest against the immoral atrocities they have witnessed. Having gang affiliations close to home and attending a school in a predominantly white area, Starr realized it would be harder for her to be seen by those around her. With many pieces to this fight of equality, George Tillman Jr. took the opportunity to include every detail. But how closely related was the cinematic representation?
Though the book’s stances against the police were powerful and important, the verbal content and violence exhibited was too much in some instances. For Tillman this was a hard but important decision to keep this movie PG-13 and directed towards an audience that could be majorly influenced by the uprisings. In the book, author Angie Thomas said, “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be.” And for Starr that moment was the life she was living, the actions she made, and people she wanted her message to reach.
One of the major changes from the book to the movie was the ending scene. In the movie the director creates greater tension and possibility of death through having multiple people threatening each other with both dialect and guns. It also leaves a great impact on the audience after seeing the one who was ready to end it all was a young kid. This was also very representative of what the title stands for, “The hate you give little infants f*cks everybody”, more commonly acrymed, THUG LIFE. This was shown expressively through her eight year-old brother being the one who held the gun in his hands. However, in the book this narrative is written differently. With less tension in this ending, an enemy part of a local gang is jailed after an obvious act against the law that the community helped accuse him of. Though a big change, many argue that the movie’s ending was superior to the book’s.
Even though this life changing story in movie form has different aspects from the narrative that was created, it remains a well displayed, well acted film that deserves to be seen.
Both of these intriguing books and their cinematic adaptations have something for everyone, including coming of age, the fight for racial equality, and breaking social stereotypes. Catering to multiple identities and interests makes them perfect stories for anyone into movies, books, or just trying to pass time. This also helps prove that not all adaptations are poor quality and directors should be able to receive credit for sticking to the book.