Book-to-Screen Adaptations That Actually Work

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As a bookworm and film fanatic, it’s great to see characters you’ve connected with on paper be portrayed on screen, whether it’s TV or film. However, a fair bit of the time, the crew behind the screen adaptations of these novels don’t always get it spot on. Of course, you have to accept that they can’t fit everything into an hour-and-a-half film, or 12 episodes, but you don’t have to accept it if they take your favourite novel and massacre it on screen. One such film for me was Inkheart. I adored the books as a kid and when they finally brought out a film adaptation, it just didn’t fit. One main reason for me was that I’d always imagined Basta being a young man in his 20s, but on screen he was old and fat. That killed it for me.

But, on a more positive note, there have been a lot of book-to-screen adaptations that have worked surprisingly well. Here is a list of my favourites:

1. Game of Thrones

I have to admit that I’ve only read the first two novels of the A Song of Ice and Fire series as I just haven’t had time for the others. Whilst the TV adaptation does leave out and move away from some of George R. R. Martin’s plot points, the creators behind the series have passionately recreated Martin’s world and characters. I adore Game of Thrones.

2. The 100

I started series 1 of The 100 before the books but, when the TV show had undeniably hooked me, I went out and bought the novels. Now, this may be a bit of a controversial selection, as The 100 TV series deviates heavily from the novels. However, this is one of those rare times where I actually think the TV adaptation is better. It’s more exciting, with better plot twists and an improved story-arc involving the Grounders and Mount Weather. However, if you call yourself a fan of the TV programme, you should definitely check out the books to see where it all began.

3. How I Live Now

How I Live Now is one of my favourite novels. Beautifully and uniquely written, Daisy’s voice is strong and fraught with emotion. This book had me in tears and so did the film. The movie adaptation stays true to the book and captures the anguish and isolation Daisy and her cousins experience as Britain is invaded by foreign forces. This is both a novel I wish I’d written and a film I wish I’d directed. The only most obvious difference is that Eddie is not younger than Daisy in the film, as he is in the book. But how can anyone complain when you get to look at George MacKay’s face? Not to mention he’s an exceptional actor; this film was brilliantly cast.

4. Never Let Me Go


I read Never Let Me Go before I saw the film. Another of my favourite novels, I was in floods of tears at the end; to me, it’s a modern masterpiece. So, when it came to watching the film, I was sobbing my eyes out at the first scene! I couldn’t handle it. The film is just as moving as the book and I especially loved Andrew Garfield as Tommy. Even Keira Knightley (who can be a little hit-and-miss) was excellent.

5. Warm Bodies

I got Warm Bodies many a Christmas ago and couldn’t put it down. Witty, philosophical and very touching, it is yet another of my all-time favourite novels (do you see a pattern here? I’m kinda lucky that so many of my favourite books have had good adaptations done!). As for the film, it’s sweet and funny and I loved Nicholas Hoult as R. My only gripe is that they left out R’s somewhat-telepathic conversations with Perry. There’s a moment near the end of the novel (no spoilers, I promise) where Perry is speaking to R and sometimes I go back and re-read that passage because it is some of the most heartfelt prose I’ve ever read. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. But overall, I really enjoyed the film adaptation and I think they did the book justice.

6. The Children of Men

Whilst the film does deviate substantially from the plot-line of P.D. James’ novel, the film is a triumph in its own right. It perfectly captures the fear and desolation of James’ world where no baby has been born for nearly two decades. Both the book and the film explore the horrors of that world and the lengths humanity will go to when faced with its own extinction.

7. Love, Rosie


I heard about the film adaptation of Cecelia Ahern’s Where Rainbows End before I’d actually heard of the book. But, upon learning it was a novel originally, I read the book whilst waiting for the release of the film. Yet again another novel and its subsequent film adaptation that had me in floods of tears. Both were hilarious and moving, excellent rom-coms and, whilst the film didn’t span quite as many years as the novel, I actually preferred that. Not to mention I really like Lily Collins.

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Have you read any of these books and their on-screen adaptations? Did you enjoy them? Do you think the film/TV does the book justice? Let me know in the comments below!

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