Top Ten Favorite Page-to-Screen Adaptations | Top Ten Tuesday

Before I get started, let me just say that I’m not one of those people who thinks that the book is always superior to the movie. Nor am I someone who has to read the book before I see the movie. Maybe when I was younger did I think that I needed to do that, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that it doesn’t make sense to compare one art form to another. They constructed and consumed differently. It’s literally like comparing apples to oranges.

I think there are many cases throughout modern history that show an amazing movie or TV show can emerge from a mediocre book. It’s just as likely that an amazing movie or show can come out of an amazing book, while making significant changes to the source material.

Ready Player One was a book I loved and was able to binge-read overnight after starting it early one evening. While I was reading it, I felt I could see it play as an epic mini-series in my head. After all, the protagonist undergoes several major changes throughout the book. It would’ve been a dream part for a young actor to play. I could envision places where the story could end between episodes. When I found out it was going to be a movie, I was hopeful but my expectations were not high.

By managing my expectations, I was able to enjoy the movie. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot changes, which I recognized were necessary for the constraint of a movie’s conventional screen time. There were some amazing changes that helped the movie shine on its own; I’m thinking specifically of the ode to The Shining and how the one-who-got-away arc was portrayed!

Some of the books I’ve listed below I have not yet read, but I included them and their adaptations purely on my love of the screen versions! So while I cannot speak to the source material, I can say that I would be willing to check them out in book form should the right occasion ever present itself. So I guess the books are listed based on the virtues on their adaptations!

Page-to-Screen Adaptations

The Hunger Games

I read this book in college after watching the first movie. I wasn’t fond of the first-person present POV and felt the movie did an amazing job bringing Katniss and The Hunger Games alive in a way that made me care and feel for the oppressed people of this dystopian world in a way I’ve not felt since these movies. I was not compelled to keep reading the books, but I did keep watching the movies!

Patrick Melrose

Last year was a great year for mini-series adaptations based on books for cable network television. Showtime brought us Patrick Melrose (2018), the semi-autobiographical story of an upper middle class British man who was abused as child and grew up to become a self-destructive man. Almost every episode was set in a different decade, checking in on Patrick as he came into adulthood and struggled with his past and, ultimately, his parents’ death. It was so moving, I almost wanted to read the books. Ultimately, however, these kinds of books are not what I’m ordinarily drawn to.

Sharp Objects

The other amazing mini-series that came out last summer was Sharp Objects (2018), based on the book by the author of Gone Girl. Amy Adams portrays a troubled journalist, similarly scarred by her childhood, who is summoned back to her hometown to cover the investigation into the disappearances of two young girls. It’s an amazing whodunnit mystery set in the South complicated by the small town’s secrecy and hidden prejudices. The soundtrack is also fantastic.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

The movie adaptation for this book came out a few years ago and was a great example of how to take a source material and make it your own. The director, or screenwriter (who was the author?!), made a lot of subtle changes to the story and characters, none of which took away from the characters but instead rounded them out a bit more. I found the book hysterical and the movie kept a lot of that humor intact, which was really satisfying as there is still a sad story at the core. I think the movie might have been a tad melodramatic towards the end. To me, the book and the movie are very different, but I love them equally.

Atonement

I adored Keira Knightley and James McAvoy growing up, so I saw Atonement (2007) when it first came out, even though I might have been a tad too young for it. I followed the story and themes well enough, but I’ve really come to appreciate the true beauty of the film and its narrative devices as I’ve gotten older. All the actors in this film are brilliant. I’ve tried to read the book a few times over the years, and it hasn’t managed to hold my attention. I do think I may be ready to make another attempt soon!

Never Let Me Go

I can’t remember if I read the book before watching the movie, but I know that I knew about the movie before I knew of the book. It was one of my first forays into adult literary fiction and a book that defined my senior year of high school, strangely enough! I can’t remember how far the movie varied from the book, but the actors brought the Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy to life beautifully. And I think the movie stayed true to the ambivalence of the book regarding the dystopic vision of organ donation.

Interview with a Vampire

Okay, so this was an odd one to include on this list! I read the book when I went through an Anne Rice phase as a freshman/sophomore in high school. I had seen the movie in bits and pieces on TV growing up. I think we probably owned it on VHS. But having read the book, I think the movie is a great adaptation. The book is extremely mature, verging on erotica. Maybe it was supposed to be erotica. I don’t know! But I remember being really impressed by Rice’s writing style growing up. Anyway, the movie makes the story more palatable for a general audience and highlights the theme of eternal life’s loneliness from the book really well. The movie can stand alone on its own two feet!

Little Women

I think I read an abridged version of Little Women when I was younger, and I think I found it relatively enjoyable as an adolescent. I think the source material is ripe for great adaptations, similar to Pride & Prejudice (which I did not include on this because it’s too obvious a choice!). Jo is a relatable protagonist for all the rebellious young girls no matter the time period! I loved the Little Women (1994) movie with Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, and Christian Bale.

It

I tried reading the book a summer or two ago and struggled mainly because of how long and laborious the first chapter was, but I could recognize it was also beautifully written. It’s a bucket list item to read something of Stephen King’s and I’d like to read this book ahead of the next movie that is to come out. I often don’t feel compelled to read a book before the movie anymore, but I do want to be able to analyze the movie from the lens of the book.

From what I’ve read and heard, Andrés Muschietti’s films are great adaptations. All I know is that the first movie was beautiful and the teaser trailer recently released shows the next film will be as thrilling, if not more so, than the first.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I think the first two page-to-screen adaptations of the Harry Potter series were wonderful, but I don’t feel like the director/screenwriters did much to heighten the experience of the world. The movies were magical because they captured it from the books, which is all you could really ask for. But I think Alfonso Cuarón did a beautiful job bringing the third book to life and adding his own personal flair and style to the experience. In case you didn’t know, he also directed The Little Princess (1995)!

Let me know what you think about any of my picks in the comments down below! I apologize for the lack of images or links in this post, but I almost didn’t post it. I came on a last minute trip to visit family and I didn’t find the time or will to finish this post beyond writing it. I think it’s time to try something new for the blog and for myself, but I’m still mulling things over. I want to be more regular, but I think it’s time call a spade a spade…

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Akata Warrior (Akata Witch, #2) by Nnedi Okorafor

Book Review of Akata Warrior by The Inky Saga

I did not set myself the most ambitious reading goals this year, and it has been a struggle to just read one book per month. However, I was really happy to get to read Akata Warrior, the sequel to Akata Witch, which I read and adored last year. The magical adventures of Sunny and her coven are so much fun and full of heart.

I also love the African representation in the book. These books comment on identity in Nigeria, which is as varied as complex as it is in America. I think is so important that children read a book set in different countries, especially countries that we don’t often see portrayed for a young adult audience. Africa is such a huge continent and in many places, it is surprisingly not that different from certain parts of the United States.

In this post I will talk about the plot and potential spoilers from this sequel. Like with my last review of a sequel, I’m not sure how many people will read this post. So I’m just going to assume it will be people who have already read it and want to talk about it! If you’ve not read Akata Witch, I highly recommend it. You can check out the review I wrote last year.

SEE: AKATA WITCH BY NNEDI OKORAFOR

 • Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor 

Released: October 16, 2018 by Speak
Pages: Paperback, 512 pages
Theme(s): Identity, inner strength, power of knowledge, friendship, balance
Genre(s): YA / Fantasy / African-American Fiction
Age Group: 10+
Goodreads | Amazon*

*Affiliate link disclaimer

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book. Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysterious town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Akata Warrior picks up some time after Sunny and her oha coven have defeated Black Hat and are well into studying independently with guidance from their individual mentors. The book actually started with a really great recap in the form of a letter from the snarky Obi Library Collective of Leopard Knocks’ Department of Responsibility! I had been worried I wouldn’t be able to follow the story, but I ended up recalling most of the first book. I was actually only fuzzy on the ending, probably because I was so unsatisfied by the plot’s main conflict.

In this book Sunny is being haunted by the evil spirit Ekwenzu who wants to bring on the destruction of the natural world. She manages to separate Sunny from her spirit face Azue, which to everyone’s surprise does not kill her. Instead Sunny is forced to navigate the magical world without her spirit guide and find inner strength and confidence in herself.

In this second book, we see Sunny grow closer to her brothers. Each sibling is so different, they all have live such different lives despite all having lived under the same roof. It’s really nice to see them start to opening up and trusting each other with their vulnerabilities and trouble they get into. It is through her brothers that we see a real-life problem plaguing Nigerian higher education: confraternities.

I had never heard of this problem and was glad that Okorafor included this little side plot that was so relevant to the story because of the leopard world’s value of education and the story’s Nigerian setting. It is horrifying to see how people are press-ganged into these secret societies full of corruption that ultimately seem to have nothing to do with the honest pursuit of knowledge.

One more minor thing that I found highly unsettling was the development of a relationship between Sunny’s friend Chichi and her older brother Chuckwu. It’s super creepy to think of a 18-year-old guy who is obsessed with body building off at college being attracted to a literally underdeveloped child! Chichi is supposed to be this tiny little girl. The first book makes it seem like Chichi is older than she looks, but I don’t think that makes it okay!

I think drama of a love triangle was the main the point of throwing Chuckwu into Chichi and Sasha’s relationship. Maybe it can be chalked up to cultural differences, but I do feel it was highly inappropriate even if their relationship was more innocent.

Aside from the horrors of reality, this book was a lot of fun! My favorite parts of these books is always following Sunny as she discovers more about the leopard world and all of what’s possible. The flying wood cutter, Grashcoatah, was a particular delight. He was like a playful Loki in giant grasscutter disguise!

Like the first book, I feel the second suffers from a similar weakness in the plot. I was really in shock again about how many things happened that Sunny did not see fit to explain to the Leopard adults, particularly her mentor Sugar Cream! In the Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events books, the children are always trying to tell adults first and it’s only when they realize they are not being taken seriously do they realize they must act on their own. I’m not sure why it doesn’t even occur to Sunny and her friends to confide in more older people with more experience!

I also really didn’t like how disconnected the climax felt from the rest of the book. I actually did like the slow unraveling of the discovery that the house Sunny had been learning about in her grandmother’s letter was Ekwenzu’s home in the spirit land, but it was not a very smooth transition from the mystery the coven was chasing by visiting the mythical city of Osisi. To be honest, though, maybe I’m just used to stories where the protagonists know what they need to do. Sunny and the gang are plagued by problems not at all personal to them but derived from ancestral conflict.

If I had to rate this book by stars, I’d give it a 4 stars. It’s a very fun read and does what a great fantasy book should: ignite our imagination but also reflect problems we face in the real world. My biggest critique is just the same as it was for the first book; a lacking plot. Ultimately, however, that is easy to overlook since the rest of the book is so fun and I truly care about the characters.

If you read this post in its entirety, let me know if you’re read these books yet! I’m truly curious, as I never used to review sequels in the past. I didn’t see a point. If the first book grabs you, you’re going to want to read the sequel naturally. But I guess people can be curious about where the story goes without wanting to sit through a story and characters they feel so-so about. I, for one, am extremely interested in continuing to follow Sunny’s story and see where this series goes!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious, #2) by Maureen Johnson

Easily my most anticipated book of January, hell, of 2019 as a whole, was The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson, the sequel to one of my favorite reads of 2018, Truly Devious. In case you weren’t around way back then, here’s a link to the review I wrote of the book that started this fantastic series. It’s one of my favorite reviews I’ve ever written on the blog for a book I still consider highly underrated.

Stevie is such an amazing female character for young girls to be able to see in YA literature. I love that she is filled with such purpose and passion for something so unique and practical. I also think it’s great to see someone who has to deal with anxiety and parents with such different fundamental values. It’s so timely.

Before I go into detail, I just want to say I loved The Vanishing Stair as much as I did the first book! It sufficiently answered just enough questions about the mystery to keep me satisfied and still managed to end in a way that left me aching for the third installment to come out already!

I’ve decided not will not spoil the end of the book, but I will detail the questions I still have regarding the ending. So if you are halfway interested in checking out this series, go away now! I’ve warned you!

• The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson  

The Vanishing Stair picks up maybe a month after where the first book left off the morning after Stevie’s housemate Ellie escaped Ellingham Academy and Stevie learned David is the son of the infamous politician Edward King her parents idolize. As it turned out, Germaine Batt’s report about how Stevie discovered the link between Ellie and Hayes Major’s death became a hit online. After Stevie’s parents read it, they quickly whisked her away from dreamy boarding school and plopped her back into public school.

Honestly, I could empathize with her sadness and frustration. I don’t think I would’ve been able to handle this distress as gracefully as I assume she did. But to her dubious fortune, Stevie is able to return to the academy after Senator King shows up at her parents house and convinces them to allow her to return to school. She discovers that David has been going off the rails since she left and his father has decided Stevie can fix him.

Although she is unhappy with how she was able to return to Ellingham, she is not able to resist the opportunity to return to the scenes of the crime that drew her to the school in the first place.

Much more of the past is quickly revealed in The Vanishing Stair through flashbacks involving the two new characters introduced at the end of Truly Devious. For much of the book I wondered when and if Stevie would become privy to the information we as readers are granted ahead of time! Before Stevie, we are able to find out more about Albert Ellingham’s life and the long-forgotten secret passageways that allowed the founder to keep his secrets. But our girl Stevie eventually pieces together the mystery herself in a scene where I imagined her standing like Sherlock below.

sherlock

In this novel, Stevie is introduced to Fenton, a historian on the crime who needs a research assistant. This older woman is an authority on the case who intends to solve the mystery of Alice’s whereabout in order to win a monetary reward set by Ellingham before he died. Her presence in the book adds new stakes and competition for Stevie as she discovers she’s in a race against the clock to solve the mystery.

There are light moments between Stevie and the gang as they celebrate Halloween. There’s some steamy moments as Stevie and David reconnect. Of course their relationship is complicated by Stevie’s secret deal with his father, which feels rote and thrown in just because our lovebirds can’t have too much fun. There are also some absolutely devastating moments akin which for me harkened to the sadness of that scene in season one of Stranger Things where they think they’ve found Will’s body to the cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes”.

By the end of this book, we discover the true culprit behind the crimes at Ellingham Academy and why it was so hard to identify them! Honestly, the truth blew me away. I feel like I might’ve been able to guess them if it had not been for all the smoke and mirrors, which is why this YA mystery is so fantastic! It’s such a smart series on par with the Six of Crows duology, which is a YA (or perhaps New Adult) masterpiece.

I decided to rate this book 4.5 stars. It’s beautifully crafted and paced, and my main complaint right now is how frustrating David has been for no apparent reason at all! I hope that he is able to redeem himself by the end of the next book or I want a storyline where Stevie learns to avoid broken, troubled boys like him. I’m so over love interests with self-destructive tendencies.

END OF THE BOOK QUESTIONS

  1. Was Ellie working with someone?
  2. What the heck is David doing?
  3. Who at the academy doesn’t want the mystery solved?
  4. What happened to Alice?

I hope you liked this review! I’m really not sure who is going to click on the review for a sequel of a highly underrated book, so if you read all the way through you’re something special in my eyes! <3 ^_^

This is probably my last blog post before the weekend. I’ve been planning blog content for the days I’ll be out of town (Saturday–Tuesday) finally visiting my poor grandma who had a stroke in January. I’ll try to be active on WordPress as much as possible, responding to comments and blog hopping whenever I can. You can also always get in touch on Twitter if you’d like. :)

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Thoughts on AART and Heist Society

I just realized that both of the books I talk about in this post have to do with the value of art. I probably didn’t make the connection before, because it was quite coincidental that they have been my most recent reads. But I did want to dedicate a post to these books that I would be able to look back on if need be. The result today is spoiler-free, so if you have no yet read them, you can safely read ahead.

As you might’ve been able to guess, I’m writing this introduction after having already written my thoughts. So I can tell you how hard it was to limit my discussion to just the first major points that came to mind. I feel like I could rant for thousands of words sometimes on the books I read, but that would just be too much.

• ⟡ • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing • ⟡ •

I read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green primarily in October. It was a book I had highly anticipated as a casual viewer of the vlogbrothers YouTube channel Hank shares with his brother John. I’m not the biggest fan of John Green’s books, having only been able to finish The Fault in Our Stars, which I actually did like. But Hank’s book appealed to me purely based on the synopsis, so I was happy to be able to support his debut novel.

I set AART down extremely satisfied with the book. It stayed in my mind for a few weeks after. It has one of the best finales and denouements I’ve ever read. After meandering on the smaller details for most of the book, it becomes extremely action-packed and…emotionally impactful. There’s a moment towards the end that had me shed a tear. It was unexpected! It’s hard to talk much more about the final scenes without spoiling the book, so I won’t go any further!

Early on in the book, you realize that AART is being narrated by the protagonist after all the events of the book have gone down. It led to some satisfying foreshadowing, but I also found it annoying at times. April May makes a lot of mistakes in the book, some of which I didn’t particularly find myself sympathetic to, even after the fact. I dislike how she frames them, like, she knows she was wrong and thinks that her awareness of the fact makes it less bad. In my opinion, it’s akin to the author trying too hard to make readers feel or think a certain way.

Also her logic, or line of thinking, is at times hard to follow. I think that the biggest problem actually was just that Green assumes that everyone is going to have the same socio-political stances as he does. I do, but I’m not as far left as he, or April May more accurately, seems to be.

Other than that, I really loved this book. I think it’s so timely and relevant with how social media can give people so much power and how important it is to wield it responsibly. I also think it’s important in exploring how humanity can work together towards and common goal. It’s very reminiscent of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which I saw Hank say was intentional, but different in its selection of villain.

So many staples of science fiction, that I’m aware of, paint massive corporations as the bad guy. In AART, the villains are people who fall prey to the fear and anger exacerbated by fear-mongering conservative pundits.

I feel like this book is so a product of our current political climate in the U.S. It’s uplifting and terrifying at the same time.

• ⟡ • Heist Society • ⟡ •

I took a bit of break from reading after AART as I worked on my novel leading up to November. I was also busy with other projects and life this fall. My next read, had it been immediately gripping, would have actually been Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas, the finale to the epic Throne of Glass series. But I was not able to become invested quickly enough in that 900-plus-page tome, so one day mid-November I decided to pick up something that would be a considerably easier read.

I read Heist Society by Ally Carter mostly over Thanksgiving Break. It wasn’t a high priority read, so I took my time with it. In fact, I picked it up because I realized I was in a bit of reading slump and I find YA contemporaries perfect for reviving interest in reading, because they are 1) generally easy to read and 2) seem to be written with the aim of being captivating.

I also almost picked up White Cat by Holly Black but I read it last year (around this time!) and couldn’t find it (which reminds me I need to look for it).

I was not as impressed by Heist Society as I was hoping to be. It’s not the book or author’s fault (it was published in 2010), but at this point I’m a bit exasperated by books where teens are these unbelievable super geniuses who are more qualified and capable than adults with experience to save the day. I don’t mind their age specifically, but when books seem so intent on emphasizing the mental prowess of teens in contrast with bumbling adults, it is just so overdone at this point. And unrealistic.

I don’t think that teens can’t or shouldn’t be able to accomplish amazing things. But I don’t need them all to be highly enlightened or brilliant minds. It’s not even that it’s just realistic but more importantly it’s not all that relatable.

Other than that major critique, which may or may not have been better explored elsewhere, I found the plot a little predictable at some point. Also, the heist was pretty clever, but since there’s no proof of how brilliant these cast of characters are beforehand (beyond them all being super confident and constantly alluding to past jobs) it didn’t feel too authentic. But I liked the characters and their interactions with one another. I also appreciated the fast pace of the story, which was filled with appropriately high stakes.

 ☙ ❧ End Note ❧ ☙

If you were interested in these books, I hope I was able to give you a good idea of what you might be able to expect along with my personal thoughts on them. In the future I may go into spoiler territory, but I think that will mostly be whenever I feel very strongly about what happened and need to vent (à la Tower of Dawn). Maybe my book talk on Kingdom of Ash will be such a post, whenever I get back to it!

I must say, however, that I prefer writing spoiler-free reviews. Particularly if I know I would like to read the book again. It’s nice to let yourself forget some of the details of a book you love so you can still enjoy it the next time as if it’s the first time.

Right now I leaning towards starting Heist Society‘s immediate sequel Uncommon Criminals. But I can’t say for certain, as I’ve not actually started it yet. Maybe I’ll jump back into another book I’ve wanted to read all autumn. Who’s to say at this moment?!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.