Sometimes, the movies just get it right. Although you’ll likely have a preference, often depending on which adaptation you view first, the following list are film and movie adaptations that are as good as the book. They do the book justice, without outshining the original work.
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1. The Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling
This might be controversial, but the Harry Potter film series is very on par with the book series. There are things in the books that never appear in the films, but both are worth looking at if you never have before. The books are great for detail and backstory, and the movies truly bring the Wizarding World to life. This is a prime example that there are adaptations that are as good as the book.
2. The Lord of the Rings Series, J.R.R. Tolkien
Again, perhaps controversial for literary heads, but the film trilogy of The Lord of the Rings was a great adaptation from the books and suits people who don’t enjoy novels as much. However, if you do prefer reading, the books are amazing too, and provide a lot more context, backstory for characters, and delve deeper into the lore.
3. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl is the kind of story that, whichever you look at first, will be the one you prefer. This psychological thriller that focuses on Nick and Amy’s crumbling marriage, is just as harrowing whether it’s read out of a book or seen on the big screen. Due to the massive twist in the novel, that shock factor will only affect you once, and so it will depend on whether you watch the movie first, or read the book first.
4. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby should absolutely be read, but the Baz Luhrmann film adaptation is brilliant, and for those who just can’t get into reading older novels, this may be the route to go. Both adaptations critique the glamorous Jazz Age in New York in the 192os. Luhrmann, through his directing, gives it a bit more pizzazz, but this same glamour can be found within the pages of the novel too.
5. Normal People, Sally Rooney
The TV Series version of Normal People, about young adults navigating life and love in Dublin, was almost identical to the book, making it difficult to choose which one is better. If you prefer TV then the series is great, but if you much prefer books, the novel is a winner. Because the series stayed so close to the source material, Normal People proves there are TV adaptations that are as good as the book. You can watch Normal People on RTE Player.
6. My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
My Sister’s Keeper the film does differ quite significantly to the book. There are a few characters in the book we don’t get in the film, and the starkest difference is that the endings are total opposites from one another. However, the ending to the book could be considered controversial, and the movie, probably hoping not to complicate things, decided to go down a different route, acting as an alternate ending. For this reason, both are worth looking at.
7. The Fault In Our Stars, John Green
Like My Sister’s Keeper, there are significant differences from the book version of The Fault In Our Stars and the movie version. They eliminate some characters from the book in the film in order to maintain the focus on Hazel and Augustus, and it doesn’t negatively impact the story. However, the book is fantastic too, and provides more detail into Hazel’s inner thoughts than the movie.
8. Matilda, Roald Dahl
This is a children’s book, but a brilliant one. The movie is equally as heart-warming, starring Danny Devito as Matilda’s law-breaking father. The film takes a more humorous route, featuring some fantastic music, while the novel provides a bit more detail into Matilda’s powers, and gives Ms. Honey more of a backstory. Whichever you choose to have a look at, you won’t be disappointed.
9. The Green Mile, Stephen King
A must read for Stephen King fans, The Green Mile follows Paul Edgecombe, a prison officer in the 1930s who oversees the death row block. Tom Hanks stars as Paul in the film and does a fantastic job, but the novel really is just as good. There are some dark and disturbing scenes in this novel, which are described in gorey detail, and chillingly brought to life in the movie. . There can be movie adaptations that are as good as the book, as The Green Mile proves.
10. 11/22/63, Stephen King
This was a TV series made from Stephen King’s novel 11/22/63, which is over 1,000 pages long. If you can hack that much reading, then the book is a winner. It follows Jake Epping, a teacher who is lost in life who discovers a time portal to the past. His friend Al instructs him to stop the JFK assassination, believing it is the route to all the problems in the present. The TV series stars James Franco, and if reading isn’t your thing, it does a pretty good job at portraying the key moments in the novel.
11. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
This is an award winning dystopian novel that deals with the concept of clones and using them as organ donors. The book is heart-breaking and the movie brings some of the difficult scenes to life, making it worth your while to watch and read both. If you read/watch one, you’ll likely want to see the other.
12. You, Caroline Kepnes
Many will be familiar with the creepy series You, starring Penn Badgley as psycho-stalker Joe Goldberg. However, this was adapted from a novel of the same name, and if you think Joe is scary in the series, he’s much worse in the novel. There are key differences between the two, so both are worth looking at. You can watch You on Netflix.
13. Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
Atwood’s Alias Grace, a retelling of the famous Grace Marks from 1843 murder case, was a fantastic novel that turned the tale on its head. It was made into a Netflix miniseries in 2017, and mirrored the book so well that it really depends on personal preference which one you want to look at. The book gives far more detail while the miniseries just focuses on the key moments.
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