I’m one of those people whose viewing decisions are greatly influenced by casting choices. If a movie/show contains an actor (male or female) that I like, I’m more likely to watch it, and vice versa. So, what does this have to do with books?
Books into movies, right? Yes, that a thing that deserves discussion, but right now, I’m talking about the trend of books into tv shows. Talking a limited amount of source material and hoping to stretch it out for years. It’s not a new thing, but it seems to be happening a lot right now.
My dad received the Song of Ice and Fire series for Christmas. He’s been struggling to get through the first book ever since. I told him that the shocking reveal at the end of A Game of Thrones was worth the read. It took a while (and he’s a devourer off books) but he finally finished it over Easter.
I know how he feels; I’ve had the first book on my shelf for over a year and it’s still unfinished. The difference is that I know this isn’t my genre, so I watched the tv show first. There are just too many characters with too many names for me to care to keep them straight while reading. Now I have faces to help with the super wordy text.
Never having read the books, I base my opinion soley on the tv show. It is excellent! And my friends, who are obsessive about the books, agree. This is one of those cases where, even though there are changes and poetic license taken with the tv show, most people seem to agree that it’s really well done. Good books. Good show. Good for everyone – except children, don’t let your kids watch this!
This isn’t true for all of these book to tv show pick ups. If you’ve been reading the blog, you’ll know how I feel about Kelley Armstrong. I love her books. So when I heard Bitten, the first in the Women of the Otherworld series,
had been picked up by Space Channel, I was stoked. Like countdown to the premiere kind of excited. Best case scenario, it goes really well and they pick up the entire series. Each book makes one season and we’ve got thirteen guaranteed awesome seasons. Then the cast was announced and that uh oh feeling began to percolate.
While I think Laura Vandervoort is beautiful, her acting peeked in Instant Star – and if you’ve seen it, you know what that means. And the guys… They just don’t got with what I had pictured in my head either, but okay, that’s always going to be true for someone who loves the books.
I pushed down my instincts and hunkered down for the first episode. I didn’t even make it through the whole thing. It was boring, and I was already sold on the backstory. But another friend kept watching, even though she wasn’t totally sold, until about halfway through the season, when everyone I know had stopped watching. Somewhere along the way, the show had veered off track and forgotten it’s source material. To the point where Armstrong used Twitter to distance herself from the show.
My love for the books could not overcome the problems with the show.
But it does occasionally go the other way. I hated Orange is the New Black as a book.
It was boring, whiney, and privileged. It felt like a spoiled child complaining that she was being blamed for something she’d clearly done. She was pouting. Chapter after chapter. Just complaining. And she never learned anything about anyone – including herself.
But everyone loved the tv show. They were raving about it. I didn’t give in right away, but Natasha Lyonne was in it, and I like her.
So I gave it a shot and my fickle heart was won over. The whinging is still there. Actually, it might even be worse, but in a good way. Piper is such a waspy character, she plays off the other women and makes then more real. In the tv show, we have breaks from her self absorption and get to learn other backstories. And the first season ended halfway through the book. It left room for more. I haven’t watched the second season yet, is it even out, but I’m liking forward to it.
Converting books into a visual format is never going to work for every fan, but it’s about finding the ones that work for you and not letting the bad ruin the good – whichever way that flows.