I am almost never satisfied with movie or TV adaptations of books, but yet I cannot resist. More often than not I re-read the book before watching the adaptation, which probably leads to more disappointment because the book details are fresh in my mind. I had opposite experiences with two recent TV adaptations.
13 Reasons Why, Netflix Original Series
I read Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why several years ago for my YA book club. It was before I started blogging and before I started using Goodreads even, so I don’t have any notes on why I gave the book a 3 star rating. I think it may have been because I thought the plot was unrealistic. I think perhaps I thought what happened to Hannah wasn’t that bad or that she was overreacting. I love Jay Asher’s The Future of Us, written with Carolyn, so I don’t think it was his writing that I disliked. It’s hard to know because I didn’t re-read the book before watching Netflix’s series.
I loved the show. It’s awful obviously, but I thought it was so well done. It worked so much better for me to see Hannah and everything that happened to her versus just reading about Clay listening to the tapes. I’ve read some reviews that the show makes it too drawn out, but it completely worked for me. The acting was terrific in this series, and while some of the episodes are hard to watch, I couldn’t stop watching this show. I think I blew threw it in 3-4 days. Wow. So powerful.
Big Little Lies, HBO Mini-Series
Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies was my favorite book of 2015. And while I also read this book before I started blogging, I did record this small review in Goodreads:
I loved the satirical tone of this book. The crazy parent politics of Kindergarten were spot on! I listened to this book and often laughed out loud in my car.
I re-listened to this book before watching the show because it had been two years, and I was due for a re-read. I like to re-read 4-star and 5-star books as much as my reading schedule will allow. Everything about this book was fresh in my mind when I watched the series, and I was disappointed. I’m guessing I would have been dissatisfied even if I hadn’t just re-read the book.
Here are my main complaints. Warning: Spoilers below!
- The show was too Americanized. By which I mean, there was just too much sex. Why did they have to make Madeline have an affair? That doesn’t happen in the book.
- The show was too much about the individual adult drama and not enough about the friendship between the 3 main women. I wrote a blog post about the friendship aspect of this book. That was what was so powerful for me.
- The kids were cute, but they almost seemed like an afterthought. Why did they make them first graders too instead of kindergarteners? What school starts in first grade?
- Why did they remove the significance of Jane’s rapist’s name? [Sorry, all, for my original misstatement here about the rapist himself being someone else.]
- Why did they cut out the rain scene with Jane and Tom? With all the added sex for the other characters, why did they skimp out on Jane’s relationship?
- I wanted to see the ending with Bonnie. Again, it just kind of got glossed over.
All that being said, I did still enjoy the show, as something separate from one of my favorite books of all time. I loved how they did the police interviews. Those provided such great comic relief to the book and the show. I just thought they could have done a better job. I missed the Australian accents.
What did you think of these TV adaptations?
Feature image from Pexels