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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

GUEST POST: The 1% In Book Adaptations by Christina 'DZA' Marie

Everyone always says the book is the better than the movie (or TV show). 99% of the time, they're right.

This post is dedicated to that 1%.

Because, let's face it. Writer/producers/directors/everyone else involved has a rough job when they decide to put a book on the screen. For movies, you have to cram an average of 200 pages into an hour and a half. Shows have a little more leeway in that they can stretch out the story over the course of several weeks, but they only get an hour-long slot, max, if there aren’t enough boobs, nobody pays attention.

And then of course there's simple logistics. Special effects for magic/sci-fi tech costs a ton of money. Hiring thousands (or in some cases millions) of actors to fill a mythical city or battlefield just isn't going to happen for most productions. And trying to put in every amazing piece of dialogue, fight scene, and character in that itty-bitty bit of screen time? Forget it.

So it's no wonder that movies and shows fall so far from the books. That's why I want to post a tribute to the select few who've managed to pull it off. To my knowledge, anyway. Unfortunately, I have not read every book or seen every movie. So if you know of another movie/show that’s managed the impossible, please tell me!

I only know of three cases:

Game of Thrones

This and other amazing book vs. show artwork can be found on

I actually hesitate to put this one up there. In some instances, yes, the show is better than the books. I like what they've done with Brienne and Sansa, the battles are thrilling and gritty and realistic, and there are some scenes that are absolutely masterful and simply do not have the same effect when it's on the pages (I can't see how George R. R. Martin will ever be able to surpass Cersei's defeat of the High Sparrow in his next book, no matter how good he is). Also, the battle (er, slaughter) at Hardhome is only mentioned in a letter to Jon in the books. I almost had a geek-stroke when I found out we'd actually get to see the battle.

However, there is cause for concern. There are at least two instances where the show has turned a consensual sex scene into an unnecessary rape (Dany's wedding and Jaime with Cersei right after Joffrey died; and that whole thing with the Night's Watch deserters staying at Craster's Keep to rape the wives isn't even in there). Now, to be fair, I have praised GOT before for not pulling any punches when it comes to how women are treated in real life. But the show can go a bit overboard. Also, we really don't need to see that many boobs.

And what the show has done with Dorne is a monstrosity. The Martells are dangerous and awesome in the books, and most importantly, they're sane. The Sand Snakes want revenge, yes, but not on Myrcella (because their father always said that Dorne doesn't torture and kill little girls). They're also the most progressive group in Westeros: women rule. Doran has a daughter named Arianne who's directly ahead of her younger brother for the throne (something that is unthinkable in the rest of Westeros), but she's not in the show. And Ellia Sand is an awesome, strong, compassionate pacifist. The woman who witnessed her lover being slaughtered in front of her does not want revenge. She tells the Sand Snakes and Prince Doran and anyone else who will listen that revenge does not solve anything. But the show's made her this two-dimensional caricature.

So I'm going to say the books and the show are neck-and-neck. Both have pros and cons that cancel each other out, and both are absolutely amazing.

This blog sums it all up very nicely via comics.

The Help

I know, I know, it's not sci-fi, fantasy, or horror. The movie is still better than the book.

In the book, Hilly doesn't show up until a third of the way through. We hear a lot about her, but we don't really see much of her or really what she does that makes her the bad guy. Hilly eating Minny's *ahem* pie, and then reading about it is the best. (We don't see her screaming at the pages and waking up her extremely confused husband in the book, which is a crying shame, because it was hilarious in the movie.)

Skeeter's mom telling Hilly to go to hell: it's really weak in the book. She just shows up, looking all frail and sick, and Hilly backs down. The movie has her be strong, empowered, and taking out the trash.

Skeeter and Stewart's breakup is more vibrant in the movie. It still hurts in the book, but it's gentler and filled with more sorrow than that sorrow/anger/frustration mix. I like seeing the argument, seeing Emma Stone's face when her character realizes the personal sacrifice of her contribution of civil rights, and her acceptance of it even as she’s crying.

And finally, Minny's situation is much better in the movie. In the book, Johnny Foote approaches her soon after he figures it out and asks her to keep secret the fact that he knows about her being the maid so his wife can keep pretending, which is stupid. The movie is much better and, frankly, realistic: Johnny keeping it to himself until Celia tells him about her miscarriages. And the scene where Minny throws groceries at him and arms herself with a tree branch until he tells her that he wants her to stay is funny, sad (because anyone else would've absolutely hurt or killed her), and touching.

How to Train Your Dragon

Unlike Game of Thrones, which sticks to the books pretty well (at least in terms of over-arching plot and world creation), How to Train Your Dragon the book and the movie are vastly different.

In the book, the dragons are Vikings’ pets. They're tiny, roughly the size of cats and dogs, and are treated as such, even though they're much more intelligent and capable of speech in their own tongue. It's forbidden in Viking society to speak the dragon language, a rule which Hiccup ignores. The focus on the relationship between him and his dad is still there and central to the story, as is the giant dragon, but there's a whole thing with a bully and dragon comas and it focuses more on being a ridiculous little book for kids.

The movie is much better. The dragons are larger, more badass, and more complex, because while they're intelligent (at least, Toothless is around human intelligence), they have to communicate like animals, and that gives them a whole new layer.

There's also the whole thing with the war between Vikings and dragons that Hiccup has to resolve to protect his friend. It promotes the idea that there aren't necessarily strict "good guys" and "bad guys" in a fight. The dragons raid the Vikings...or else they'll be eaten by big mama. The Vikings hunt protect the crops, livestock, and houses they rely on to survive. Hiccup and his dad are caught in the middle and pulled on opposite sides, and Hiccup is the one who bridges the gap.

Also, Hiccup is a lot funnier in the movie.


Thanks for reading! :)


GUEST AUTHOR INFORMATION: This post is brought to you by the insane mind of Christina “DZA” Marie, a writer and blogger of fantasy, scifi and horror. She runs the blog Dragons, Zombies and Aliens and currently has an epic fantasy series on called The Flying Cobras (yes, it’s about as ridiculous as it sounds), inspired by her family’s Dungeons and Dragons adventures. She's currently double majoring in college and lives in the twin cities metropolitan area.


Christina Marie said...

Thank you for posting this! :)
(Any chance of changing "By Christina Alongi" to "By Christina 'DZA' Marie," since that's my pen name?)

The Reader said...

Done, sorry about that Christina :)


Christina Marie said...

Thank you! :)

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

I need to get How to Train a Dragon movie. It's one that's slipped by us over the years. And I don't know why. Great post! :D

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