Movie adaptations of books have always been a popular form of scriptwriting and film production – whether it’s movie fans looking for a more visual approach to a monumental classic, or book lovers excited to see the interpretation of their favorite tales coming to life.
But with this always comes the age old argument – “Which is better: the movie or the book?”. Book lovers will always argue that the movie adaptations often skip over details, don’t explain things and rush the plot.
With that and the fact that 2013 is jam-packed with more silver screen adaptations of books than we can fit in one blog post in mind, we run down five blockbuster movies that you should definitely read before you see.
1. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Following the tale of social and alcoholic binger Jay Gatsby through the eyes of narrator Nick Carraway, the movie has so far received a mixed bag of reviews since its release with a lot of criticism placed around differences from the original Fitzgerald text ranging from subtle character differences to rather significant changes to the ending.
Coupled with the modern feel of the soundtrack courtesy of Jay-Z, it’s something of a divide of opinion as to whether the changes are for the better or worse. The solution? Check out the novel before heading to the cinema, and decide for yourself.
2. The Hobbit (Desolation of Smaug/There and Back Again) – J. R. R Tolkien
Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of The Hobbit is something of a strange one, as tackling the novel before the second part is released this year will actually put you almost 18 months ahead of movie purists; the final part (titled There and Back Again) is not due for release on our screens until the end of 2014.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug picks up where 2012’s initial part left off, following Thorin’s company of dwarves and tag-along Bilbo Baggins as they continue their quest to reclaim the abandoned city within the Lonely Mountain from Smaug the dragon – as well as the gold contained within.
Tolkein fans have criticized the first movie for being too slow paced, and feeling rather drawn out compared with the quick pace of the original book – judge for yourself and discover the next chapter of the plot before Desolation of Smaug is released at the end of the year.
3. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games) – Suzanne Collins
Another ‘second part’ to hit our screens later this year will be instalment number two in the Hunger Games trilogy, originally written by Suzanne Collins. The first movie’s release was prefaced by enormous sales and popularity of the books, praised for the transcendence across audiences as teens and adults alike enjoyed the harrowing experiences of Katniss Everdeen in the annual Hunger Games fight to the death.
In the second installment, Katniss and Peeta become hunted by the Capitol after their victory in the first book sparks rebellion, riots and anti-government clashes. Fans of the novels, while broadly praising the first movie, did criticize the lack of depth and plot explanations in the adaptation, making now a perfect time to indulge in the books before the release of Catching Fire later this year.
4. The Host – Stephanie Meyer
After the roaring, and somewhat controversial, success of the Twilight novels and their respective movies, author Stephanie Meyer also enjoyed 26 weeks at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list with her latest, and unrelated, novel titled The Host.
The gothic science fiction plot follows the story of Melanie Stryder – a girl who is taken over by a parasitic alien known as a ‘Soul’. These aliens seek to take control of humans, who they feel don’t deserve to control Earth. But Melanie has other ideas, and decides to fight back against the parasite within.
With negative to mixed reviews arising from the release of the movie earlier this year, we feel it’d be better to stick with original text and experience one of Meyer’s better works on the page rather than the silver screen.
5. World War Z – Max Brooks
Due for release in June of 2013, the release of Max Brooks’ apocalyptic zombie novel is not far off, which doesn’t give readers long to get stuck into the collection of individual accounts of the modern-day Zombie War which tears apart Earth.
The zombie infection spreads from a patient zero, a young boy in China, despite the government’s attempts to contain it. Accelerated by a black market for organs, and rising numbers of refugees, it’s not long before the zombie outbreak has a stranglehold on the entire world and mass panic begins.
The movie adaptation, starring Brad Pitt, doesn’t seem to follow Brooks’ ‘account collection’ so closely, deciding on more of an action-based Hollywood blockbuster approach. Zombie fans may find the novel that bit more engaging and refreshing, amidst a sea of zombie-based entertainment – read as fast as you can!
This guest post was written by Tom McShane – a professional blogger and avid reader. With 2013 a sea of book to movie releases, Tom is eager to see how the silver screen interprets some of his favourites, and would recommend Hay On Wye Booksellers to anyone looking for literary magic.