Book to Movie Adaptations That Sank and Soared

As both an avid book and movie lover, I have definitely developed some strong opinions of the two throughout the years. Sometimes the captivating thoughts and words of a book just don’t quite come to life the way we want on the big screen. Though when they do, it is really something special and definitely something worth talking about. So here are three of my favorite book to movie adaptations and three that didn't quite cut it.


Movie Adaptations I Did Enjoy


Love, Simon based on the book Simon Vs the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli / Directed by Greg Berlanti

Description: 17-year-old not so openly gay Simon Spier begins a secret online relationship with a mystery classmate named Blue.

I decided to read this novel after seeing the movie because I loved it so much, I watched it three times in theaters much to be exact. Both the movie and the book do a great job of explaining the difficulty of finding one's identity in a world surrounded by so much conformity. There is a perfect balance of lighthearted love and friendship as well as the hardships that come along with them. The storyline remains extremely similar throughout the movie adaptation and upholds the same refreshingly modern and progressive feel the book creates. Simon and Blue’s struggle to navigate a newly gay relationship is a love story both readers and viewers have been deprived of for far too long.


The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton / Directed by Francis Ford Coppola (2005 Extended Edition)

Description: Ponyboy Curtis lives on the poorer side of town and is therefore labeled a “Greaser” along with his two older brothers and their friends. Constantly bumping heads with the richer “Socs” leads to a collision as well as bringing together of rival gangs divided by wealth. 

Ever since I first read this story at 14 years old it has been my all time favorite book. The novel’s film adaptation has two versions, the original 1983 version and the 2005 extended version. Though both stay true to the book, I much prefer the extended cut as there are 22 minutes of additional footage that do the novel far more justice. The story told is a timeless one about peer pressure, identity, and rebellion. It lays out the groundwork for the young adult genre we know today. Both the written and screen version of Ponyboy portrays a relatable, richly deep and sensitive character struggling to fit into a world he's not so sure he understands anymore. Plus, let's be real with a cast including young Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze to look at, can you really go wrong?


The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky / Directed by Stephen Chbosky


Description: High school freshman Charlie begins writing anonymous letters to a stranger in order to cope with his depression and loneliness. Eventually, he meets two seniors that become his friends and starts writing about his time with them.

I enjoyed both the book and movie tremendously, as it is truly a tragic yet heartwarming story told wonderfully through both words and visuals. The film perfectly captures Charlie’s overwhelming feeling of adolescence and actually showcases the characters in the movie just as much, if not more compelling than in the book. Though short the book packs a lot of emotion the movie manages to translate through scenes such as the friends’ group dance to 'Come on Eileen', Patrick's public fight with his closeted boyfriend and ultimately Charlie's emotional and heart-wrenching breakdown. I can confidently say this is one of the best book to film adaptations I have seen to date. If you haven’t seen it yet, then what the heck are you doing? Go watch it!


Movie Adaptations I Did Not Enjoy


The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger / Directed by Ari Sandel

Description: Bianca Piper is a witty and content high schooler with good friends by her side. That is until her home life starts crumbling, and she finds herself using sex with school man slut and DUFF labeler Wesley Rush as an escape from reality.

I read this book years before the movie came out and really enjoyed the story. In the novel I found Bianca to be funny and cynical which made for an interesting read in itself. Though what really added to Bianca's character was her use of dark humor as a cover up for an emotional past she struggled to deal with. The movie almost completely ignores this aspect as it changes everything about Bianca's background including her relationship with Wesley. The movie manages to delete all the parts of the book that make it “real” and instead turn it into a big high school cliche. The book also touches on more mature issues as Bianca finds herself dealing with the emotional and physical confusion of a sexual relationship she uses as a distraction. What makes me the angriest is the movie manages to kill all the parts that make this novel unique and relatable and turn it into a surface deep story about a less pretty girl liking a hotter boy.


My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult / Directed by Nick Cassavetes (WARNING SPOILER)

Description: 13-year-old Anna Fitzgerald’s sole purpose for being born was to serve as a medical guinea pig for her older sister who has been dying of cancer. She eventually takes legal action against her parents in an attempt to be free from it all.

The biggest and honestly most story destroying change this movie adaptation makes is changing the deaths of the two sisters around. The book takes a shocking twist when instead of having cancer-ridden sister Kate die, her younger “sister’s keeper” Anna passes away in a car crash after becoming legally free of being her sister’s medical guinea pig. To make the ending even more tragic, Anna and Kate’s father is the one on call for the accident, ultimately failing to save his youngest daughter’s life. This change not only erases an important shock factor but loses an emotional impact the story desperately craved.


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins / Directed by Gary Ross

Description: In futuristic North America, known as Panem, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister's place in The Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live T.V. One boy and one girl are chosen from 13 different districts, but only one comes out alive.

I am a huge book nerd (as you can probably tell by now) and have always loved this novel, so when the movie followed I was definitely excited to see the story come to life. However, I soon realized the entire theme of the novel seemed to change as the movie focused more on Katniss being in control of her own destiny rather than being thrown into a leadership role bigger than herself. The movie also fails to mention the Hellhounds released into the arenas eyes resembling those of the other dead tributes. Though small, it is something Katniss notices and is thoroughly freaked out by, leaving this out fails to showcase the games truly terrifying and haunting manipulation tactics. 

Hopefully, this article inspired you to pick up a great book, or watch an equally great movie, or both!