I'm not someone who rushes to the cinema when I see a book to movie adaptation - actually, I'm not someone who rushes to the cinema at all (one visit in the last 13 years) - but I do like to catch the movie versions of books I've read on TV or Netflix at some stage.
With that in mind, I thought I'd go through some of the adaptations on Netflix at the moment and compare them to the books - just in time for the weekend so you can choose one or two to watch.
Me Before You
Released in 2012, Me Before You is a novel about Louisa Clarke, a young woman who lives with family who are financially dependent on her. She takes a job as a carer in order to bring in more money, and finds herself looking after Will Traynor - a man who was paralysed from the neck down after an accident. Will is bitter, angry, and rude - but Louisa's having none of it, she was sent to do a job and that's exactly what she's going to do. This looks like a light, fluffy book - it's really not, it deals with some huge issues and some darker themes.
The film version arrived in 2016, starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin as the lead characters. It stays fairly true to the book, so if you've read the book first then the film won't bring any huge surprises. It's an enjoyable film, the cast are good and the dialogue is sharp and witty. There are a couple of darker elements in the book that aren't present here, but the movie works well as it is.
Divergent by Veronica Roth was released in 2011, the first of a trilogy. It's dystopian fiction, and focuses on teenager Beatrice Prior. In this post-apocalyptic version of Chicago, teenagers must choose a faction when they come of age. There are five to choose from - Amity, Dauntless, Abnegation, Erudite and Kandor. There are different qualities associated with each faction (selflessness, bravery, etc). Someone who doesn't fit in is known as "Divergent" and immediately in danger.
The movie was released in 2014 and stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Zoe Kravitz and Kate Winslet. There are some differences between the book and movie - the book is actually a lot more graphic and violent, this is toned down for the movie. I thought the cast were well chosen, and the story was exciting to watch. The second film in the trilogy, Insurgent, is also on Netflix, and that was enjoyable enough too. Avoid the third film - they split the last book Allegiant into two parts, released one part (awful), then never made part 2. As a standalone movie, Divergent works well.
Safe Haven is a 2010 novel by Nicholas Sparks about a woman named Katie, who comes to a small coastal town to escape something in her past. There, she meets single father Alex, a widowed shop owner. As Katie begins to let her guard down, her past starts to catch up with her, putting her new life and Alex at risk.
The film version of this was released in 2013 and I have seen it six times. It's pure cheese - it really plays on your emotions (as is Nicholas Sparks' speciality) - but I LOVED it. It stars Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel in the lead roles, and they are perfect. There are some niggly changes from the book (and there's a really ridiculous part that features heavily in both) but overall I enjoyed the movie much more than the book, so I think fans of this kind of film will like it. It's perfect for when you just want something easy to concentrate on.
The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) is a teen novel written by Kody Keplinger when she was 17, and released in 2010. It's about teenager Bianca Piper, who is horrified when "man-whore" (her words) Wesley dubbs her "The DUFF" (designated ugly fat friend) of her group. She's even more horrified when she begins to fall for Wesley...
I didn't really enjoy this book - the plot was all over the place and Bianca was confused and scattered. Her mother was a horrible character and some of Bianca's actions felt like they were plot devices rather than natural responses.
However. I LOVE the movie . It stars Mae Whitman (who is one of my favourite actresses), Robbie Amell, and - klaxon - ALLISON JANNEY. It was Allison's involvement that prompted me to watch the movie - and it's almost unrecognisable from the book. In the movie, there's no sex, there's no using people as "distractions", it's updated for a social media obsessed generation and it gives a much better message about being yourself. Plus, it's funny.
P.S. I Love You
P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern was originally released in book form in 2004. It focuses on Holly, a young widow who is unable to move on with her life after her husband Gerry dies. When letters from Gerry begin to mysteriously arrive with directions for Holly to follow, she begins to love life again. I read this when it was released, I was 21 at the time (the same age Cecelia was when she wrote it) and I enjoyed it, I thought it was a great idea for a story.
The movie version was released in 2007 and stars Gerard Butler, Hilary Swank, Lisa Kudrow and James Marsters (yep, Spike). Gerard Butler's accent is inexplicable (he calls Holly "Hallie") and there are some major plot holes (posting something to Ireland without putting the county on it - yep, that'll get there...). This is one of those movies I watch when I want to switch my brain off and just relax for an hour and a half - perfect hangover viewing.
The Woman in Black
A novella released in 1983, The Woman in Black is a great gothic ghost story by Susan Hill. It's set in a small English town, with a mysterious ghostly woman supposedly foreshadowing the death of children. It's told by Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor who was sent to the town for work. It's creepy and atmospheric.
The 2012 film version stars Daniel Radcliffe and has many changes from the book. In the film, Arthur is still sent to the town for work, but the events leading up to that are different, as are the events in the town. It's still a great story, and I enjoyed it, I found it suitably spooky and thought it played out well. The sequel (The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death) is also on Netflix but I haven't seen it.
There are loads more movies that I haven't seen yet - Pride, Prejudice and Zombies is there, plus Brooklyn, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Wild and many more.
I'd love to know what your favourite book-to-movie adaptation is, for me it has to be Stephen King's Misery - I think it was spot on, the acting was perfect and the story was brilliant.