Friday, March 11, 2016

Weres Wanna Know: Do you read the book before you see the movie?

Weres Wanna Know is a new discussion feature where we share a topic that's been on our minds and invite you to share your thoughts as well.

I've been watching several new shows based on books recently and it's got me thinking about adaptations. I know lots of people who read The Martian before the movie came out last year. And I guess the world is full of people who want to do that since the movie tie-in version of the book always comes out well before the film does. But I've never been one of those people.

I've also heard of people who absolutely refuse to see a movie or TV show for fear that it will ruin their favorite book. I'm not one of those either. 
Do you read the book before you see the movie?
 I suspect I'm an odd duck when it comes to adaptations. I don't have a preference about whether I read the book first or not, though I think I wind up seeing the movie first more often. It seems like everything is based on a book or a comic lately. Sometimes the movie or show makes me want to read the book, but not always.

For example, I saw all of the Twilight movies and had no desire to read the books before or after. I just didn't really need to know anything else about that world. Don't throw things at me, but I kind of feel the same way about Harry Potter. (I did actually read the last two books of the series before the movies were released. My mom gave me a copy of Half-Blood Prince and said I should read at least one of the books. And of course once I read it I had to read the next one because that's how I am with series.) I know that not everything in the books made it into the movies, but I don't feel like I'm missing anything.

In other cases, the movie gets me interested in the world and the characters and makes me want to know more. The Mortal Instruments movie was one of those. It's not the greatest movie, but it made me go "hey, I like that idea." The Shadowhunters TV show goes into more detail and might have been enough to satisfy my curiosity if I didn't already want to read the books. In that case what I'm interested in is figuring out how some of the changes, like making Clary eighteen instead of sixteen, affect the story. 

The Magicians did something similar, changing the characters from high school seniors to college seniors. That change grabbed my attention. Is there just as much sex and drugs in the books? (I'm assuming that the reason for the age change was to make that behavior more acceptable.) Now I really want to read the book and find out.  

I recently read that The 100 show started before the book was published. That grabbed my attention too. How much did they know about the books' story line and how much did the show influence the books? I'm much more interested in reading the books than I was before I knew that. I haven't actually read the books, or any of the others I just mentioned, yet though.

I started the Sookie Stackhouse series after watching the first two seasons of True Blood on Netflix. At the time I think eight books had released and I read them all multiple times before I started watching season three live on HBO. But I never read a new Sookie book during the True Blood season. Because the show was so different from the books, especially in the later seasons, I didn't want to get them confused. I also thought it was interesting to see how the show started influencing the books later on.

I read all thirteen books of the Bitten series before the show aired. In that case, I've been most interested in how the writers would handle the third season, which is airing now. The stars of the show are not the main characters in book three. So other than a time jump, which I would have hated, what do you do in season three? I'm not sure I love the direction they chose, but I do appreciate the fact that the ideas behind it come from the later books in the series.

I guess that for me, the book and the show are really two separate animals. If I just love the characters and want to spend more time with them, I can just read the book again or watch the movie again. For me to want to do both, I need them to be different. I need some questions unanswered by the first incarnation to compel me to seek out the second. Or some dramatic difference between the two that inspires me to compare and contrast. So while a lot of people would flip out if their favorite literary character were suddenly gender-swapped or living on another planet in the movie adaptation, it would make me a lot more likely to read the book.

Do you have to read the book before you see the movie or TV show? 
Why or why not? Let's discuss!

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  1. I'm on the other end of the spectrum. For the most part, I want to read the book before watching the movie/tv show. The only times I don't is when I'm not interested in reading the book at all.

    1. It's weird how sometimes the movie looks good but not the book. Maybe it's just that the smaller time investment makes you more likely to take a risk?

  2. I usually read the books first just because I read them before a movie was even dreamt of. I know I've seen some movies based on books I haven't read like the Jack Reacher movie with Tom Cruise. I generally don't go back and read the book. I basically consider movies/tv shows entirely separate from the books and that way I'm not disappointed as so many are. I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy and enjoyed them MUCH more than the books which I found a boring slog. I disliked True Blood at first as a HUGE Southern Vampire fan, but when I separated it from the books in my mind and just went with it I found it very enjoyable, occasionally in a train wreck kind of way.

    1. Jack Reacher is a good example. That's a genre I don't usually read so I'd be a lot less likely to be interested in the book even if I loved the movie. Though I did add the Raylan Givens books to my library wish list after watching Justified.

      And yes, I agree that especially the later seasons of True Blood, which took very little from the books, could have a certain train wreck quality ;)

  3. As a general rule, I prefer to read the books before getting to TV shows and movies. I have a hard time with books once I've seen the movies. I haven't tried this in a really long time, so it might be different now, but that was how it has been for me in the past.

    I have seen the previous TV mini series of IT by Stephen King and I plan on listening to the audiobook this year. I want to watch it before it is remade.

    I did recently watch the TV show Jessica Jone series on Netflix. That made me want more, so I requested the graphic novel from my library. Jessica Jones, the show, was only a teeny tiny piece of the novel.

    I agree with you that Bitten the show and the books are not the same beast, especially this season. Each season, starting with the first one, they have diverted from the books more and more and I've enjoyed the show less and less each season. I really liked the actors, I think they were perfect for their characters. I really don't like Jeremy this season. I do like some of the other plotlines, like why Elena is the only female werewolf. They covered something that was never in the books, and I thought it was a plausible solution.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    1. I think this season of Bitten is based, very loosely, on From Russia With Love, the short set just after the end of Thirteen. The relationship with the Russian pack seems to be working out differently in the show. But I think that's where Roman suggests the explanation for Elena surviving.


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