Conversations with Friends: Book vs. TV Show

I love doing post where I compare books and their adaptations, so welcome Conversations with Friends into the fold. This is the second time I’m doing this for a Sally Rooney story, so I might have a lot of … thoughts.

General Plot

College students and former lovers Frances and Bobbi get swept up in the (romantic) life of married couple Nick and Melissa. Can they find themselves and the relationships they seek or will it all end in sorrow?

CW: adultery, self-harm, depression, blood, endometriosis, mention of miscarriage, alcoholism (+for the show especially: graphic nude scenes)

Book

I have an odd relationship with Sally Rooney‘s books. I love their impact on me, but I don’t always enjoy the content. This time, knowing at least a little bit of what I would be getting into with her style of writing, I felt more prepared to face it all. Reading it was still emotionally taxing and I don’t think that this is a story that’s necessarily for everyone.

Generally, an entire book about adultery with somewhat unlikable characters isn’t exactly a tale with universal appeal. That fact alone has put some people off reading it and I can’t blame them. However, as I mentioned, I felt much more ready when I started Conversations with Friends and found it flowing easier than Normal People. It could potentially be connected to the fact that this was one continuous story from one sole POV, that of Frances, instead of something that spanned ages with multiple time jumps.

Even if one can overlook the theme of “adultery” though, which is fairly easy if you approach this as an exploration of what “commitment” can mean to any one person and whether open relationships might even be for the better at times, there’s still the issue of it being incredibly hard to root for the characters. We are “trapped” in Frances’ head and while I could see some relatable traits in her, she is extremely self-absorbed and doesn’t always cast the people in her life in the best light – despite idolizing quite a few of them. She completely misjudged the way she feels inside and how different the things that she conveys to the outside world are. I still don’t know what it is she really wants, because sometimes I doubt that she truly understands that her actions have an impact/consequenes.
A lot of what drove me, as a reader, nuts was the simple fact that every single person in this novel was terrible at communication. If they had just openly shared their emotions and concerns, a lot of trouble could have been prevented, but in the end, you can barely blame them? They feel human, real and authentic. There’s things I don’t want to talk about or where I feel like I don’t want to burden someone else with what I’m going through, there could be so many reasons.

Ultimately I know that reading a Sally Rooney book will always leave me with nervous tension and a tightness in my chest. It seems so simple, but there is so much complexity hidden in seemingly plain sentences. The emotions of everyone go so deep and are so layered, but like many people in real life, they struggle to express themselves correctly. Adding to that the fact that a Rooney book always has an open end, ready to be interpreted in a million different ways by each reader, you can’t help but have the story be a lingering companion long after the last page has been turned.

Rating: 4/5 stars! I cannot explain why I gave it such a high ranking, it’s mostly just the amount of inner turmoil Rooney causes in me.

Page count: 323
Publisher: Faber & Faber

*For more information on the book, head over to Goodreads or Storygraph!*

TV Show

Normal People was one of the most accurate adaptations I had ever experienced – be it in terms of story, dialogue or just sheer vibes – and Conversations with Friends is definitely up there in terms of faithfulness to the source material as well. Seen as the shows were helmed by a close to identical creative team, I know that expectations were really high, but also suspect that people were bound to be let down because of them.

I understand that people wanted it to be more Irish, but I thought that the different accents made sense in the context of the TV show. I personally was really happy with all the cast choices. Everyone looked the part, fit the age group and helped in creating the awkward tension that is so key to the production. (Also, Joe Alwyn’s voice is just divine. I could listen to him talk all day long.) These shows live off of vibes and I thought they were captured perfectly again, giving each interaction meaning and weight, even if it doesn’t go smoothly or the way you want it to at all.

Something I have to criticize though and that felt a bit hindering for my enjoyment was the pacing. While it has the same number of episodes as Normal People (12 in total) and only a run time of 30 minutes each, it felt incredibly slow. I ascribe that to the numerous exposition and silent, lingering shots on Frances. Yes, she is our main character and I could fill the silences with the inner monologue I remembered from the book almost word by word, but I only just read the book. Had it been longer, had I forgotten more of the details, these scenes would have often felt pointless.

In general, I noticed that I often filled in the meaning of certain interactions by remembering what Frances’ thoughts were in that moment in the book. While I think that a lot of scenes were softened and maybe even lightened a little bit because of that, I couldn’t help but wonder what my experience as a non-reader would have looked like. I feel like some of the vast complexity might have gone out the window and not translated to just the visuals.

They also completely missed the opportunity to have a cameo of Normal People‘s Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne on the show. In the book, there’s a friend of Frances and Bobbi called Marianne, who they meet up with to chat about her trip to Brooklyn. I just *know* in my heart that a lot of Normal People fans would have appreciated that nod to the previous show, even if it’s not confirmed that the books are connected.

Lastly, I feel like I should praise the music coordinator again. Some excellent choices once more and I’m not just saying that because they got Phoebe Bridgers to do a song (and she feels connected to the Rooney universe by dating Paul Mescal).

Conclusion

While Conversations with Friends didn’t stack up to the phenomenon that was the Normal People adaptation, I still don’t think there is a clear winner or loser. The two go hand in hand and each medium enriches the other.


Previous book to adaptation comparisons:


Have your read or watched Conversations with Friends yet? Let’s talk about that!

Along for the Ride: Book vs. Movie

Movie poster of Along for the Ride with the text "book vs. movie"

What is better – the book or the movie? It’s an age old question that we bookworms ask ourselves and I’m happy to share my perspective on the novel Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen as well as its Netflix adaptation. It’s been a while since I’ve done a post like this, but I hope you’ll love diving into this as much as I did reading, watching and now writing the post for it.

General Plot

Ever since her parents started fighting and eventually divorced, Auden hasn’t had a full night of sleep. She did, however, do everything that was expected of her. Got good grades, excelled in academics, attended her mother’s soirees rather than hang out with people her own age … forgetting to be a kid/teen in the process. Now, it’s the summer before college and Auden decides to spend it with her father and stepmother in a quaint beach town. What promises to be a carefree summer proves to have more challenges in store for her, especially after meeting fellow insomniac Eli.

Book

Some of you already know this, but Along for the Ride was my first foray into the writing of Sarah Dessen. My expectations were pretty high, just because so many of my friends and fellow bloggers have gotten lost in and fallen in love with her stories. I can confidently say that I devoured and enjoyed the book, but that I was also painfully aware that this was written more than a decade ago.

The way “girly” things were constantly put down and judged, even after some growth on several characters parts, just really nagged me. A lot of Auden’s POV was very much along the lines of “I’m not like other girls” and that was honestly quite frustrating. I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen in books today at all, but I think we’re more aware of that kind of internalized misogyny and try to avoid it.

Auden was hard to love at first, but it made sense in the context of the story and how she was raised. I loved seeing her warm to the people in her life and while her love story with Eli was cute, I preferred her interactions with her stepmother, Heidi (I did not and probably never will like her biological parents in the book). I also appreciated that Auden’s friendship played a huge role in the book. In general, the teen romance came second to the parental struggles for me. I don’t know if that has something to do with my age or because I thought that these conflicts were better developed, but those were definitely the emotionally hard-hitting scenes. Complex family structures will forever be my jam.

Still, Eli is a big part of the picture and something about their late night adventures just really appealed to me. I wasn’t a very adventurous kid myself, even though I’m sure a couple people would like to disagree on that, but something about the way their relationship came to be satisfied a yearning within me. Nonetheless, I kept wishing to know more about Eli. To maybe follow his perspective every once in a while to truly understand his pain.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars! True to the story, I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish reading it.

Page count: 383
Publisher: Viking Books

*For more information on the book, head over to Goodreads or Storygraph!*

Movie

When the movie started, for the first ten minutes or so, I was certain this was going to be a super faithful adaptation and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I liked the book alright, but I knew that it wouldn’t hurt to update a lot of the material. The longer I watched though, the more changes I noted and … I think most of them are for the better?

The main story still stays completely the same, barely anything major differs from the source material, but a movie only gives you a limited amount of time to tell a story and Along for the Ride is on the longer side of YA fiction. There had to be some decisions made and I’m on board with most of them. Here are the most notable ones:

  • In the book, Auden has an older brother, which is not the case in the movie. He is the kind of boy, who can seemingly do no wrong and does all the carefree and irresponsible activities Auden never dared to. While I think he was an interesting counterpart in the book, I think it would have diluted what they were trying to tell here. He also tended to jetset around the globe and it would have just been too complicated to incorporate for not a very big payoff.
  • When Auden first arrives, she goes to The Tip, a place where all the youth comes to party. She ends up making out with this guy, Jake, which sparks a lot of drama. That does happen in both stories, but felt way less annoying in the movie because of one big change – Jake is never mentioned to be Eli’s brother. I’m not saying this never happens in real life, but it did make things unnecessarily uncomfortable, when there was plenty of Jake-drama to be had without that little detail.
  • The entire third act conflict – which is one of my most dreaded elements of romantic storylines – was handled so much better. By cutting some characters and instead using already established ones, they tightened up the relationships and even made some people more likable to me. It also wasn’t dragged out over weeks, but rather quickly resolved through some internal reflection. I was here for that!

I really loved this movie. It made me miss being by the ocean, which is a general state of being for me, but was amplified here. It made me want to go on adventures with strangers in the night and made me reminisce when I did some stupid stuff when I was younger.  Due to the time constraints, there wasn’t as much depth and exploration of the family troubles, but I think that Eli got a better third act instead, which was maybe also necessary.

I still would have liked to dig deeper on some parts. I don’t want to say that relationships were rushed, but I definitely felt like I was connected more to the characters because of my knowledge from the books rather than what I learned through the movie. Maggie, for example, is beautiful and warm in the movie, but I think that I knew her even better in the books. She’s a key figure, but we definitely don’t harp on her story as much. I’d still watch it again in a heartbeat though!

As a last note, I just have to say that this was some really perfect casting! Everyone was exactly how I envisioned them to be, down to little mannerisms. Kudos to the casting director!

Conclusion

For me, the movie is a winner. I missed some of the deeper emotional bits from the book, but much of the things that annoyed me were changed for the better and I have to give credit for that. Sofia Alvarez (who adapted the book for the screenplay and directed the movie, but was also involved with TATBILB) knows how to transform books into lovely movies.

Dance party in the movie Along for the Ride
credit: Netflix

Previous book to adaptation comparisons:


Do you agree with my assessment? Have you read and/or watched Along for the Ride? Let’s talk about that!

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Book Review)

Publisher: Washington Square Press
Page Count
: 302

CW: loss of a loved one, suppressed trauma

I’m slowly making my way through Taylor Jenkins Reid’s bibliography, albeit in reverse order. I just wanted to make sure that I read everything before their respective adaptations released (yes, that means The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is next. I will actually get to it. Don’t worry!) and I haven’t been mad at any of her books yet. Quite the opposite – I found everything I’ve read by TJR really human and easy to relate to – even if I did enjoy some stories more than others.
So far, I think I might like One True Loves best!? Malibu Rising hit some great notes for me and you all know that Daisy Jones & The Six won’t ever be my favorite, but I felt strangely connected to Emma’s struggle in this book, despite never having been in anything even remotely similar to her situation.

One True Loves is told with a Before and After, with POV shifts and at quite a fast pace. In the beginning, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to connect to some of the more emotional parts, simply because we were rushing through her love stories at an exorbitant speed, but I massively enjoyed the pace and never felt like I missed out on anything important. When we started, I thought that this woman was faced with an impossible choice and I had no idea who she was going to pick, if she was going to pick any of them, but the conclusion made sense and I loved that for her. This was just a simple “love triangle”, but rather an emotional tornado that held so much truth, honesty and vulnerability. I was in awe of the communication skills of the characters, because bad communication is a pet peeve of mine, but they articulated their needs, wants and fears so well. Of course, sometimes that wasn’t easy and/or well received, but the openness with which this hardship was approached was beautiful and heart-breaking at the same time.

“It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? That every single person on this planet could lose their one true love and live to love again? It means the one you love could love again if they lost you.”

It’s difficult for me to put into words what this book accomplished to evoke in me. It asks the question: What is true love? Something so slippery and hard to define, but something that felt so clear and easy here. It also dealt with change, how we don’t stay the same and therefore our partners and surroundings don’t either. Nothing, if you really think about it, ever does stay the same and this book made it okay. It doesn’t mean that what happened before has to be tarnished or bad somehow, you can still love and cherish it and appreciate it for getting you to where you are and who you are now. Even at the danger of repeating myself, that was such a beautiful gift from this book!

“I have changed over time. That’s what people do. People aren’t stagnant. We evolve in reaction to our pleasures and our pains.”

Lastly, you know how I am when it comes to grief – I seek these books like a bloodhound, relishing in the tears I’m about to shed and One True Loves? Such great grief rep. Obviously losing a loved one is different for everyone and not even my own approach is the same every time something devastating happens, but I felt this was such a good approach to the topic and I really enjoyed the pain that came with diving into the matter.

Big shout out to the family in this book especially, because they did the best they could, which is so hard sometimes.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Highly recommend this if you are into complex love stories and just really human explorations of relationships (not even just romantic ones).


As I’ve mentioned previously, One True Loves has been adapted as a movie, starring Phillipa Soo, Luke Bracey and Simu Liu in the lead roles. There’s unfortunately no trailer yet, but I can already see everything unfold before my inner eye with these cast members. I’m genuinely excited for it and hope that the film will capture the same emotions, vulnerability and torn feeling. Not much more can be said for now, especially since there’s no official release date other than it being in 2022 and only one still has made it onto my timeline so far. I’m genuinely excited though! The cast seems fantastic either way.

One True Loves movie still of Phillipa Soo as Emma and Simu Liu as Sam


Have you read this TJR book? Do you want to? Where would it fall in your ranking? Let’s chat!

Book to Screen Adaptations 2022

I did this last year and it was a really popular feature. Not all the adaptations really released or happened at the time that I said they would in the post, but we all know what’s really to blame for that (starts with p and ends with andemic). Either way, I hope you’ll enjoy this post, taking a look at potential 2022 book to screen adaptations!

Disclaimer: All cast details and dates are subject to change! I used the information I found as of writing this post on January 21, 2022!

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Thursday Movie Picks: Book Adaptations

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

Today we shall talk about Book Adaptations, which most of you will know, is a topic I’ve talked about on numerous occasions here. Seen as this blog is dedicated to books, TV shows, movies and really anything I can think about, it does tend to be a repeat subject.


Here are some examples of previous posts regarding adaptations:


I’m going to try my very best to not to repeat myself too much from previous posts (and to stick to movies and not TV shows). There’s not really a theme here, other than that I have actually read all the books for the movies as well as watched them. (Because there’s still some books I haven’t watched and some films I haven’t read … if that makes sense.)

Stardust

Stardust is one of my absolute favorite comfort movies and I can watch it pretty much any day, whenever it is on. There’s no such thing as too much Stardust. I also have to say that I enjoy the movie more than the book, because I didn’t actually connect to Neil Gaiman’s writing at all. I know he is brilliant and a much beloved author, but this book wasn’t really it for me. The movie is where it’s really at!

Charlie St. Cloud

I read this book after watching the trailer, while I was doing my internship in the French countryside. Something about this story was just magical and although I think the movie didn’t capture that as well as the book, I still enjoyed both.

The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now is one of those cases where I thought I would really enjoy both, the movie and the book, but ended up feeling very confused about both. It’s not a fluffy teen romance at all, it has a deceptively amount of depth. It’s even quite sad …

Dumplin’

I cried watching and reading Dumplin’. It’s a really beautiful story, but it was interesting to see on what different aspects the two variations focused on. I remember the book featuring more of Bo (who I adore as a love interest), while the movie had a clear focus on the mother-daughter-relationship. Then again, how could you not utilize having Jennifer Aniston in your movie …

This Is Where I Leave You

I have a thing for grief explorations and complex family dynamics, so I was immediately drawn to This Is Where I Leave You. The book obviously has the room to go much more into depth on some of the relationships, which I missed in certain scenes, but generally, it was a well done movie. Some things were even improved (thank the lord we didn’t have to hear Judd’s horny thoughts all day long).


What are some of book to movie adaptations you like? Let’s talk about those!

TMP – TV Edition: Books I Want to See Adapted Into a TV Series

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

As it so happens, we change it up once per month and talk about TV shows instead of movies and today gives me the great opportunity to talk about books I would like to see adapted into a TV series. There’s many, many I would like to see, but not all of them are suitable for the TV format. Many are better for movies, but I still have plenty of ideas. I’m going to try my very best not to go overboard. Emphasis on try. But to make it easier for myself, I’m going to stay in the SciFi and Fantasy realm.

Red Rising Saga by Pierce Brown

Those of you who have followed me for a while, know how much I adore this series. It grabs me every time and makes me feel emotions I usually don’t feel access that much. From what I know, it has been in the talk to be adapted for a movie, before Pierce Brown shut that down, because they would have changed the essence of the story too much. After that, I heard rumors of it being developed for TV, but news have been scarce on that front since.

Either way, I want a show and I hope they won’t make an animated one, because I want a live action one more. I especially hope they will ignore the height difference between the different colors and will cast Richard Harmon as my favorite Sevro. I’ve been championing for this for years!

My Red Rising reviews:

Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab

August Flynn is one of my all time favorite characters. I just want to adopt and coddle him, but I also genuinely think that the Monsters of Verity series would lend itself well for TV. There is a lot of freedom of what could be explored beyond the two books and a rich world full of intriguing monsters and heroes. I’d sure love to see it come to life on the screen.

My Monsters of Verity reviews:

Wolf by Wolf duology by Ryan Graudin

I think we’ve seen that alternate reality shows about WWII work quite well, just look at The Man from the High Castle. This is obviously targeted at a younger audience, but would raise great talking points. While the book had several issues with the German language, that’s not anything that wouldn’t be easy to remedy in a show. The characters were great for sure!

My reviews for the duology:

Jackaby Series by William Ritter

Jackaby is like Sherlock meets Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency? Two shows I absolutely adored and would therefore love to watch something in a similar realm. The books are definitely not that well known, but they are so much fun!

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1) by William Ritter Beastly Bones: A Jackaby Novel 02 : Ritter, William: Amazon.de: Bücher Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby Series #3) by William Ritter, Paperback | Barnes &  Noble® The Dire King ( Jackaby Series #4) by William Ritter, Hardcover | Barnes &  Noble®

My Jackaby (mini-)reviews:

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

While I definitely don’t agree with everything Maggie Stiefvater says on the internet and elsewhere, I think a show could do great things with her books as a guideline (but not sticking to it entirely faithfully if you ask me). Somehow, I just picture them on a small network like syfy with a fresh new cast of faces. I’d really like to see someone appreciate my ghost boy.

My Raven Cycle reviews:

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

Alright, so this is me cheating a little bit, because Netflix IS releasing Lore Olympus as an animated series soon. For those who don’t know, it’s a web comic that you can read for free here. It’s a modern retelling of the tale of Hades and Persephone and I have fallen utterly in love with it. However, I’m a sucker for live action adaptations, so I’ve started to cast the characters in my head already.

So, aside from Geraldine Viswanathan as Persephone and Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Hades, I’d like to put forward Sam Claflin as Zeus and Paul Mescal as Poseidon. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.


What are some books you would like to see as TV shows? Let’s talk in the comments!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #60

Before the end of the month, I definitely wanted to do another of these posts to showcase what I had been watching. As I’ve gotten back into network television and I don’t tend to mention these shows on here (but feel free to always assume that I am up to date with most of the weekly releases), this post won’t be super long. Enjoy!

Panic (Season 1)

Panic is an Amazon Original show based on the YA novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver. I actually read this book years ago (I think all the way back in 2014???), but I honestly can’t remember much about it and I know that to be true, because I was genuinely shocked by some of the twists on the show.

Where the book was written from a dual POV (Heather and Dodge), the show focuses on even more key players of the game Panic with a clear bias towards Heather and her perspective though. Having so many characters the audience is supposed to care about can be tricky and I don’t think it fully managed to make us invested in all of them. I found a couple performances really intriguing and even liked minor side characters, but definitely not all of the mains. The relationship between Heather and Ray was something that kept me interested. I have a soft spot for the boy who is always presumed to be the worst, but who actually really cares.

As for the premise in general, I find it hard to judge these teens for playing a game as stupid as Panic. First of all, this wouldn’t be the first time a really upsetting tradition was created in a small-knit and poor community, no matter how reckless participating is, and secondly, I truly believe that these characters thought taking part was the only way out for them. Of course, the thrill-seekers of the bunch are morons for playing a potentially lethal game, but if you had nothing to your name and all you wanted was to escape a place and your circumstances … maybe you would consider it too?

All in all, I really enjoyed the show. I binged it in one go and liked the thrill that came with some of the challenges. The acting was wooden in part, which didn’t help me connect to the characters, but as I said above, there were a couple performances I really enjoyed. The game in itself is something you just have to believe in no matter the plot holes for this work. A lot of the mystery is just for the mystery’s sake and the viewers know even less than the characters while watching, which can be frustrating at times. Still, I would watch another season.

Special (Season 2)

I had a great time watching Special when it first released on Netflix. I think they managed to get to do longer episodes this season (even if it was only by a little) and it helped strengthen their narrative. We weren’t stuck with last season’s plot at all, but naturally evolved with the characters. So much of it was finding out who you want to spend your time with after you’ve learned to love yourself, which isn’t an easy feat to begin with, but you might not want to compromise or settle. Kim’s love life was a highlight for me, because I adore that she just had men worshiping her. I love to see big girl love.

Army of the Dead

Not going to lie, this isn’t my genre at all. I’m not into zombie movies in general (Warm Bodies being the rare exception), but I genuinely wanted to see how Matthias Schweighöfer would fare among these other Hollywood actors. He must have made a great impression since his character is getting a prequel movie, which he will also direct and I found his character a really good comic relief.

In general, this movie was much more fun that I thought it would be. It has some weaknesses, but the zombies were different than the ones I’m used to and I felt entertained, which is the most important part anyway. I can see how this would lead to an entire cinematic zombie universe of its own, because there is definitely potential for sequels, especially some that are set outside of the US.

Doors

I don’t know why I felt to watch an anthology horror movie with extraterrestrial doors in the middle of the night, but I did. It weirdly gave me annihilation vibes and everything about the sound design and the visuals is specifically made to make you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I was a little put off by the way writing was incorporated in the movie, but it definitely added to the unique style. I didn’t end up loving it, because it made me feel super off and wasn’t a very satisfying watch in my opinion, but I don’t regret checking it out.


I’m currently watching the second season of Ragnarok, so you can be sure that I will talk about that once the next post rolls around. What are you watching? Do you plan to view or have you already seen any of the things I mentioned?

My Thoughts on the Shadow and Bone Netflix Adaptation!

It has been no secret just how very excited I was for the Shadow and Bone series (as well as the Six of Crows duology) to be adapted by Netflix. While the streaming platform doesn’t always get it right, I was really optimistic early on and the trailers looked fantastic. Before I watched it, though, I caught up on all the books as to really know what I am talking about (only Rule of Wolves is missing for me now, but that’s irrelevant for the show at the moment) and even before going into details on my thoughts, I think they did a great job!

Obviously, the Grishaverse is huge and vast and has quite the fanbase because of the books series. But not everyone has read those and Netflix offers a platform that exposes the material to millions of people all over the world. Not everyone will be happy with everything, but I would like share my personal opinions in the following post.

*I could not do this without going into detail on some topics, so this might not be for you if you want to go into the show with as little knowledge as possible. SPOILERS ahead!!!*

THINGS/CHANGES I DIDN’T LIKE

I want to get the “bad” things out of the way, because some of it really irked me. It did not overshadow my enjoyment entirely, because I binged the show in a day, but I find it necessary to point them out regardless.

  • Casting Jessie Mei Li as Alina was a beautiful choice. Jessie is a ray of sunshine and hence amazing to watch as the sun summoner. They have great chemistry with on screen partners and I’m so very glad they got cast for this role. In the books, Alina wasn’t biracial though. This was a choice made to bring more diversity to the on screen adaptation, but where they went wrong (in my opinion) was by adding anti-Asian slurs and racism to portray the treatment of people from Shu Han. Nowhere in the books was this kind of racism ever present and we are dealing with a Fantasy world where Alina already faces enough struggles and could have dealt with a number of different circumstances that made her feel othered if that was what they wanted to portray so badly. Every time they inserted a slur such as “rice-eater” or “half-breed” it felt forced and unnecessary and I imagine hurtful to certain audiences. The problem is that they never contextualize this behavior, because they simply claim that being at war with Shu Han is enough to warrant the hostility, but that’s really not the take they thought it was.
credit: Netflix
  • Amplifiers in the books, while still kind of barbaric, are jewelry made out of bones/scales/claws/etc. and can be anything from a necklace to a bracelet or ring. Grisha can only have one amplifier in their lifetime (yeah, I know exceptions exist) and can never take it off. The Grisha who killed the animal the amplifier is from has the power over it. I think that’s all pretty cut and clear, so, why did the show change them into some kind of body horror?
    When the Darkling puts the antlers on Alina, she does not get a badass necklace, but rather the antlers fuse into her collar bone, making it an extremely uncomfortable scene to watch. I worry about this change, not just because she eventually absorbs the antlers into her body entirely and they are not visible anymore at all, but also because it makes me feel that the producers thought putting a literal collar on a person was not horrific enough and they needed another violation of Alina’s body to showcase the Darkling’s evil nature. Apparently, people wouldn’t be put off enough by his disregard for consent and need to control everyone around him.
  • Speaking of the Darkling! Due to budget constraints and everyone adoring Ben Barnes (he is a great actor), they opted to not show the Demon in the Woods short story as part of a flashback, where the Darkling would have been only 10 years old, but rather showed a grown up Darkling. In that tidbit from the past, he seemed enamored with a Grisha called Luda, who did not exist in the books, but came across as a love interest in that scene. Her death causes the creation of the Fold, making it feel like fridging (where the girlfriend/wife/love interest of the male protagonist dies in order to propel his story). In an interview with Insider, the showrunner explicitly said they weren’t trying to do that and even actively tried to avoid it, but nothing in that scene told me they weren’t romantically involved. (You can read the interview here!)
    Also, I keep calling him the Darkling, because that’s how I knew him for 7 books. Yes, his first name is Aleksander, but in the books that’s revealed very late. His name is a mystery and Alina is the only person in that world to know it, which felt special, but here he just throws his name around like it means nothing. The show really humanised him a lot.
credit: Netflix

GENRAL STUFF I ENJOYED OR NOTICED

The following points that I will mention were neither huge mistakes nor masterful choices. I just collected some of my thoughts that I found interesting or necessary to mention to give you all a complete picture.

  • As someone who has read all the books, short stories and anthologies (Language of Thorns and Lives of Saints), I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the Grishaverse. However, had I been someone who didn’t have that prior knowledge, I could have easily seen myself struggle with some of the concepts. They really barely explained anything to do with Grisha orders, amplifiers or something as simple but vital as the belief systems (Fjerdan god vs. Ravkan sainsts etc.). I doubt that anyone could understand some of the important components to their full extent having none of that knowledge and background info. Whereas I understand it’s difficult to include, a little more would have been appreciated from my side.
  • While waiting for the show to release, I always said that I did not care about the faithfulness of the story, but rather about the accurate representation of the characters and their personality and I still stand by that. Yes, Jesper should have been played by a dark-skinned actor, but Kit Younger has his personality DOWN. And not just him, EVERYONE either behaved exactly like I imagined they would (even if they didn’t all look like they had in my head) or even improved on the characters by playing them softer and with more nuance and vulnerability (e.g. Matthias Helvar). I cannot wait to see who they will bring in for the twins, Nikolai and Wylan next season.
credit: Netflix
  • The overall pacing and the amount of story they packed into this first season was well handled. From what I heard, the showrunner has a three-season-plan, which would correlate nicely with the three Shadow and Bone books. I really hope that the next season would also start implementing the Six of Crows plot, because this was a nice prequel to their characters, but I need to see the big heist happening. However, since everything is more interconnected, they might change things up further and I’d be excited to see what that looks like.

SOME IMPROVEMENTS

In some cases, I even think that the show did better than the book. Having the ability to show several points of view, whereas Shadow and Bone the book only offered Alina’s side really gave them the chance to explore the characters some more. Also, it probably helped that the producers already knew about all the later books Leigh Bardugo wrote as well. Here’s some changes I thought worked well:

  • When I first read Shadow and Bone, I hated Zoya. She literally broke Alina’s ribs and just treated her terribly, because she was jealous. Early on in the books, there are few redeeming qualities to Zoya and while she improves over time, I always felt a grudge until I got her side of things in King of Scars. While she starts out similarly in the show, I was grateful that they allowed an insight into her backstory earlier in the season than in the books. She is such an important character, but I think audiences would have struggled later on, just like I did while reading, if they hadn’t softened her up.
  • I think I am part of a small group of people who actually liked Mal in the books, but I think Archie and the writing on the show made the character so much better. They scratched unnecessary and childish jealousy scenes (which was annoying but fine in the books, because they were younger) and genuinely made his connection to Alina seem sweet and fated. I’m so happy people are now actually rooting for them.
  • Milo the goat is the real MVP.

VERDICT

I loved seeing some of my favorite characters brought to life on the screen. My expectations were high and I could have easily been disappointed but I was really pleased with how everything came together. Shadow and Bone is by no means flawless, but the effort they put into wanting to do the material justice came through. I honestly didn’t know if I would understand the involvement of the crows before watching, but it was integrated beautifully and they provided some of the best parts of the season. If you enjoyed the books, I think you will like this as well. Even if you weren’t a huge fan of the Shadow and Bone books, but only enjoyed Six of Crows, I can easily see you liking this better. 

credit: Netflix

Previous Reviews from this books series and Leigh Bardugo’s work:


Have you watched Shadow and Bone yet? Do you plan to? What were some of your favorite and least favorite moments? Let’s talk!

Book to Screen Adaptations 2021

I feel like I am often skimming on the book content for the blog, but have plenty of movies and TV shows to talk about. In an effort to combine those elements, I wanted to share with you a post about 2021 book to screen adaptations. This list is neither complete nor have I read all the books the material will be based on. However, I am known for liking my movie covers and reading books once I have seen trailers, so, I want to share some that I found interesting.

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The Aftermath by Rhidian Brooks (Book Review + Movie Trailer)

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 325

I am struggling with how to even start this review. You all know how torn I am when it comes to the topic of books set during or closely after World War II. Some of my favourite reads treat that topic (check out Wolf by Wolf or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for some great examples) and I was ready to love and get my heart broken by The Aftermath as well. But somehow, that’s not what happened at all.

Rachael could find no solace in other people’s tales of woe. Pain was uniquely one’s own, and undiminished by a democracy of suffering.

The Aftermath certainly offers a perspective not too often shown. It deals with former enemies living in close quarters. With legitimate resentment and unwillingness to forgive and forget, while simultaneously needing to move on and let go. There is a constant push and pull as the story is mostly told from the confines of the families Morgan and Lubert, one English and one German. And that’s the whole point. These families have never done anything to each other per se, but their nationalities and what those countries have done during the war has led to loss on both sides and that in term to suffering. There are no real winners in war, so pain exists everywhere.

That is exactly what the book tried to show from as many angles as possible. There are complex moral questions to answer as you get confronted with what surely was the reality for many people. I am in no way EVER going to excuse the atrocities Germany (or Austria for that matter) has committed during the war, however, how can you judge every single person of a country for what the government did? How can you decide who has a clean slate and just did their best to survive or who willingly and eagerly participated? What about the children who were taught a certain mindset, sometimes too young to question what was going on – is their resentment towards the occupation justified?

And that is not all! The people who now want to rebuild the country and set it on a rightful path again, how much are they allowed to interfere really? If they disdain the entire populace, are they really able to help or are they making things worse? 

I’ve not met a German who has difficulty believing that they have been defeated, Wilkins. I think they have, to a man, accepted it, gladly, and with some relief. The real difference between them and us is that they have been comprehensively and categorically fucked, and they know it. It is we who are taking too long to adjust to that fact.

I don’t feel in any position to give or come up with proper answers here, but I was glad to have the book shine a light on those intricacies. I am not going to lie, some parts really hurt to read about. My grandmother was a young girl during the occupation and she had bad memories that haunted her until the end. I am not here to judge anyone’s right or wrong-doings, but I liked that the book showed that things weren’t that simple, that every side had its flaws.

However, why did I not love this book then? Everything felt very clinical and presented to me. There weren’t just the families, but also the Trümmerkinder (children living in the rubble), who basically started and finished the book and felt detached from everything else (despite providing a pivotal turning point for the story). While everyone had their part to play in showing what was going on, I had an immensely difficult time connecting to anyone in particular. While I was on board with some of the pain and resentment, some people felt manic and others had me furious at their unwillingness to adapt.

My biggest issue was probably the fact that the story just trickled along and then threw everything at you in the final 40 pages. I don’t mind introspective, slow stories. I don’t even mind it when nothing monumental happens at all and you just get a glimpse at a moment in time, but rushed endings have the tendency to ruin things for me. They never quite feel as satisfactory as the slower and intimate moments suggested it would all be thoroughly explained.

Fazit: 2.5/5 stars! An interesting view at post-war Germany that failed to fully capture me.

Now about the movie. I haven’t watched it yet, but I intend to at some point, because an actor I know has a role in it. However, I thought I would still share the trailer with you. From what I could see, it mainly focuses on the affair between the British wife of the colonel and the German man living in their requisitioned house. I love Alexander Skarsgard, so I don’t exactly mind that they didn’t use a German actor for the role (even though Alexander’s German does not sound authentic). Still, I could see almost all the characters from the book appear at one point or another. The piano music (especially in the second trailer) is also very much in tune with the book. It looks faithful enough, but I suspect that there wasn’t enough room in that one film to really explore all angles.


Have you read The Aftermath? Have you watched the movie? Let’s talk!