Is the Book Always Better? The Big Adaptations of 2018

Posted by Hayley on December 28, 2018
big 2019 books

We're all on Team Book here at Goodreads. But we're loyal, not oblivious. Every once in awhile, movie and television adaptations can be as good—or even maybe surpass—their source material.

With that in mind, we looked back at the adaptations that hit the big screen and the small screen this year. Do we think all of them were better than the book? Of course not! They did provide a lot of entertainment, though, from jump scares during a binge of Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House to laughter from the antics in Crazy Rich Asians.

Browse some of the top adaptations below, and let us know which ones you've seen in the comments! Were any of them better than the book?


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How many of these adaptations did you see, and which ones were your favorite? Let's talk in the comments!

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Comments Showing 1-50 of 99 (99 new)


Annie (Book Widow, Doomwitch) Definitely thought the 'To all the boys I've loved before' movie was better than the book. Wasn't the biggest fan of the book and its characters. And I think that 'Love Simon' was just as good as the book (Simon vs the homosapiens agenda). Both were amazing!


message 2: by Inga (new)

Inga I heard both Red Sparrow the book and the movie were awful in their own way. Myself, I've only read and watched Annihilation, both of which are so different, they could be considered separate works. I did like the book more, though.


message 3: by Nancy (new)

Nancy The movie for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was quite loosely adapted, but was probably good in it's own right (it's hard for me to judge since I wanted it to be more like the book)


message 4: by Lopa (new)

Lopa Ready Player One was such a good book. The movie totally didn't do it justice and changed enough around that it took away all that I liked about the book.

Annihilation was the total opposite. I read the book but I honestly don't remember much of it. It was one I forced myself to finish and not one I finished because I was enjoying it. But the movie on the other hand was amazing. I believe I read an interview with the director that he used the book as a starting point but didn't totally base the movie on the book. The ending and even the whole storyline leading up to the ending was a lot more interesting in the movie.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before movie was exactly like the book. I don't remember any differences. Both were fine.

Simon Vs. The Homosapien Agenda was one of the best books I read in 2017! I was excited to see it turned into a movie especially since it was all set here in the suburbs of Atlanta where I live. But the movie changed up enough things including the title and left out some of the things that I loved about the book that I will ALWAYS prefer the book to the movie. The book was magical. The movie was just ok.


message 5: by Leanne (new)

Leanne  Jephcott The Red Sparrow book was better than the film. The ending was different and the book made more sense. It’s one of those that if I hadn’t read the book, I would have enjoyed the film more. I think that’s often the case. One of the only book to film adaptations that were not spoilers was The Hunger Games. I enjoyed seeing that book on screen.


message 6: by Anna (new)

Anna Sometimes the movies are much, much better. A Wrinkle in Time, TATBILB and Simon are very good examples. I didn't like the books but the movies were enjoyable.

I've also heard that people who hated Ready Player One might enjoy the movie because it made a lot of changes. Well, I did hate it but I'm not brave enough to give the movie a chance...

As for Annihilation - it's a good film but the book is so much better.

Oh, and I wouldn't really call Hill House an adaptation. It's loosely inspired.


message 7: by Brandy (new)

Brandy Shark Anna wrote: "I've also heard that people who hated Ready Player One might enjoy the movie because it made a lot of changes. Well, I did hate it but I'm not brave enough to give the movie a chance... ..."

Like heathens, my friend and I saw the movie Ready Player One before reading the book (if we enjoyed a movie adaptation, we usually go back to read the source material); she read the book afterwards and enjoyed it, but admitted the film was different. However, she said she understood why the movie was adapted/filmed the way it was, because, in her words, 'It's not very fun to watch someone play a game, or explain it. Seeing stuff on screen was better than reading gameplay described.'


message 8: by Clorie (new)

Clorie There’s a book call Midnight Sun that was as bad as the movie. I did an experiment to see if the book would be better after having seen the movie first... nope. I’ll stick to reading then seeing... IF the book was good.


message 9: by Arwen (new)

Arwen I’ve read and watched The Guernesy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. To be honest, I love them both equally. Mmm, I do love the TGLAPPPS.

I’ve also read and watched Wrinkle in Time. The books are SOOO much better then the movies. Please do not judge Wrinkle in Time by its movie.


message 10: by Nikol (new)

Nikol Ready Player One was good book, not the best I've ever read but I liked it and I get I am not exactly the targeted audience. But the movie? Ugh, I was sufering the whole time I was watching it.


message 11: by Theresa (new)

Theresa My husband and I have a deal, I read the book and then we watch the movie together. This is super interesting to see if he likes and understands the movie without reading the book, and of course, I compare them and tell him how well it lived up to the book!! Good weekend fun for us! 🥰 PS The only one of these we BOTH read first was Ready Player One. He still liked the movie and I didn’t!


DeWhyte B. Nisbeth I watched Ready Player One..being into games, it was a pretty amazing movie. Much better than I thought. Just waiting to rent the book.

I read a Wrinkle in Time. The movie was so terrible compared to the books. My daughters are thrown off by how horrible the movie was. The whole nature of the book was unrelated to the movie. I'm disappointed that so many people greenlit the settling of the movie. The potential to a life changing experience was lost. Heck, just the flying lettuce sums up the whole disappointment.

Going to read The Hate U Give before setting the movie.


message 13: by ruined.words (new)

ruined.words The hate you give is a great book I thought the movie was ok it was good but nothing special there was no pit bull which is sad

Wrinkle in time is one of my favorite book but i hated the movie 1 because Charles Wallace was really bad just a bad Actor 2 it was nothing like the book


message 14: by Dianne (new)

Dianne Mck. I can't think of a movie I like better than the book. And definitely NEVER judge a Stephen King book by it's movie. There are only a handful of movies that were even worth seeing but the books are, for the most part, AWESOME. I may not like the story, but I love his writing.

Ready Player One - I loved the 80's music and movies and have played on a gaming site. The book was one of my all time favorites and has warranted several readings because I want to make sure I don't miss anything. I did enjoy the movie very much and bought it. There were a lot of differences but with so much in the book, they would have to make a mini-series to get it all.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- the movie was a loose adaption of the book and I did enjoy them both.

Meg I did not read the book and only saw the movie so I could see Jason Statham take his shirt off. :) It was campy as expected but I did like it and the twist in the end was a surprise to me which doesn't happen often. The jump scenes were funny and made me laugh at myself for screaming. I probably won't read the book.

The Hate U Give - as soon as I found out I was going to see this movie, I grabbed the book so I could read it first. This was one of those movies where little things were changed that could have just as easily not been changed so that kind of annoyed me. But overall, I liked them both.

The Haunting of Hill House I have only watched the series and not sure I will read the book. The series is pretty darn scary and I enjoyed it.

That's it for me. I'm enjoying everyone else's comments.


message 15: by Kyle (new)

Kyle Donohue Annihilation was good in book and film form. Different in their own rights but still a good adaptation of the source material.

Black Klansman was a great memoir and piece of work by Ron Stallworth. The film by Spike Lee highlights what has taken place throughout history when it comes to racism and what continues to happen in our current times. Both great works.

Simon vs the Homo Sapien Agenda and Love Simon are closer in their connections but this was one of the only times I have enjoyed the movie more than the book. The book was so hard to get through personally.


message 16: by HPAAG (new)

HPAAG I watched Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda before reading the book. I have to say that there were so many scenes in the book that I would have loved to see movie and I think the ending was much cuter in the book, but the movie was still done really well. I think the book was just sooooo much better though.


message 17: by Dana Al-Basha (new)

Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا Crazy Rich Asians was EPIC!! I can't wait to get the DVD! I really liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Red Sparrow... To All the Boys I've Loved Before and A Simple favor were good as well.

But Crazy Rich Asians was on another level! I still daydream about it...




message 18: by Leeanne (new)

Leeanne I read the book A Wrinkle In Time and then watched the movie. I loved the book much better than the movie and I honestly was an it disappointed. The cast all fit their characters perfectly and were pretty good at expressing them. But there was so many parts of the book that were not included or were changed. And then they added parts that were not in the book at all. The movie was confusing. They didn't really explain how a tesseract works for example. If you watch the movie you just HAVE to read the book because you will not fully understand the storyline, the characters, and the important messages that Madeleine L'Engle expresses through her wonderful book. The movie is missing important details and bits and pieces like Meg's thoughts that make you truly understand it. Please don't judge A Wrinkle In Time by the movie. I promise you it makes so much more sense in the book.


message 19: by Lopa (new)

Lopa HPAAG wrote: "I watched Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda before reading the book. I have to say that there were so many scenes in the book that I would have loved to see movie and I think the ending was much cut..."

Yes!! I could not agree more about the ending! The ending and everything that leads up to the ending like the the Elliott Smith t-shirt with the phone number and how they end up at the carnival is handled so much better in the book.


message 20: by Amber (new)

Amber Ready Player one's book was better than the film. Half of the book including War games and wil wheaton wasn't in the film like he was in the book so I thought that sucked. plus the Joust part wasn't in the film either


message 21: by Grace (new)

Grace Schmidt Definitely To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before!


message 22: by Vanessa (last edited Dec 28, 2018 11:11AM) (new)

Vanessa Leeanne wrote: "I read the book A Wrinkle In Time and then watched the movie. I loved the book much better than the movie and I honestly was an it disappointed. The cast all fit their characters perfectly and were..."

I agree. I wanted to love this movie so much, I went into it with very high hopes after looking at how much talent was involved.

In the trailers, I remember the scene were they do the classic explanation of the tesseract with the ant and the line; when I went to see it in the theater with my family (as the only one in the group of five who'd read the book, and read it many, many times) that scene was missing. At the end of the film, I had to explain it to them. I think that there was probably some overzealous editing to reduce the length of the film, and would be interested to see how a directors cut might make it feel differently.

The other main issue I had with the movie was that Charles Wallace was all wrong. He was a cutesy, knowing, adult-child- which is quite a departure from the kid who has trouble interacting with the world outside his family. I don't necessarily want to blame the actor, because I don't know what direction he received, but it really bothered me during the film as not being true to the original. Thinking of the movie as something separate from the book, I still didn't like this interpretation of the character, and didn't feel that it melded well with the story. In the larger arc of this series of books, Meg watches out for Charles Wallace, and here it feels like he's watching out for her.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

I Saw The Movie of Mortal Engines and Absolutely LOVED it :D

Then I Read The Book Yesterday, and It Really Has Added More Depth to The Movie, Plus Although There are Differences. Now I Feel Like Rewatching The Movie


message 24: by Vanessa (last edited Dec 29, 2018 09:37AM) (new)

Vanessa The Hate U Give and TATBILB were exactly like the books, that made me so so happy!

I watched The Guernsey's Literary etc. society and Ready Player One without reading the books and I've enjoyed them.

I'm a HUGE lover of The Haunting of Hill House and I refuse to watch the Netflix series, too different and I don't see why they kept the same title at this point, when the base was already excellent!


message 25: by Elise (new)

Elise Those that I read before the movies

Annihilation - Liked the book, film was decent. While very different, I think they captured the weirdness of the book.

A Wrinkle In Time - Didn't love the book, the movie was OK. I think I liked it more than a lot of people did.

Ready Player One - I think the movie did some things better than the book did and vice-versa. Certain scenes in the book would have been boring on screen. Really enjoyed both.


message 26: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa I haven’t read the books for ready player one, crazy rich asians, or Simon and the homosapians agenda but the movies were great. I have read to all the boys I’ve loved before the movie is way better than the books no offense, I read the book for the Hate you give, the movie was not that good compared to the book. The book was so much better.


message 27: by Heather (last edited Dec 28, 2018 01:11PM) (new)

Heather Purri The Haunting of Hill House miniseries is 'inspired' by the novel, but I *hate* that it claims that because that's insulting to the novel. (That said, as a stand-alone work, I love the miniseries in spite of myself.)

- The plot has literally nothing to do with the book.
- It makes the main characters siblings even though they're not related in the book (they're paranormal investigators). That changes their whole dynamic.
- It somewhat changes the personalities of the characters. (ex. Luke in the book is really Luke + Shirley's date at the mortician conference, in the show. Nell in the book is really Nell + Olivia in the show. etc.)
- It unnecessarily adds new characters.
- It takes the names of ghosts and gives them to characters in the present who are nothing like those ghosts.
- It takes events from throughout the house's history and scatters them around in the present with no rhyme or reason.

What it does have to do with the book:
- It makes you question which phenomena are paranormal and which are psychological.
- It introduces the idea of a shared consciousness between people and ghosts. The house has the consciousness of everyone who ever lived in it.
- It kind of presents the central question from the book - Who is the main entity haunting the house? In the book, it's Nell, who is alive and using psychokinesis, without fully realizing it. In the show, it's Nell and Olivia (a character the show created) - Olivia has psychokinesis and Nell is I guess an empath. (In the book, Theo is a psychic, while in the show she has psychometry.)

For a faithful adaption of the book, see the 1963 movie, The Haunting.


message 28: by anya (new)

anya The Hate U Give movie, while (obviously) not as good as the book, I still found really powerful and I would totally recommend it-after reading the book, of course


message 29: by Margo (new)

Margo Torzsa Ready Player One the book was awesome. The movie was cheesy too PG and a complete let down.


message 30: by Jocelin (new)

Jocelin I saw Crazy Rich Asians and I thought it was really good. I didn't read the book but I kind of want to now.
I read/saw The Hate U Give and I was incredibly disappointed with the movie. The book was far, far superior to the movie. There was so much that was cut from the book it was almost watching another story. I highly recommend the book!
I saw Ready, Player One I was not impressed with the film.
I enjoyed the movie A Simple Favor
The Blackklansman was very good as well.
I was disappointed with A Wrinkle in Time the book was so much better.
Most times when I go to the movies to see a book adaptation I am expecting the movie to not be as good as the book. I have only seen a few movies that have surpassed the quality of the book (The Firm by John Grisham, The Devil Wears Prada).


message 31: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Books are always better. I always try to read the book first before watching the film.


message 32: by Merissa (new)

Merissa Martinez I saw the movie Ready Player One first and really enjoyed it. I went back and read the book and liked the book as well, but I understand why they changed so many things for the movie.


message 33: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Rare that I say this, but the Crazy Rich Asians movie was definitely better than the book. They dropped a convoluted subplot, cleaned up the cheesy & contrived dialogue and brought the spectacle to life wonderfully.


message 34: by Meghan (new)

Meghan DeMaria A Simple Favor is much better than that horrible and weird book! To All The Boys is on par with the book


message 35: by Ella (new)

Ella Don’t forget bird box


message 36: by Michelle (last edited Dec 29, 2018 02:30PM) (new)

Michelle Smith Interesting that many people who had seen Crazy Rich Asians hadn’t read the book. I’d definitely recommend the book, but of course, it is different to the movie.

The movie has a more focused plot on Nick and Rachel, whereas the book includes a lot of subtlety that wouldn’t translate well. There’s a lot of quirky translation comments and cultural references that really add to the reading. (I’m not sure I agree that the dialogue is cheesy and contrived, @Kristen!)

I’m curious to see if they will go ahead and adapt the follow up books in the trilogy. I want to see more Eddie - he’s hilarious!
Edit: ooo looks like there might be... in a while though http://collider.com/crazy-rich-asians... (GR I can’t seem to get your HTML editor to play nice with a href).


message 37: by Liz (new)

Liz Brooker Shame on you Amazon/goodreads! This is one of the last social media platforms that keeps young people engaged with books. There is no need to insert a money-making ploy to keep young people renting/buying movies! Please continue to endorse this goodreads app in a responsible manner- books are so incredibly important. Please do not continue to undermine them with offers of faster, more “convenient” media. Thank you.


message 38: by Liz (new)

Liz Brooker I’m sorry for my outburst but I have become so incredibly incensed by the fact that amazon owns goodreads and they will push to any ends to keep consumers interested in any and all products that they offer... keep people reading, it is so important


message 39: by Tracie (new)

Tracie Scherzer I loved Crazy Rich Asians but the movie was much better. The book did not make me cry but the movie had me sobbing. I found it more emotionally engaging while the book was more focused on high end fashion.


message 40: by Liz (new)

Liz Brooker Carrie wrote: "Books are always better. I always try to read the book first before watching the film."

Thank you Carrie!


message 41: by Taylor (new)

Taylor Knighton ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ movie was WAY WAY BETTER than the trashy book, no offense. ‘The Hate U Give’ movie and book were EQUALLY AMAZING!


message 42: by Cynthia Edge (new)

Cynthia Edge I love watching movies/TV series after reading the books! Of these, I've read and watched Crazy Rich Asians. I loved the book, but thought the movie was pretty standard rom-com stuff and was annoyed with the ending change. I have read A Simple Favor and To All The Boys I've Loved Before, but haven't watched the movies yet. I almost always like the books more than the movies, but I still enjoy the interpretation of the movies.


message 43: by Emily (new)

Emily I thought a wrinkle in time movie was so much better than the book! I didn’t understand the book and was reluctant to watch the movie but glad I did because the movie was so much better!!


message 44: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Watson I've seen 8 of the films.
I've read 7 of the books.
The book was better: Ready Player One and A Wrinkle in Time.
The movie was better: BlackkKlansman. Saw the movie first, then listened to the audio book read by the author. The movie was a very close adaptation until the end.
Crazy Rich Asians the book and the film have the same girly giddy feel.
Red Sparrow the film was kind of bad, will still listen to the audio book though.
A Simple Favour was a fun chick movie, will not read the book.
The Haunting of Hill House is entertaining when you watch to find the sly references to the book. That makes watching it delightful when a reference pops up. I also read the biography of Shirley Jackson this year which added to the pleasure of watching Hill House.
Read the Hate U Give may not watch the movie, I have it just in case.
Saw Guernsey Pie would listen to the audio book.
Read Beautiful Boy would watch the movie.


message 45: by Martin (new)

Martin Janssen Liz wrote: "Shame on you Amazon/goodreads! This is one of the last social media platforms that keeps young people engaged with books. There is no need to insert a money-making ploy to keep young people renting..."

Amen


message 46: by Ann (new)

Ann Brandy wrote: "Anna wrote: "I've also heard that people who hated Ready Player One might enjoy the movie because it made a lot of changes. Well, I did hate it but I'm not brave enough to give the movie a chance....."

Brandy wrote: "Anna wrote: "I've also heard that people who hated Ready Player One might enjoy the movie because it made a lot of changes. Well, I did hate it but I'm not brave enough to give the movie a chance....."

I just wanted to say here that i do the same thing, I usually see the movie and end up wanting to read the books of certain movies. I have not read any of these books or seen any of the movies.


message 47: by Kristy (new)

Kristy You could add Bird Box and Leave No Trace which was better than the book (My Abandonment).


message 48: by Autumn (new)

Autumn It’s a shame that the critics trashed “The Darkest Minds” adaptation, because the audience review was vERY high, especially among the book community. It’s a problem we’re seeing more and more of lately. YA adaptations in general are all being written off by film critics at large as “just another Hunger Games knock-off, even if the story has nothing in common with the Hunger Games besides the fact that the main character is a teenage girl. Anyway, all that to say, my favorite book to movie adaptation was The Darkest Minds.


message 49: by Julia (new)

Julia Brühl "Annihilation" is one of my favorite books and I thought the movie was fantastic, just not as good as the book. As for "The Haunting of Hill House" I think the tv series is WAY better than the book. I really loved "Ready Player One" both as a book and as a movie. I can't really decide which one I liked more :)


message 50: by Ceara (new)

Ceara I thought that The Hate U Give was an amazing movie, one of my favorite newer movies I’ve seen in a long time. Love, Simon was okay, I just thought that it was a bit too fluffy or cheesy, which I think worked better as the writing style in the book rather than as the whole vibe of a movie. A Wrinkle in Time just wasn’t memorable for me.


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