Archive for the ‘Book adaptation’ Category

Book v. TV: Bitten

February 5th, 2014    Posted in Book adaptation, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, TV v. Book, Urban Fantasy
 

SyFy has a new werewolf show on, so I checked out the first four episodes and read the novel the show is based on: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong. Adapting novels to TV shows is fascinating to me, and as someone who likes light urban fantasy and paranormal TV shows, both seemed like a good fit for me.

Note: minimal spoilers ahead but read at your own risk.

The Book

In the novel, Elena has created a life for herself in Toronto as a journalist. She’s been on her own for a year and has a live-in boyfriend. She struggles to balance her side as a werewolf with her desire to a normal woman. Her boyfriend, Phillip, has no idea about the ‘other’ side of Elena and instead sees the sweet facade of who Elena wants to be.

Everything changes when Elena is called back to Stonehaven, the gothic home of her Pack master. A “mutt” (unaffiliated werewolf) is in town, and killing humans. The pack master, Jeremy, calls the whole pack home to deal with the problem. Elena hesitates, and not just because she wants to deny her werewolf duality: she also wants to avoid Clayton, the brooding, intense enforcer of her pack. Clayton isn’t just Elena’s former lover. He’s also the person who turned Elena without her knowledge or permission, making her the only female werewolf in existence.

Elena and her pack quickly realize they have more than just a rogue mutt to deal with, but rather a conspiracy by unaffiliated werewolves, some of whom were terrible humans to start with (rapists and killers), and both dangerous and uncontrolled werewolves. Some of the mutts wants revenge on the pack . . . but one wants Elena.

The novels enjoyable and sets up a consistent, believable urban fantasy world with its own unique details and twists on werewolf lore. Note: I’ve only read the first in the series (“Women of the Otherworld”) so I can’t say how the rest of the series stacks up. Told in first person, we see everything from Elena’s perspective, even the emotions she’s oblivious too. It’s enjoyable in the way the early Sookie Stackhouse novels are, or the Would-Be Witch series. Fun, sexy, bits of danger. Elena is a strong woman able to hold her own with the men in her pack. She’s no damsel-in-distress in need of rescuing, but is a strong fighter in her own right. She sometimes makes questionable/stupid decisions and feels a little young, but it works.

 

The TV Show

The first four episodes of the TV show stick fairly close to the book in terms of the major details. Minor details are changed: Elena is photographer, her boyfriend is in marketing instead of working as a lawyer. Philip has a sister who’s Elena’s new best friend. We see events outside of Elena’s perspective–like the mutt finding his victim in a bar, or watching Jeremy interact with the local sheriff when the first body is found–which is refreshing since all of that happens off-screen in the novel.

Logan is a bigger character in the show, which I appreciate. In the novel, Elena says Logan is her best friend but we only ‘see’ him in a telephone call. Giving him a place in Elena’s Toronto life has helped show her struggle with balancing her werewolf side with her desire to be “normal”, especially since he’s balancing similar issues.

Some of the dialogue in the show feels overly expository, but I’ve given the writers a little slack since they’re developing a unique world. For example, Peter’s scenes with Elena do a more subtle job world building than the more heavy-handed dialogue with Jeremy.

Hopefully Elena will stop complaining about wanting to go back to Toronto in the next few episodes. If she wants to be human and embrace humanity, and innocent people are dying, she needs to step up without complaining about it since she’s one of the few people able to stop the mutts.

I can see the plot arc of the novel translating well to a 13-episode season. Fingers crossed the show hits its stride and becomes the fun TV show it has the potential to be. That being said, I enjoyed the first four episodes.

 

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Midsomer Murders TV Show versus Inspector Barnaby Mystery Series

April 9th, 2012    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Book adaptation, Crime, Fiction, Kelly, Mystery, TV v. Book
 

Public broadcasting currently shows Midsummer Murders, the long-running British detective show. Based on the books by Caroline Graham, the series is set in the fictional, and rather deadly, county of Midsomer.

 

The second episode of Midsomer Murders (and the first I saw) was based on the novel Written in Blood. It features DCI Barnaby and quirky cast of potential suspects.

 

The Midsomer Worthy’s Writer’s Circle invites a yearly speaker, and they usually can’t get anyone famous or successful to attend. So when best-selling author Max Jennings agrees to speak, they’re mostly excited. The circle’s secretary, Gerald Hadleigh, is furious, as he never wanted to invite Jennings in the first place.

 

When Hadleigh is found dead the morning after Jennings speaks to the writers, Barnaby is called in to investigate. Almost everyone in the group has something to to hide, whether embarrassing or sinister. He has to sift through everyone’s secrets and the past to find the murderer.

 

The TV version ups the ante a bit, adding in an additional murder. Most of the major subplots are brought to the small screen, although the book goes into most of them in more depth.  The show is satisfying, using two one-hour episodes to dig into the lives of the potential suspects.  Not surprisingly, the novel goes deeper into the lives of the characters, and the subplot with Sue is especially rewarding in the book.

 

Both the books and TV show are fun, perfect for fans of mysteries set in the English countryside. Barnaby is a likable character both on-screen and in the books. His family is important in both mediums, although his wife and daughter are less entwined in the mysteries in the novels. His sergeant, Troy, is nicer on-screen, which works well for the viewing public.

 

In addition to Written in Blood, I read several other novels in the Inspector Barnaby series: The Killings At Badger’s Drift, Faithful Until Death, A Place of Safety, and A Ghost in the Machine. All are solidly written and would make good reads for fans of cozy mysteries.

 

Title: Written in Blood

Author: Caroline Graham

Source: Public Library

Read: March 2012

 

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More Teen Books Turned into TV Shows

December 4th, 2011    Posted in Book adaptation, Fiction, Kelly, TV v. Book, Young Adult
 

When I read a New York Times article about Leslie Morgenstein and Alloy Entertainment’s packaged book series being turned into TV shows, I decided to pick up two books mentioned in the article: The first book in the Lying Game series and the Nine Lives of Chloe King. Earlier, we reviewed the Secret Circle on this blog, as the dormant title was recently adapted into a TV show starring Britt Robertson.

 

The Lying Game

The Lying Game the novel starts with a teenage girl, Emma. Abandoned by her mother, Emma now lives in a decent foster home and she’s focused working her part-time job and doing well in school. Her foster brother undermines her, and ends up showing her a snuff-like video featuring whom he assumes is Emma.

It’s not.

Emma does research and discovers the actual star of the video: Sutton Mercer. They look exactly alike and have the same birthday. She contacts Sutton, and gets a reply inviting her to Tuscan.

When Emma shows up, excited to meet her twin, she’s manipulated into playing Sutton. The real Sutton has been murdered, and no one believes Emma when she tells the truth. Now Emma’s life is at stake as she has to pretend to be her sister while staying ahead of the unknown person who murdered her sister and won’t hesitate to kill again.

Oh, and the novel is partially narrated by Sutton from beyond the grave.

The Lying Game is a fun read, both entertaining and compelling. It’s easy to fly through the pages, seeing what’s going to happen to Emma next. As a character, Emma is easy to like because she’s essentially a nice person. Her twin, Sutton, is an interesting contrast because she’s clearly troubled despite her affluent childhood with loving adoptive parents.

The novel is clearly part of a series, and leaves a lot of plot points hanging so the reader will want to read the next in the four-book series.

 

The Nine Lives of Chloe King

The Nine Lives of Chloe King is a trilogy of three novels. Teenage Chloe lives with her mother in San Francisco. She’s carved out a high school niche for herself as a good student with two close friends. She’s not popular, but she’s not an outcast. She works in a vintage clothing store, gets along decently with her adopted mother, and all-in-all, she lives a normal existence… until she develops cat-like superpowers. Now she’s thrust into the middle of a conflict between humans who want Chloe’s race, the Mai, eliminated, and her own people.

When I picked up The Nine Lives of Chloe King, I didn’t realize I’d picked up a compilation of all three novels in the trilogy and so I read the entire series. Chloe is a likable character, and the book relies enough on Egyptian mythology to craft a strong premise without going overboard. Like the Lying Game, this was a fun, easy read and Chloe’s personal journey and sacrifices are well done. The values behind the series are strong. Chloe is honest and while she isn’t perfect and makes a few bad decisions, she also learns from her mistakes. She learns to value her adoptive mother and isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right.

TV Shows

I can see why both shows were made into TV shows. (Note: I haven’t watched either.) The Lying Game makes good frothy TV for teens although I know the premise was changed because the creators weren’t sure a dead teen narrator would be acceptable to most TV watchers. This definitely changes the story line, since a big part of the first novel is Emma’s fumbling journey as Sutton, made especially hard by Sutton’s mean-girl lifestyle.

The Nine Lives of Chloe King ticks the currently popular paranormal box, and it has a mix of forbidden romance, teen discovering she has super powers and is destined to save her people, and a sense of humor. The TV show didn’t it make it past one season, and I could see the three novels making a decent movie or mini-series.

 

 

 

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The Secret Circle: Books V. TV Show. Part Three: Analysis

September 24th, 2011    Posted in Book adaptation, Kelly, TV v. Book, Young Adult
 

Part one: summary of the books
Part two: summary of the TV show

Analysis

So far, really the only thing the show has in common with the books is:

1.    The protagonist is named Cassie Blake
2.    She returns to town to complete a coven
3.    Some of the parents of her fellow teenage witches are dead due to something mysterious, even if its been explained away by a simple reason (boat fire versus died in hurricane).
4.    Cassie and Adam are attracted to each other, but he has a girlfriend.

The TV Cassie is a confident character with a strong sense of right and wrong. She’s instantly likable. Over the course of the novels, Cassie grows from shy and mousy to a confident leader. Sometimes, her timidity, like when she’s being blackmailed, is annoying. Her mother is still alive in the books, although I can see why she was killed off. In the books, she’s barely there and even mousier than Cassie. Plus she spends the third book in a catatonic state. Killing her off is easier, and it sets a dark tone from the beginning and shows the stakes are high, e.g. life and death. Given how strong Cassie is in the TV show, she’s going to take action when she finds out her mother didn’t die in an accident.

The book parents are virtually uninvolved. We briefly see Diana’s father once, and the only parental-type characters are Cassie’s grandmother, who dies, and two more grandmothers and a great aunt. They are good (as opposed to evil) characters and add a little to the coven’s knowledge of past events, but they don’t take action on their own. All we know of the book parents is that the ones still alive were cowards.

I’m curious where the TV show writers are going with the parents’ plotline, as they’re evil and manipulative from the beginning since they killed Cassie’s mom to ensure Cassie returns to town. Somehow, Cassie’s presence gives them power they crave.

There are fewer characters in the TV show, but that makes sense since a coven of twelve people is a lot of characters to keep track of. The casting on the TV show seems good. Britt Robertson is a great Cassie, and the rest of the cast is believable. Faye is more unstable on the TV show, but just as power hungry as her book counterpart. Melissa is a new character who might be a combination of several book characters but is probably a creation of the writing staff. Nick is nothing like his book counterpart, and he’s wonderfully creepy. We’ll see how Adam and Diana develop, but so far they’re similar to the books.

There’s a strong sense of destiny in Cassie and Adam’s book relationship, and the show has eluded to that by having Adam’s father talk about how the two are destined to be together. We’ll see how this plays out in the TV show—it worked in the book.

The change in setting surprised me, as I liked the faux-historical context of the book setting. Really? Long-standing witch tradition in Washington? Not exactly what I would have chosen, and I’m a sucker for TV shows set in the Pacific Northwest. Plus the history of the books added to the overall story arc; we’ll see if that’s a factor in the TV show.

And what’s up with the the coven binding together? This also differs from the novels. In the books, the full coven can accomplish more together, but each person has individual talents and skills. (In the books, Faye and Cassie seem the most powerful and are able to light stuff on fire, etc.)

So far, I enjoy the TV show and I think my fifteen-year-old self would have approved. (Although she might have been annoyed by the changes because she was liked her adaptation literal.) The novels have a definite arc over three novels, and I’ll be curious to see if the show has a large arc they complete, or how they create long-term conflict.

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The Secret Circle: Books V. TV Show. Part Two: summary of the TV show

September 24th, 2011    Posted in Book adaptation, Kelly, TV v. Book, Young Adult
 

Previous: summary of the novels.

After her mother dies in a fire, Cassie moves in her grandmother in Chance Harbor, Washington. She quickly meets Faye, Nick, Melissa, and Adam, and almost dies with Faye lights her car on fire.

Diana explains to Cassie that they are all witches, and Cassie’s return to town has made them all more powerful. Cassie doesn’t believe her and runs off, but Adam shows her it’s the truth when they combine to do some lovely magic with water drops. With Cassie, they have a full coven of six and need to bind themselves together so they can control themselves.

Cassie isn’t interested, but steps in to stop a monsoon that Faye starts. Faye isn’t willing to let things go, and wants to experiment with her power. During a chemistry class, she makes Cassie’s beaker bubble despite not being on heat, and it explodes. Cassie turns around and makes Faye’s beaker explode, complete with flames.

Cassie freaks out over her growing uncontrolled powers, and agrees to bind the circle after Faye almost kills a classmate, Sally. (Technically, she did kill Sally, but magic brought her back to life. More on that later.)

Also of note: while Adam is dating Diana, he and Cassie clearly feel attracted to each other, and almost kiss several times.

Meanwhile, the parents have their own motives. Diana’s father is responsible for the death of Cassie’s mom, and he and Faye’s mother clearly have nefarious plans. Diana’s father threatens Adam’s drunk father, and Faye’s grandfather comes to town in response. The parents aren’t supposed to be able to do magic since his coven somehow stopped them from being able to after the big accident that killed several people (Faye’s father, Adam’s mother, etc.) Faye’s mother responds by using a crystal to force her father-in-law to have a heart attack. Presumably she kills him, which was interesting moral question hanging over her character since she saved Sally earlier that day. Although it’s safe to say the parents are generally evil.

The six teenagers meet on the beach to bind their coven, and that’s the end of the second episode.

Next: analysis of the TV show versus books.

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The Secret Circle: Books V. TV Show. Part One: summary of the books

September 24th, 2011    Posted in Book adaptation, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, TV v. Book, Uncategorized, Young Adult
 

When I was a teenager, I loved The Secret Circle trilogy by L.J. Smith. When I saw the show was being turned into a TV show, I was intrigued. Would I still love these book? Would my teenage self have approved of the adaptation?

Let me start by talking summarizing the plot of the books:

<b>Warning: massive spoilers ahead! Do NOT read if you plan to read the books!</b>

The story opens with sixteen-year old Cassie vacationing on Cape Cod. It’s a long way from her home in California. She saves a boy and his dog from four college age students with a gun, and she thinks she sees a silver cord connecting her to the boy she saves. He gives her good luck charm crystal, kisses her hand, and leaves. She never asks his name.

Cassie expects to go home to California, but instead her mother tells her they’re moving in with her grandmother in New Salem, Massachusetts. It’s a small town on an island, and Cassie is dismayed by the move for several reasons: she’s shy, and starting a new high school is daunting. Her grandmother’s house on Crow haven road is old and rundown, and on the first night she hears her mother and grandmother talking about a “sacrifice”.

On her first day of school, Cassie runs afoul of the queen mean girl in school, Faye, resulting in mean-spirited pranks like her locker being filled with raw meat. The principal doesn’t help her, and tells her the kids from Crowhaven road need to solve their problems amongst themselves.

The bullying comes to a head when Faye lures Cassie into the abandoned science building and holds a piece of burning paper to her face.  Diana comes to her rescue, saving Cassie from Faye and becoming her friend in the process. Diana and Cassie feel drawn together, and decide to become adopted sisters.

Meanwhile, Cassie has learned the teenagers of Crowhaven road have a club, and she’s not invited to join. There’s going to be an initiation ceremony for Kori and Cassie swallows her jealousy and helps Diana prepare for Kori’s birthday. But then Cassie finds Kori on the bottom of some stairs at school, and she’s dead.

That night, Cassie is ‘kidnapped’ from her bedroom, and taken the beach. She’s initiated into the “club” in place of Kori since they need a twelfth member to finish their coven. Cassie finally finds out the truth: she’s from a long-line of witches. Her ancestors moved from Salem to form New Salem after the witch trials. Their parents aren’t that interested in witchcraft, but the teens have found several families “Book of Shadows” and are practicing magic.

As Cassie finds out the truth, the twelfth member of the club shows up after a long absence (he’s missed the first few weeks of school). It’s Diana’s boyfriend, Adam . . . and also the boy Cassie saved on the beach. Cassie pretends she’s never met him, and Adam plays along. Adam has big news: he’s found a powerful crystal skull that had belonged the original coven.

Within the coven, there’s a power struggled between Diana and Faye. Diana is currently the leader, but it’s only temporary until a permanent leadership vote will be called in November. Faye wants the coven to investigate the crystal skull right away, but Diana wants to take a slower, more measured approach. Diana ends up bowing to Faye’s pressure, and schedules a time for the coven to scry the skull.

When the cover scrys the skull, it releases a dark energy. Cassie has one of the strongest connections to the skull, able to see a door inside it and a grinning face. The next day, they find out their high school principal was crushed by a giant rock on the beach.

Adam escorts Cassie home after the coven scrys the skull, and makes him tell her why she’s been avoiding him. She tells him the truth: she loves him, but she knows it’s wrong because he belongs to Diana. Adam realizes he loves Cassie and they kiss for a while. They end up vowing they won’t show their attraction to each other and won’t betray Diana’s trust. They say good-bye.

The next day, Cassie gets a phone call from Faye and she goes to visit. Faye knows about what happened between Cassie and Adam, and blackmails Cassie. Cassie does what Faye demands, and finds the crystal skull. She decides she can’t give the skull to Faye, but the other girl has followed Cassie and takes the skull from her. They investigate the skull, releasing more dark energy.

Meanwhile, Adam ends up escorting Cassie to a school dance because Diana’s sick. They realize this is a terrible idea after their attraction to each other is too much and they kiss on the dance floor.

Cassie turns into the belle of the ball, but the night turns dark: she finds the school quarterback, who had been flirting with her earlier, strung up on a pipe in the school boiler room. He’s dead.

After a brief freakout, Cassie gets several coven members—Adam, Debrorah, and Nick—to trace the dark energy with her since she knows Jeffrey didn’t commit suicide. They track dark energy to the local graveyard, and see a dark shadowy shape. It rushes them and disappears. Cassie feels guilty because she knows the dark energy she and Faye secretly released are responsible for Jeffrey’s death.

Faye has continued blackmailing Cassie, and she forces Cassie to vote for Fay in the coven leadership vote. Once Faye is leader, she has Cassie get the skull from its hiding spot, and she casts a circle of the four elements (wind, water, fire, earth) and calls upon the skull. They fully release the dark energy, and the skull disappears. Several other things happen: a mound in the graveyard explodes; a dark sludgy type figure threatens Cassie’s mother and grandmother, leaving her mother in a catatonic state and triggering her grandmother to have a heart attack. As her grandmother dies, she tells Cassie that she alone has the power to defeat Black John, the shadowy figure, since their family was always the most powerful and had the clearest sight. Black John had managed to return to life in 1976, and formed a new coven of the current parents of Crowhaven road. They realized he was evil, and part of the coven fought against him. They managed to kill Black John, but everyone that fought him died in the process. She tries to tell Cassie something more, but she’s very weak and Cassie can’t make out what she says. She dies.

Cassie decides to stand up to Faye and stop being blackmailed. Faye tells Diana and the rest of the coven about Cassie and Adam, and about some of the things Cassie did while being blackmailed. She partly tells the truth, but strongly distorts the story.

Adam comes to Cassie’s rescue and tells the truth. He’s furious that Faye blackmailed Cassie, and makes everyone see the truth. Cassie mentions the silver cord. Diana forgives Cassie, and she’s about to say something about Cassie and Adam when Cassie interrupts. She begs Diana to give her a chance to show she can trust her.  Diana agrees, and they two are back to being close friends.

Meanwhile, Black John has come back to life, and he’s their new school principal. Faye has gone to his side. He breaks the power of the club over the high school by creating hall monitors. School isn’t nearly as much for the students of Crowhaven road, and when Cassie gets in trouble, she realizes where the crystal skull has gone: it’s in Black John’s head. She also finds out that Black John is her father from when he came back to life in 1976.

They discover that Black John plans to act against them during a lunar eclipse. Even though the coven is united, they put on a disorganized front to Faye. Meanwhile, Cassie has found the coven’s “master tools”. The original coven hid the master tools from Black John since they’re very powerful.

The coven elect Cassie leader as they get ready to fight Black John. Cassie is ready to nominate Diana, but the fellow members of her coven talk about how Cassie is the strongest, and it’s true. Overtime, Cassie has become more confident and shows a lot of leadership skills.

Cassie leads them in their fight against Black John, and she figures out how to defeat him forever. Faye comes back to their side in the end.

After their victory, Diana tells Cassie that she knows Adam and Cassie are soul mates; the silver cord is legendary. She would have told them earlier except Cassie wanted to show Diana she could be trusted, and Diana thought it would be good for Cassie.

The book ends with the coven deciding what they should do in the future, and Cassie and Adam holding hands.

When I re-read this last week, I saw plot holes and such that I missed as a teen. But this is still fun escapist literature, especially if you ignore the lack of character depth in most of the characters. (For example, Diana is too perfect.)

Next up: summary of the TV show so far.

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Mini-Reviews: Monk novel and more FreakAngels

May 22nd, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Book adaptation, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kelly, Mystery, TV v. Book
 

TV Tie-In: Monk series

A literary agent complained on Twitter about seeing someone read a Monk TV tie-in novel. The complaint wasn’t that someone was reading, but that the publishing industry could be more creative when choosing novels to publish. This made me wonder about the series, and I checked one of the novels out from my local library.

Mr. Monk on the Road is the eleventh (11th!) book in the series about the TV detective. These novels are based on the TV series, as opposed to the show being derived from the books. The 11th novel takes place after the end of the show, and so Adrian is dealing with life after solving his wife’s murder.

My big question when picking up this novel was does the novel satisfying on its own, or does it rely on the TV series? The novel is told in first person from Natalie’s point of view, and having seen the TV show helped me understand her description of Monk’s mannerisms and other quirky attributes. Natalie and Monk essentially kidnap Monk’s agoraphobic brother Ambrose and take him on a road trip in motor home. (Since Ambrose has only left the house twice in thirty years, a motor home will allow him to see things without having to go outside.)

Of course, they stumble upon murders, and Adrian unveils a serial killer. I knew how the murderers were when they were introduced. The ending is a bit rushed as the murder storyline is resolved, and some of the coincidences are a little much. But overall the novel is fun and I can see how uber-fans of the show will enjoy these books.

FreakAngels: Volumes Three and Four

Since FreakAngels Volume Three ended on a cliffhanger, I had to pick up the fourth installment as well. I’m going to say much about these graphic novels, other than I loved them and really enjoy the series.  They’re fast, fun reads set in an interesting world. The writer and illustrator are still world-building, but the stakes for the FreakAngels are getting higher as they take on responsibility for building a new world in Whitechapel.

Title: FreakAngels Volume Three
Author: Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield
Source: Public Library
Read: May 2011

Title: FreakAngels Volume Four
Author: Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield
Source: Public Library
Read: May 2011

Title: Mr. Monk on the Road
Author: Lee Goldberg
Source: Public Library
Read: May 2011

Read by: Kelly

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