Does anyone else get jabbed in the side during movies for muttering, “That’s not how it is in the book?” (At least, if you’re polite, you mutter. Sometimes it slips out at a higher volume because you can’t restrain yourself due to outrage) Or maybe you walk out of a theatre with intense back pain because you slouched lower and lower in the seat, mortally embarrassed for your favorite author, beloved characters, and a treasured fandom. Not to mention, you’ve had to grin and apologize uncountable times to the person in front of you for stomping your foot every time someone screwed up a line or behaved so far out of context, your body reacted without thought.
And Hollywood loves doing this. They destroy our favorite books left, right, and center. It’s almost to the point that you start to believe they’ve hired someone who’s only job is sitting in a corner of the room, plotting how to unravel plots, twist characters, and murder classic lines. The Anti-Author, if you will. Maybe other people in the audience don’t realize what’s going on (other than to whine they don’t understand what the hype is about said book), but YOU know. And you slowly hemorrhage as hundreds of potential readers turn their backs on a work of literary genius. All courtesy of the Anti-Author.
Friends and family grew so tired of my endless diatribes against poor film adaptations, they refused to go to the movies with me. Hell, they wouldn’t even sit in a living room with me if they knew I’d read the book already. And I couldn’t blame them or get upset about it. I felt personally victimized by the actions of a bunch of Hollywood executives sitting in a back room, hacking apart my favorite fictional pieces. Seeing that “Soon to be a Motion Picture” sticker on a book in the store? That felt like a knife in the guts.
I needed a new habit.
Rather than feeling my blood pressure reach stroke level, I decided to flip the order of things. Any book that caught my interest courtesy of a movie or television trailer stayed on the shelf until AFTER sitting through Hollywood’s version. But I promised myself not to let that version taint my opinion. (After all, I was intrigued enough to consider it, and odds were pretty high I’d already skimmed the book jacket) Even if I rolled my eyes through the movie and left with a sour taste in my mouth (*cough* Artemis Fowl *cough*), I determined to return to the book after. Usually because I was so convinced there was NO WAY the author was THAT bad.
It’s a system that’s served me well about 99% of the time. (There are exceptions to every rule, and that 1% proves that sometimes even Hollywood can’t make something better) Instead of driving everyone crazy in a semi-quiet theatre – a rant for another time – I can wait, blithely innocent of every twist and turn with the rest of the audience. And THEN I can prattle on about everything Hollywood got wrong once I’ve devoured the book…depending on who I can track down and get to hold still long enough to listen.
But it isn’t a perfect system.
Sometimes those magic makers get sneaky. They decide to turn pieces into film that I’ve already read. It’s a wrinkle in the system that I can’t account for. (NOT reading isn’t an option) For instance, the Shadow and Bone trilogy. I started my usual grumble-fest – until my husband looked at me and told me he was enjoying the series. He hadn’t read the books, but I HAD. So I bit my tongue. (And, honestly, on the scale of adaptations, it’s not bad)
Then there are a few times I’ve been TERRIFIED to watch a movie because of how fantastic a book was. I didn’t want to witness the burning destruction of a phenomenal piece of literature. But those teasers and trailers are SO tempting. They crawl under your skin with appropriate lines, glimpses of characters better than you imagined, and hints of accurate plot. So I braced myself for disappointment – which never came. A Monster Calls and The Fault in Our Stars? They got it right. I’d read the books before the movies hit theatres. And I didn’t want my emotions shattered. (We won’t touch on the fact that either one will cripple you emotionally on their own) But someone hog-tied the Anti-Author in both instances. Because the films created the same depth of feeling the books did.
So while there might be some bugs in my system (and an occasional exception to the rule), it’s kept me from losing my cool as often. And I don’t have as many bruises on my ribs. It DOES mean I have to wait to read certain books, which is frustrating. But when you balance a potential stroke against a little delay? Yeah, health ranks higher.