Top Ten Tuesday: Book Adaptations: The Good, The Bad, The Eh, and The Upcoming

By: Manuela Soares

Happy Tuesday readers and welcome back to another Top Ten Tuesday here at Functionally Fictional! This week I thought I would cover something that all readers have an opinion on and that’s books to movie/TV adaptations. Love ’em or hate ’em, they happen all the time, and sometimes they’re great, other times they just don’t cut it, and every so often they’re just there; they’re neither good or bad but just are. So, here is my list of the good, the bad, the eh, and the upcoming.

Just a note, these are adaptations that I’ve seen and read. There are so many out there, many of which aren’t always known to be adaptations, so this is just a short list based on my experiences and opinions.

The Good

The Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling

Book(s) Published: 1997/98 – 2007

Movie Release: 2001 – 2011

I make no secret of my love for this series. I loved the books, and even with the changes, I loved the movies. Both the books and the movies meant a lot to me growing up, and this series brings up so many memories that go beyond the page or screen. The release parties and midnight showings, conversations with friends at lunch about what might happen next or “can you believe it?!”. These mean a lot to a lot of people around the world, and it’s really no wonder when Hogwarts is always waiting to welcome us back home.

His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

Book(s) Published: 1995-2000

TV Release: 2019 HBO

If you’ve read some of my other posts on this site, you’ll know that I love this series. I loved the books, and as you’ll find out further down, I was let down by The Golden Compass move, so finding out that this series would be given another shot but on TV was music to my ears. I’ve recently started watching it, and I am loving it so far! I’m so glad that it was given this chance, and I’m stoked to see what they do with it as it continues.

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

Book Published: 1939

TV Release: 2015 BBC

I’m a big Agatha Christie fan and love watching adaptations of her books. This is one that has several adaptations, but the one I’m mentioning here is from 2015. I loved how they set it up and how they developed everything. This was one adaptation that you didn’t need to read the book to understand what was going on and it would keep you guessing.

The Road – Cormac McCarthy

Book Published: 2006

Movie Release: 2009

This was a book that I read in college for one of my classes (yay for English majors!), and I thought the story was incredible and the themes throughout it are very poignant and makes you question things. That said, what I was not a fan of was the way it was written, and by that, I mean that the book was intentionally written with minimal punctuation and grammar and it was straining to read. The movie was one that reflected the book wonderfully and evoked the same emotions and reactions that the book did. It starred Viggo Mortensen (Aragon from The Lord of the Rings movies) as the father and one of the two main characters. Definitely worth a watch and a read!

The Bad

The Golden Compass (Movie) – Philip Pullman

Book Published: 1995

Movie Release: 2007

I was excited when I heard about this being made into a movie because I loved the book and if they were going to make the first book into a movie, they would likely make the entire trilogy. That did not happen as this one did not do or go over well with audiences at large. This series has some heavy and potentially controversial topics within it, and they have to be handled a certain way or else they’ll end up like this movie and flop.

Eragon – Christopher Paolini

Book Published: 2002

Movie Release: 2006

This was not the greatest movie. The book is fantastic and, like The Golden Compass movie, unfortunately the ball was dropped on this one. This had incredible potential, the source material is robust and engaging and the world is incredible, but for whatever reason, it just did not come together in a way that resonated with audiences. This book series contains four books, and from what I’ve read about Eragon, because it flopped like it did, they would have to completely remake the movie in order to adapt the following three books.

Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

Book Published: 1934

Movie Release: 2017

Like And Then There Were None, this book has been featured multiple times over the years, but the 2017 version I just didn’t like. It may have had an all-star cast, but it was just over the top, and Kenneth Branagh’s Poirot mustache was ridiculous.

The Eh

The Maze Runner Series – James Dashner

Book Published: 2009 – 2020

Movie Release: 2014 – 2018

This was a great book series. I thoroughly enjoyed it; they’re a great dystopian take. The movies for me though, I mean they weren’t too bad, I liked the first two, but The Death Cure just didn’t do it for me. I can’t fully explain it, but it was just ugh. Which is why it’s in The Eh category. It wasn’t a bad movie series, but I just didn’t think it was all that either. 

The Upcoming

The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

Book Published: 2015

Scheduled Movie Release: December 23, 2022

I read this book a while ago and loved it, so it was a nice surprise to find out recently that it would be made into a movie. From what I read, it’s going to star Dakota and Elle Fanning, which is great because they’re both wonderful actresses and should do their roles justice.

Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

Book Published: 2012

Netflix Release: April 23, 2021

All right, I admit that I only got into this series because of the Netflix show and all the promo going on right now (it looks so good!). With that said, I am still reading the series. I’m working through book two now and waiting on book three (I love libraries!). I enjoyed Shadow and Bone, and I’m enjoying Siege and Storm so far, so I’m hoping to have the main three books done by the time the show premiers in a couple of weeks. I know there are other associated books with this series, I just don’t know what they are or how they’re connected, so those are on the backburner for now unless I need to read them.

Honorable Mentions

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

Book(s) Published: 1991 – Present

TV Release: 2014 Starz

This one needs mentioning as I’ve seen most of the series so far, but I haven’t read the series (though I do own a copy of Outlander). I love the show and got invested in it and the characters early on, so this one definitely needed a mention.

Much Ado About Nothing – William Shakespeare

First Publication/Performance: 1612

Digital Theater Release: 2011

This one I feel the need to mention because the stage play of this cracked me up and ended up helping me pass my Shakespeare class in college. One of comedies and Sci-Fi’s greatest duos came together in 2011 to bring it to life, and that duo is the ever wonderful David Tennant and Catherine Tate (Aka The Doctor and Donna from Doctor Who). This was filmed for the Digital Theater and is a great watch that is hilarious and a great showing of the play.

Now that you’ve made it to the end of my list, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? What adaptations would you add to this list or include on your own? Leave a comment and let’s get a conversation going.

Happy reading!

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