In the March 2023 newsletter, I asked readers if they had watched any recent adaptations of books, and if so what they thought of them.

Here were their responses:

Kenicia: The most recent adaptation I’ve watched is “C. B. Strike: Troubled Blood.” My mom and I had been anxiously anticipating it. Troubled Blood is my favorite book in the Cormoran Strike series. We both enjoyed it, but I wish it had been longer. So much was left out that some of the interpersonal confrontations were almost inexplicable. More background was needed. The actors are great for their roles, , though.

I also agree about Amazon’s Reacher. Alan Ritchson is perfect for the role. We are anxious for the next series at our house. As a matter of fact, as soon as we finished season 1 last year, my mom asked if and when the next season would be?!? I told her it would be at least a year.

Christine: A more recent adaption that I watched was A Discovery of Witches. It was interesting to see some of the magic come to life on the televised show, but of course the books were best.

Laura: My family and are really enjoying the Will Trent series. We look forward to it each week. That doesn’t happen very often anymore. Everyone that I spoke to about Reacher really liked it–I thought it was okay–lol–for some reason it just did not do it for me. Loved Bosch as I did the books. Gray Man was unimpressive, when the books were great. I have not watched but the one episode of Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches and I did not care for it.

Linda: Recent adaptations that I have watched are hardly ever as good as the book. The book can do so much more. First one is the Inspector Gamache series. They have made one,not sure they will do more. The author has said she will have more influence on anymore, which would be a good thing. The biggest flaw that I encountered is the site of the book. Three Pines was this quaint little village in Canada. The show had Three Pines spread all over the countryside. Did not like that at all. The one thing they got right was Inspector Gamache. The actor is perfect for the roll. Storyline was not exact, but fairly good. I will watch the next installment if they make it and hope for better representation of the book. Now the Jack Reacher books. It has the wrong actor . Tom Cruise is no Jack Reacher. He ruined the character for me. “The Gray Man” was not as realistic as the books. Books are far superior to the series. Now for Will Trent. The character of Will Trent is all wrong. He just does not do it for me at all. Storyline is okay, but not great. Hoping it will pick up. I am currently reading a book that was recommended by this newsletter. It is “The Paris Library”. This is not my usual sort of read, but this book is captivating. Thank you to the person who recommended it. Great reading. Thank you for the newsletter and happy spring.

John: Where the Crawdads Sing from the novel by Delia Owens. I found the movie adaptation excellent and
was true to the original. Although a lot
of the movie was in “flashback” mode, the storyline was easy to follow in this
well-made movie.

The Terminal List from the novel by Jack Carr. A most disappointing TV series adaptation. The plot hardly followed the story line of
the novel which I enjoyed reading. I
watched Episode 1 and about ¾ of Episode 2 before I gave up.

I agree with your comments regarding Bosch and Reacher. Both are really good adaptations and I’m
looking forward to the spinoff featuring Renée Ballard.

Kind regards and thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts on adaptations.

Chris: I have to say that I think the Amazon series “Three Pines,” that is drawing from the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny, is excellent. The casting, especially with Alfred Molina playing the main character, is outstanding. I don’t mind the mix of events in the series that doesn’t exactly follow the books. Television is a different medium and requires a different approach. The Bosch series is also wonderful. It captures the flavor of the books, in my opinion, and creates a very believable world. I’m not as enthusiastic at the way the Outlander series of books have been made into a series, however. In some areas, such as casting, the producers did a fantastic job, but in the way they often drastically changed around story lines and muddied some of the character development, it’s been rather hit and miss. In all these series, though, the settings are fascinating to look at and really help bring the stories to life visually.

Joyce: This is a great question of the month, and I am anxious to see readers’ responses! I recently watched ‘A Man Called Otto’ from Backman’s ‘A Man Called Ove’. I loved the book so much and the movie was also excellent. Would highly recommend.

Maureen: The most recent adaptation from book to tv was Three Pines. I absolutely loved the series – the characters and the setting of Three Pines with its residents was just superb. The TV series was nothing like the books. I thought Gamache, his wife and Jean-Guy were matched well with the actors but the village and the villagers were sadly lacking. What I loved about the village and villagers in the books was their sense of community and the way they got on and worked together but they were not portrayed like that in the show. It was the sort of place I would think it would be nice to live. I did read the other day that in the next series the village and villagers will be closer to the books. Time will tell.

Mark: Tv adaptation of Robert Galbraith’s Strike series , simply called Strike here in the Uk is great. Tom Burke and Holiday Grainger are marvellous over 5 series

Lisa: In response to your question about adaptations, my husband and I recently discovered the Joe Pickett series on Paramount+. I have read all the CJ box novels and have really enjoyed them. Alas, my husband is not much of a reader but decided that we should give the series a try based on what I told him about the books. The first couple of episodes were OK, but by the 3rd one, they had started to veer off into some other universe and totally ruined the series. They had Joe doing things that he would not EVER do; added and got rid of major characters, and generally rewrote CJ Box’s series. My husband wanted to watch to the end of the episodes offered and I went along, suffering the waste of time spent in doing so. I became so bothered by the end that I was overjoyed and relieved to find out that Mr. Box pulled the plug on the series and walked away. It was a travesty.

mailman: The best adaptation I have ever watched, by far, is The Chosen series based on the New Testament. Reading and understanding the Bible has always been a formidable task, but the Chosen has made it so much more enjoyable. Whether believer or non-belever, I think all who watch this series will enjoy it immensely.

Jessica: The book adaptations I had seen lately are Gone for Good, Tell No One, The Burglar in the Closet (the movie was called Burglar) and the movie Old. I haven’t read the graphic novel Sandcastle that Old is based on yet. The book adaptations of Gone for Good and Tell No One had major character differences as in name changes and plot ending changes. They were okay. It does bug me that they changed the names. With Burglar, Bernie is female in the movie and the script was kinda bad.

I want to see the book adaptation of No Second Chance, but I can’t find it online and I’m too cheap to pay for it.

Trevor: And on the subject of adaptations of books, could I please mention the Inspector Montalbano books of Andrea Camilleri. The books are great: well plotted and well written, giving a real sense of everything,, including flavour, of Sicily and doing so honestly without, for example, ignoring the problems of the Mafia for policing. Several of the books were adapted for television with a mixed quality – some were excellent, but many just failed to capture the essence of the stories, despite a good attempt.

Elizabeth: This is so timely because last night I watched a movie based on a Book series by Joanne Fluke. It was Sweet Revenge in the Hannah Swensen series. It was interesting to see the characters come to life in the film. The movie didn’t follow all of the characters the same way that the book series does. It did get dinged on Amazon reviews because of this. I will probably watch another one if given a chance.
I too loved Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn and think it needs to become a series!

Debbie: I am a fan of Robyn Carr and her easy romance series. So I tuned into the Netflix Virgin River adaptation. So disappointed. Is not true to the books at all! I felt betrayed as I enjoy the books and think they could have stayed true to the books and produced a quality adaptation. It just seems too much like a soap opera to me. Will not continue to watch.

Shannon: I usually don’t like to watch any tv shows or movies if I have recently read the book. I feel disappointed when details are left out of the shows that made the book so enjoyable.

Right now I am watching Will Trent. LOVE IT!! Ramon Rodriguez does a great job playing Trent.

There are so many I can’t remember all of them.

Bosch. Great books and series.
Reacher. I didn’t care for it at all. Unfortunately for me I think it was the actor/acting.
Little Fires Everywhere. Soo good.
The Stranger. I really enjoyed and my husband who never read the book liked it as well.
Safe. Just couldn’t get into it. Not sure why as it’s been quite a while since I watched it. Liked the book.
Lincoln Lawyer. LOVE Michael Connelly. Really enjoyed the show.

These were just off the top of my head.
Soooo many books that I wish would be made into tv series.

I can’t wait to watch Daisy Jones and the Six.

Jenny: I have a new nomination for WORST screen adaptation- “Will Trent” !!!! A favorite book series now on some streaming platform and it is HORRIBLE. Weak , comic (when they shouldn’t be) characters w zero depth and everyone is in some sort of emotional agitation all the time. I wanted to throttle Karin Slaughter for being involved in this blasphemous mess.

Rhea: I love Freda McFadden books. I’ve read them all!

Adaptations of books usually disappoint me. I have images of the characters in my own imagination and the casting usually goes another way. When you have followed a series for years and become immersed in those characters and their personalities, it’s hard (for me) to watch a show that changes the storyline and/or characters, probably for better ratings.

I’ve read every Karen Slaughter book. “Pieces of Her” was a good adaptation but it was based on one book where you have less invested in the characters. I watched one episode of “Will Trent” and couldn’t watch another. I’ve spent years with those characters and the TV show changed them too much for me.

That said, I liked Bones more than the Kathy Reichs novels. Same for Rizzoli and Isles. Harlan Coben adaptations are excellent.

Phoenix: You asked about adaptations this month. Well, of course, there’s Outlander. I have a hard time watching all the violent scenes. More recently, I watched the Gamache adaptation. I’m assuming there’s more to come, since it left off with a cliffhanger. I read the first book and enjoyed it, but the adaptation didn’t seem to follow the book at all. Maybe it was the story in a different book.
Now, all that being said, I would dearly LOVE to see Margaret Frazer’s Sister Frivesse mysteries come to life. I enjoyed Cadfael so very much and was sorry they didn’t make more. I have a vision in my mind of what Sister Frivesse looks like, and I’m having a hard time picturing an actress for the part. An older actress, for sure. Meryl Streep maybe? I’m making a concerted effort this year to read books by authors of different nationalities and ethnicities from my own. I finished my 7th book of the year last night, and have so far read two American authors, and 1 each Nigerian, Morracan, British, Puerto Rican, and Russian. I’m about to start Solito, by a Salvadoran author.

Phil: Hi Graeme. In response to your question: I loved the TV show MONK. The 19 MONK books were pretty good, but I liked the TV episodes more.

Kelly: I am not sure if this counts as an adaptation of a book, but the current TV series The Chosen (just finished 3 of 8 seasons) adapts the stories of Jesus’ disciples by filling in the gaps in such a way that famous lines from the Bible stories just pop up naturally in the show’s storyline and make perfect sense. The directing and acting and writing are all phenomenal. I have never had such a positive and powerful emotional reaction to any other TV show or movie, even the others about Jesus and his disciples. This TV series definitely stands out above anything I have ever watched in my 60 plus years of life! I encourage everyone to make sure they do not miss this one!

Judy: The tv series will Trent is horrible. The character is Hispanic while Will is white. They have whitewashed the Angie character into a good person and a cop. Makes me really angry because Will is such a complicated character and in the tv series he is just another cop. Really disappointed in Karin Slaughter that she would put her name on this series

Joy: I recently saw SANDITON on PBS station. It very much followed the book by Jane Austen. The costumes, the mannerisms and the characters were true to the story. I really enjoyed it.

Connie: You asked about book adaptations for TV or movie. We do not subscribe to TV and have not watched it for about 20 years or so.

Our library carries a limited number of DVDs, so last year I discovered the Longmire series. The TV version was a pretty good series, but like many TV/movie portrayals, the character subtleties just weren’t there. Longmire was a decent TV show, but was nothing compared to Craig Johnson’s imagination. This one, however, is probably beyond your timeline.

The Reacher adaption of The Killing Floor was pretty amazing in that it so closely followed the story line. Although, I must confess to mixing that story up with a couple of other of Child’s Reacher stories.

Ritchson certainly had the height and breadth of the Reacher character, but didn’t quite portray my vision. I imagine I will check the series out of the library again and watch it sometime in the future. Probably after re-reading The Killing Floor.

The Reacher movie with Tom Cruise is a very good movie in and of itself. It’s too bad he felt the need to do it under the Reacher name. The best thing about this movie, though, is it introduced me to the character and I searched and found Child’s series to read.

I understand a TV series is being developed for C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett character. Looking forward to that, and hope I remember long enough for it to come out on DVD.

Audrey: 1) Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were THE best adaptations ever, really bringing the books to life, even spectacular battle scenes and remarkable characters. Great casting (but ridiculous addition/embellishment of a couple of female elf roles). Amazon’s new series, wisely outside the source material, has been very good.

2) Louise Penny’s Gamache: I watched the Amazon series and enjoyed it, THEN read the books (about halfway through the series now) and am now re-watching the series but not enjoying it nearly as much. The secondary characters aren’t faithful to the book; most egregiously, Clara and Gabri are supposed to be a bit schlubby and middle-aged but are played by a young cute thin girl and a skinny elegant actor. Myrna is supposed to be a mountain of a woman but again, skinny actor. I’m distracted every time those actors are on the screen, especially because the Olivier and Gabri actors could easily switch roles! More importantly, while the addition of an overarching plot and characters relevant to indigenous peoples are welcome, elements of the books-as-written are all smushed together, which is somewhat painful and will damage future seasons. Most importantly, I feel the relationship between Gamache and Beauvoir, a major element of the books, is tragically neglected.

3) The Last of Us, an adaptation of a terrific PlayStation game, is superb — the casting is terrific and the series sticks very closely to the game, sometimes scene for scene.

4) Really enjoyed the adaptation of Sherlock Holmes books featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman — not entirely faithful but brilliantly updated.

5) Almost always enjoy retellings of Shakespeare, both faithful and adapted in time and setting.

6) Isaac Asimov’s ‘I, Robot’ with Will Smith was good but a travesty of an adaptation, just Asimov’s title slapped onto an existing film. Hollywood reportedly has an adaptation of the novel by Harlan Ellison considered to be the best adaptation never filmed.

Appreciate you and OrderOfBooks SO much, and thoroughly enjoying BookNotification! Thank you!

Carol: I think that they are doing a better job of picking the actors than they are of adapting the book to a screenplay. For example, I agree with you that Titus is terrific as Bosch but I wish they’d stop rewriting the stories. There is no need to rewrite Michael Connelly. I seem to recall that for the movie version of Lincoln Lawyer, there was both the perfect actor, Matthew M., and a screenplay that stuck with Connelly.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Recent Book Adaptations

One Response to “Reader Mailbag: Recent Book Adaptations”

  1. MLB: 1 year ago

    Will Trent series love, love, love it! Starting the books and love them as well – even though Trent’s character is physically different the acting, voicing is on target.
    News of the World by Jiles- beautifully written. Adaptation movie by same name with Tom Hanks didn’t translate the story well too rushed, no depth.
    Loved the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo ( Swedish version of movie- American version did not do it justice)
    Wish they would make an adaptation of Carlos Ruiz Zafon “Cemetery of Forgotten Books” – Shadow of the Wind; The Angel’s Game; The Prisoner of Heaven; The Labyrinth of the Spirits
    Also would love to see them try to make an adaptation of Christopher Moore’s books especially Lamb


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