Do you know what I’m sick of? Picking up a brilliant book, loving it to the bindings and back, only to be overly disappointed by the film adaptation that follows not long after. I am by no means alone, I can safely say that there are millions of book readers out there who will vouch that nine times out of ten, Hollywood just doesn’t know how to take care of a popular book series when putting it to the screen.
I’ll admit that it has been a dream of mine to write a novel and see it being brought to life before my very eyes but with the serial book slaughtering that shows no signs of stopping…would my heart be able to take it? Why do they seek pleasure in blotting out our precious secondary characters? Why do they materialise love interests that don’t exist? And why oh why do they ignore the character ages and descriptions? I know why, it is no secret that the film industry seeks profit above other factors. It is more desirable to slash and cut material into the narrow mainstream box and appeal to the masses rather than actually please the fans that allured them to said material in the first place. There are limits, restrictions and boxes that need to be ticked so it is no surprise that we see so many poor adaptations that aren’t even worthy of a sequel.
I know there can be exceptions, I’m a fan of Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss Everdeen and you cannot deny that Harry Potter squeezed all that they could in their hour and a halves despite some questionable decisions. However, there is a graveyard of once glorious book series that have been ruined in the film world and I’m pretty sure I have a notable solution.
I know this isn’t a new idea, there are book adaptations that have made it to television already: Outlander, Game of Thrones, The Vampire Diaries and Under the Dome just to name a few. All of which have a varying success of adapting the book material but all better attempts than what a film could have managed I’m sure. A television series has more room to breathe, more time to develop, and more chances to please both readers and watchers alike. If a book and a film are two opposite forms of storytelling then I believe that television is the middle ground and so many creative sacrifices won’t need to be made.
So here are my top picks for books that channels need to look at snapping up before Hollywood or need to desperately rescue and nurture back to watchable health:
1. The Skulduggery Pleasant Series by Derek Landy
Skulduggery Pleasant is a wise cracking, action packing and magical backing series that I’ve found is only overlooked because of the publisher’s miscalculation of pigeon holing it into the children’s bracket. The character exchanges are razor-sharp and hilarious, perfect for a fast paced television dialogue, the plots are twisted and exciting which we all look for in a good show, AND, it is something that you wouldn’t have seen the likes of before. What more could you ask for? (Do I mention the amazing female protagonist and witty Skeleton Detective?)
2. The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
When an author personally declares that he will not be seeing the adaptation of his own work then you know that you’re in for a bumpy ride at best. Percy Jackson, had the perfect potential to be as wide a phenomenon as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games but whereas those films soared, Percy and his band of Demi-Gods have fallen under the radar. Where the films failed that a television series could succeed is the attention to detail. Camp Half Blood flashes by in seconds, chunks of narrative are told in minutes rather than hours and complex character arcs are traded for bland stereotypical roles. Can I have the Annabeth I always wanted pretty please!?
3. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
If Christopher Paolini had thought the same as George R.R. Martin and understood that his works were too delightfully complex and detailed for the film industry then maybe we could have had something magnificent on our hands. Who doesn’t love dragons? Who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Rider? Magic, murderous villains, sword fights and DRAGONS. The film failed to bring the essence of the book to light and produced a skeleton adaptation of the books, leaving all of the juicy bits to be cast aside along with all the badly made plot changes. Imagine Eragon in the hands of ABC or STARZ, it would be an accessible fantasy series that has a more diverse cast than the film would have you believe. I want Lady Nasuada taking over Alagaësia with an iron fist and I want her now!
Those are just three examples of the book series I’ve read and wish to see in the safer hands of television. If I could write the scripts myself and put them out there, then believe me I would! There are no doubt countless more that need the attention they deserve and if it wasn’t for the money involved when these rights are sold then I’d guarantee that television would be the first option. Happy readers result in happy viewing figures and only then perhaps will we not see disappointed book readers despair at the end credits.