Books Over Adaptations

Now my assertion that I prefer books over their movie/TV adaptations probably won’t surprise many people—mostly because I’m sure most people agree. Adaptations are never as good as the books because of their limitations. You can’t be inside the main character’s head in the same way, or name-drop every little detail to help you paint your own picture in your head about what the world looks like, or completely miss clues in the same way.

Adaptations are never exactly the same as their books, which I usually understand because not all scenes or techniques translate well onto the screen but let’s be real; we all know it REALLY happens because these movie/TV writers don’t like happiness (I’m looking at you Order of the Phoenix writers). Adaptations tend to take away some scenes and put in new ones, which VERY RARELY make it better, in my opinion. The only movie adaptation of a book I can think of that I was okay with in terms of their changing and adding some scenes was The Hunger Games because of the way the book was written. Since it followed Katniss so closely in the books and we can’t really spend two hours listening to her inner mind in the movies, it made sense for them to widen the scope and have scenes showing us how Panem and the districts worked, President Snow’s motivations, and how the Gamemakers made the arena work.

An example of an adaptation that I didn’t really like very much (read: I was fuming in the theater) was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix mainly because they left out all the good parts instead of just making it two movies (although I generally think this trend is getting out of hand, I would’ve been totally here for)! I think, however, a more concrete example is in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince where they took out the fight scene between the Order and the Death Eaters at the very end (while Snape killed Dumbledore) and instead added the most random and horrible scene where the Death Eaters attacked the Burrow. Here, it made no sense why they would take one out and add another; one because nothing else came of the attack on the Weasley home, and two because there were so many important things that happened during that end fight (like Bill Weasley getting bit by un-changed werewolf Fenrir Greyback) that end up getting randomly mentioned in the most awkward way possible when the writers realized they messed up.

[As I am writing this, I also just realized that they took out Dumbledore’s funeral, which is almost as bad as them half-ignoring Dumbledore’s backstory in Deathly Hallows. But let me stop; I already plan on writing two other pieces dedicated to Harry Potter and this could easily devolve into a third one about the disrespect Dumbledore was treated with in the movies.]

Anyway, long story short, I’ve always felt that I would like books better than their adaptations. It just feels more pure since it is the original medium the creator intended it to be in. However, because of the news about the inevitability that the show Game of Thrones would finish before—and therefore spoil—the A Song of Ice and Fire series, my assertion has been tested.

I am one of those people who read the first five books of ASOIF and am waiting (not very) patiently for Winds of Winter to drop. I was already considering not watching Season 5 of Game of Thrones because I wasn’t sure what would be spoiled and what wouldn’t be. My main concern was about Bran and his story, since GOT has a different pacing for different characters than ASOIF does and they moved through Bran’s story pretty quickly. But once I found out that Bran wouldn’t be in this season—and once I saw the first trailer—I decided to watch.

Just before Season 5 came out, I told myself I wasn’t going to watch Season 6 or however many more seasons it takes for Game of Thrones to finish. The main reason is that I didn’t want to be spoiled. I’ve tried for a long time to separate the two in my head, but it is difficult seeing as they’re working with very similar material. It can be hard to delineate what happened in one versus the other, though mostly because I have only read ASOIF all the way through once. Especially now that it has been confirmed that the GOT ending will more or less be the same as the ASOIF ending, I didn’t want to do it. Ask anyone I know, I am vehemently against spoilers (although I will ask a thousand questions—none of which I actually want answered).

In theory, I consider the finishing of GOT before ASOIF to be a huge spoiler. In practice, GOT is a REALLY GOOD SHOW. I had this whole thing about Season 5 being my last season and whatever, but then I saw the first episode and my first thought was how am I going to stop watching this? Though, now that we’re deeper into the season, I think season 5 is a bit weaker than I expected, I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to keep watching the show all the way through.

I generally privilege books over pretty much any other media. While I get a similar feeling from watching television shows, nothing to me is better than getting to the end of a book and having my mind blown by the unfolding of the plot. I love being pulled into something, reacting for the first time, and allowing my initial feelings to rule my opinion. If I know what’s going to happen before that, those feelings are robbed from me.

I know this is going to be hard, but knowing GRRM, I’ll probably be 30 before the book series finishes and at this point I’m really into Game of Thrones. Though I’m still having a hard time separating one from the other, I do know that they are separate and eventually I’ll be able to fully love them separately. Plus, we all know adaptations aren’t ever exactly the same as the books—and the writers of GOT have already admitted that they will be changing a lot, including who dies and who doesn’t (RIP Ser Barristan). So I’m just going to have to suck it up and watch GOT. Woe is me.