Warning: Characters in film may appear different than promised

Visualization is not one of my strengths. Book characters normally take on more of a presence than a concrete physical form in my mind. Thankfully, I am unaware of this process unless I utilize my $75,000 critical thinking skills (#thankyoucollege).

Please don’t cry for me, Argentina (or anyone else). I don’t think it hampers my reading experience. Plus, I am still aware of what the characters are supposed to look like, which is why it is so jarring when a movie falls short from even my meager expectations.

Is the character tall? Well then find an actor who is at least 6’1″ or a 5’8″ actress. Is the character pale? dark? tan? freckled? Then cast accordingly. Does the character have a distinct physical feature like messy hair, a set of piercing green eyes, or a lightning bolt scar? Then at least find contacts and a wig.

John Green recently caused a little hullabaloo when he announced the actress selected to play Margo Roth Spiegelman from “Paper Towns” is none other than British super model Cara Delevingne. The casting decision has since grown on me, but initially I was one of the protesters (just, you know, internally and to Moose).

Green does not focus too much on Margo’s individual features. Instead, he continually reiterates how her physical features take a backseat to her personality, presence, and aura of mystery. Casting Delevingne strikes me as funny as she is foremost known for her body and face.

Main character Q made random comments on Margo’s physical features throughout the book:

  • “It wasn’t even that she was so pretty. She was just so awesome, and in the literal sense.” (p. 14)
  • “You can’t divorce Margo the person from Margo the body. You can’t see one without seeing the other. You looked at margo’s eyes and you saw both their blueness and their Margo-ness. In the end, you could not say that Margo Roth Spiegelman was fat, or that she was skinny, any more than you can say that the Eiffel Tower is or is not lonely.” (p. 50)

When I read the book, I pictured a girl who looked more like Mary Elizabeth Winstead (think Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World) or Brie Larson. To be fair, Delevingne is the only one out of the three who has blue eyes like Margo. Also, Delevingne is known for her larger-than-life personality, much the same as Margo.

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Some movies make me question whether the casting director paid attention to the book’s description. For example, Shailene Woodley plays Tris in the film adaptation of the “Divergent” series. Woodley is a 5’8″ natural beauty, whereas Tris is described as  a short, bird-like girl with a long, thin nose almost too big for her face.

Unknown (Shailene Woodley as Tris)

Maybe Hollywood can’t handle having a striking— not beautiful or attractive— actress helm a young adult franchise. #toomuchtoosoon #overit

If I watch a movie before reading a book, the author has to make it really clear the blue eyed, dark haired chick is actually a brown-eyed blondie. For example, Anne Hathaway will always be Princess Mia Thermopolis in my head. I don’t think Mia is supposed to be as lovely as Hathaway is, but so it shall remain!

My favorite by far is when readers are wrong about what a character looks like— GASP! I know we Bookworms are supposed to be the experts in the movie theater, but even we get it wrong from time to time. Remember the ridiculous outrage some people expressed over Rue being played by a young black actress?

Rue_tribute_portrait (Amandla Stenberg as Rue)

“Hunger Games” author Suzanne Collins makes it clear Rue is not the white kid many readers somehow pictured on page 45, “And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes…” I’m not sure how so many people misconstrued this one.

I’m sure there have been many a casting sin, but I am still broadening my genre consumption. This blog post has made me wonder what LOTR, The Walking Dead (comic-verse), and Game of Thrones fans think of the casting decisions for their beloved books, etc. #theworldmayneverknow

(I’m just kidding, just Google that shizniz, we Bookworms are a loquacious bunch.)

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The Great(ly overrated) and Mighty(*ily exaggerated) Bookworm

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“Have you seen the latest Hunger Games movie,” my friend Lorton the Laughing Machine (name changed for my personal amusement) asked as she scrolled through Netflix.

“No,” I answered, my eyes glued to my phone. “I’ve read the books though.”

*Silence*

I looked over at Lorton. Her face settled into a scowl. My eyebrows lowered back at her.

“What,” I asked.

She let out a put-upon sigh before responding, “How do you always know about a series before it is popular or a book before it is a movie?”

A chuckle escaped from my mouth as I answered, “I just like to read books.”  (Bookworms, #hollabackatyourgirl.)

This apparently was not a satisfactory explanation. And yet, isn’t this normally the case? As an avid reader, I excitedly seek out what appeals to me. If a book catches my attention, I read it. Sometimes the book is later adapted for film. (Seriously, Lorton gives me more credit than I deserve.)

A quick list of books I read before they hit the silver screen: “Ella Enchanted,” “Hunger Games,” “Twilight,” “Divergent,” “Blood and Chocolate,” “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “Vampire Academy,” “The Host,” and “Ring of Endless Light.”

On the flip side, the number of books-turned-movies I have either never heard of or had any interest in reading is much higher.

There is no #methodtothemadness when I select a book. My only criteria is it has to pique my interest. I sincerely wish I could look at a book and determine its pop culture value. I feel like such a skill would be marketable— maybe at a publishing house?

I have read hundreds of books; many of these reads will never find their way to the local Regal Cinema theater. If anything, the reason I know about certain books before they become movies is simple statistics (#helpmehighschoolmath #fakeittilyoumakeit).

Ahem. If I take a handful of pebbles and throw them into a crowd, some of them are bound to hit people, right?  So if I read hundreds of books, some are bound to appeal to a couple Hollywood Big Wigs. See? Simple math, or whatever.

Several of today’s popular series were on my bookshelf before every tween, teen, and 20-something lost their minds over them. And yet, there are way more fan clubs I never joined: John Green, Immortal Instruments, Percy Jackson, Ender’s Game/etc., Confessions of Georgia Nicholson, Maze Runner, The Inheritance Cycle….do I need to continue?

Maybe it only appears to Lorton I have the inside scoop, because I spend more hours reading than she does. I imagine, if she were on the same page as Moose or I, then she would also be in the know. (My brain is beyond tired at this point, but this makes sense, right?)

Ps. Since I tend to be #harrietthespy curious, I like to know what is coming up. I’ve found a few great lists on Buzzfeed. This is primarily where I drew upon for my “books being turned into movies” section on my 2015 Reading List.

#RL2015 update: reading “Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. (<– looks nothing like I pictured)

Bookworm Blasphemy

How about we all just sit in a circle, put on some chill tunes, and take turns with the Feeling Stick?

Never fear, if you are not a New Girl aficionado! The rules of the aptly (yet unfortunately) named Feeling Stick are simple: whoever is holding the Feeling Stick can say whatever they feel, without being judged. Did you hear me fellow Bookworms? Without. Being. Judged.

So now that I have the #feelingstick firmly in my possession: today I saw a movie I liked more than the book.

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*cue gasps of horror*

Yes, this is Bookworm Blasphemy. We pride ourselves on standing firmly beside the author’s work in face of the movie adaptations— no matter how fantastic or deplorable. It is almost better when I do not know a movie is based on a book. Then I won’t spend the entire movie checking off the differences between the two story lines ( cue a #battletothedeath in which only one can rise victorious).

I chose to read the book after seeing the trailer for the movie. It seemed spunky, light-hearted, funny, and packed with underdog goodness (and yes, a very cute male lead). The movie put a She’s All That spin on the original storyline. In contrast, the book focuses on Bianca’s issues (absent mother, father in denial, an overwhelming amount of stress) and how this leads her to seek physical relief from Wesley Rush.

Bianca spends the majority of the book running from said issues, avoiding her friends, and engaging in much of the Doing it with Wesley. I enjoyed Kody Keplinger’s humorous style well enough, but it could not distract me from wanting to shake some sense into Bianca. She stressed me out. Plus, the #hopelesslyhopefulromantic in me does not handle casual sex well in Story Land.

The movie made a couple cuts and numerous additions to improve the plot. Usually this would drive me up the wall, but this time it made the entire experience more enjoyable for me. And you know what? The best part of the book survived the script rewrites: Bianca and Wesley’s sometimes sweet and often sarcastic relationship.

About 45 percent of the time I enjoy the film adaptations almost as much as the original book. I try to look at the new piece as a remix of sorts— provided the changes in the storyline do not fill me with an intense desire to throttle everyone involved in the making of said movie. Some of these adaptations include: Bridget Jones’ Diary, A Walk to Remember, The Princess Bride, The Help, One for the Money. (<– This list makes me realize how much #RL2015 will help me branch out as a reader.)

Have you ever seen a movie you enjoyed more than the book? Please, feel free to #kickupyourfeet and consider the question. In the meantime, here is a list of 10 books-turned-movies that crashed and burned (you know, to restore balance in the Bookworm World):

  1. Blood and Chocolate
  2. The Maze Runner
  3. Ella Enchanted
  4. Jane Eyre (unless we are talking about the 2006 BBC version)
  5. The Black Cauldron
  6. The Princess Diaries sequel
  7. The Scarlet Letter
  8. Cat in the Hat
  9. Watchmen
  10. Eragon (I’m listing this one for my brother).

*RL2015 update: still reading “Paper Towns.” Everyone but Radar is currently annoying me.