The Eternal Book vs. Movie Question

One of the Reading Women 2020 Challenge prompts is to read AND watch a book-to-movie adaptation. I had a hard time finding a book for this because I had already read (or watched) many of the good choices, but also because I don’t necessarily look for the same things in books and movies.

I settled on P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han because I had enjoyed watching To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. In that first installment, Lara Jean, a high schooler, is mortified when her little sister Kitty sends out five letters Lara Jean wrote to boys she had crushes on years before–letters she never meant to send. After much teenage drama, she winds up dating one of the boys. In P.S. I Still Love You, we see Lara Jean’s new relationship challenged by the appearance of the fifth recipient of the letters and the apparent jealously of Lara Jean’s former best friend.

The first movie was cute and charming, definite fluff, but with a creative plot and some entertaining characters. Unfortunately there just wasn’t enough plot to sustain a sequel, either as a book or movie. I didn’t hate either one, but I wouldn’t recommend them, either. My biggest problem with both is that Lara Jean’s entire relationship with her boyfriend consists of her fear that he is getting back together with his ex-girlfriend (and her ex-best friend) and/or other insecurities that he is going to dump her. They don’t seem to have any fun or talk about anything else. All of this makes the ending of the book in particular completely unbelievable.

That said, there are still some delightful moments in the book, especially with Kitty (who is 100% the best character) and their dad. Kitty’s schemes to get their dad (who is widowed) to date their new neighbor might have made a better basis for the plot. The movie excises most of this and also makes some odd changes to small details–changes for the worse that don’t affect the length or complexity of the plot. The movie also omits a key driver of the plot in the book, a game of assassins that leads to a betrayal and also Lara Jean’s discovery of an important fact about her ex-best friend. The plot of the book is already thin, there just isn’t anything to the movie at all.

In this case, to answer the question of book vs. movie, I would say neither, but if you’re going to pick one, pick the book!

2 thoughts on “The Eternal Book vs. Movie Question

  1. There’re precious few movie adaptations that I feel have done justice to the book. My two favorite movies adapted from books are (no surprise) Pride and Prejudice, as well as Sense and Sensibility. The movie adaptation of Persuasion is also quite good.

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