6 Movies That Are as Good as the Book (And 6 That Aren’t)

Posted on September 3, 2014 by

As a book lover, it’s likely that you’ve walked out movie theater and exclaimed, “The book was better!” But is this always the case? 

BookBub recently surveyed 500 readers to assess their their opinions on the film adaptations of books that have hit the bestseller lists in the past two years. The survey found what we already believed to be true: more than half of readers “rarely” or “never” consider a movie adaptation as good as the book.

However, on a book-by-book basis, readers actually adore some film adaptations—the key word there being “some.” Below are 13 film adaptations you should see (and those you should skip), according to our survey. Do you agree with these readers?


 Movies that are good as the book:

1. The Fault in Our Stars


John Green’s novel about two teenage cancer patients tore at heartstrings both on-page and on-screen. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of readers liked the movie as much as or more than the book.

Said a reader: “The Fault in Our Stars was pretty spot on with the book. I loved every minute. I was happy that they took actual lines and scenes directly from the book, almost exactly.”


2. The Help


Kathryn Stockett’s novel about the racial divide in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, made a great film, according to both critics and readers. The Help earned four Academy Award nominations and five Golden Globe nominations, and a whopping 71% of readers considered it as good or better than the book!


3. The Hunger Games


With The Hunger Games topping bestseller lists from The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and many others, filmmakers were tasked with the tough job of bringing Suzanne Collins’ dystopian world of Panem to life. But readers were pleased—65% thought the movie was as good as or better than the book.

The Hunger Games movie was close to as-good-as [the book],” said one reader, adding that “books’ descriptive elements, and inner narratives…can be impossible to translate to the screen.”


4. The Lucky One


Nicholas Sparks’ sweet Southern romances have something that sparkle on-screen. The Lucky One, starring Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling, was met favorably from fans, with 62% considering it as good as or better than the novel.


5. Safe Haven


Safe Haven, another Nicholas Sparks’ novel, was adored by movie-goers—60% liked the movie version as much as the book.


6. The Great Gatsby


Originally published in 1925, The Great Gatsby has since been adapted into film on several different occasions. The most recent adaptation, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan, was loved by readers. More than half with preferred the film adaptation entirely over the classic novel.


Movies that are worse than the book:


1. Heaven Is For Real


The 2010 novel, in which Todd Burpo recounted the story of his son’s near-death experience, was an insta-hit, quickly climbing the bestseller lists. Unfortunately, the 2014 film adaptation flopped, with 62% of BookBubbers preferring the book.


2. Jack Reacher


Similarly, 62% of readers preferred Lee Child’s One Shot over the 2012 film adaptation, Jack Reacher. The reason? Blame the casting.

“I felt Tom Cruise was not a good fit for the character,” wrote one reader.

“Seriously, Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher…who is 6’5” tall and 250 pounds…OMG,” added another.


3. The Book Thief


As a novel, The Book Thief remained on the The New York Times bestseller list for more than 230 weeks. As a movie, it was well-received at the box office, but didn’t satisfy readers: 59% preferred the novel.


4. Divergent


Divergent raked in $150 million at the box office, but fans of the novel weren’t impressed—58% preferred the book over the the movie. While some readers did like the movie the same as the book, no one we surveyed thought the movie was better than the book.


5. Twelve Years A Slave


Similarly, despite earning nine Oscar nominations, 56% of readers preferred Twelve Years a Slave as a book, rather than a movie, and no one thought the movie was better than the 1853 memoir it was based on.


6. Ender’s Game


Nearly 25 years after its print debut, Ender’s Game was made into a feature film. But sci-fi fans weren’t amused: 54% liked the book better the movie.


What do you think? Is the book always better than the movie?

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