7 Books That Hit the Big Screen and Whether or Not They Missed the Mark

Authors dream of seeing their work so widely read that they land a movie deal. But sometimes these movies don’t do the stories justice.

I read these books and saw these movies. Some amazed me and others fell flat:

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This modern love story touched my heart both in print and on screen. With perfectly casted characters, the movie followed the book well, allowing the reader’s mind’s eye to experience everything a second time. An overall flawless book-to-movie transition.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I might receive some backlash for this one, but I never watched the original movie. I only saw the Leonardo DiCaprio version. And maybe I’m biased, but I loved the movie. I read this book in high school but re-read it a few years later for a refresher. I think the movie follows the book well while adding a glitzy Hollywood spin that fits the story perfectly. I continued listening to the soundtrack long after I saw the movie. Let me just say, so “on-brand.”

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

As much as I loved this book when I first read it, the movie did not meet my expectations. The Hunger Games took the world by storm and ushered dystopian novels into mainstream media. Speaking to my generation, the excitement leading up to this movie got me hype.


Unfortunately (and I think my fellow readers agree with me) the movie fell flat. Although it followed the book fairly well, the movie barely grazed the surface. It felt more like a book trailer than a movie. Almost like the writers allotted only two minutes to each scene of the book in order to move the plot along. The franchise improved when Catching Fire hit the big screen, but I don’t know how I feel about the decision to split Mocking Jay into two movies.

4. Divergent by Veronica Roth

If you loved The Hunger Games, you probably loved Divergent even more. The entire trilogy moved so quickly with remarkable character development. Yet another successful trilogy fell flat when it hit the silver screen. Although I enjoyed Divergent the movie, the movies that succeeded it got progressively worse. So bad in fact that rumors stated the final installment, Ascendant*, scheduled to air on television instead of in theaters. As far as I know, nothing came to fruition here and I assume producers dropped the storyline altogether.

*Supposedly part two of Allegiant the movie. Catch me in another post wondering WHY WE DIVIDE FINAL BOOKS INTO TWO MOVIES. IT RARELY EVER WORKS… Okay, I end my rant. Carry on with your reading.


5. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks


To my surprise, I liked the movie better than the book. That happens so very rarely it almost caught me off guard. I watched the movie before reading the book and looked forward to seeing the mastermind behind this love story. But I just didn’t feel the same magic in the novel. I found that the movie addressed the sexuality tastefully, while Nicholas Sparks did so in a way too graphic in context.

6. The Giver by Lois Lowry

In all honesty, I hated the book. And the movie followed the book well. So naturally I hated the movie. I don’t want to bore you with the details. The storyline just didn’t intrigue me. It felt rushed and poorly executed.

7. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

One of my all-time favorite novels, I fully support this book-movie combination. Like The Notebook, I watched the movie first. I adored the movie, with its depth of plot and characters and I simply had to read the book. Sara Gruen did a phenomenal job researching circus culture during her chosen time period. She beautifully mixed humor, romance, and drama. And the movie followed suite. Seeing the movie first helped me to visualize the characters and scenes as I read. Writing this makes me want to watch the movie all over again.


Some of these authors’ movie dreams came true. Others became a nightmare. But maybe something good comes from a dream deferred.

What do you think about this list? Which ones did I leave out? Let me know by sharing your favorite and hated book-movie combinations.


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