October 25, 2020

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Top five upcoming book-to-screen adaptations

Shauna McCrudden reviews the next books about to hit the screen that should be on your reading list

Was the book or movie version better? The age-old question which any book lover should ask on a first date. If the answer is ‘Oh yes, I love the Hobbit movies, the book is boring!’ or ‘What do you mean Gone Girl was a book?’, you are just going to have to leave the restaurant, Zoom date or six-feet-apart lunch immediately, still chewing your spaghetti.

This is not to say that every adaptation is bad (far from). There are incredibly solid examples such as Misery, The Lord of the Rings, and the most recent obsession, Normal People. But for every Harry Potter series, there is a Divergent series which just leaves you wondering what in the world just happened.

With this in mind and with all fingers crossed, let’s take a look at some of the upcoming adaptations of great novels hitting your screen in the near future. So you can read up and get ahead of the game.

The Woman in the Window

You can never go wrong with Amy Adams at the helm. Her recent success with the HBO series Sharp Objects proved she can play a disturbed woman in the middle of a mystery book adaptation. And that’s exactly what she will be playing in this adaptation of The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn. With Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman rounding out the cast, it’s sounding good. At the time this was written and filmed, I doubt the author or production knew that a story about a woman who cannot leave her house, spying on her neighbours while drinking all day, would be so incredibly poignant during this time (or is this just how I’m spending the lockdown?). 

The 2018 book was a massive success. It was following in the footsteps of The Girl on the Train’s plot of a woman who sees something horrific. But both suffer from the Cassandra curse where no one will believe her. In this book, agoraphobic Anna lives alone in her big house. She spends her time watching old movies and wishing her life was as happy as it was before. When Anna takes a peek into the home of the perfect new family that just moved in across the road, she sees something she shouldn’t have. Cue tension, unreliable narrators, and a look at how the world treats those with mental illnesses they can’t understand. 

Throughout the book, Anna can be extremely frustrating. I remember screaming at her to just walk outside for once. Or at least try to open the door without fainting! I’m one of those people who really had no patience for something as debilitating as agoraphobia. But in fairness, Anna does make some very stupid choices throughout the novel. This is despite the fact that she is supposed to be an intelligent person – a doctor none the less! Hopefully those get fine-tuned in the movie. 

The original release date was May 2020, but it was pushed back due to the current COVID-19 crisis. New release date is TBC

Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier’s classic gothic novel will be hitting the little silver screen on Netflix this year. The melodramatic book’s adaptation stars Lily James (Cinderella, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again) as lead character Mrs de Winter, who is swept off her feet and her job as a lady’s maid by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter, played by Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name). But when they arrive at his country estate, de Winter’s late wife Rebecca is a shadowy evil figure, haunting them and threatening to destroy their marriage. There doesn’t seem to be any news on who is playing the titular character as yet, but the cast is solid so far with Keeley Hawes and Kristin Scott Thomas in the line-up. Hitchcock’s 1940 version of Rebecca won the Best Picture Oscar, so let’s hope this one is just as successful. 

The novel itself is like one you would read with pouring rain outside and a steaming cup of tea beside you while you are curled up in a blanket. Rebecca is like the child of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. But with that said, you could compare the novel to marmite – some will love it, and some will hate it depending on how much you love gothic literature. The female lead is without a name and can be quite silly as she suffers from young love. But the haunted mansion type story and intriguing revelations, keep the story from relying solely on inner monologues and possibilities hidden in dark corners.

Release date is TBC

Artemis Fowl

Irish author Eoin Colfer’s successful Artemis Fowl series has spawned eight novels, a number of games, and a spin-off series, The Fowl Twins. This Disney adaptation is the first time it has been brought to any screen though. So let’s hope it doesn’t go the way of other big-screen versions of popular kids fantasy books. For example, The Vampire’s Assistant or Eragon, two movies which you shouldn’t really bother seeking out. 

Directed by none other than Kenneth Branagh, the film has already gone through two decades of development hell. But it seems like it’s back on track.

The story revolves around 12-year-old Artemis Fowl II, a child prodigy and criminal mastermind. When his father Artemis Fowl I (Colin Farrell) disappears, he enters the mysterious magical world using his super smarts to ransom a fairy. Artemis teams up with a dwarf to do so (Josh Gad of Frozen and Beauty and the Beast fame). And with Judi Dench also in the cast, you know there will be top-notch acting. The book itself is simply great fun, as a young adult fantasy novel should be. While there are silly parts – a 12-year-old is smart enough to basically take over the world and fairies are not as cuddly as Tinkerbell pretended to be whenever Peter Pan was around – there are lots of twists and turns to be a great read.

Release date is June 12th, 2020 on Disney+

Percy Jackson

Only just announced in the last few days, a new Percy Jackson adaptation is in the works at Disney+. One of my favourite young adult fantasy series, the film adaptation starring Logan Lerman was a blight on an otherwise excellent series written by Rick Riordan. With five spin-off books, graphic novels, and the books staying on The New York Times Best Seller list for 245 weeks, it’s safe to say these books are pretty popular.

Percy (Perseus) Jackson is a seemingly normal 12-year-old boy living in New York diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. Fun Fact: the author wrote the series for his son who had been diagnosed with the same. That is until he gets attacked by a fury, meets a satyr, fights the Minotaur, and realises he’s in the middle of Greek mythology in the present day. Percy is the son of a human and the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon. He then goes to a special camp for half-bloods like him during the summer to train to become a big damn hero. The five books in the series follow Percy as he grows a year older every book and the trials and tribulations that implies. This includes a prophecy with the potential to put the fate of the world into the hands of our protagonist.

This is such a fun series that is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny at times. Percy and his friends Annabeth and Grover fight gods and monsters and go on journeys through the Underworld and Mount Olympus. At the very least, you will come away with much more knowledge of Greek mythology than ever before. The only issue might be that the books are more children’s literature than young adult. This can put adult readers off. But if that never stopped you with Harry Potter, I don’t see why it would stop you now!

Release date is TBC

Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty of Big Little Lies fame is one of the most interesting books to get an adaptation. Set to premiere on Hulu next year, the cast so far includes such stars as Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy. It will also be created by the same team behind the Big Little Lies show.

The story is set at a boutique wellness resort in Australia, where nine incredibly stressed people from the city (the titular perfect strangers) go to get on a path of better living. They are going there to lose weight, to detox, to have a massage, and think through the problems that have been plaguing them. Kidman will play Masha who oversees the resort and wants to reinvigorate everyone’s minds. From the loss of a child, to struggling with divorce, the book tackles very large and very real issues with a lot of heart.

Going into the book, you might expect it to be like Big Little Lies – little bit of murder and intrigue. But Nine Perfect Strangers is not really like that. In fact, you could argue that not much actually happens at all! It’s mainly about the issues the characters are going through. And there are 11 characters here you have to get to know pretty quickly. This is tough when they don’t all get fleshed out as much as others. However, there is some mystery and suspense here with a twist you likely won’t see coming. It’s worth reading if you liked Moriarty’s previous books.

Release date is sometime in 2021

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