Mundie Moms

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Soul of A Book: TV And Film Adaptations

Nothing is more exciting as a reader than when the announcement comes that one of your all time favorite, beloved book series is being made into a movie or TV series. It's an exciting possibility to see the book world you've fallen in love with and its characters come to life. The possibilities are endless. What scenes will be featured, which of your favorite lines will be said, how will the book series be adapted for the screen or TV, who's going to be cast etc, etc. It's exciting. It's also a chance for others who haven't read the books to see what it is you love about the series so much. 

But above all, the book is coming to life!

As a reader, and having been a part of the book to movie/book to TV fandom (both Twilight and Shadowhunters) for eight years now, I know that it is impossible for the movie/tv show of any book to be exactly like the book. Nothing will ever be the book. Ever. The book is adapted for the big screen or for the TV show. Changes have to be made in order to create the book's story into something that not only book fans will love and support, but a new audience who's not read the books, will also be supportive of. That's no easy feat. 

Lately I have been super saddened to see "fans" of the unreleased television show telling longtime book fans that of course everything in the show will have to be different, from the characters' ages, to the way the magic works, to the jobs everyone has, to the entire plot.

I just wanted to reassure the overwhelming majority of fans who've read the books, and are hoping to see some of what they loved in the books onscreen — that that is not true. It is possible to create a film or TV adaptation that's both faithful to the spirit of the books, and yet has changes that grab the interest of those who have never read or heard of the books and enough new stuff to keep books fans on their toes. How do we know that? Because we have seen it. 

The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, were all very faithful to the books they were based on, and were successes. Movies that diverged from the books they were based on, from Percy Jackson to Beautiful Creatures to City of Bones, were flops.

Is it different for TV? No. Quality shows like Outlander and Game of Thrones are enormously faithful to the books they are based on, and their success has ushered in a new generation of television. Everything points toward faithful adaptations of American Gods, the Magicians, and Shannara. No one is bored by Game of Thrones because it sticks to the plots of the books. No one slept through the Red Wedding because it unfolded as it had in the books. Entertainment doesn't work that way. A huge quantity of people who tune into a show or watch a film based on their favorite books want to see the scenes they love unfold on screen. If there are no scenes from the books at all, they will walk away. That's just how it is.

It is simply a fact that all the evidence we've seen so far for Shadowhunters TV — sides, leaked pilot scripts, behind the scenes shots, what the cast and crew have said — points toward a show that doesn't just make changes, but makes enormous, sweeping changes. Can a show that changes so very much about the source material be something that book fans could still enjoy? I just don't know.

I, in no way want to upset any of you, I wish I knew what to do about it myself. I would love for the show to be good. I would love to think I was going to see a scene, any scene, from the books come to life. It just doesn't seem, from the evidence of the sides, the auditions, the pilot, and the comments made by cast and crew, that this will be so. Per an interview Kat McNamara recently had with Zap2It (you can read her interview here), she had this to say about the show,

Picture Source: Tweet via TMI_India on 8/13 here

The problem there is that "Cassie's interpretation of the books" is just the books and what's in them. If they're not doing that, then what are they doing? It's not like there's anything wrong with interpretations, but when news first broke about Shadowhunters TV, it was said that the show would be based on Cassandra Clare's books. For book fans, that was beyond exciting. It was a chance for us book fans to see a redemption from the flop the Shadowhunters movie was. With credible sources whom have purchased the slides which contain the actual script for the show, we know that the story has completely been re-written. As in not even the same story as the books. True, the character names are the same, and there's a Shadowhunter world, and some of the relationships are similar to the books, but that's it. Valentine lives in a nuclear reactor in Chernobyl in this show. Alec is the head of the Institute. Luke is a cop. Isabelle hates her mom and loves her dad. Simon has a girlfriend who isn't Clary or Isabelle or Maia. Faeries (sorry "Seelies") are forcing Alec into an arranged marriage with a girl. The Institute isn't deserted, but full of people. The Shadowhunters don't dislike technology, but are covered in iPads and expensive computers. Michael Wayland is alive. Does any of this sound to you, Shadowhunter fans, like the books you read? More importantly, does it sound like books you'd want to read?

Only an individual fan can answer that for themselves. Recently some Shadowhunter fansites have spoken up about the changes. They are not lying, they have not created these changes out of thin air. They're changes any fan can read for themselves via the script sides that can be purchased on While I want the Shadowhunters series to be successful for Cassandra Clare's sake, reading all the changes (interpretations) that have been made is hard. Having been a huge fan of the Shadowhunters world since 2008, my loyalty lies with the books, not the show. That doesn't, however mean that I'm not supportive of the show, but it does mean that my loyalty will always side with the original story because that is what I cared about first. So while I understand that people may be upset when they see other fans angry about the changes . . . it is hard for me not to feel worried and heartbroken too.  

I think it's important for fans to remember that no matter our stance is on what's being done with the Shadowhunters TV, the only reason we are even interested in the show, the only reason there is this debate happening, is because these are books people care about. How much change can be wrought on the stories and characters without destroying them is something people can only decide for themselves. But every fan and fansite deserves to have their own opinion, because we all share something -- we share a passion for these books and this world, which will be around long after the show has ended.


  1. Beautifully written, Katie! :)
    I have been very disheartened because of the changes but also because the fans have split into these two "camps" that you mentioned. I've read a summary of the pilot and whilst I did not like it at all, I will give the show a try. Cassie's books will always be my priority and if I don't like the TV show, I will just go back to reading and re-reading the books. I hope the situation between the fans will improve because right now I simply do not enjoy being on social media due to all the negativity.

    1. Thank you Cat! Cassie's books will always be my priority as well. I'm giving the show a try, but without any expectations now that I've seen some of the slides from the script. The fandom not being supportive of each other is troubling. I'm with you, I hope what's going on between fans improves.

  2. I'm not surprised by this happening. It being done by the same writers that did vampire diaries if I remember correctly and they didn't stay true to those books either. According to my mom who read the whole series there was very little of the books in that TV series and so when they announced who would be doing this one I knew that it wouldn't stay true to the books. So sad.

    1. After the movie was a bust, I had, had hope for the show.... The show is being done by those who were behind The Mortal Instruments Movie. Same studio and executives, different writers and directors.

  3. Thanks for the article! I had heard about some of the changes and most of them didn't really bother me because I watch many TV adaptions, but Valentine living in a nuclear reactor?!! REALLY?! LOL. Okay.

    Veray- It's not by the same people as TVD. McG is associated with Supernatural. Also, while the first four TVD books might have been classic 90s camp, the later books were absolutely HORRIBLE. Trust me on this!

    1. You're welcome! Some of these changes, like Valentine living in a nuclear reactor, are so absurd. It's also as laughable as the movie Valentine.... almost. LOL

  4. Michael Wayland is alive? No. Why would they do that? If Wayland is still alive, then who was Valentine pretending to be?
    I'm starting to be disappointed in the Shadowhunters show.If they aren't even using the same story and plotline, then it wouldn't even be based off the book. The whole reason that there is a world and characters for the show to use is because of Cassandra Clare's books. Cassandra Clare spent so much work creating these characters, this world, AND this story. Disappointed.

    I'm sure that if the show is nothing like the books, I'm probably going to hate the show. It's the truth.

    1. Exactly! The show, and as Kat was quoted as saying, is an "interpretation" of the books, which with what we've read and seen so far, is nothing like the books. It's so frustrating as a book fan, because you want to see the story you fell in love with in the books, come to life. I'm started to become really disappointed in Shadowhunters as well. I feel bad for Cassie. I can't imagine all she's feeling.