The Adaptation Oscars

I love book-to-film adaptations. Love, love, LOVE - but only when they're done properly. Some are amazing; sitting back and watching one of those great films is like sitting back and watching your own imagination.

In other words, pretty dang awesome.

But sometimes, they're done wrong. I hate it when I start watching a film like that and have to grit my teeth. Cover my eyes in disgust. And I understand that, because books are subjective, a lot of people might love the films I hated, or vice versa, but here I would like to give some awards for films that, in my opinion, excelled at certain things.

Or didn't:

Best Casting: Harry Potter Series

The Harry Potter series is effectively a who's-who of British acting. I mean, seriously - these casting agents discovered Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe. Not forgetting Rupert Grint, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, James and Oliver Phelps, Alfie Enoch, Devon Murray...

Sorry, lost myself there. The point is that these actors are the best possible to play these characters. I mean, could you imagine Severus Snape being played by anyone other than Alan Rickman?

Best Costume Design: The Hunger Games
Just look at this picture. Just look.


At a glance, you can tell how impoverished Katniss and the rest of District 12 are, and how Effie is an outsider; it's all from the costumes. You just know how rich Effie is, and how she wants to show everyone. She just has to be the centre of attention, and I can't think of any other film which uses costumes as such an effective metaphor for the plot.

Plus, that make-up. Fabulous.

Sticks best to the Story: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I'm sure I've said before on this blog how much I adore the Narnia series. One of my earliest book-related memories is being read Narnia bedtime stories - I remember plaiting the bookmark over and over so it looked 'more Narnian' - and I can't remember more than a couple of scenes that didn't make it into the film. True, it's been a while since I read it, and I have nothing against films with a different interpretation of the source material, but this one was just . . . nice. It felt so comforting to see the exact book I'd imagined from brought to life.

Plus, Georgie Henley? Skandar Keynes? Awesome.

Best Set: Divergent
I'm going to do this one in pictures:

*clunk* That was the sound of my jaw dropping.

Absolute Worst Adaptation in the History of the Universe: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Please, please don't throw virtual tomatoes at me! I just used that title to get your attention! There were good things about this film, and quite honestly, I can't pledge for all of it, because I couldn't get through more than the first twenty minutes. However, there were many, many faults going on.

What's going on with Annabeth's hair? She's blonde! And why is Grover a cool guy? Plus, Camp Half Blood does not look how I imagined it. Do you feel the same way?

I'm sure this is an okay film, but in terms of book adaptation, it just didn't work for me.

What about you guys? Do you agree with me about Percy Jackson, or do you have your virtual tomatoes ready? And what other films do you think need a mention?

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She is Malala

I wasn't planning to write this blog post, but as you're about to see, I felt I needed to.

I just finished I am Malala, the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai. If you've never heard of her, she's a Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out about female education, and one of my biggest role models. The entire book was utterly amazing, but one particular quote stuck with me:

"Back home I was considered a bookish girl because I had read eight or nine books. But when I came to the UK I met girls who had read hundreds of books. Now I realise I've read hardly anything at all and I want to read all those hundreds of books."
Malala Yousafzai, I am Malala

This suddenly made me realise: without an education, none of us would be able to read the books we love so much. We wouldn't be able to meet the characters that have become our friends, or hide in the settings that have become our homes. We wouldn't be able to read, and for me, that's a big part of my identity. 

What's amazing about Malala isn't just that she fights for her education - she really makes the most of it. You can see that from Malala's promise to read 'hundreds of books'. In Pakistan, it's traditional for women to ink flowers and birds onto their skin with henna, a paste that dries to look a bit like temporary tattoos. Malala and her friends would ink formulas and chemical elements all down their arms instead. She had a massive testing rivalry with another girl, Malka-e-Noor, and cried the first time she came second instead of first. Because, no matter how hard we complain about school, it's still hugely important, and the hardships Pakistani girls face show us how lucky we are to get one. After all, education gave us books, and it's giving us a future.

Why shouldn't we be grateful? And why can't all of us get one?

I am Malala has showed me that, even when school is at its hardest, I should remind myself how privileged I am to be able to go without fear or death threats. Please, please read it.

That way, we can all join the fight.
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My Heroine Road Trip

Whenever I read books, I get really attached to the heroine. Whether or not they're the main character, they take over my thoughts and feelings - if the story's in first person, it gets to the point that I think, react and even speak like them. That's just the way I am. Those heroines are like my best friends, and, unlike my real best friends, they never disagree with me. Maybe I'm crazy, but if I went on a road trip, these are the girls I would try to bring:


The Brains - Hermione Granger (Harry Potter Series) and Ellie Sweet (The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet)


You can read a preview of Revised Life here and, in the impossible event you haven't read it yet, try a bit of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone here.
I like to think I'm a pretty smart person, but were my senses to abandon me, these girls would have it covered. Hermione's spent her entire time at Hogwarts using her intellect to cover for Harry and Ron, and Ellie's a teen writer who rushes through her homework so she can hide in the pages of her imagination. Between the two of them, they'd cook up some pretty brilliant plans. We just have to hope that Harry doesn't turn out to be right.


The Gossip - Lilly Moscovitz (The Princess Diaries)
Princess Diaries #1 is available for preview here.
Okay, so technically Lilly isn't the main heroine in Princess Diaries, but in some ways I loved her even more than Mia (this still from the movie really isn't how I pictured her, by the way). She's sassy and really smart, but as a journalist, she mostly deals in gossips and editorials - I love how much she knows what she's going to do in her life, and how much she's doing already. Not to mention that, if we needed someone to report our road trip, she'd be the girl to do it.

The Fashionista - Lola Nolan (Lola and the Boy Next Door)
Read an excerpt from Lola and the Boy Next Door here.
Lola probably wouldn't approve of being called a Fashionista, because she doesn't believe in fashion, just costume. However, the fact is that she's a kick-ass costumer and has utterly stupendous sewing skills. I'd need her on my road trip team, to make sure the rest of us didn't embarrass ourselves with mismatched outfits, and to fix any dresses that went awry. Not to mention the fact that I could so borrow her clothes: in my head, we're the same size!

The Snack-Meisters - Skye and Summer Tanberry (The Chocolate Box Girls Series)


The first book in the series is Cherry Crush, which is about the twin's stepsister, Cherry, but Skye is the main character in Marshmallow Skye, and Summer features in Summer's Dream
These two are pretty awesome - Skye's a self-confessed historical nut who loves everything vintage, and has gypsy-flashback dreams, while Summer's a ballet dancer who's overcome some pretty big issues (no spoilers) to get to the top of her game. However, most importantly, their Stepdad is a chocolatier. He creates new chocolate flavours as an actual job. How cool is that? They could so get samples to keep us going as we eat up the miles. Also, Marshmallow Skye and Summer's Dream are flavours of truffle. Maybe I'd get my own one too...

Oh, I forgot one more person: YOU! If you came along our crazy-awesome girl's road trip, which fictional character would you bring? Why? And what do you think of the books I've already mentioned?
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