There are many TV shows and movies these days that are adapted from a book or a short story. For most readers, whenever they watch an adaptation from a beloved book, there is a sense of trepidation since adapting a book is not easy. The two mediums, print and screen, are vastly different. If you are a regular reader, you must have come across monologues – thoughts inside the mind of characters that serve various purposes like enriching the character or plot, exposition or humour. Monologues in TV shows and movies look ridiculous in most cases.
Also, book readers are often staunchly loyal to their books, and if screenwriters change even minor things, they think the essence of the story was spoiled. I, too, am guilty of it. Still, there is something magical about seeing written words come alive on the screen. There is also a desire to liken my imagination to what the creators of the adaptation would portray. I love to compare how the characters and places looked and felt in my mind whilst reading with how they do with the adaptation, how different the depiction of the events is from how I imagined them, how similar is the setting, and so forth. Most of the time, I am disappointed. But sometimes (The Lord of the Rings comes to mind), the adaptation is pitch-perfect, and in some rare cases, even better.
There are many good books that need a TV show or a movie on them, and here is my top 10 list of those books or book series on the occasion of World Book Day. This is a very personal list, and I understand most of you would not agree with these suggestions, so feel free to write the ones you would like to be adapted in the comment section below this article.
The First Law: I read this trilogy by one of the finest fantasy writers working today, Joe Abercrombie, just after I had just finished A Song of Ice and Fire and it was just the perfect alternative I was looking for. This series is similarly grounded in reality (for a fantasy series, anyway) and has a sterling cast of colourful, well-rounded characters that you will adore, even though they are flawed, and not what you would call good people. To give you an idea, my favourite character in the series is a sadistic torturer. There is lots of dry humour and brilliant wit too. I think The First Law will translate really well to the screen in capable hands. Although this list is not ordered, this series would be my first choice to get a big-screen adaptation.
Malazan Book of the Fallen: If you think the world of A Song of Ice and Fire (on which HBO’s Game of Thrones is based) was big, wait till you treat your senses to Malazan. This is a dizzyingly huge world, complete with multiple continents with races, cultures, religions, cults and so on. Malazan’s world makes Westeros look like a village. This is why adapting Malazan to the screen would be a gargantuan task since there is no way you could fit the content of even one book (there are ten books in total) inside a typical 2.5-hour movie or a season of ten episodes without removing a lot of stuff.
Sleeping Beauties: Written by the horror master Stephen King and his son Owen King, Sleeping Beauties is about a mysterious phenomenon in which a strange cocoon covers women who fall asleep. If they are awakened and their cocoon is removed, they fight like they are possessed and after dispatching the unfortunate person, they fall asleep again. There is a TV series somewhere in there.
The Song of Achilles: The Song of Achilles is a fresh take on the relationship between ancient Greek warrior Achilles and Patroclus, who many scholars say might have been his lover. Madeline Miller has nicely elaborated on the conjectured homosexual bond between Achilles and Patroclus. This book deserves an epic movie in the vein of Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy starring Brad Pitt.
Fevre Dream: George RR Martin has written a lot of books apart from A Song of Ice and Fire, and Fevre Dream is one of his must-reads. This vampire novel is so much better than those maudlin Twilight and Vampire Diaries books. This is Salem’s Lot level – raw, deadly and bloody as vampire stories are supposed to be. HBO should pick this up after Game of Thrones.
Swan Song: If there is a novel that can take on Stephen King’s The Stand, it is Robert McCammon’s Swan Song. It is a story on an unbelievably epic scale. Like Mr King’s book, there is a huge cast of characters, both on the ‘good’ side and the ‘bad’ side. There is an ancient evil and a globe-spanning epidemic. Oh, and it is also very readable. Swan Song could easily be a miniseries.
The Long Ships: An iconic Viking adventure novel by Swedish writer Frans G. Bengtsson, The Long Ships is an adventure in the classical sense. You know, long voyages to distant lands, treasures, and the intense desire that is unique to those ancient Scandinavian seafarers to know what lay beyond. This book deserves a Michael Hirst adaptation.
House of Echoes: This Barbara Erskine book is a solid, scary haunted-house story with a couple of twists. Its plot could easily be condensed to fit in a film. The atmospheric, foreboding feel of the novel would, however, be more difficult to put on the screen. But somebody like James Wan can do it.
Under Heaven: Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay writes beautiful poetic prose. For instance, this is the opening line of Under Heaven: “Amid the ten thousand noises and the jade-and-gold and the whirling dust of Xinan, he had often stayed awake all night among friends, drinking spiced wine in the North District with the courtesans.” The story, too, is engaging and is set in a fictional world modelled on China during Tang dynasty.
1984: The revolutionary (ahem) book by George Orwell, that gave us several terms that we associate with authoritative regimes like ‘doublespeak’, deserves an adaptation. Yes, I know it has been adapted before, but the book, that was so ahead of its time, needs a film for the modern audiences and these, admittedly, troubled times.