The five best-selling books you must see on screen


Brooke Sufrin, Kara Oates, and Barbara Rucci

In recent months, many favorite on-screen films and television series have derived from books. Streaming platforms like Netflix, have utilized specific novels to produce some popular screen adaptations. These re-creations bring new life to featured stories; from the pages to the theaters, story-telling is prominent.

“Crazy Rich Asians”

The 2013 novel, “Crazy Rich Asians,” by Kevin Kwan has recently amped its success in movie theaters worldwide. The film was released on August 15 and produced by Color Force. Both the book and movie artistically represent the beautiful Asian country of Singapore. In terms of the book, Kwan includes informational and humorous footnotes, which provide the reader with context throughout the novel regarding the food, language, and culture of Singapore. This addition is played out just as vibrantly on screen. Nick Young (Henry Goulding) and his crazy rich family are surprising and comedic, and so is his beloved girlfriend, Rachel Chu (Constance Wu).

While the characters in the book are plentiful, the movie did leave out a few of them. The depth of the major characters, such as Nick, Rachel, and Mrs. Young, is consistent throughout the movie which plays into the success of the modern day film. This exclusively Asian cast brought modern representation for the Asian community to Hollywood for the first time in 25 years. This heartfelt story of inspiration brought the love of travel, drama, and fortune to its readers and on screen. “Crazy Rich Asians” is the first part of Kwan’s trilogy. According to “Fortune,” film ideas for the second and third books, “Crazy Rich Girlfriend” and “Rich People Problems” respectively,  have already been set in motion.

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This book-to-screen adaptation was formatted as a television series. “You,” by Caroline Kepnes, released in 2014, is a dark and unfiltered thriller. The unique quality about Kepne’s book is that it is written in second person narration and told from the stalker’s point-of-view. A menacing quality is identified through this use of perspective. The series is a Lifetime original and was filmed throughout New York City, as per the story’s setting.

Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), is the East Village bookseller and stalker of Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail). The character is just as unsettling on film as he was within the pages. The book, however, goes much deeper into Joe’s mind in very unnerving ways simply because of the second person narration. The first episode of “You” conveys Joe’s thoughts and ulterior motives through his looks, actions, and the way he watches Beck. Joe is a visibly charming character in which his deceit is more apparent in the book rather than on screen. “You” is compact with complex characters and impulsive stalking. The reader or viewer may even be more aware to switch their social media to private.

“The Darkest Minds”

Alexandra Bracken’s “The Darkest Minds” is the first book in a series of three novels and three novellas. This dystopian science fiction thriller is similar in theme to other popular book to screen adaptations such as, “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games.” The book centers around a group of teenagers, who amidst global chaos, develop superpowers. A disease known as Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration, has killed over 90 percent of people under the age of 18 but seems to not have an effect on them. When the group of teens is discovered and captured by the government, they escape and go into hiding, while also trying to save the world from a totalitarian rule.

Released by 20th Century Fox, the film grossed 41 million dollars but received mediocre ratings: 17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Production for the film began in April of 2017, and was released in theaters on August 3, 2018. The plot points seemed to not have worked as strongly with the viewers as the book had done and audiences found it to be predictable. The film stars well known actresses Amandla Stenberg, and Mandy Moore, as well as Harris Dickinson, and Gwendoline Christie. The actors bring Bracken’s world to life, in this young adult novel on screen.

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“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”

The read that is taking audiences by storm on screen, is Jenny Han’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” The New York Times bestseller is the first of three successful novels in the series, and is the first film released by popular YouTube channel AwesomenessTV. This new Netflix film adaptation of the 2014 young adult romance novel has taken over social media. The plot bases around 16-year-old Lara Jean Song Covey, and what happens in one school year, when her private letters she wrote to “all the boys she’s ever loved” are sent out to those said boys. With a cast led by “X-Men’s” Lana Condor, and “The Fosters” Noah Centineo, this film feels like a modern day “Sixteen Candles,” as it is filled with many references. The film’s main plot begins to unfold after the initial shock and repercussions following the release of Lana’s personal letters. Timid Lara Jean helps confident lacrosse player Peter Kavinksy by pretending to be his new girlfriend in order to make his ex jealous, and all that ensues after. Although the film didn’t include all aspects of the book, such as the Halloween scene, it was an enjoyable experience that readers and viewers alike enjoyed.

The one criticism that audiences seem to have was that the plot in the film seemed very predictable. Many believe that this type of situation would never happen in real life. Despite this, the film features an Asian American young woman as the focused main character. On the subject of diversity, Lana Condor said to “Teen Vogue,” “You know, also, I could get into this, but there’s this whole Hollywood casting white people and kind of trying to ‘turn them’ because, they thought they could get away with it. Now they can’t because our generation is very direct and more people are standing up for representation. I do see a change in Hollywood. I see a shift.”

With internet video streaming on the rise, it seems as if viewers have some type of subscription to either Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Films that are debuting on said platforms are bringing in large viewership numbers. It seems as though one would rather stay at home to binge watch new Netflix films, as opposed to going out to the movies. Production for the film began in July of 2017 in Vancouver, Canada, with the film debuting on August 17, 2018.  With relatable themes and characters, and representation on screen for Asian Americans, this film adaptation has received rave reviews, and has even garnered itself a sequel via fans request.

“Sharp Objects”

 An investigative journalist, after her brief stay at a psychiatric hospital, returns home following the story of one dead, and one missing little girl. Her haunting past is revealed throughout the riveting tale, leaving a trail of mothers, daughters, the bonds that strengthen them, and the demons that destroy them.

Author of “Gone Girl,” Gillian Flynn, creates the horrifyingly real character of Camille Preaker. Her addictive personality, as to alcohol, sex, and of course, “Sharp Objects,” makes for a dynamic character and a riveting read. Amy Adams expertly portrays Ms. Preaker in the HBO limited series, “Sharp Objects,” which was adapted for screen this summer with a screen play written by Flynn herself.

The power of Flynn’s language as she tells Camille’s story is undeniable. Each word feels hand picked and precisely fits into each sentence, into each of Camille’s puzzle pieces, and into the fibers of her skin. The significance of the theme of words in this novel is beautifully carried out into the on-screen adaptation.

Director of last summer’s hit, “Big Little Lies,” Jean-Marc Vallée, carefully composes each shot as a continuation of the next. As one door slams closed, another opens, literally. The past and present merge in the most extraordinary way possible. Adams becomes the character and transforms herself on screen as an object that has been violated, neglected, and metaphorically stabbed too many times. Flynn, Vallée, and Adams bring Camille, her words, and her story to life in an irresistibly raw fashion. Patricia Clarkson and Eliza Scanlen portray female characters, Adora and Amma respectively, on screen. Beware of the woman in white. The unforgettable, beautifully worded, chilling story of the town of Wind Gap, is an absolute must read and also, a must see.
Co-written by: Barbara Rucci, Kara Oates, and Brooke Sufrin