Don’t you hate it when someone says, “The book is always better,” when you’re at the movies? But in some cases, knowing the entire plot helps enrich the movie and seeing the movies helps make the experience of reading the book come alive. Some movies make drastic plot changes, like Eragon the movie changing Aria to redhead and recently, Game of Thrones on HBO marrying Sansa Stark to Ramsay Bolton (makes us shiver just thinking about it). Sometimes these plot changes are disturbing, but sometimes they enhance the storyline and give you a whole new set of twists and turns, kind of like those choose your own adventure books where you decide if the hero goes down the dark alley or turns into the crowded coffee shop by choosing one page number over another.
We’ve put together a list of books you should read before seeing the movies to enhance your viewing experience.
Books to Read Before Watching the Movies
1. Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
I’ve read all three of these (and several of the mini-books) and thoroughly enjoyed each one. They’re written for young adults, and unlike the Twilight books, I didn’t have to muddle through corny sex scenes, just an occasional kiss and some innuendos. There was plenty of action to keep the story line moving and the story world was oddly reminiscent of Lois Lowry’s The Giver series (which is mentioned again below).
The Divergent series has three main books and nine total books, with the first four being prequels and one being an alternate scene from a different perspective, and an odd in-between sorry that falls between the second and third books:
1. (prequel) The Transfer
2. (prequel) The Initiate
3. (prequel) The Son
4. (prequel) The Traitor
5. Divergent (Book 1)
6. Free Four (alternate scene from Divergent)
7. Insurgent (Book 2)
8. The World of Divergent The Path to Allegiant (in-between story)
9. Allegiant (Book 3)
The first movie is out now, titled Divergent, and it was every bit as good as the book. Even the non-reader in house liked the movie and opted to watch it a second and third time. The movie stuck pretty close to the book but knowing the intricate details of the book helped enhance the experience of seeing the characters come alive on screen. Character casting in this one was right on target.
2. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably at least heard of the Hunger Games. It’s become wildly popular with kids, almost as much as the infamous Twilight craze we’ve all grown to love to hate. I attended so many Hunger Games themed birthday parties in recent years, I can now braid my hair (or yours) with my eyes shut. But all kidding aside, the books were really captivating. And like quite a few other recently popular young adult books, these were just as appropriate for adults as they were teens and pre-teens. While many raised an eyebrow at the violence in the book and movies, it really isn’t any more violent than the classics your kids would be reading in a traditional literature class, and since the entire world is “make believe” it’s easy to distance yourself from the violence. Great stories often mimic life, and life is full of greed, power struggles, racism, violence, and hated. But when it’s balanced out with love, hope, perseverance, bravery, courage, loyalty, and sacrifice, the overall message of the story is uplifting.
There are three books in the series, but producers have split the third book into (at least) two movies.
1. The Hunger Games
2. Catching Fire
The movies out so far, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and the Mockingjay Part One have all been good box office sellers, and for good reason. The films’ producers do an excellent job of bringing the world of the Hunger Games to life. And the Mockingjay Part One arena was my favorite in the novels, so seeing it on the screen was a real treat. Mockingjay Part Two is due to be released on November 20,2015.
3. The Giver Series by Lois Lowry
I had been an avid reader of Lois Lowry in middle school, in fact, she was my favorite author for a number of years. So I was pleasantly surprised to find and enjoy this series as an adult. The stories are intricately written enough to be enjoyed by both children and adults and even enjoyable enough for a second read. There are four books in the series, each worth reading:
1. The Giver
2. Gathering Blue
The Giver is the only book in this series to be made into a movie so far.
|Divergent is a 2014 American science fiction action film directed by Neil Burger, based on the novel of the same name by Veronica Roth. The film is the first installment in The Divergent Series and was produced by Lucy Fisher, Pouya Shabazian, and Douglas Wick, with a screenplay by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor. It stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q and Kate Winslet. The story takes place in a dystopian post-apocalyptic version of Chicago where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Beatrice Prior is warned that she is Divergent and thus will never fit into any one of the factions and soon learns that a sinister plot is brewing in her seemingly perfect society. Development of Divergent began in March 2011 when Summit Entertainment picked up the film rights to the novel with Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher’s production company Red Wagon Entertainment. Principal photography began on April 16, 2013 and concluded on July 16, 2013, with reshoots taking place from January 24–26, 2014. Production mostly took place in Chicago.|
|2. THE HUNGER GAMES|
|The Hunger Games is a 2012 action, adventure film written by Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray and directed by Gary Ross.|
|3. CATCHING FIRE|
|The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a 2013 American science fiction action film based on Suzanne Collins’ dystopian novel, Catching Fire, the second installment in The Hunger Games trilogy. The film is the sequel to The Hunger Games, and the second installment in The Hunger Games film series, produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik and distributed by Lionsgate. Francis Lawrence directed the film, with a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt. Adding to the existing cast, the supporting cast was filled out with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Sam Claflin, Lynn Cohen, Amanda Plummer, Alan Ritchson, and Meta Golding. The plot of Catching Fire takes place a few months after the previous installment; Katniss Everdeen has now returned home safely after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Throughout the story, Katniss senses that a rebellion against the oppressive Capitol is simmering through the districts. Filming began on September 10, 2012, in Atlanta, Georgia, before moving to Hawaii|
|4. MOCKINGJAY PART 1|
|The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is a 2014 American war adventure film directed by Francis Lawrence with a screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong. It is the first of two films based on the novel Mockingjay, the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins, and the third installment in The Hunger Games film series, produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik and distributed by Lionsgate. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland. It is the sequel to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and will be followed by the concluding entry, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. The story continues to follow Katniss Everdeen; having twice survived the Hunger Games, Katniss finds herself in District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the Capitol and fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.|
|5. THE GIVER|
|The Giver is a 2014 American social science fiction film directed by Phillip Noyce and written by Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide based on the 1993 novel of same name by Lois Lowry. The film stars Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Cameron Monaghan, Odeya Rush, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, and Taylor Swift. The Giver was released in the United States on August 15, 2014 to generally mixed reviews.|
Which books/movies would you add to the list?