Why Books Are (Almost) Always Better Than the Movie

bored-audienceIt’s not uncommon to go watch a movie and be completely disappointed by the outcome, especially when it’s a movie based off of a book that you love. Only once in a blue moon will the movie be better than the movie (Forest Gump) or the movie will not completely change key points in the story (Unbroken). Here are a few reasons why I think the book is often better than the movie.

1. It’s All About the Details

We are a people that need detail in order to color in the context of any given situation. I mentioned Unbroken above, and while the movie gets and A+ for not changing anything from the book, it still cannot hold a candle to the book because it cannot describe the details of the anguish the hero felt or the true expanse of struggles he endured, both internally and externally.

2. Unlimited Runtime

We all know someone who will talk and talk and talk even though everyone around them has completely lost interest. Well, movies don’t have that luxury. They’re given strict time limits to tell their stories (usually between 90 and 120 minutes). But books, thank goodness, do not have a limit of page numbers (or volumes) to tell their story. Therefore, they are able to really stretch the story out and let it linger longer where it needs for impact, whereas movies need to hit the point and move on. I think The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy would have been a lot less successful if Peter Jackson were forced to cut back the runtime.

3. Wrong Place, Wrong People

Most people have vivid ideas of who the main characters look like when they’re reading books (except me – everyone sort of just have blank faces). But if a movie is cast wrong (like so many complain about Prim and Peta in The Hunger Games movies), then it’s game over for many people. But then again, sometimes those miscast people can really grow into their roles (again, like Prim and Peta).

4. True Love

When a producer is picking a director to adapt a book into film, it’s extremely important that the director chosen is a die-hard fanboy of the book and has a true appreciation of fellow fans. The director must appreciate the original work so much so that he or she feels compelled to match it as closely as possible so as to the do the book and author justice. I know it’s not technically based off of Crichton’s work, but what the director did for Jurassic World was beyond everyone’s hopes and expectations. Why is it so popular? Because he is a true, die-hard, Jurassic Park fan. And it shows.

Do you agree with my list? Disagree? Add some more thoughts below as to why books are usually so much better than the movies. 

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These Great Affects (Teen Book), Chapter 2 Continued

Most love stories are about two people who are completely different from one another. How different can you get than one being alive and the other being…well, not?…

Click here for Chapter 1

Click here for Chapter 2.1

Selected pieces from Chapter 2 continued…

I couldn’t stop myself. I swiped at the phone he was still holding up and knocked it onto the wet grass, now lost in the falling current. I began to storm off a second time but stopped when he threw another punch my way. “So first you ruin my car, then you try to break my phone. What are you, determined to completely destroy me?”

“ I’m not the one who tried to run you over with my car!” I yelled, my temper getting the better of me now. “In fact, speaking of phones…”—I dug into my wet jeans pocket for my own—“I’m calling the cops. You should never be allowed to drive again.”

I began swiping at the screen on my phone so I could dial 9-1-1, but it wasn’t coming on. It was drenched, so obviously broken. When I looked up in frustration, the guy was already digging around the flooded grass for his phone. It only took him a moment to find it and pull it out of the water.

“Here. Use mine,” he said, handing the sopping devise to me. “It’s waterproofed. Password is Elle Fanning, one word, no spaces.”

I glared hard at him before snatching it out of his hand, which I think almost made him laugh. “Elle Fanning, huh?”

“Oh, yeah. Big crush. It’s hopeless. But if you’re going to call the cops, you might want to step out of the water. I doubt they’ll be able to hear you if you’re standing right in it.” He grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the torrential downpour.

At that moment I was struck by two simultaneous thoughts pulling me in two different directions. One was, What a hopeless jerk. And the other was, This guy is kind of cute. I was appalled at my own shallowness, but I gave in anyway. I stretched my arm out, offering his phone back.

“Why don’t you hold on to that for me for a while,” he insisted. “Your phone’s dead, so I’ll let you borrow mine.”

“I’ll get mine fixed, eventually,” I said, hating that the edge was dulling in my voice. “Besides, you need to call your parents so they can pick you up.”

“You think I’m in a hurry to tell them about this?” he waved his hand in the air as if shooing a fly. “I’ll be taking my time walking home so I can put together a well-rehearsed confession.”

“You’d rather tell them in person?” I asked, surprised.

“Why not? If I tell them over the phone, it’ll take away from the Affect.”

“The affect?” I asked, a little intrigued.

“Yeah. The Affect. That’s what I call the moments that you can capitalize on for future use to affect certain emotions. Sure, it’s gonna suck when I tell my parents that I crashed my car, but years from now, when I tell my kids about today, which I inevitably will because, let’s face it, this day will be pretty hard to forget. So when I tell about today, I want to be able to describe the looks on my parent’s faces. That’s the effect you can’t get over the phone; that’s the Affect that will make the story worth telling.”

“Wow.” I literally did not know how to follow up with that. “That’s gutsy.”

“Gotta do it for the kids,” he said with a smile that kind of affected my breathing.

“I do think your kids’ll be pretty impressed about the totaled car and the flooded street.”

“That’s certainly a good aside, but I was thinking the big Affect could be meeting their mother and talking to her in the falling sewer water.” I think by that point the mascara had leaked down far enough to reach my mouth because I think I choked on some. Thankfully the guy saved me from having to respond. “Anyway, I better get home so I can keep my story going to tell our kids. You’ve got my number. Gimme a call sometime.”

“Wait,” I managed, as he began to walk away, my voice more hoarse than it had ever been. “I have your phone, how would I call you?”

He held out my phone. He must have somehow gotten it from me while he was wooing me and I was being too taken to notice. “I’m gonna get this fixed for you. I expect to get a text or something from you. You know your number.”

He walked away toward his house and I didn’t bother to stop him this time except to say, “Mock bird 60. No spaces.” He raised my phone as though in salute and smiled, then continued on his way.

And that’s how I met my first love who would not live long enough to tell our story to anyone.

Be sure to join my new Facebook author page for more fun stuff!

More From These Great Affects (Teen Book), Chapter 2

I promised I’d share some passages of my upcoming teen book, These Great Affects, for every ten people who join my Facebook author page. So without further adieu, here’s 500 words from Chapter 2. Click here for Chapter 1. 

Most love stories are about two people who are completely different from one another. How different can you get than one being alive and the other being…well, not?…


Pieces From Chapter 2

The tires didn’t screech, no one yelled, and there was no horn blown to turn me around. The only reason I did turn around was because it sounded like the car was no longer on the street. When I looked it seemed as though my entire line of vision was filled with the grill of a Ford.

There I was, toeing the line that divided life from death, or life from a seriously-damaged-and-immobile life. But as the Ford came speeding toward me it never made contact.

Nothing went black; there was no pain—my body, in fact, did not crumble. Instead, the grill of the car disappeared behind a thick veil of mist, which instantly matted my face with cool water and my ears were filled with a deafening, static-y noise.

“You’re good, right?” came a voice from somewhere on the other side of the misty wall. “You’re not dead, are you? If so, my parents’ll kill me.”

As I was trying to reinsert myself into the present, the voice suddenly had a body as he walked around the gushing water. He was soaking wet and totally excitable. “Oh, man!” he yelled, surveying the damage to his car and gawking at the upended fire hydrant that had apparently saved my life. “Oh, man!”

Even though it was him who should have been asking me, I asked anyway: “Are you…all right?”

“Did you see that?” he asked, turning to me, disregarding my question.

“Um. I kinda had a front-row seat,” I answered, wanting nothing more than to just walk away right then. I started to, actually, but then I couldn’t help myself, so I turned around and walked closer to the guy who almost killed me and I said, “You’re a jerk, you know that?”

I’m not sure if he heard me or not, because he just kept yelling about the snafued fire hydrant and his smashed car. “You should be asking me if I’m okay. You can’t just go around almost killing people and then not apologize for it. And you certainly shouldn’t be ignoring the person you almost killed!” By this time the guy had his phone out taking pictures of the accident. “What’s your problem!” I yelled, outraged by this blatant sign of apathy. But he still didn’t acknowledge me accept to hold his finger to his lips to silence me. The nerve!

“You’re recording the broken fire hydrant?” I asked. “What do you think, it’s just going to grow arms and legs and do a little jig for you?” Feeling coy, I did a mock Russian dance for him, hoping to get his attention.

Drenched as I was, I moved my little Russian folk dance in between his camera and the fire hydrant. From what I could tell from his soaking wet face, this at least got his attention. I’m not sure how to describe it, actually, but he sort of stopped grinning like an idiot, then he just sort of, I don’t know, gawked.

“That running mascara kind of ruins it all,” he said. “You’d probably be a lot hotter without all that goop running down your face.” I wanted to ask him how much my dad paid him to say that since he was always getting on me about wearing too much makeup. But no one had called me hot before, so I kind of fixated on that long enough for the guy to add, “But honestly, you look like your eyes are pooping, so it’s hard to take you seriously.”

Remember, for every ten followers I get on my Facebook author page, I’ll reveal more..

Why Fiction?


Last month I made an unusual New Year’s resolution for someone as widely-read as myself: It was to read less. It’s been a challenge limiting my book intake in order to focus on my writing.

So in honor of my resolution to spend less time reading, I have to be even more selective of the books I do read than I ever have been before.

I’m having to put aside my beloved history and biography books for a while to focus on fiction to help shape my own writing, but in the realm of fiction, there’s still so much to choose from.

Here’s a list of reasons fiction is good for not just writers such as myself, but for everyone.

1) Fiction can help shape or break a worldview

Oftentimes an author will write about a certain topic because they’re passionate about it. And more often than not, that topic will be explored from every angle from a singular point of view. For instance, if you read the book Unwind by Shusterman, it may cause you to realize the horrors of abortion. The Jungle by Sinclair has been known to convince many people to become vegetarians.

2) Fiction can help you understand or acknowledge certain worldviews 

There are many belief-systems out there – hundreds that we’re not even aware of, and authors tend to be the leading voices for these hidden beliefs. We ought to know about the world we inhabit so that we can engage in intelligent, thoughtful conversations with those around us who subscribe to the surrounding belief-systems.

3) Fiction can spark your imagination

This one seems obvious. But what is the first thing you thought of when you saw a book with the cover of a boy and a tiger in a lifeboat in the middle of the sea? My thought, as an author myself, was, Why didn’t I think of that! Just look at what The Lord of the Rings did for the fantasy world, and what Jurassic Park did for sci-fi and mainstream movies in general.

4) Contemporary fiction can help you write to today’s audiences

“I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading,” says writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I think we all do that. When I only read classic literature, I wrote just like it (or tired to, anyway), but much to my detriment (there’s not really an audience for that anymore). So with the help of popular fiction like The Hunger Games, I learned to write with a more popular and modern prose.

Check out an excerpt of my upcoming teen novel These Great Affects, here.  And as a reminder, for every ten people that join my Facebook author page, I’ll reveal more of the book…

A Sneak Peek at My New Teen Book


So you know when you’re fifteen, you’re at that awkward stage where your parents still think you’re a kid and it seems like they’re prohibiting you from crossing over into adulthood? Or how about how you’re not quite old enough to hang out with sixteen-year-olds because they’re all out driving their cars with other licensed drivers? Well yeah, that was a terrible age. And it was an even worse age for me than other fifteen-year-olds because that was the year I killed my first love. Only, we didn’t fall in love until after that happened.

Meet Adelle Hitchens, the center of my upcoming teen book, These Great Affects. She’s an unambitious writer who is a “hardcore introvert” who watches Gossip Girl behind her parents’ backs. Like most adolescents, she thinks love isn’t for her.

Enter Trill Vikus. Self-obsorbed, handsome, unpredictable, and a terrible driver. He’s obsessed with the band Fun. and is convinced that if Elle Fanning ever met him she’d want to marry him, and he’d accept.

Most love stories are about two people who are completely different from one another. How different can you get than one being alive and the other being…well, not?

For every ten followers my new Facebook page gets, I will share 500 words of These Great Affects until it is complete and ready for publication. Happy sharing!

Click here to read an excerpt from chapter 1

Book Rec: Looking for Calvin and Hobbes

There are very few people who do not have fond memories of reading the morning paper with a cup of coffee or a bowl of cereal, and the first thing they flipped to was the funny pages. Not for Peanuts or Garfield, but to read more adventures of a boy and his stuffed tiger.

77122In these strips, you were almost guaranteed a laugh to start your day off. Sometimes you’d be forced to ponder a philosophical topic. Sometimes your heart would break. Sometimes you’d nod your head in agreement or shake your head at Calvin’s silly antics and oddball disputes with his tiger Hobbes.

But who was the man who made millions of people laugh on a daily basis? Every Calvin and Hobbes strip was signed by “Bill Watterson,” and we all owed a debt of gratitude to him, but who was he, and where could he be found?


That’s what Nevin Martell asks, and he takes it upon himself to travel wo0Kzthe country in search of the greatest cartoonist our generation (and quite possibly the world) has ever seen.

But don’t worry. Martell is not out to exploit our dear friend, Mr. Watterson. He’s not simply after a juicy topic. His goal, as he states early on in his book, is to show Mr. Watterson how much he’s appreciated and missed, and to reveal the man behind the strip so his readers can have a tangible person to thank for his brilliancy.

In essence, Martell’s book, Looking for Calvin and Hobbes, is a love letter written on our behalf. There’s not a single illustration of the boy and his tiger except for the Calvin’s shoe walking in one direction and Hobbes’ tail cutting off on the other side of the cover. Illustrations in this book would not have been needed because the author captures those strips so perfectly that you can recall those original scenes as clear as day.

Martell does a supberb job at anazlyzing the strip as though he were a serious seminary student bent on dissecting a New King James Bible commentary. On the outset, some might think it kind of embarrassing how much he pored into this strip, viewing it from all angles, analyzing themes and recurring situations, and hypothosizing Watterson’s inspiration for the strip.

Calvin-Hobbes-calvin-and-hobbes-23762778-1280-800But really, it’s not embarrassing at all, because given the chance, we’d all do the same thing. So as fans of the strip, we’re indebted to Martell for doing the hard and tedius work for us.

I’m not going to lie. Some parts of this book made me tear up quite a Looking-for-Calvin-and-Hobbes-PB-Cover_fullbit. Not because the author was unsuccessful in tracking down his subject, or because it turned out that Mr. Watterson never took his seat in the limelight for all to admire and lavish praise upon, but because the author handled to topic with such care and attention that I felt like he truly did understand my own personal love of Calvin and Hobbes. And there were instances where I truly felt like I was back in my wooden fort in my backyard with copies of Calvin and Hobbes collections splayed all around me.

On a more personal note, Calvin and Hobbes had such an impact on me that it, in many ways, inspired my debut novel The Man in the Box. Calvin had such a vivd and wild imagination that my protagonist could have had the same childhood experience as Calvin. (The imagination, as you know, catches up with my protagonist, Robbie Lake, and he’s thrusted back into a more cynical, darker version of his childhood dreamlands. Not to mention all the countless ways Calvin reinvented the box.)

So lovers and fans of Calvin and Hobbes will adore their own personal walks down memory lane as Martell gives us permission, as adults, to have one last playtime with Calvin and his stuffed tiger.

You can read more about Nevin and his work here.

Read my review of the documentary Dear Mr. Watterson here.


No Camera Can Capture This Book


I’m sure you’ve seen the previews for actress/director’s Angelina Jolie’s war movie, Unbroken, based on superstar author Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller, which comes out on Christmas day.

I’m not going to lie. I was a little disappointed when I heard that they’re making a movie based off of the book. I’m glad that the book sales will skyrocket in expectation of the movie, but I’ve been tracking the early reviews, and I’m not surprised to see that it’s not being received very favorably.

Why? My assertion is that because not even the greatest filmmaker in the world can capture this book on camera. It’s not possible. And the fact that the movie is only PG-13 suggests that a huge portion of the book has been compromised.

I was lucky enough to bring home an advanced reader’s copy of the book years ago and Sarabeth, who usually takes her time with books, read it in three days. I’d never heard her exalt a book so much before.

Having a strict reading schedule, I planned on tacking it on to the end of my list. But Sarabeth summed up the preface and hooked me and I read the book at once:

Three soldiers stranded on a raft in the middle of the Pacific. Thirsty. Starving. Drifting for over a month. They see a plane coming toward them from a distance. They wave, exhilarated, elated at the prospect of finally being rescued. But  suddenly the water explodes around them. It’s a Japanese plane shooting at them. One of the men, Louie, dives overboard, and the sharks that have been circling their raft for over a month swim straight toward him from below. 

It’s nearly impossible to take longer than a week to finish this book. I just finished my second reading of it and it impressed me even years later. The crazy thing is, if this book were fictional, no one would bother finishing it, because the events that take place are so impossible, so unimaginable, so unbelievable, that the only way some of these events can be taken seriously is if they actually happened.

I’m not discouraging anyone from seeing the movie, especially since I haven’t seen it myself. But no matter what, don’t judge the book by it. Read the book.

Read the book.

Read the book. Kapeesh?

Read my post about the hero of the book, Louis Zamperini, here.

I_Am_LionTreat yourself to a new book for your Kindle, my newest work, I Am the Lion


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