Tag Archives: Netflix

Movie vs. Book: To All the Boys: Always and Forever

In their senior year of high school, Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky are still together and have been going strong for more than a year now. There are no other people interfering in their relationship, but there is one thing that is: college. They have a plan to go away to school together. But as we all know, God laughs as we make our little plans.

In a shocking (or maybe not-so-shocking) twist of events, Lara Jean learns that despite her phenomenal grades and extra-curriculars, she is rejected by the very school that has accepted Peter and offered him a lacrosse scholarship. Initially they are devastated until they devise a new plan: Lara Jean will go to the school where she was accepted and then transfer to Peter’s school sophomore year. But Lara Jean continues to hear the voice of her mother and older sister in her head, telling her never to follow a boy to school. She is torn. And the more she learns about the school where she’s been accepted, the more she falls in love with it, especially after a whirlwind visit there solidifies things.

She keeps all of these feelings a secret from Peter, but he senses it. He separates himself from her, distancing just as prom approaches – as well as Lara Jean’s father’s second wedding – and everything erupts.

It’s a typical high school love story and it checks all the boxes. College! Prom! Senior trip! Wedding! And yet, those tropes work for a reason. Whether you’re currently in high school or an adult looking back at it, you know how big those moments feel as a teenager. Everything is at a monumental magnitude when you’re young – and especially young and in love. Those big moments lend themselves to big feelings, and it’s hard not to understand how both Peter and Lara Jean are feeling about everything going on.

The movie takes some liberties from the book to dramatize the situation even more. The book takes place in Virginia, so Peter is going to UVA, which rejected Lara Jean. Lara Jean plans instead to go to William & Mary. The schools are only a few hours away, which is truly doable even if they stayed long distance for the duration of college. But in the movie, they live in California. So Peter is going to Stanford, while Lara Jean is going to NYU on the other side of the country. Clearly the distance feels far more insurmountable.

The book also includes a section in which Lara Jean’s friend from the nursing home, Stormy, dies. At her funeral, she learns that John Ambrose (from the previous To All the Boys novel) is going to William & Mary, further complicating Peter’s feelings about Lara Jean going there. This is cut from the movie, which is probably for the best. It would be kind of a downer to have a funeral scene dropped in the middle of the movie, not to mention an unnecessary appearance from John Ambrose when Lara Jean clearly loves Peter.

Both movie and book end the same way, which is to say I WON’T SPOIL IT, but Lara Jean and Peter get to have it both ways, no matter how implausible it may seem. The only difference is that in the movie, Lara Jean and Peter ultimately have sex. They do not in the novel, but that never made sense to me. I know the novel is YA, and maybe the author was trying to be PC about it. Not to mention, Lara Jean has always been written as a character who is nervous to do things sexually. But not with Peter. And after more than a year of dating as they’re about to graduate, I don’t many high schoolers who wouldn’t have sex at that point.

Both the book and movie are truly satisfying and much more emotional, fun, full circle and impactful than the second book/movie in the series. What started out as a great premise in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is really tied up in a beautiful bow in Always and Forever, Lara Jean.

Get Always and Forever, Lara Jean in paperback for $5.99.

Or on your Kindle for $9.99.

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Movie vs. Book: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

There’s nothing like a sweet teen romance, especially when it involves the uncool girl getting the cool guy. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before fits this trope in a romantic, whimsical way while still remaining current and modern. Lara Jean, the hopeless romantic, always likes the boys she can’t have. To move on from them, she writes them letters that she has no intention of sending and hides them in a hat box in her bedroom. But when she upsets her little sister, her sister mails the letters, leading to the completely horrifying moment — especially for a 16-year-old girl — when all of your crushes past and present realize you’re in love with them.

In Lara Jean’s case, one of those boys includes the most popular guy in school, Peter Kavinsky. One of the others is her next door neighbor, Josh, who also just so happened to have broken up with her older sister after two years of dating. And so enters the love triangle.

In an unexpected twist, Lara Jean and Peter Kavinksy decide to fake date each other in order to make their “real” crushes jealous. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is essentially the plot of the 1990’s teen movie, Drive Me Crazy.

The movie version of To All the Boys (available on Netflix) follows the storyline of the book fairly well. But of course it makes a few changes — some for obvious dramatic flair and others that were surprising. For instance, in the book Lara Jean and Josh kiss, and when Lara Jean’s sister finds out, it results in a huge blowout. But the two never kiss in the movie. Maybe producers felt it was too harsh of her to have kissed her sister’s ex-boyfriend. Or maybe they thought it was a more streamlined story to document just one relationship and not a love triangle with a third party. Whatever the reason, it seemed odd to leave out the kiss since in the book, that really heightened the stakes.

The bigger change comes at the end of the movie. In both the book and the movie, a rumor circulates that Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky had sex on an overnight school ski trip. In both, it’s enough to shatter their fake-not-so-fake relationship. This takes Lara Jean on a journey to self-discovery in the novel, which ends more or less unresolved. The final pages are the beginning of another letter she starts to write to Peter Kavinsky. The book is obviously left open-ended to make way for the next novel in the series.

But in the movie, they up the ante. Not only is there a rumor that the two had sex; there’s also a “sex tape” that’s being shared among students at the school. The choice is understandable: it’s dramatic, forces Lara Jean to more quickly decide what she wants to do and leads to a happy, definitive ending. But it still felt like a bit much. Sure, explicit videos being shared among high school students is a modern problem that does, in fact, happen. But for a story that feels so innocent up until this moment, this movie felt out of place.

The good news, there are more books in the series and Netflix has already announced plans to make a second movie as well, so the story’s not done yet (and neither are my reviews of them).

Get To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in paperback for $8.79. 

Or on your Kindle for $8.99.

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Show vs. Book: Orange Is The New Black

When offered an opportunity to do something fun and exciting, it’s hard to imagine what the consequences may be. That’s what got Piper Kerman caught up in an international drug cartel. Fresh out of college, unsure of what she wanted, and ready for an adventure, Piper starts dating a girl involved in drug trafficking. Suddenly, Piper is traveling the world with her lover and ultimately passes along money for her girlfriend. Aware this is not the life she wants, Piper leaves her girlfriend and the world of the international drug trade to get back to a life of normalcy.

But not too long after she arrives back home, Piper learns the drug cartel has unraveled, and she’s one of the many people the feds charge. When Piper finally goes to prison, she’s engaged to Larry, working and living a comfortable life in New York City.

Piper’s is a story many of us are now familiar with, thanks to the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black, which shows Piper’s experience behind bars, as well as the backstories of the other women in prison with her. The show is based on Piper’s memoir of the same name, but after having read the memoir, I realized how much the series dramatized Piper’s life.

First off, the show glosses over the fact that Piper was in and out of court for 11 years, while anxiously awaiting her sentence, not knowing how much time she’d have to serve or where she’d be serving it. In some respects, those 11 years of uncertainty are just as sufferable as her 15 months in prison.

In the show, Piper learns within days that the ex-girlfriend druglord who gave her name to police is in prison with her. But in real life, Piper and her ex-girlfriend weren’t in federal prison together at all. Piper doesn’t see her ex until she’s already been in prison for a year and is then transferred to another jail, waiting to testify in a trial. When they meet, they make amends somewhat, but the romance has long since fizzled out and that spark is never fired back up again. Of course the Netflix series would spice things up, but it’s quite far from the truth of what really happened to Piper in prison.

However the anecdotes are the same — Piper’s insistence on running outside, the inmate who’s in love with Piper, the woman who pees on the floor, women having relationships with correctional officers and each other, the missing screwdriver, the going away parties, the yoga instructor, Red. And Larry did write a piece about Piper in The New York Times, but it didn’t mention her being in jail; it just talked about why it took him seven years to propose to her. The memoir also included anecdotes that I imagined and hoped would play out onscreen in the upcoming season of the show.

Having watched the Netflix series first, the memoir made me feel somewhat better about Piper’s life. I was happy to know she didn’t get involved with her ex again and that her fellow inmates weren’t actually homicidal maniacs. But that doesn’t make her experience any less awful. Orange Is The New Black remains a story about life in federal prison, and as much as I enjoyed both the memoir and the series, I would never enjoy spending a year behind bars like Piper did.

Get Orange Is the New Black in paperback for $8.97.

Or on your Kindle for $5.99.

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Netflix-Like Subscription Plan Available for E-Books

Imagine if there were a subscription program like Netflix, but for e-books. Well, luckily there is.

According to The New York Times, publisher HarperCollins has recently struck a deal with the web site, Scribd, which is already used for sharing documents and books. Consumers can pay a flat fee each month to the site to access a large number of e-books.

The site, Oysterbooks.com, already has a similar program, offering access to more than 100,000 e-books for $9.95 a month, but it hasn’t gained much popularity.

The owners of Scribd hope the site will have more success, but so far, HarperCollins is the only major publisher that signed up. Smaller publishers like Rosetta Books, Workman and Sourcebooks have also signed up.

So readers still have more options for books when they go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble’s web site. However, a Netflix-life program for e-books seems like a pretty simple, but brilliant idea. But I only see it becoming successful with readers that consume many, many books each month.  Otherwise, it doesn’t seem worth it to me.

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Amazon May Get Netflix-like Service for Books

Kindle e-books might now be available at libraries across the country, but the changes don’t stop there. A report by the Wall Street Journal says Amazon might be working on a new Netflix-like service for books.

The service would be part of the Amazon Prime package — a special program that gives members free two-day shipping and reduced price one-day shipping on all Amazon orders for a year, for a $79 annual fee.

The additional book service would allow Prime customers to read a limited number of books for free every month from a library of “older titles.”

According to this article by PC World, it seems Amazon hopes the service — which is still in its early stages — will help gain Prime members.

Perhaps spurred by the reaction to its Prime Instant unlimited video streaming, Amazon hopes to convince more people to join Prime with enticing add-ons. The company’s Prime library might also tie-in to the retailer’s strategy for its highly rumored, Android-based tablet to compete with the iPad.

Similar to Apple, Amazon’s slate could offer an integrated shopping experience with one-click access to online movie and TV viewing, e-book sales, MP3s, and apps. But Amazon would also want to encourage people to use their Amazon tablets to shop for physical items such as TVs, consoles and games, physical books, DVDs, computers, and toys.

Many of the details of this project are still unknown, however. For instance, how old are these “older titles”? And how many books will be available on a monthly basis? Not to mention, is this service even worth it now that libraries are offering Kindle e-books anyway? It sounds good on paper, but the kinks definitely still need to be ironed out. What do you guys think?

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