Tag Archives: YA novels

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: P.S.: I Still Love You

The second book in this cute rom com chick lit YA series picks up right where the first left off. Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky have broken up, after a ski trip make-out session spreads rumors about them having done more sexually and Peter doesn’t deny it. It’s been a sad, lonely winter break for Lara Jean. But it’s not long before she and Peter decide to move forward. Peter stands up for Lara Jean regarding the video of them in the hot tub that’s now spreading on social media, making Lara Jean fall even harder for Peter.

But Genevieve. There’s always a Genevieve factor when it comes to Lara Jean and Peter. Lara Jean is convinced Gen is the one who took the video and spread it on social media. Then she and Chris start to see Gen and Peter continuing to spend time together, his arms always wrapped around her. When Lara Jean confronts Peter, he denies anything is going on and simply tells her Gen is dealing with family stuff.

As this is all happening, Lara Jean receives a letter…from John Ambrose McClaren! He was the only other person who received one of Lara Jean’s love letters who she never heard back from, until now. The strike up a pen pal relationship. Then as Lara Jean starts to volunteer at a senior living community and befriends an elderly woman named Stormy, she learns that John Ambrose is Stormy’s grandson. That does nothing but lead to Lara Jean and John Ambrose spending more time together and further confusing Lara Jean about her feelings.

The Netflix movie adaptation of the book automatically starts very differently. After all, the first movie took some of the content from the second book so it could wrap up the hot tub video fiasco in a neat little bow at the end. So all of that drama from the beginning of P.S. I Still Love You, the novel, is eliminated from the movie. It works because the movie is then able to spend much more time on the Lara Jean/John Ambrose/Peter/Genevieve situation.

And yet somehow the slow burn buildup of Lara Jean and John Ambrose’s relationship is more richly explored in the book, so the impact and payoff at the end are much more satisfying. The movie makes it feel like John Ambrose was never really a consideration for Lara Jean, while in the book he very much was.

The movie also took out the tidbit of John Ambrose being Stormy’s grandson. Instead he was a fellow volunteer at the home, and I like this better because a) it allowed for Lara Jean and John Ambrose to spend time together in a way that made sense and b) it also allowed for further diversity casting.

Ultimately the biggest difference may have come at the end. The way Lara Jean learns what Genevieve is going through with her family is completely different from the book, and it’s also handled differently. Both the book and movie have the two girls talking about the situation, ultimately leading to Lara Jean feeling confident in her decision about which boy she wants to date. But in the book, Gen’s family crisis a lot darker, and the conversation between the girls is far more confrontational. The movie cut out some of the risque factor of Gen’s home life, and portrayed a much more emotionally healthy conversation between her and Lara Jean. But I would argue that 16-year-old girls are not that emotionally healthy, and can be very hormonal and angsty. So the book seems to have a more realistic take on this. The book’s version of this conversation also speaks to another very sad, but common teenage rite of passage: breaking up with friends.

When it comes to this one, I loved both the book and movie. The book was better plotted, paced and explored.. But no matter the changes, you can’t help but fall in love with Lana Condor, Noel Centineo and Jordan Fisher on screen.

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Movie vs. Book: Insurgent

**Spoiler Alert: Because of the popularity of both this book and movie, this review does include spoilers. 

Insurgent picks up where author Veronica Roth’s Divergent left off — with Tris, Four, Caleb, Peter and Marcus living in the Amity faction, waiting to decide their next move after narrowly escaping the attempted takeover and attack lead by Jeanine. Tris is still reeling from the death of her parents, and tensions continue to run high between Four and Tris and Peter. But when Erudite and Dauntless traitors arrive to search for Abnegation, Tris, Four and Caleb escape and meet up with the Factionless. After that, all hell breaks loose as factions try to combine to either fight off or fight for Jeanine and whatever plans she has. But Tris learns Jeanine has an important secret that involves her parents — one that she must find while also protecting the lives on the innocent.

That general story holds true in the movie version of the bestselling novel. That said, I have never seen a movie that veers so differently from the novel upon which it’s based. First of all, the movie leaves out Marcus almost entirely. As Four’s father, Marcus is the one from whom Tris learns how important her parents’ secret is. Much of the book involves Tris backing Marcus and working to get her hands on that information — a move that causes some friction between Tris and Four. But with Marcus barely in the movie, all of that friction is gone.

Not to mention, the movie objectifies that secret into a box, which Jeanine is working hard to unlock. It seems like we’re to believe that Jeanine doesn’t know what the secret is and needs a Divergent to open it by passing simulations for all five factions. In the book, Jeanine does make Tris do simulations, but it’s not to unlock a box of secrets. In the book, the reason is so she can figure out a serum that will actually affect Divergents.

The way the secret comes out is completely different in the movie than In the book. In the book, Jeanine has the secret information hidden on her computer. The information is accessed near the end of the novel as part a team effort between Tris, Christina, Marcus and several others infiltrating Jeanine’s facility and computer. But that entire section is left out of the movie.

On top of all this, three of the four major deaths in the book are either left out or changed in the movie. Lynn’s death is left out entirely. Four kills Eric in both, but in the book, Eric is put on trial and then killed. There is no trial or Dauntless leaders in the movie. Then there’s Jeanine’s death.  In the book, Tori kills her, despite Tris trying to fight Tori on it. But in the movie, Evelyn kills Jeanine, with no fight from anyone.

These are just the major changes. There are lots of other minor ones. Not having read the third book in the series, Allegiant, it’s hard for me to determine if and how these changes may affect the third movie. And granted, the movie was still excellent, action-packed and exciting. But it was so different from the book, I found myself having a hard time cheering at the end.

Get Insurgent in paperback for $10.68.

Or on your Kindle for $3.99.

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