8 Movies I Like More Than Their Books

We live in a movie age, where all the popular books and comics are being picked up, the classics are being redone, TV shows are taking over the world…so I thought it’d be fun to share some of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations. Okay, not just adaptations, but movies that I thought were better than their books. *gasp* Is that even possible? Am I even an official bookworm?


1. How to Train Your Dragon

Okay, I actually enjoyed the book version also. But the movie and book are DRASTICALLY different. And while I enjoyed the book, I liked the movie better. (I CAN’T WAIT FOR MOVIE 3!!) The author–Cressida Cowell–also loves the movies, so it’s a win-win!

The music (also known as “Nadine’s permanent playlist”) plays a big part, too. I repeatedly tell hubby that, if I ever write a Middle Grade series that turns into a movie, I want John Powell to team with Nicholas Hooper and Alexander Desplat for my soundtrack.

2. Stardust

Confession: I saw this movie before I read the book. (For shame!)

Confession #2: I didn’t actually know it was based off a book until after I saw the movie. (double shame!) Then I read the book and didn’t like it one bit. LOL. I even went into it with an open mind, but I found the movie more interesting and with less distasteful content.  But I found the movie funny, visual, and very inspiring (even if some bits are a little weird. 😛 )

Besides, it has Beth from Little Women in it and she’s delightful.

3. Divergent

This movie blew. me. away. (It probably helped that I was writing A Time to Speak at the time. So…dystopian movies were like mental Oreos to me.) In the book, I found Tris Prior to be a bit too harsh of a character for me, but in the movie–despite her harhsness–I found that I could care about her more and understand where she came from. I loved how they brought balance to her character and showed the world building. AND THE MUSIC. Just….this movie. So many feels. We shall not speak of the sequels (neither books nor movies.)

4. The Count of Monte Cristo

Perhaps this makes me a terrible person, but I liked the Jim Caviezel movie-version better than the book. *hides* Hey, at least I read the book. Right? But the book ending was just not as epic as the movie. Sorry, Alexander Dumas. 😛 Also, did you realize that the son in this movie IS THE ACTOR FROM SUPERMAN?! He’s so little and dorky in this movie! Ha! Go watch it. You can’t un-see it now.

5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Remember that this is just my preference. You can condemn me later, but book six in the Harry Potter series was my least favorite (okay, SECOND least favorite. Because Chamber is also not my jam.) Yet the movie is my favorite. I still like the book and read it every time I go through the series, but this was the first time I really felt like they got Dumbledore’s character right on screen.

The music (Nicholas Hooper!!!) is to DIE for. (Or at least swoon for.) And the visuals and the acting was just on a whole new level. I could re-watch that a thousand times. Plus one. Plus a thousand. (Don’t judge this movie by its cover. The movie cover is truly awful. LOL.)

6. Mockingjay 1 & 2

REDEMPTION!!! Mockingjay (the book) tore out my heart and ate it over and over and over again until I finally threw the book against the wall. I didn’t touch the book for a good several years. Then, when the movies started coming out I gave it another try…and I threw it again.

Sorry Mockingjay, but you’re only on my shelf because you’re a pretty blue and you complete the series. 😛

But the movies redeemed the book for me. I felt like I left the movie theater content with the ending and not hating the entire world. Thank you Lionsgate for saving readers everywhere from doomed bookworm grief!

7. Inkheart

I read this book a loooooong time ago and I remember thinking that Meggie (the main character) was a brat. Oopsie. But then I watched the movie and loved it (because I’m a happy ending type of person.) Not to mention the CAST. Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, and GOLLUM are in this movie. Even if you think it’s a flop, just enjoy watching them. 😛

The movie also stirred my curiosity to give the books another try. I never actually continued with the series because I think I got caught up in college busyness. But now…now I want to try again. Cornelia Funke is an excellent writer and I can’t dismiss her books just because teenage me didn’t like the main character. 😛

8. Lord of the Rings

I will pop in these beauties a hundred times to every one time I read the book. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the books. But I’ve only read them one and a half times and it’s a whole different ball game. Don’t hate me…just bring me the movies and dress me in an Elvish cloak and I’ll be happy forever. 😉

What are your favorite book-to-movie adaptations?

Do you disagree with any on this list?




About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. Lord of the Rings – I completely agree. The movies were epic! For the Hobbit, I’m torn down the middle, but I think I prefer the movies.

    And one movie that is light years better than the book . . . The Giver. I’m so sorry to the author, and I know the book was/is crazy popular, but THE MOVIE WAS SO MUCH BETTER! I mean, in the book, the MC was 12 years old, and in the movie he was 18. That’s one of a million differences that made the movie awesome.

    Anyway, that’s my list! Now I’m in the mood to go watch The Giver again. 🙂

  2. I loved the movie The Giver much better than the book too. And Mockingjay! A hundred yeses for that.

    Lord of the Rings I liked better the first time as movies, but after reading the books again and again, they have grown to be my favorite.

    And Inkheart!!!! You’ve got to finish the series! I love both the movie and the book. The first book did seem a little slow because the movie dealt with things quicker, but book two and three (especially the endings of those books, and the climax of book three… So good.)

    • I have definitely enjoyed the LOTR books much more now that I’ve watched the movies and can keep track of all the characters and places. 😉

      Okay, I’m determined to pick up Inkheart again.

  3. I agree with you about Stardust- I loved the movie! When I read the book, I had to keep checking the cover to make sure I was reading the right book, because it is SO different, and I was not a fan.

    I think the Mockingjay movies were better too, because when I read the book, I was so confused about what was even happening.

    *whispers* though I think The Half-blood Prince book was better than the movie… 😉

    • SAMEEEEEE!!! I was like, “This can’t be the right book….” Not a fan at all.

      *whispers* I still prefer the HP books to all the movies, but I’d be more likely to rewatch that movie than re-read the book. I’m quite torn down the middle with that one. But still a huge fan of the book. 🙂

  4. I totally agree on How to Train your Dragon! I mean I classify good movies by their soundtrack -anything with Hans Zimmer is the best!!! And I believe one day one of your books will be a movie and John Powell and Alexandre Desplat will rock it up because they are Awesome!!

    • LOL why thank you! I sure hope so. I’d probably fangirl over John Powell and Alexandre Desplat more than I’d fangirl over the fact my book was turning into a movie! xD

  5. How to Train Your Dragon and Inkheart – I’ve never read the books for those (didn’t know HTTYD had a book, actually…) But I do love the movies. Inkheart holds a special place in my reader and writer heart because of its themes about books.

    LOTR- I understand what you’re saying completely. It was the movies (and LEGO LOTR video game before that) that got me into the fandom. I didn’t understand the story enough to read it before that, but once I did understand it was love. <3 I can't say I like the movies BETTER than the books or vice versa, but like I saw someone else say once, "the movies are just a faster way to scratch the same itch." Love the books, read them twice so far, but my first reading, I kid you not, took me the better part of half a year. My second reading went faster but it's still a (very enjoyable) time commitment. The Hobbit on the other hand I can rip through in a week, and while the movies are different I still enjoy them.

    • Same here for LOTR. I read the books before the movies and had no idea what was going on. LOL. But now I love both–I just prefer the movies. As for the Hobbit, I think I’ll always prefer the book.

  6. I had the exact same journey with Stardust. Only I ended up arguing with the city librarian that a book with such a semi-graphic sex scene had no business in the children’s section, I don’t care what the library of congress says!

    I agree about Half-Blood Prince, too. Reading the books, the character’s didn’t age in my mind the same way they did on the screen. So the scene where Harry used the spell from his potions book on Malfoy had a whole different nuance and, to me, level of responsibility for his actions, when it was driven home they weren’t a bunch of 11-year-olds anymore…

    I was thinking Inkheart before I even got to that spot on your list. I thought the ending was so much more climactic (and made better sense). But something about the book also felt musty and smothery to me. I’ve always debated reading the rest.

  7. Listen to me, Nadine. You are brilliant and lovely and oh so talented, but you are wrong. Inkheart and The Count! Sit next to me when you watch and I’ll tell you all the ways you are wrong. I love you. It’s just, friends tell each other these things.

    • LOL, oh dear. Should I be worried? 😉
      I like the plan of spending a day watching movies together and my being re-educated. Okay, you’ve convinced me…I’m coming to your house. 😉 But I’ll put up a fight with Count. I feel like I should finish reading the Inkheart series before I try fighting you on that one.

  8. I agree with you!… you need to tell yourself… It’s OK to like a movie better than the book. It really is! I came to that understanding a few years ago and it was very liberating. So relax, pop an oreo, and revel in your new found freedom. I have some family who are major book worms, and absolutely love JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and they find the movies a travesty to humanity. So I’m secretly enjoying them, and finally admit it… I love the movies more. I was almost kicked out of the family.

    And remember just because we like the movie more doesn’t always mean we’re saying the book is bad. I usually enjoy movies-based-on-books about as much as I enjoy the book. The biggest thing I hear is THEY MADE CHANGES! Well of course they did it’s a movie… movies are different from books in it’s pacing, presentation, etc. If you want a 100% faithful adaptation, just read the book. Movies are a chance to explore themes or plots that perhaps the book didn’t. Anyway, I’m very passionate about this as you can tell… For so long I had been told “You can’t like the movie more than the book because it’s never better!” And finally I had the courage to say “No! In some cases the movie is better!”

    • YES. ALL OF THIS^. YOU TOOK THE THOUGHTS OUT OF MY HEAD AND MADE THEM COHERENT! (Except my family actually likes the movies and my granny thinks Legolas is cute, LOL) 🙂

    • Nathan Mileski

      Hear hear!!! Well said!
      I will admit that some movies have made me mad at how much they differed from the book *cough*PercyJackson*cough*, but I hadn’t considered the fact that it’s cool because it can explore new plots and if I wanted it 100% the same I should just read the book. That’s a good angle to take… especially for movies like the Hobbit that differ so much from the book but are still awesome.

    • PREACH IT. Seriously. I have a feeling you and I could talk about all of this for hours over coffee. *fist bump*

  9. I love the How to Train Your Dragon movies!! I was so excited to watch HTTYD 3 but then I found out there was going to be homosexuality stuff in it. 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 So now I won’t be able to watch it. 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁

    • Where did you hear that? I can’t find that information anywhere. I know there was the “speculation” from movie two, but a lot of that was just hearsay.

      I guess we’ll see!

  10. I love your list and say spot on! The Ink Inkheart book I found kinda dark and depressing, because of the constant “they escape, they get caught”. But the movie was balanced with humor and seriousness and… like you said, a great cast.
    One to share, thought it doesn’t REALLY count:
    Rogue One. I lived Jyn’s character in the movie. But in the book, respectfully, Freed gave her a serious chip on her shoulder. Very bitter and angry and always looking for a reason to hate people, even her Dad. In the movie, I saw a childlike yearning for family and hope… maybe that’s just me.

  11. Jessica Dowell

    Flipped. I liked the throwback to the 60’s and I think it added to the story. I also thought it had a better resolution. And I totally agree with you on Mockingjay. I hated the book, but loved the movie.

  12. I love the “How to Train Your Dragon” movies!! ^_^ And Divergent was really interesting (yesss, the music!)

    I one hundred perfect agree that “The Hunger Games” movies are better than the books! In that they’re much more hopeful and the characters are a little softer and kinder … and you know, all that. 🙂 CATCHING FIRE and MOCKINGJAY: PART TWO were probably my favorite movies of the series. The emotion and action and plot of CATCHING FIRE is absolutely stunning! <3

  13. Nathan Mileski

    Duuuude I didn’t know there was a How To Train Your Dragon book! Cool!! I loved the movie though, so I don’t know if I wanna read the book.
    I’ve read all of the other books and watched all of the movies that you listed (except Stardust — I’ve never heard of that), and I think I agree with all of your opinions. The movies were so much better.
    I really liked the Inkheart book though… your imagination was free-er, and there was more awe, I think, with the book. And there was so much detail that wasn’t in the movie. But I think the movie was better because it was so much funnier. And the ending was, like, wow. Shiver-inducing.
    Yesssss Lord of the Rings!!! I love the books dearly with all of my heart, but the movies were so cool! Especially the fight scenes. *squeal* Same with the Hobbit. That’s the only one I can think of where I liked the movies better than the book. It was way different than the book though. I didn’t like how much it differed, but the fight scenes and the music for the movies were FABULOOOOOUS!!!

    • Nathan Mileski

      Oh yeah: the only thing I might disagree with you on is Harry Potter. I love both the books and the movies and have gone through both myriads of times, but I think the books are better. Even the Half-Blood Prince. I think that the movies ruined the romantic aspect of the story, and I think all of the movies were actually darker than the books. There are a couple themes in the books that weren’t addressed in the movies. Plus — like most books-turned-movies — there are a lot of missing or distorted scenes in the movies. I personally didn’t like Dumbledore in the movies either; they didn’t cast him very well at all. Sorry if you hold a different opinion, but I didn’t like him. He wasn’t the happy, mischievous Dumbledore that we know and love. He was a bit grumpy. 😛
      So I agree with all of your opinions except for the Harry Potter one. I will always love the books more. XD

      • I still think the HP books will always be better than the movies–content and depth wise. But I just happen to enjoy watching the 6th movie more than re-reading the book. 🙂 And I agree. DUMBLEDOREEEEEE! Ugh. I hated the grump-factor (don’t get me started on the Dumbledore from the Goblet of Fire movie….) Movie 6 (Half-Blood Prince) was the only movie I felt they finally got him right.

  14. Definitely disagree with you on Inkheart, but you should read the whole trilogy! So good!

  15. OHHH you put LOTR on there, hmm, not sure I can cope with that… Nah I guess the books are not everyone piece of cake. I will just continue to love them to pieces though, because the characters are soo much deeper, everything is. And the Nuzgul and other monsters were way more terrifying in my imagination, the movies just can’t do it justice for me.

    I agree with How to Train your Dragon though, they are so different it is almost just like a fan fic.. that is better.

    I have not watched any of the others though so I can’t say. But interesting to hear what you thought!

  16. sierrafaith327

    I have to disagree with Mockingjay! :p But then again I don’t really like the Hunger Games movies at all… they went too far off the books and Katniss wasn’t as likable in my opinion! I do understand why you like the movie better.. but there was just something about th ebook…

    One movie I liked better than the book was War Horse! I felt like the book was trying to be too much like black beauty but the movie changed that and I really enjoyed it!

    • Wow! It’s interesting to hear how you say the movies went too far off the books because I’ve always thought that those movies were the best book-to-movie adaptation ever done! Especially with the author adding in the extra stuff.

      I did like the first book better than the first movie, though.

      Ooh, I still haven’t seen (or read) War Horse!

    • Oh yes War Horse was so well done, and was probably better than the movie. Another movie that is almost as good as the book is the book Thief, that was so well done, but I do still like the book better but the movie lived up to it.

  17. Um. Wot. LoTR? Seriously? 0.0

    Wow. I disagree with you on that point. *gives Peter Jackson the death glare* Tom Bombadil isn’t even in it…
    I do like the movies, but the book… So much better. xP Finally we disagree on something. 😛

    I like the movie Inkheart, but I’ve never read the book. I’ve considered it a couple times, but never picked it up.

    • LOL. *suvives death glare* I know, I know, Tom Bombadil. But in my opinion, I don’t think any director could have done Tm Bombadil justice, so I’m kind of glad they didn’t even try. 😛

      *glares at Peter Jackson over the Hobbit movies* 😉

      • Yes, I actually agree about that. xP That’s pretty much the only thing I’m glad Peter Jackson didn’t put in there. It would have been awful. 😛

        Um, over what movies? 😉 I don’t recall any Hobbit movies. Never heard of them at all. xP

  18. The Princess Bride is a better book than movie, too, IMHO. But I agree with you on How to Train Your Dragon. I haven’t read/seen any of the others (yet! I’m going to read Mockingjay this week and hopefully see the movies soon) but I believe you! XD

  19. Polaris Northstar

    I LOVED the How to Train Your Dragon movies SO much that I am afraid to read the books! 0.0

    The Count of Monte Cristo movie is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIES!!! And yes, I knew Albert is the guy who plays Superman (I love The Count of Monte Cristo… and I am a superhero nerd;). I really does look little and dorky, with the exception of that one scene in the catacombs (total Superman moment/face!), but you really can see “the young Superman” under it all (especially because Clark Kent is a dork;). Now I need to know, should I read the book? I Love the movie SO much, I was scared to read the book (started it, but like the movie more that what I was reading so I stopped) and… potentially ruin the movie for myself (I know that sounds weird since books are usually better than the movies, but that did happen to me once… and I could not watch the movie I loved for almost a year after reading the book [not going to say the name because I know a lot of people liked the book more]).

    While I never finished the Mockingjay book, I have seen the movies. So… should I not finish the book since the movie is better?

    I have seen Inkheart, but have not read the books… I don’t know if I will. It had a great premise…but fell a little flat for me :/

    I will say nothing of Lord of the Rings ;]

    Great movie line up!

  20. Late to the party! I agree with you that the Hunger Games movie series was probably the best book-to-movie adaptation I have ever seen (except, possibly, LOTR, in particular FotR). I like the movies much better than the books, feeling that they smooth over rough patches in the books and add needed depth to the plot. I think Suzanne Collins being deeply involved in the writing of the scripts makes me feel like the movies are the real story and the books are just Katniss’s perception.

    I would disagree with you about LotR, but do think that that book/movie combination share so very much in trailblazing glory that it’s just beautiful. And…the books aren’t everyone’s style, for sure.

    I had no idea Stardust was a book! HTTYD either!

    Princess Bride is another one where the author of the book actually wrote the movie script, and I personally enjoy the movie more than the book (though, the book is good, too).

    The Black Stallion is another excellent adaptation, although there is a part of me that wants to see a movie a little closer to the book with a 16-18 yr old Alec.

    Adaptations are such a fun topic for me. I’m not a purist by any means, due in large part to trying my hand at writing adaptations and realizing just how much medium changes a story. Pacing for a book is not the same as pacing for a movie. The way you convey ideas is entirely different, and staying true to the heart of a story and still making a good movie (or book, as the case may be) might require serious changes to make the medium jump.

  21. brandonscottmiller

    “…but you’re only on my shelf because you’re a pretty blue and you complete the series.”
    Cue massive sigh of relief. So I’m not the only one who does this. THANK YOU NADINE!

    • LOL! Definitely not the only one. Ha! I love looking at the book. I also love throwing it whenever I weaken enough to try reading it again and hoping it’ll be better. 😛

      (p.s. It was great to see you & chat this last weekend! 🙂 )

      • brandonscottmiller

        That’s a good thought… maybe I need to find a throwing book. (And probably a throwing wall… I don’t think Dad would take kindly to me using any of his.) You must really want it to be worth reading if you still consider a possibility of reading it in the future. Books generally get one shot with me. (That being said, I don’t think I’ve ever not finished a book… and that’s saying something because I’ve read “The Red Badge of Courage”. That one would have been throwable but it was on my kindle so… Then again, my kindle bit the dirt last week anyway, so maybe I can throw it now. 😛 )

        (p.s. in-like-kind: For sure! I really enjoyed it too. Going to talk to my parents about marketing and what-not tomorrow night. *fingerscrossed* Thanks so much for helping me out with all of my questions! (On the topic of newsletters, I’m glad April worked for you! I’m really looking at pulling a camp NaNo in July… also looking at more than 50,000… because I hit that in three weeks last November. Think I can make it? (Say “no” and the pressure’s off and my life is easier.)
        (Don’t say no.)

        Anyway, see you in June I guess. Long live OYAN!

  22. Lord of the Rings. I’m reading the books now, and it’s taking me forever. I like them, but the style is too descriptive or something. I can’t put my finger on it. But I agree with that one.
    How To Train Your Dragon. Where I did watch the movies first and adored them and their fabulous soundtrack, I read the books after and found that I liked them equally, but for different reasons. The movies take a different turn than the book and honestly, it feels like different stories with the same character names. But I adore them both and it helps my conscience that Cressida Cowell loved them too.

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