The Book Was Better: A Tragic Story About Adaptations That Failed


Not all of our favorite books get the Hollywood fairytale they deserve. Thankfully, Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series is getting a second lease on life as a TV show even though the first incarnation of her story failed at the box office. Which books do you believe could have made excellent movies, but unfortunately didn’t translate well to screen?

1. I Am Number Four

This movie had so much potential. Personally, I thought it was excellent and it is what led me to read the books (which are even better). The casting was awesome, it was action packed, and the storyline was great. Unfortunately, it didn’t do well enough in the box office to be brought back for a second film. I think this is due to the fact that the movie came out so soon after the book release, and the fanbase wasn’t big enough yet.

2. Percy Jackson

I think we are all on board here when I say that I am happy that they stopped with the second film. The movies themselves weren’t bad, but as adaptions they were atrocious. They completely strayed from the plot of the story. I mean, what was with Kronos appearing in the second film?! That should never have happened, ever.

3. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

City of Bones was hugely anticipated, but did not do well as a movie. They got the gist of the story in this adaption, but they still made a lot of changes that alienated readers. The Shadowhunter world is fairly complex, and it was not explained well in the movie, leading to a lot of confusion and a poorly constructed world. Not to mention the movie was pretty cheesy. This book, however, is being given something that most other failed adaptions do not get and that is a second chance. Here’s to hoping that ABC Family’s Shadowhunters television show does the beloved Mortal Instruments justice on the small screen!

4. Eragon

Eragon is a beloved series involving dragons and a magical land, which was written by Christopher Paolini when he was only 15 (he’s a Guinness World Record holder as the youngest author of a bestselling book series). Naturally, fans were hugely excited when the film was adapted into a movie…but then, they were gravely disappointed in the resulting adaptation. It was the 10th worst reviewed film of 2006 on Rotten Tomatoes, many calling it “derivative,” “unimaginative,” and “silly.”

5. The Host

Stephenie Meyer’s The Host was a welcome departure from her Twilight novels, and has quite a fanbase of it’s own. When Oscar-nominated actress Saoirse Ronan joined the film in the leading role, fans were hopeful. However, the movie opened to poor reviews and box office receipts, many citing the clunky use of voiceover as the culprit of the film’s failure.

6. Vampire Academy

This blood-sucking vampire tale by Richelle Mead had legions of fans, and the movie had director/writer duo behind Mean Girls. How did it fail? It came across as an overly self aware Twilight reboot trying to be Mean Girls 2.0. but without the soul – resulting in something that seemed like a low budget, teen B-movie, without any evidence of the awesome actors and writers behind it. It took an awesome series of books and turned it into something frivolous and unrecognizable, crushing fans everywhere.

Let’s take a moment to remember our beloved books that never got their chance to shine on the big screen.


About Author

Canadian nursing student who should probably be studying rather than obsessing about upcoming adaptions.


  1. I think The Host would be much better as a miniseries. I could see an eight episode story unfolding and doing the characters, their storylines, and complexities justice. How could they have excluded Walter?! So not cool.

  2. Vivian M. Dazon on

    Those are good movies and I would like to watched their sequel. But if I need to choose only one I choose ERAGON

  3. I think you missed the Beautiful Creatures adaptation. I loved the book and was truly looking forward to the movie. But when you change the ending you lose my gratitude for making it into a movie at all.

    • Oh, I actually really liked Beautiful Creatures. I thought the cast was great and the story was logical even for non-readers. The ending was kinda weird though. But the movie still wouldn’t make my top ten list.

  4. TMI movie had a great cast, but after finally reading the books (I watched the movie first) I don’t understand why they changed some of the things they did. However, from the sneak peak of Shadowhunters that ABC Family sent out, I’m terrified that the acting will be as horrible in the show as it looked in the clip. I’m also not quite sure about some casting decisions made in general for the show. But I agree that the movie had problems.

  5. I think the host would have been better as a mini series, the Book is got so much to work with.
    Also i think Beautiful creatures should be on this list.

    • Exactly! That’s probably my number 1. Also because I LOVE the sequels even more than the first part. It’s a shame, they’ll never be a movie. I still have hope for a remake, though. Especially since Cornelia Funke is writing on a sequel. But yeah, AWESOME books, crappy movie.

  6. I also felt bad about the movie “I am Number Four”. The real thing is that, the book is better than the movie that’s why many didn’t watch. I’m a big fan of the book but I got dissapointed by the movie. I thought that Callan McAuliffe was the protagonist (silly me). The book and the movie’s story plot is so far than what I expect. In the book’s description, Four was only 14 years old like me but in the movie, he looks like 16 or 18 maybe? That’s all I can say.

  7. The Giver and If I Stay should also be added. The Giver was such a profound and heartfelt book. I don’t know how to describe the mess they did with the movie. If I Stay should have never been made into a movie, in my opinion. Too depressing.

  8. Frederic De Meestere on

    You have to add The 5th wave, loved the book! But loved the movie even more, so furious we are not getting a sequel movie!!!

  9. The Mortal Instruments was AMAZING! Shadowhunters is the disappointment and does no justice to the books whatsoever. Terrible acting, script is shit and actors suck as their characters

  10. Vampire academy was a good movie I love the books I have all of them but people don’t see me whining just because the movie is not just like the book, if your a true vampire academy fan you would not care either.

  11. The Golden Compass definitely should have been on here. It was an insult to the books on so many levels. I am so glad they are making it into a series 😀

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