What's On the Bookshelf: 4 book-to-screen adaptations from 2022
The book is always better than the movie…
Whether you fall into one camp or the other, we can all agree that the number of books being adapted for the screen is increasing and becoming more common. And while our friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation may be more biased toward the books themselves, they’ve still put together a list of “must-read” titles whose adaptations have all been released this year.
Perfect to be picked up before or after you’ve watched them
Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin
It’s been 11 years since George R. R. Martin released his last fantasy novel, and three years since the eighth and final season of the drama series Game of Thrones premiered. But fans eager for more stories set in Westeros won’t have to wait any longer as the long-awaited prequel, House of the Dragon, has finally hit our screens.
Based on Martin’s two-part history of the Targaryen family, Fire & Blood serves as a companion to A Song of Ice and Fire, the bestselling book series the previous Emmy Award-winning TV show was based on. House of the Dragon draws on this wealth of in-universe lore as it chronicles the life of Aegon the Conqueror, the creator of the Iron Throne itself, as well as the other members of his family, as they all fight to hold on to the power of that iconic seat for many generations.
It’s a must-read for anyone curious about the Targaryen family or the history of Westeros itself. Or for anyone awaiting the final book in the epic fantasy series.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Speaking of fantasy worlds, fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will be more than pleased to return to the beloved world of Middle Earth, courtesy of Amazon Prime Video’s latest TV series. The Rings of Power — which aired its first two episodes earlier this month — is a prequel to both series of films, drawing on the renowned English fantasy writer’s main works along with the many appendices he included rather than any one book itself. As a result, the show is set thousands of years in the past and depicts Middle Earth’s history — more specifically its Second Age.
Therefore fans can expect The Rings of Power to capture many significant moments leading up to the books (and movies) we all love, including the forging of the titular Rings of Power, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the fall of the island kingdom Númenor, and the last alliance between Elves and Men. This makes The Lord of the Rings an ideal read as the series unfolds on the small screen. Longtime fans will get a chance to brush up on the story they know and love and new ones will receive a chance to read ahead so they can better understand where the story is leading.
Bullet Train by Kōtarō Isaka
Originally called Maria Beetle, but later translated to English as Bullet Train, the bestselling novel is a darkly comedic thriller written by Japanese mystery fiction author Kōtarō Isaka. The story follows five assassins who each board the same high-speed bullet train (known as shinkansen), heading from Tokyo to the northern Japanese city of Morioka. They’re each there to complete a different mission, but as they eventually find out, they are all interconnected in some way.
The movie version (which is already in cinemas) stars Bard Pitt as one of the five assassins, who is dubbed “the unluckiest assassin in the world,” along with Sandra Bullock, Michael Shannon, and many others. (Including a quick appearance from Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds) Fans of the movie should definitely pick up the book, which not only matches the film’s high-energy, fast-paced feel but does so in high octane literary fashion.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
It took author Delia Owens a decade to finish writing her debut novel, Where the Crawdads Sing. But given the numerous weeks, it’s sat atop the New York Times bestseller list — and it is selected for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club — her efforts were more than worth it. The ensuing adaptation, which hit cinemas just a few weeks ago, closely follows the plot of the book it is based on, which takes place in the North Carolina marshland, where Kya, a young girl, must raise herself into adulthood by herself. However, she soon finds herself the main suspect in a murder investigation when the town’s hotshot is found dead.
Owens easily draws on her zoologist and conservationist roots at various points in Where the Crawdads Sing, which serves as equal parts coming-of-age tale and equal parts ode to the natural world, and the secrets (and great beauty) that can lie hidden in nature. This makes the book an ideal choice for anyone looking to explore the movie’s setting further.
FUN FACT: Taylor Swift wrote and recorded a song (Carolina) specifically for the movie, which makes for excellent listening while reading.
If you enjoyed today’s variety of book recommendations from Andrea Mayo, the Marketing Co-ordinator at the Emirates Literature Foundation, then you should check out her other suggestions on their blog. For more recommendations, tune in to their podcast, the Boundless Book Club and follow them on social media and YouTube to enjoy full sessions, author interviews, fun reels – everything in the name of books.