7 books to read before you watch the TV show
Sooner or later, most good books will find their way onto a screen, either big or small. While there’s no substitute for the depth of story you can get in a really good novel, the likes of Game of Thrones have shown that even the most difficult series can be turned into must-view TV.
Here are seven books that are either on the small screen or coming very soon..
David E. Kelley is one of the biggest names in TV, with the likes of LA Law, Chicago Hope, Ally McBeal and Boston Legal to his name (if you’re young, ask a grown-up what those shows are) and he’s selected a Stephen King novel as his next project. Published in 2014, Mr Mercedes tells the story of a psycho who commits a mass murder by driving his Mercedes into a crowd of people, and the recently retired cop who intends to put him in jail for his crimes. Kelley has recruited another big TV name to work on the project with him. Jack Bender, a key director on both Lost and Under The Dome, another King adaptation, will bring the show to life. King has announced that the book will be the first in a trilogy so there should be no worries about running out of story any time soon.
Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan) is developing, and possibly directing, this HBO show based on a trilogy of books – Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam – by Margaret Attwood. It’s set in a post-Apocalyptic future where humanity has been all but obliterated and genetic mutations are the thriving. The few human survivors band together to try to rebuild some semblance of society, while flashbacks recount their part in the event that caused the end of the world as we know it. Sounds a bit like The Walking Dead with mutants instead of zombies, which sounds pretty great.
The Mortal Instruments
Another book series that tried to be a movie series, but nobody agreed that was a good idea so it’s now a TV series called The Shadowhunters. It focuses on a girl who learns that she’s actually from a magical world that is invisible to normal people and her destiny lies in demon-hunting, which had not been her original career plan. A 2013 adaptation of the first book received lukewarm reviews and severely underwhelmed at the box office, so the planned sequels were shelved, until 2014 when it was decided its home should be on the small screen. There are six books in the series, so plenty of meat for several seasons.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Lemony Snicket books, actually written by Daniel Handler, have already been adapted into a movie, but despite being pretty good it wasn’t much of a success so any further adaptations were put on the fire. That is until Netflix announced plans to use the thirteen books as the basis for a TV series. This seems a fine fit. The books chronicle the horrible, but very funny, adventures of the Baudelaire children, who are sent to live with their wicked relative Count Olaf after their parents die in a fire. Determined to nab their inheritance, Olaf, a keen amateur actor, disguises himself as various unconvincing characters as part of a series of elaborate plots to kill his kin. These usually end up with him being significantly injured or disgraced.
Stephen King takes on one of the biggest events in modern American history, in his own unusual way. It tells of a man (played by James Franco) who finds a way to travel back to the past and decides to stop the assassination of JFK. Unfortunately he discovers that the past doesn’t want to be changed, making for a frantic tussle with fate itself. J J Abrams is producing, Hulu is backing the TV adaptation in the US, and Fox are showing it in the UK.
Super Sad True Love Story
Ben Stiller is in the frame to play the lead role in an adaptation of Gary Shteyngart’s best-seller about a middle-aged bookish man confused by a technology-centric society who finds himself in a relationship with a young materialistic Korean-American woman. The show is described as a one-hour comedy drama and will go straight to series rather than commissioning a pilot and seeing who bites.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Not quite history and not entirely fantasy, this adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s bestseller takes place during the British Industrial Revolution but imagines another version of Britain in which magic exists, although it has nearly faded from memory. Eddie Marsan plays Mr. Norrell, thought to be the only man still practicing magic, until the young, handsome Jonathan Strange (Bertie Carvel) proves this theory wrong.