T10T: Books That Would Have Been Great… In Another Format

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Page to Screen Freebie.

As I don’t watch movies for… reasons (a few things are said about the reasons here, if you’re interested), I didn’t want to write a post about movie adaptations, so I’m writing a list of novels that would have worked just as well (…or so much better) had they not been novels.

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
Ideal format: graphic novel
HeroineComplexThis is: the first book in a series about Asian-American superheroines fighting monsters and falling in love

The first time I saw this cover, I thought this was a superhero graphic novel. It turned out to be something different – an m/f superhero romance in a traditional novel – but when I finished it, I was still thinking that it would have been so much better as a graphic novel. I mean, it has: flashy over-the-top action scenes, snappy dialogue, and a fun narrator, while it had no setting descriptions and not that much introspection either. As a graphic novel, it would have been perfect. As a novel, it became annoying after a while.

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
Ideal format: novella
39395857This is: Hamlet-inspired political intrigue in a fantasy book narrated by a god who resides inside a rock.

I don’t know. Maybe not knowing anything about Hamlet made me not get the book, but all I can think about is that so much of this could have been cut, and this novel would have been as effective (so, not that effective, but the length was making it worse). It’s slow-paced, and it should make you think about inaction and inability to communicate – but all it made me think about was that the narrating god, the Strength and Patience of the Hill, was seriously testing my strength and patience with all that meandering.

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
Ideal format: novella
35271238This is: a royalty romance following a woman who discovers she’s betrothed to an African prince

While I was reading this, I kept thinking about how much I loved Once Ghosted, Twice Shy, and about how the same thing wasn’t happening with this novel – especially in the second half. I felt like the story dragged, which is one of my main complaints with… all adult contemporary novels I’ve read so far? But it was especially glaring in this one, since I had read and loved a novella by this author just a few months ago. If this had been a novella, I know I would have rated it at least a star more.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Ideal format: mixed media novel
24763621This is: a Labyrinth retelling from the PoV of a girl who is a musician with bipolar disorder

I wanted this book to be what For a Muse of Fire ended up being. Both are books with bipolar heroines that involve music, and I thought the device of mixed media that was employed in For a Muse of Fire (Sheet music! Maps! Other PoVs written in a different format!) would have worked in Wintersong too – especially since it talks about music even more. I’ve heard that in some of the English editions there are drawings/illustrations (?), but there are none in the Italian copy I own.

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
Ideal format: something on a screen
RedSisterThis is: a story about a girl who ends up training at a convent to become an assassin nun

I think this book works really well as it is, but when I thought about which books would work well as movies, I immediately thought of Red Sister. Its training/fight scenes are so fascinating, I’d love to see them on a screen. [Let’s pretend that I’d be able to watch something this violent, and let’s pretend that it wouldn’t get completely ruined as a story to make it more similar to Game of Thrones – and with that I mean making the female characters go through far more violence and introducing male characters that aren’t there.]

Empire of Light by Alex Harrow
Ideal format: movie
39866780This is: a futuristic dystopian novel following an assassin for hire and an m/m/m love triangle

I described this book as “frenzied”, because it didn’t slow down a moment (you think you know action-packed? I thought I did, but I really didn’t). If the characters weren’t shooting, they were getting shot at, and in the very few scenes in which neither of these things were happening, they were having sex. While these characteristics made the book a very quick read, I feel like it didn’t really work. Maybe it would work better on a screen? (I probably wouldn’t be able to see it anyway.)

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi
Ideal format: graphic novel
9780448493909_BeastNight_HC_JK_CvLib.inddThis is: a Nigerian-inspired YA fantasy full of intrigue that follows a sin-eater.

This time, I don’t want a graphic novel because of the lacking descriptions, I want a graphic novel because I want to see this beautiful, vibrant world, and because I think that my main issue with the book, which was the somewhat weird pacing, wouldn’t be as much of an issue (or maybe I’d just notice it less) in a graphic novel. But really, this world. I had some other problems with this apart from the pacing (how some female characters were written, mostly), but it was worth reading just for the worldbuilding.

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson
Ideal format: movie
38116996This is: a character-driven story about resurrection and a friendship that needed closure

This would be such a fun coming-of-age movie, and a diverse one at that (gay main character, trans and Pakistani love interest). Atmospheric, darkly humorous, just slightly over-the-top, great premise – we don’t have enough stories about platonic m/f friendships, and we don’t have enough stories about friendships that are really messy and at times toxic but not at the point of being abusive. Also, movies always cut some dialogue, which would make my main problem with this (how some of the dialogues became repetitive) disappear completely.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
Ideal format: graphic novel
30116958This is: Chinese-inspired paranormal YA featuring angry girls and Sun Wukong in high school.

Sometimes I think about how perfect this would have been as a graphic novel. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, there’s a lot of humor, hilarious dialogue and action scenes – but the writing is also very plain and there are basically no descriptions. I feel like stories with characters that are a bit more on the… caricature (? not sure if it’s the right word, but everything was so over-the-top, intentionally) side work better in graphic novels, too – in novels, I find them funny at first and exhausting later.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
Ideal format: TV show
TheCollapsingEmpireThis is: a story about a space empire falling apart and humans backstabbing each others all the while

I said about this series that what it lacks in depth, it makes up in entertainment, and it’s true – it’s a fun story about people being terrible, with a lot of political intrigue, plot twists, and dark humor. However, the characters and their dynamics lack depth, which is glaring in a novel, but that could work on a screen if the people adapting it know what they’re doing – I think they could at least manage to make the romances feel as if there was some chemistry. (Also, I’ve heard it’s getting adapted?)

Have you ever read a book that would have worked better in another format?

12 thoughts on “T10T: Books That Would Have Been Great… In Another Format

  1. This is such a fun take on this topic!
    I either didn’t know or (probably) forgot that For a Muse of Fire has mixed media elements, that sounds so cool. And I think that would’ve been a great addition to Wintersong as well. I also had no idea Heroine Complex wasn’t a graphic novel and now I’m confused, cause it sounds and looks like one.
    I think The Bone Witch would make a really interesting and visually stunning graphic novel (maybe in a similar style to Monstress), but I love the novels, so like in addition to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you like it!
      HC really does look like a graphic novel – that cover doesn’t say “adult superhero romance novel” to me.
      And a Bone Witch graphic novel in Monstress’ style would be perfect! Why doesn’t it exist, I want to see those scenes and clothes and monsters


  2. ooooh I love this post! (You always have the best post ideas though so this comes as no surprise)

    When I think about books that would’ve worked better in a different format, The Frame-Up by Meghan Scott Molin immediately comes to mind. It’s about a comic book writer solving a series of crimes inspired by her favorite superhero. It’s an okay mystery novel, but I kept thinking about how it would’ve been better if it was an actual comic book. It just seems fitting. Also, I would love to see more diverse YA romcoms in movie format, not just because it’s my ideal format for romcoms in general but also because we really need more feel-good movies of teenagers that aren’t overwhelming white and cishet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had never heard of The Frame-Up before, but that makes sense.
      I would like more diverse romcoms to exist too, even though they’re not something I’d watch that often – the genre really needs some diversity, and these movies are the kind of things that could have a great positive impact.
      And thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 100% agree on The Raven Tower. So slow! I ended up only reading the half that did not begin: “Here is a story I have heard”… because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read all of it and even liked the rock’s parts in the beginning, since I almost never see prehistoric settings in fantasy, but… it was too long, and so boring, and I’m not even sure what exactly the author was going for with all of that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Really like this concept! Sadie by Courtney Summers tried to mix novel and podcast format, while I thought it would be so much better and more dramatic with an actual podcast that was complementary to the novel or just have a podcast instead of a novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It worked for me in Sadie – as far as Sadie worked for me, which wasn’t much, but it wasn’t the format’s problem – as an audiobook, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have liked it had I read a physical copy.

      Liked by 1 person

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