Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Some books might be better off as movies

There are some notable exceptions to the generally accepted truth that a book is better than its movie adaptation. Jaws comes to mind. Children of Men. Bladerunner. And there are other titles that stand as art in both mediums; arguably they are not adaptations, but interpretations. I'm thinking of films like Kubrick's 2001 and The Shining and Tarkovsky's Solaris and Stalker, that are equal to but different from the books they were inspired by (with credit to Clarke, King, Lem, Strugatsky).

But every know and then I encounter a book that should've bypassed its print incarnation entirely. Archetype and its sequel Prototype, by M.D. Waters, fall into this category. I enjoyed Archetype when I read it last winter. I started Prototype earlier this summer and was interrupted by life, but I've spent the last couple days complaining about this book that I couldn't stop reading.

The dialogue lacks prompts, which helps with immediacy, but for extended conversations leads to confusion. The action sequences are full of vivid description, but are somehow overly visual; the angle of the kick, the position of the gun, the bodies in motion — too many details and I lose my spatial orientation.

I'm not sure who the intended audience is. There's steamy romance (with cheesy, soap opera-like "lines") and there's a militia resistance enacting covert operations and raids. One chapter to the next didn't quite feel like the same book.

However, I would've gladly given over two hours of my life to watch this onscreen. A futuristic dystopian sci-fi action adventure romance. Something for everyone. A real blockbuster.

There are some great themes of identity and memory in these novels related to cloning, with an undercurrent of feminism. But to my liking, these are underdeveloped. And in fact, Prototype never delivers on one subplot that it is hinted at throughout (whether one of the main characters is himself a clone).

The books were really unputdownable, but with the sequel clocking in at 384 pages, I resented it.

Have you read any books that should've gone straight to film?

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