Worst Book Adaptations

Opinion posted March 19, 2023 in


If it weren’t for how fantastic the book “Divergent” is, this movie would be truly terrible.

To be fair, compared to its critically and commercially beloved Young Adult counterpart “The Hunger Games,” not even the “Divergent” books can hold a candle to Suzanne Collins's work.

But where the books feel like a different Young Adult action-adventure story, the movies feel like cheap money grabs at the genre's popularity.

The “Divergent” movies are incredibly one-note. They don’t have the same heart that the aforementioned “Hunger Games” has or even other genre favorites like “Maze Runner” or “Harry Potter” has.

Maybe comparing this movie to other iconic Young Adult Book adaptations isn't fair.

Still, considering how uninspired “Divergent” is and how quintessential these other adaptations have become, it's hard not to.

There was so much opportunity given the source material of “Divergent” that could’ve been enhanced on screen. Instead, this movie is a shell of the story these books are trying to tell.

However, this movie did introduce the world to Theo James, so how bad can it really be? -Sophia D’Ovidio

“The Giver”

It’s one of those books that every kid in America read in school at some point.

Lois Lowrey’s “The Giver” was nothing too groundbreaking, but it did teach children everywhere the difference between a “utopia” and a “dystopia”.

The novel was adapted for the big screen in 2014, and was unfortunately a major box office flop, only making half its $25 million budget.

“The Giver” starred Brenton Thwaites as Jonas (who was originally 12 years old in the books but Thwaites was 25 while filming), Jeff Bridges as The Giver and Meryl Streep as The Elder.

Aging main characters up for book-to-screen adaptations rarely works (looking at you, Percy Jackson) and the movie only proved the point more by including a lifeless romantic side plot between Jonas and Fiona (Odeya Rush) that took away the impact of the characters’ friendship in the book.

There is also a Taylor Swift cameo in this movie, and honestly, the only good thing to come out of it is that “Wildest Dreams” was potentially written about Alexander Skarsgård, who played Jonas’s father in the film. Scandalous, Taylor.

Not much else about this film is very memorable, but even so, “The Giver” will likely continue to survive on English classroom smart boards when teachers need a break from their middle schoolers. -Kaitlyn Murphy

“Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief”

From its casting to the plot, this Percy Jackson film does not accurately reflect the adventures read about, leaving fans of the books feeling dissatisfied. Even Rick Riordan, the author of the book series, didn’t appreciate the movie adaptation.

The main characters are around 12 years old in the book, so it is confusing as to why the cast stars adults. Not to mention the movie fails to portray some of these characters as they are described in the book.

For instance, Annabeth Chase is not depicted with her curly, blonde hair and tan skin, but instead, with the exact opposite features with Alexandra Daddario cast in the role.

Fans of the book series have certain images of characters, and the film should reflect it as best as possible.

Accuracy doesn’t lie in the plot either.

Important aspects of character development built up in the book are rushed or simply dismissed. With such an interesting book to adapt, there could have been so much more done during the film process to reflect it.  -Cassie Baylis

"A Wrinkle in Time”

The “A Wrinkle in Time” book series was a great read. When the movie came out, many fans were very excited. However, it was a flop.

The main character, Meg (Storm Reid), was thoroughly described in the book but looked nothing like the fictitious character on the screen.

Additionally, Meg’s brother, Charles (Deric McCabe), is the true main character in the book. In the movie, Charles is practically irrelevant. Both of these characters are misrepresented and overshadowed by the three misses (Reece Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling).

A major discrepancy between the book and the movie is the “villain”.

In the story, he is a brain that controls others’ minds. In the movie, he’s just a freaky cloud. The absurdity of the brain made the story distinct, but that was taken away.

Lastly, Meg’s relationship with Calvin (Levi Miller) was disappointing.

In the book, it was something everyone rooted for. In the movie, they had the two get together, but the plot was so underdeveloped that it wasn’t as exciting when it happened.

Overall, the two versions of this story differed greatly. Characters were missing or inaccurately portrayed. Do not recommend it.  -Isabel Sweet

Sophia D’Ovidio is a second-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email sgd5184@psu.edu.

Kaitlyn Murphy is a first-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact her, email kvm6255@psu.edu.

Cassie Baylis is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email ceb6085@psu.edu.

Isabel Sweet is a first-year majoring in communications. To contact her, email ips5219@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

Sophia D'Ovidio's photo

Sophia D'Ovidio

First-Year /

Sophia D’Ovidio is a first-year from Allentown, New Jersey. She is now a communications (undecided) major at Penn State University. Sophia intends on pursuing a career in journalism. Sophia writes for the CommRadio Arts department.

Isabel Sweet's photo

Isabel Sweet

/ Arts Dept.

Isabel Sweet is a freshman with an intended major in Film Production at Penn State University. She is originally from Felton, DE. Outside of CommRadio she is involved with After the Whistle, PSU Club Swim, DASH, Dear Hero Program, Blue & White Society, Student Film Org., PSNtv, and College of Communication Student Council. Within these organizations she has been credited for camera operation, co-director, scoreboards, and more! She’s currently working on two student films and hopes to learn from every experience. Her goal is to work with a big entertainment & media corporation.

Kaitlyn Murphy's photo

Kaitlyn Murphy

Freshman /

Kaitlyn Murphy is a first-year student at Penn State majoring in digital and print journalism. She is a member of the Arts and Entertainment Department of CommRadio and is passionate about reviewing films, television shows, and music. Follow her on twitter at @kaitlynmurph and email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with any inquiries.

Cassie Baylis's photo

Cassie Baylis

Third Year /

Cassie Baylis is a third-year broadcast journalism student attending Penn State University. She minors in English. This is Cassie’s first year in CommRadio, as she transferred to PSU this year. She is a member of the Friday CommRadio Newscast, and she writes for the Arts & Entertainment department. Cassie enjoys music and ranting about the plot of books she is reading. To contact her, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).