GUEST POST: Movies for Bookworms – Five Books Becoming Films in 2014

Many have argued that movies can never be as good as the books that inspired them. This year, however, many new films are being released that just might challenge that statement.

Here is just a small sample of the literary-inspired works slated to arrive in theaters in 2014:

1.) The Fault In Our Stars: Starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, the tragedies of youth are amplified when terminal illness casts a shadow over the lives of its teen victims. The narrator of The Fault In Our Stars, in both the novel and the film, is a 16-year-old girl with stage four thyroid cancer, a disease she has been battling since the age of 13. Her cancer has been contained thanks to an experimental drug, but she hasn’t been to a traditional school since her diagnosis, and she still must wheel an oxygen tank behind her wherever she goes. Her prognosis is murky and her day-to-day life is flat and dull, until she meets a boy in a cancer support group. A cancer movie that “isn’t about cancer,” the author chooses not to focus on the finitude of death  – instead he packs the story with heartbreakingly real examples of life and the emotional tumult of youth.

2.)   Inherent Vice: Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon and Josh Brolin, Thomas Pynchon’s crime novel embodies the sleazy LA noir genre, following a druggie detective as he weaves his way through the haze of early 70’s California. Doc, the detective, begins his investigation when an old girlfriend arrives and asks him to look into a problem involving a real-estate developer with whom she’s been having an affair. Soon the case begins to unravel, and the developer goes missing. The missing person—or the murder victim—leads Doc down a trail of greed, lust, and conspiracy, in a world distorted by drug use and illusions of danger. In a town full of strange happenings, more often than not the knowledge he acquires only adds up to more confusion. Being both an avid marijuana user, as well as a private eye, makes for an interesting interpretation of the clues, and Doc gives readers and viewers reason to question their own grip on reality.

3.) The Giver: Starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep in primary roles. After the massive success of Hunger Games, it seems natural for the first “dystopian” teen novel to make its way to the big screen. Set in a futuristic society where crime, poverty, sickness, and unemployment have been successfully phased out, and only one individual is charged with carrying the weight of the past, one young man learns he is next in line to be the community’s “Receiver of Memories.” In this world, choice is limited, residents are assigned to one another to procreate, and community roles are all predetermined by higher ups. Any trace of individuality has been eliminated. Under the tutelage of “The Giver,” young Jonas learns for the first time about ordinary things like color, sun and snow, as well as the lessons of love, war and death. The book raises many questions, but ultimately leaves the answers up for the viewer to decide for themselves. A quietly popular novel for young adults, The Giver as a film has generated quite a lot of buzz on Twitter, as shown in these excited tweets found with social tracker Viral Heat:

4.)  Far From the Madding Crowd: Starring Juno Temple, Carey Mulligan, and Michael Sheen, this film is based on Thomas Hardy’s first literary success. The film is set in the beautiful countryside of rural Victorian England, and the story centers around the romantic trials of Bathsheba Everdene, an independent and strong-minded woman who inherits her uncle’s farm and decides to manage it herself. She hires Gabriel, a former neighbor and one-time suitor, to be her farmhand and shepard. Ignoring his romantic overtures, she instead becomes embroiled in dramatic love affairs with a gentleman farmer and cavalry officer. As love triangles often do, the complicated relationships crumble and she eventually finds herself stranded. Finally realizing how much she has always needed quiet strength and devotion, Bathsheba makes her way back to Gabriel and convinces him to stay with her as her husband.


5.) Divergent: Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Kate Winslet in titular roles. Following along with the trend of bizarro-world dystopian reality novels, Divergent is a film based on the debut novel by Veronica Roth. The novel follows Beatrice, “Tris” Prior as she explores the world of post-apocalyptic Chicago. In this universe, members of society are defined by their personalities, categorized and sorted into five different sectors: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, or Erudite. Beatrice, however, finds herself split between the factions, making her “Divergent” and therefore dangerous. She must attempt to conceal her identity, all while uncovering a plot to kill the Divergents and juggling a new love interest. Like the novels, the films will be a trilogy, so readers and viewers can expect plenty more Big-Brother action as they follow this series to completion.

Kate Voss

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