From Page to Screen: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I am excited to share my latest From Page to Screen post on If I Stay by Gayle Forman. BE AWARE: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Summery: Mia Hall is faced with some tough choices: Stay true to her first love – music – even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?
Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.
Book Review: This was a quick and easy read for me. I got through it (and it’s sequel Where She Went) in a couple of days. I definitely enjoyed the book. Despite the fact that the book starts of with a car accident that kills Mia’s family the book isn’t as heavy as I expected. I think one of the reasons for this was because the focus was more on Mia reflecting on her relationships rather then the aftermath of the accident. One line that I think really summed up the book was “Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you”. The story was less about the accident and more about the choice that Mia has to make and wether or not she can live with the consequences of that choice. So in the end it is more about life then it is about death.
Most YA books are more about romance so I really appreciated that Mia’s relationship with her family and friends was just as prevalent and important as the romance between Mia and Adam was.
Movie Review: My feeling towards the movie are similar to my feeling towards the book. I thought the movie was really good. They did a great job portraying Mia and her relationships with her family, Kim and Adam. I absolutely loved the scenes between Adam (Jamie Blackley) and Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz). The one thing I wish was that there would have been more of Kim (Liana Liberato). I adore Liana and just wish she could have gotten more screen time.
While the movie didn’t make me cry I definitely got teary eyed at some parts. Particularly the scenes between Mia and her grandfather.
 
Compare and Contrast: One thing I have to say about the movie is they did a great job sticking to the book. While of course things changed they really did a good job of staying true to Forman’s novel. The biggest differences between the film and the book was the role Adam played. In the movie they expanded Adam’s role to the point were they decreased the role of Mia’s family and Kim. While I did enjoy the scenes between Adam and Mia I definitely wish we saw more of her relationship with her parents and Teddy.
One thing that really separated the movie from the book was the music. I absolutely loved the If I Stay soundtrack, especially the Willamette Stone songs, and have listened to it over and over again.
 
Overview: Overall I thought the movie did a great job of translating the book into a movie. While changes were made they stuck to the core of the story and kept all of the emotions that were in the book.
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From Page To Screen: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

In early January I got to see a screening of CBS’ new film The Duff, based on the book by Kody Keplinger, so I thought it would be fun to do a Page to Screen Review of the book and movie. BE AWARE: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
Summery: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl in her high school, but she has a loyal group of friends, a biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush, who calls Bianca the Duff–the designated ugly fat friend–of her crew.  
Book Review: I really enjoyed this book. When I started reading the book I was very surprised by some of the more mature content but I guess you can get away more in a book then in a movie. However while there was sex in the book it was not graphic at all so I can see how Keplinger was able to get away with it.
One of the things that I liked most about the book was Bianca. She is cynical and sarcastic but that is what endeared her to me. Wesley also was a great character. I liked that even though he turned out to be a pretty good guy he didn’t go through a 180 degree change. I thought that definitely lent an air of realism to the whole book.
The pacing of the book was good. The story definitely kept me hooked. I finished it in a couple of days because I couldn’t put it down and just wanted to know what happened next.
Movie Review: The movie was so great. But then again any movie that starts off with a Breakfast Club reference is my kind of movie. It was charming, fun, entertaining, and had me laughing throughout the entire thing. I especially loved the addition of Allison Janney and Ken Jeong who were absolutely hysterical.
But by far my favorite part of the movie was the relationship between Bianca (Mae Whitman) and Wesley (Robbie Amell). Every scene that involved the two of them was amazing. The chemistry between them was obvious and just made their scenes together that much fun to watch.
What most surprised me (but in a totally good way) was how raunchy it was. When I first saw the trailer (and some of the changes) I assumed the mature content of the book was taken out to ensure a PG-13 rating. So I was surprised by a lot of the sexual innuendo and raunch jokes throughout the film. But again, surprised in a good way (I do tent to have a very raunchy sense of humor so I really enjoyed it).
Robbie Amell (Wesley) and Mae Whitman (Bianca)
Compare and Contrast: When I first saw the trailer I was a little worried because it was totally different from the book. Usually I am a purist when it come to book adaptations but I in this case I was totally fine with the changes made because in the end the essence of the book remained: it doesn’t matter how others see you it’s about how you see yourself.
As an adaptation the movie left a lot to be desired but as a movie, on its own, it was great. It was cute and funny without being too fluffy. One change that I wasn’t crazy about, however, was Bianca’s relationship with her friends Casey (Bianca A Santos) and Jess (Skyler Samuels). In the book Casey and Jess play a big part but their characters were cut down in the film and most of the film revolves around Bianca and Wesley.
 
Overview: I loved the movie and will definitely be seeing it again when it comes out in theaters. I really hope the movie does well because I feel like it has the potential to be a classic teen movie like Mean Girls, Easy A or Sixteen Candles.
 
Extra: I attended an early screening of the film at The Grove here in LA with my friend Sara (you can check out her blog here). While we were waiting in line before the screening they brought over a cardboard cutout of Robbie Amell for people to take pictures with.
After about a two hour wait we were finally let into the theater and found our seats.
Before the movie started it was introduced by Robbie Amell (Wesley), Bella Thorne (Madison), Nick Eversman (Toby), and Bianca Santos (Casey).
The cast stayed until after the film (except Bella who had a family emergency) to meet everyone and take photos.
Because Robbie had tweeted that he might be at the screening I brought my copy of The Duff for him to sign. I ended up having Bianca and Nick sign it as well.
The Duff comes out in theaters February 20th and is Rated PG-13

From Page to Screen: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Today I am excited to announce the launch of a new series of post I am calling From Page to Screen. In this series I will be reviewing/comparing and contrasting books that have been turned into movies or televisions shows. BE AWARE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.
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Summery: Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir guardian, half-human, half-vampire, who has dedicated her life to protecting her best friend Lissa Dragomir, a Miroi (a mortal vampire) princess, from the Strigoi, immortal vampires. Two years after escaping from St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for Miroi and Dhampirs, Rose and Lissa are dragged back. They soon learn that the Strigoi are not the only threat and that something within the Academy is after them.
 
Book Review: Before I continue with my review I have to confess that I actually saw the movie before reading the book. I would always see the books on the shelf at my local bookstore but never picked them up because, quite frankly, I found the covers to be embarrassingly cheesy (see below). So it wasn’t until after seeing the movie that I decided to begin reading the series. My logic being that if I liked the movie so much and the book is usually better then the movie I would really like the books (which I did).
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Let’s being with the main character of Rose. I absolutely love Rose. She is probably one of the funniest characters in YA. She’s sarcastic and has a lot of witty one liners. Usually in YA the female characters are typically either a tomboy or a girly girl so I liked how Rose is not just a kickass guardian but also girly at the same time.
While I liked the romance between Rose and Dimitri and Lissa and Christian I appreciated that they were not the main relationships in the story. Too many YA books focus solely on the romantic relationship whereas in VA the main relationship was the friendship between Rose and Lissa. The bond between Rose and Lissa was so interesting and really adds another layer to their friendship.
Movie Review: Even before seeing the movie (or reading the book) I had pretty high expectations. As you may know VA was directed by Marc Waters (Mean Girls) while the screenplay was written by his brother Dan Waters (Heathers). Mean Girlsand Heathers are two of my favorite teen comedies so I was really expecting a lot from Vampire Academy.
That being said, while it didn’t reach my high expectations, I really did enjoy watching the movie. It was a fun and entertaining while still maintaining the deep emotional content that was in the book. The one thing I do have to say about the comedic elements were that a lot of the jokes that seemed funny in the trailer ended up falling flat in the movie. I’m guessing that was probably due to the fact that they had to edit it down more for the trailer.
I appreciated that they kept the focus of the movie on the friendship between Rose (Zoey Deutch) and Lissa (Lucy Fry) instead of making it all about the romance. The way that they handled the bond in the movie was very well done. I enjoyed seeing the scene from Lissa perspective while still having Rose’s commentary.
I think some of my favorite scenes were the one’s between Rose and Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky). One of the reasons for this was the fact Zoey and Danila had great onscreen chemistry. The scene when she tries a surprise attack on him and he has her pinned down almost had me melting. (Best Line: “So, have any other moves you wanna show me?”).
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I enjoyed watching all the fighting/training scene in the movie and I appreciated the fact that they added a lot more actions sequences then were in the book. (While I am a total sucker for girly movies there will always be a place in my heart for action flicks). My favorite fight scene was the very first one when Rose and Lissa are trying to get away from the guardians and Rose ends up blowing up a motorcycle before kicking some serious ass. I thought this was a great way to introduce Rose as a badass while in the next fight sequence (with the Strigoi) you see that although she is a kickass guardian she is totally unprepared to face Strigoi.
Compare and Contrast: All in all I feel that the movie was a very faithful adaptation of the book. Obviously there were changes made (as is expected in any book to film adaptation) but all in all I thought the changes were good and didn’t take away from the story. The one change that I didn’t like was Lissa. In the books Lissa wasn’t as catty as she is in the movie. The scene at the end when Lissa goes out in front of the whole school and gives her “blood speech” had me cringing. I hate it in films when characters get up (usually in front of a huge crowd) and give a big motivational speech (seriously, can screenwriters stop writing those speeches). I think that they wanted to show how Lissa was coming into her own and was standing up to Queen Tatiana but I really felt that that whole scene was unnecessary.
The other chance that had me shaking my head was the very last scene when they do a pan out of the school and we see a cave full of Strigoi being led by Ms. Karp. I was very confused by this whole thing. I feel like they were trying to end with a cliffhanger to make people want to see the next film but A: the Strigoi (or at least not this particular group of Strigoi) don’t appear in Frostbite and B: when they do appear in the third book, Shadow Kiss, they are not being let by Ms. Karp so that scene was very perplexing.
 
Overview: Overall I enjoyed the movie. I thought it was entertaining and fun (which is, after all, the point of a movie). Not only was it entertaining but it was a faithful to the original material as well. There were changes made (some good some bad) but overall I thought it was a good movie. Now all I can hope for is that they are able to make Frostbite (and possibly the rest of the series) into a movie (Hello Adrian!).