TV Adaptations We Love
Game of Thrones ending got you down? Get back on the horse with some of our favorite book-to-TV adaptations. This is a watch first, read later recommendation list, arranged in order of urgency. Binge on!
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
Binge The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu — Season 3 starts on June 5!
“The Handmaid’s Tale is in the honorable tradition of Brave New World and other warnings of dystopia. It’s imaginative even audacious, and conveys a chilling sense of fear and menace.” —The Globe and Mail
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules.
Like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Handmaid’s Tale has endured not only as a literary landmark but as a warning of a possible future that is still chillingly relevant. (From Penguin Random House)
Dan Simmons, The Terror
Watch The Terror on AMC — Season 2 arrives in August
“Brutal, relentless, yet oddly uplifting, The Terror is a masterfully chilling work.” —Entertainment Weekly
The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in.
When the expedition’s leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels an Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival, or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear that there is no escape. The Terror swells with the heart-stopping suspense and heroic adventure that have won Dan Simmons praise as “a writer who not only makes big promises but keeps them” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). With a haunting and constantly surprising story based on actual historical events, The Terror is a novel that will chill you to your core. (From Little, Brown & Co.)
Lindy West, Shrill
Savor Shrill on Hulu — Season 2 arrives in 2020
“Hey reader! I thought I’d read enough in this lifetime about people’s childhoods and feelings and such and I’d never want to do it again. But Lindy West is such a totally entertaining and original writer she kind of blew that thought out of my head halfway into the first chapter. I dare you to feel differently.” —Ira Glass
Shrill is an uproarious memoir, a feminist rallying cry in a world that thinks gender politics are tedious and that women, especially feminists, can’t be funny.
Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible—like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you—writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.
From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.
With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps. (From Hachette Books)
Charles Forsman, The End of the Fucking World
Watch TEotFW Season 1 on Netflix — It’s been renewed for another season!
“Forsman has crafted a comic that captures youth, frustration, and that deep, dark feeling that maybe things won’t get better when you get older.” —Publishers Weekly
TEotFW follows James and Alyssa, two teenagers living a seemingly typical teen experience as they face the fear of coming adulthood. Forsman tells their story through each character’s perspective, jumping between points of view with each chapter. But quickly, this somewhat familiar teenage experience takes a more nihilistic turn as James’s character exhibits a rapidly forming sociopathy that threatens both of their futures. He harbors violent fantasies and begins to act on them, while Alyssa remains as willfully ignorant for as long as she can, blinded by young love.
Forsman’s story highlights the disdain, fear and existential search that many teenagers fear, but through a road trip drama that owes as much to Badlands as The Catcher in the Rye. Forsman’s inviting, Charles Schulz-influenced style lends a deadpan quality that underscores the narrative’s tension.
Forsman is arguably the most acclaimed talent to come out of the Center for Cartoon Studies, a school founded in 2004 by graphic novelist James Sturm and educator Michelle Ollie in White River Junction, VT. Forsman graduated in 2008 and is a two-time Ignatz Award-winner for his self-published minicomic, Snake Oil. The End of the Fucking World is his first graphic novel. (From Fantagraphics)
Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects
Indulge in Sharp Objects on HBO — This limited series is 8 episodes
“Flynn delivers a great whodunit, replete with hinting details, telling dialogue, dissembling clues. Better yet, she offers appalling, heartbreaking insight into the darkness of her women’s lives: the Stepford polish of desperate housewives, the backstabbing viciousness of drug-gobbling, sex-for-favors Mean Girls, the simmering rage bound to boil over. Piercingly effective and genuinely terrifying.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming. (From Broadway Books)
Bonus (we really hope these are) Coming-Soon (you’ve probably got time to read A Song of Ice and Fire first):
Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere comes to Hulu in 2020
Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties is in development with FX
Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible is in development with HBO
James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird is in development with Showtime