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To All the Boys...

There is a new trend in movies. Maybe it grew in popularity because of the pandemic that continues to spread across the country and globe, making it more difficult for us to go to the theatre and enjoy a new movie with our friends but this new trend most certainly started even before the COVID pandemic began.

The trend I am talking about is the trend of streaming services filming their own movies.

These are the Netflix, Prime and Hulu branded movies and shows that are released on those sites specifically. Even Disney Plus has its own branded movies and shows but that's nothing new. After all, Disney has had their own shows and movies for a long while now.

One of the most popular movie series that has been filmed by Netflix has been the To All the Boys I Loved Before series. The first movie was a huge hit and I know for a fact I am not the only one who watched and rewatched the movie because I related to the characters immensely and loved the way the main character portrayed an awkward, hopeless romantic who didn't change her personality or passions just because she fell for a boy.

So of course I had to read the books that the movies were based on.

I found the first one, no surprise, at the library book sale (gotta love the library book sale!) and I took it with me on our family vacation. I finished the book in about 2 days. It was so good. I loved the depth of character that the author gives not only to the main character (Lara Jean) but to the love interest, and to Lara Jean's family. Throughout the book you really get to see why Lara Jean makes some of the decisions she does and you begin to fall in love with the Covey family and all those that Lara Jean interacts with.

Plus...the book was translated well into the movie.

I think one of the biggest things I have noticed with the new trend of streaming service shows and movies is that more often than when they are made by other people, the shows and movies that are based on books reflect those books better.

Maybe it's because there is more interaction between the directors, actors, and authors. I don't know the specifics but I do know if you look at many of the newer "Netflix" shows and movies that are based on books, they tend to be truer to the books than many other movies and shows.

For example, Shadow and Bone is an excellent reflection of the books' contents. You can read my review of the book and the translation to the movie here.

There are exceptions to the rule. Virgin River diverges from the books so often I wonder if the show truly is based on the books. You can read the review of these books here. But nevertheless, many book-to-movies (or shows) are done better.

That doesn't mean, however, that they are done perfectly.

While I loved the first book and movie. There were some issues with the second book. Or rather, the translation from the first book into the second.

For me, it seemed as though the second book started in a very strange place. The first quarter of the book seemed to be resolving the first book rather than beginning a new plot. I felt like the first quarter of the second book could have been added to the first book. And perhaps I am recalling wrong (it has been a while since I have watched the movies) but I believe this portion of the second book is a part of the first movie.

From there, the movies diverge. Though the first movie is reasonably closely aligned to the first book, the second is closely (but not quite perfectly) aligned. Finally, the third takes a very different track than the third book.

I found this divergence to be something I had peace about. Let me explain further:

The third book seems to have a plot that goes in many different directions. It doesn't have a lot of consistency. There is not one single conflict (with a few "side conflicts") but rather, throughout the book Lara Jean questions many different areas of her life and it seems that the plot keeps changing. For some of the book the plot is will she get into the college she wants to. Then she questions how can I stay with Peter while not going to the same school. Before she gets admitted to the colleges she applied to, she wonders will I get into any school and asks herself where should I go and what should I do after high school? Then she wonders can I transfer to my favorite school as a sophomore? Finally, she begins to wonder is there a better school out there that I could fall in love with?

The questions Lara Jean asks herself are linked by the idea that she must go to college (or do something) the following year and she must make a decision about this and about how to deal with her relationship with Peter through all of this. However, the major question keeps changing throughout the book making it feel as though the reader is jumping from conflict to conflict without fully resolving any of them. The movie, in comparison, presents a different conflict: how can Lara Jean reveal to Peter that she didn't get into the school he did and how can she tell him she wants to go somewhere else instead.

Despite the degeneration of the books and movies, I did like them as a whole. I enjoyed the tone and style of writing that Jenny Han uses, loved the characterization of the characters, and loved the simple stories she told that could honestly, have happened in real life (except for maybe the fake boyfriend part!). She presents the real world in a romanticized, beautiful way through the lenses of a confused and questioning teenager that, like us all, is still trying to find her way in this world. 10/10 would recommend!

Books Like These: Everything, Everything; The Fault In Our Stars; An Abundance of Katherines; More than Just a Pretty Face; Instant Karma

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