Hey everyone! I’ve decided to start reading those books that I’ve always said “I’m going to wait to watch those movies until I read the book” because they have piled up over the years, haven’t they? And after I’ve both read the book and watched the movie, I’ll write about it. And I’ll try to keep the time between reading and watching the movie to a minimum so I can compare them.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Wow. I knew that this book was going to be a love or hate for me. When you cover a topic like mental illness and hospitalization, there’s a right way to do it and there’s a wrong way. In the case of this book, it was done so well. I’m so glad that I picked it up finally.
I have struggled with depression since I was old enough to go to Hogwarts. In fact, I remember that because it was Harry Potter that I always turned to when I was sad (and this was when the books were coming out). When I was reading this book, I could completely understand the main character’s struggles and feelings and thoughts. I found myself highlighting passages over and over again just because I felt such a personal connection to them. I felt incredibly close to Craig because I knew exactly what he was going through.
My absolute favorite part of this book was how mental illness was portrayed. The other patients in the hospital and Craig himself weren’t described as “crazy, strange, foreign, scary” at all. They each had their own personalities and their own struggles. I feel it’s so important that when an author portrays a place like a mental hospital, that the patients are portrayed as people and not characteristics of their illness. They aren’t just there to be other “crazy people”. That they are people with an illness and they are not their illness.
Upon reflection, what I loved most about this book was that you were with Craig on his entire journey. You almost feel like you’re going through what he is and that you’re in the same positions that he is. You feel his pain, his loneliness and his struggles. By the end of the book you do feel hopeful and you do feel good. You don’t feel like the stigma of mental illness is there anymore, you feel almost liberated. You feel better as Craig feels better. And that’s important when you’re trying to make someone without depression understand just how crippling it can be.
And the book ends on a positive note that isn’t horrible cheesy. Which is rare.
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate the movie. I thought it was actually pretty charming in a lot of ways. There were some really cute moments and some very uplifting moments. But I also had a lot of problems with it.
First of all, the characters. They seemed so bland and without personality in the movie. Craig in the book was not boring at all. He had endless thoughts and actions that made him a unique character. But in the movie he was just this blank slate character with a crush on a girl he can’t have. I don’t know if this was due to the casting or the script or what, but the main character was just a miss.
They hardly spent any time at all with Craig before he was checked in to the hospital. I don’t think it’s even five minutes in to the movie before he’s at the hospital’s front doors. We don’t get to see backstory, we don’t get to “meet” Craig at all. When in the book, it’s over a hundred pages before he’s even thinking about going to the hospital. This may have been why he fell so flat for me in the movie.
They scrambled around the characters, made some more important than others. They did the thing that I hate in movies about mental illness, they made the characters their illness. They didn’t have personalities. They just had “quirks”. We never got to know the other patients (other than the love interest and Zac Galifin-whatever), they are there to fill the space in the back. They weren’t people, they were props. Ugh.
The main miss in the movie for me was that we didn’t get to see the depressed mind like we did in the book. A lot of people would say that it would be hard to portray that in a movie. As someone who’s taken several film classes, I say NO. Craig was a unique character with his own unique human experience and they turned him in to another teen indie movie character who doesn’t come to life until he meets a cute girl.
And for the girl, Noelle. Portrayed by Emma Roberts. She actually did really well with Noelle I thought. But they downplayed her illness a lot. Noelle is suppose to have large cuts on her face. In the movie they were tiny little white lines that were hardly noticeable. Noelle never gets to tell her story in the movie, she never gets to be a character. She’s just a trope.
All in all, I thought the movie was adapted by someone who didn’t understand the book at all. They didn’t care about portraying the characters well, they didn’t care about Craig’s journey, they cared about appealing to people who read the book. And then they let us down. Shame.
Let me know what you thought of either! Thanks for reading!
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~The Grisha Lieutenant