2018 was an exciting year for books getting turned into movies and TV shows. Here are some of the ones that were the most talked about: 1. Annihilation Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Paramount Pictures Based on: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeerRelease date: Feb. 23What it’s about: The 12th expedition to explore Area X, a part of the world that has been cut off from the world for several decades, is an all-woman team consisting of a biologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor, and the group’s leader, a psychologist. Each preceding expedition has had wildly different results, from mass suicide to team members killing one another to reports of a new Eden. What will happen this time, as each of the expedition’s members brings their own secrets in addition to the secrets hidden in Area X?How faithful is the adaptation? 5/10. The film adaptation adds detail where the book was intentionally vague, starting with giving the characters and Area X more specific names. There’s also a fifth member of the expedition, a linguist. Due to film being a visual medium, we inherently know more about what Area X (or "the Shimmer," as it’s called in the movie) is like — we are able to see the things that VanderMeer only obliquely describes in the novel, which, for a story based in an alternate reality, goes a long way. And finally, the ending is completely different. Though the film version is not a straight adaptation, the two work well alongside each other, one letting you understand more about the other. 2. A Wrinkle in Time Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures Based on: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’EngleRelease date: Feb. 26What it’s about: Meg has always felt like “not enough,” so when an unearthly stranger arrives at her house on a dark, stormy night and reveals that Meg must go on a grand adventure through time and space, Meg doesn’t quite believe it. Meg, her genius brother, and friend Calvin team up to find Meg’s father, who mysteriously disappeared years ago, into new dimensions while battling a growing evil force spreading throughout the universe. How faithful is the adaptation? 8/10. Ava DuVernay’s version of L’Engle’s classic fantasy novel doesn’t stray too far from its source material when it comes to plot. Besides a few small, unnecessary details, the general storyline remains the same. However, this strict adaptation style doesn’t allow L’Engle’s words to properly transfer to screen. The film feels like a visual representation of the beloved novel but without much of its underlying message about humanity and good vs. evil. Although the movie remains faithful, it doesn’t quite capture the feel of the novel. 3. Love, Simon Balzer + Bray, 20th Century Fox Based on: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky AlbertalliRelease date: March 16What it’s about: Sixteen-year-old Simon hasn’t told his friends or family that he’s gay, so when he falls for a fellow closeted classmate online, they keep their relationship totally anonymous. When his email falls into the wrong hands, Simon is blackmailed into playing the wingman for another classmate, and both his relationship with Blue (his mystery emailer) and his sexuality are in danger of being revealed. What will Simon do to keep his secret? How faithful is the adaptation? 7/10. Besides the obvious title change to “Love, Simon,” the movie version does have significant differences from the novel. One of the biggest is Simon’s best friend Leah’s crush, which in the movie is on Simon himself, complicating their relationship even more and, frankly, making movie Leah a more unlikable character. More enjoyable differences are the inclusion of Simon’s parents and their relationship and the original character, Ethan, an already out classmate of Simon’s who helps show a different side to being gay in high school. 4. Ready Player One Broadway Books, Warner Bros. Pictures Based on: Ready Player One by Ernest ClineRelease date: March 28What it’s about: The year is 2044 and the real world is a depressing place of poverty and struggle. That’s why most people, including Wade, spend their time jacked into OASIS, a virtual reality game. When Wade begins solving puzzles hidden by the game’s creator (all based on his obsession with 1980s pop culture), Wade will discover there are others within the game willing to kill for the puzzle’s ultimate prize. To survive, he’ll have to win the game — and confront reality. How faithful is the adaptation? 7/10. Cline’s deep dive into ’80s nerd culture transfers to a visual medium extremely well, with Spielberg tackling the fast-paced material. Although a lot of the details get lost in the movie (yes, there are even more nerd references in the book), the ones that make it in the movie are executed well. Spielberg also leaves off much of the first third of the novel, leaving out a lot of the exposition that introduces us to Wade and his life in 2045 America. This leaves more room for the visuals, but the overarching storyline ends up a bit muddled. 5. Fahrenheit 451 Ballantine Books, HBO Based on: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyRelease date: May 19What it’s about: Guy Montag is a fireman, but he starts fires instead of putting them out. In a world full of screens, his job is to exterminate any traces of books and literature, now a banned commodity. Guy doesn’t think much of this life until he meets Clarisse, a young woman who introduces him to the idea of a past when books weren’t outlawed and before screens took over people’s minds. When Clarisse disappears, Guy starts to question the life he’s built and what it means for the larger world. How faithful is the adaptation? 6/10. Bradbury’s novel was originally published in 1953, so it felt inevitable that the 2018 movie would have some technological updates to play upon. Although books still play a major role, the movie focuses on social media and how it has taken over every facet of human life. There are other major changes, like the cut of Guy’s wife and a major character death at the end of the movie. Despite these changes to modernize the story, ultimately the film falls flat and proves Fahrenheit might be better left to the page. 6. On Chesil Beach Based on: On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwanRelease date: May 18What it’s about: In July 1962, recent university graduates Florence and Edward get married. They are madly in love and excited for their future, but there’s just one thing standing in the way of their happiness: the wedding night. Both virgins, Florence is repulsed by the idea of sex, while Edward fears failure, and to make matters worse, the two of them lack the vocabulary to communicate effectively about this both simple and complicated issue.How faithful is the adaptation? 8/10. The screenplay was written by the novel’s author, Ian McEwan, and it’s largely faithful to the book. There are fewer subtleties in the film — motivations and internal life stuff — that are left up in the air in the novel are made more clear in the film through flashbacks and monologues. Sometimes, I wish it had remained unclear; other times, it brought some satisfying resolution. 7. Sharp Objects Broadway Paperbacks, HBO Based on: Sharp Objects by Gillian FlynnRelease date: July 8What it’s about: Camille, a journalist in the city, is fresh out of a psychiatric ward and ready to take on her new assignment: returning to her small hometown to investigate the murders of two young girls. She hasn’t spoken to her mother or teenage half sister in years, but to get to the truth of these murders, Camille will have to dig into her own family secrets and discover just how she — and her past — are connected.How faithful is the adaptation? 9/10. Author Gillian Flynn helped develop the HBO adaptation of her novel, so it’s no surprise that the material stayed largely the same. The miniseries kept the same haunting twists and turns (and dramatic end), but it was able to enhance the storytelling in ways the novel couldn’t through subtle changes and a more changeable POV. Detective Willis does take on a larger role in the show, which is for the best, because who doesn’t want more Chris Messina? 8. Castle Rock Shane Leonard, Warner Bros. Television Based on: multiple works by Stephen KingRelease date: July 25What it’s about: Death row attorney Henry Deaver is suddenly called back to his childhood town in Maine when an unidentified (and creepy) inmate at Shawshank State Prison is suddenly found and requests Henry as his lawyer. To discover the truth, Henry must look into the creepy and mysterious happenings around Castle Rock, including his own disappearance as a child that resulted in his father’s death. How faithful is the adaptation? 4/10. This is a tricky one, since Castle Rock isn’t based on one specific book but on the larger Stephen King multiverse as a whole. Each episode is chock-full of King references, from a rabid dog à la Cujo to the actual setting being the famous Shawshank prison. The show’s premise is original, but it does a great job of not only weaving in recognizable King mementos but at keeping the quintessentially eerie King tone alive throughout. 9. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Dial Press, Netflix Based on: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie BarrowsRelease date: Aug. 10What it’s about: It’s 1946, and London writer Juliet Ashton is looking for the subject of her next book when a letter from Dawsey Adams, a stranger, arrives from the English Channel island of Guernsey. England is just emerging from World War II, and the British people are trying to figure out what normal life will be like moving forward. As Dawsey and Juliet exchange letters about their experiences during and after the war, she gets drawn into the small-town world of Guernsey, growing attached to each member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, past and present.How faithful is the adaptation? 6/10. The film moves quickly away from the epistolary format, letting characters discover things about one another in person rather than over paper. This is much better suited to a visual medium, so it’s actually a good reason to break away from the novel. The film is faithful where it matters: in the quirky, sweet residents of Guernsey; in the quiet, powerful connection between Juliet and Dawsey; and in the residual horrors of war. Is this a case where the movie is better than the book? Obviously, that’s subjective, but in this writer’s opinion, yes. 10. Crazy Rich Asians Anchor, Warner Bros. Pictures Based on: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin KwanRelease date: Aug. 15What it’s about: Rachel Chu, an economics professor at New York University, has been dating her boyfriend Nicholas Young for almost two years when he invites her back to his hometown in Singapore to attend his best friend’s wedding and spend the summer with him in Asia. What she discovers upon arrival is that Nick’s family is super rich. Like, beyond imagination. And they maybe aren’t as welcoming as Nick assured her they’d be. Can Nick and Rachel’s love survive this test of class and family?How faithful is the adaptation? 9/10. I read the book after seeing (and loving) the movie, and it left me with an even bigger appreciation for what a good adaptation the film was. Not only was each character perfectly cast, but some were even an improvement on the book (Awkwafina forever!). There are so many characters and so much backstory in the book that it made sense to cut it and save it for the sequel, fingers crossed. 11. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Simon & Schuster, Netflix Based on: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanRelease date: Aug. 17What it’s about: Lara Jean Covey is a 16-year-old with a lot of feelings. Over the years, she’s channeled those feelings into letters to each of the boys she’s loved, kept safely in a hat box in her closet. Until Peter Kavinsky approaches her holding the letter she wrote him years earlier. What?! Peter and Lara enter a mutually beneficial fake relationship, but within the safety of those boundaries, their relationship starts to turn real.How faithful is the adaptation? 8.5/10. The movie is a mostly faithful adaptation. The only real difference is that the Josh angle to the love triangle is more of a thing in the book, and tbh I liked that more. What’s more fun than a love triangle? Book Josh is cuter than Movie Josh gives him credit for. (Note to all writers: Always lean into the love triangle!) But the movie has Noah Centineo, so that makes up for a lot. 12. Juliet, Naked Riverhead Books, Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions Based on: Juliet, Naked by Nick HornbyRelease date: Aug. 17What it’s about: Annie and Duncan are two late-thirtysomethings who’ve been in a relationship for so long that they’ve almost forgotten what they’d hoped their lives would be like at this point. Duncan’s obsession with reclusive singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe, who hasn’t published new music in a couple of decades, has taken over their lives, and Annie is sick of this third person in her relationship. Suddenly, just as she and Duncan are finally breaking up, Annie finds herself in a secret email correspondence with Tucker Crowe himself.How faithful is the adaptation? 7/10. Is it weird to say that Ethan Hawke was born to play a fading rock star? I mean it as a compliment: Hawke’s performance as Tucker Crowe grounds a premise that could’ve easily felt improbable. The movie is relatively true to the plot points in the novel; however, the condensing necessary to make a 406-page book into a less-than-two-hour movie results in the loss of some of the book’s charm along the way. 13. A Simple Favor Harper, Lionsgate Based on: A Simple Favor by Darcey BellRelease date: Sept. 14What it’s about: Stephanie is happy to help her best friend Emily out when she asks her for a simple favor: to pick up her son, Nicky, from school. After all, she’s done it loads of times, and Nicky is best friends with Stephanie’s son Miles. But this time something’s different: Emily doesn’t come back. As the search for Emily begins, Stephanie reaches out to her mommy blog’s audience for help in finding Emily, and she offers emotional support to both Miles and Emily’s husband, Sean. Then the news arrives: Emily’s body has been found — she’s dead. But it isn’t quite as simple as it seems.How faithful is the adaptation? 6.5/10. Helmed by noted comedy writer and director Paul Feig, the film adaptation of A Simple Favor has several laugh-out-loud moments, a welcome release after the tension he so expertly builds. The film version was the closest thing to a Hitchcock film I’ve seen in recent cinema — but it was lighthearted while still being fucked up, while the book is mostly just fucked up. The ending is different, and without spoiling anything, I like the movie ending better. 14. The Hate U Give Balzer + Bray, 20th Century Fox Based on: The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasRelease date: Oct. 5What it’s about: Sixteen-year-old Starr lives two lives: one version fits in at the fancy, predominately white prep school she attends, and the other fits in with her childhood friends in her poorer, predominantly black neighborhood. When Starr is the sole witness to the murder of her friend Khalil by a white police officer, Starr’s two worlds collide. She’ll have to figure out which Starr is the real version, while battling systemic racism both inside and outside of her own community.How faithful is the adaptation? 7/10. While the movie’s plot and basic characteristics are fairly true to the book, the book’s intense and meaningful depiction of nuanced racism and police brutality get muddled onscreen. Small changes in the portrayals of Starr’s white best friend and cop uncle allow for the movie to pull back from the intensity of the novel’s message and skate closer to a middle ground. 15. Beautiful Boy Houghton Mifflin, Amazon Studios Based on: Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff and Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines by Nic SheffRelease date: Oct. 12What it’s about: David Sheff thought he had a perfect son: Nic was smart, charming, happy, and involved in school and sports. When David discovers that Nic has become addicted to drugs, including meth, he watches his son crumble into someone he doesn’t recognize. This true story follows Nic and David as they attempt to deal with the aftermath of Nic’s addiction and heal the relationship between father and son.How faithful is the adaptation? 8/10. Although based on both Nic's and David’s memoirs, the movie does seem to focus more on the father’s point of view. The major points of Nic's and David’s stories remain the same; however, the film noticeably erases much of the darker (yes, even darker than the movie) parts outlines in the book. The movie merely scratches the surface of what Nic went through, crafting a still touching and harrowing story, but for a more Hollywood audience. 16. Wildlife Atlantic Monthly Press, IFC Films Based on: Wildlife by Richard FordRelease date: Oct. 21What it’s about: In 1960s Montana, 16-year-old Joe Brinson’s underemployed father loses his job teaching golf at a country club. Instead of seeking a new job, his father joins up with the volunteer firefighters battling a raging wildfire going on in the nearby mountains. His mother loses it in his father’s absence, starting an affair with the influential, revolting Warren Miller, and involving Joe in the scenario to an uncomfortable degree. How faithful is the adaptation? 8.5/10. Though the novel is written in first person from Joe’s point of view, the movie avoids voiceover narration, and I think it’s better for it — instead, we experience Joe’s perspective firsthand, seeing what he’s seeing. This is helped by an incredible performance by Carey Mulligan as Joe’s mother, an upsetting yet sympathetic character. First-time director Paul Dano (known for roles in There Will Be Blood, Little Miss Sunshine, and more) cowrote the script with his partner Zoe Kazan after having been a huge fan of the book for years, and I think that personal connection to the subject material has given us a richer adaptation. The film is true to the spirit and plot points of the novel without feeling weighed down by the pressure to stay faithful. 17. My Brilliant Friend Europa Editions, HBO Based on: My Brilliant Friend by Elena FerranteRelease date: Nov. 18What it’s about: Lenù and Lila are children in 1950s Naples, Italy, when they meet and become best friends, rivals, and life partners. Lenù works hard, overthinks, and is by the book, while Lila is a flash of natural intelligence and fierce anger. Together they learn as much as possible, share ambitions, and do their best to survive in a world unfriendly to women. How faithful is the adaptation? 8/10. The HBO adaptation of My Brilliant Friend brings the environment in which Lenù and Lila grow up into even sharper focus: rough, struggling, machismo, violent. Seeing it onscreen makes this horror unavoidable, while in the books, you were able to move on, turn the page, and focus more on Lenù’s interior life. I miss Lenù’s voice — you connect so strongly with Lenù as a reader, and it’s harder to do this as a viewer outside of Lenù’s head. The series tries to make this an objective story, while the novel is fully subjective to Lenù’s point of view. Still, the series is largely faithful to everything that happens in the book, and the actors playing Lenù and Lila at the different stages of their lives are incredibly well cast. And Nino! 18. Dumplin' Balzer + Bray, Netflix Based on: Dumplin’ by Julie MurphyRelease date: Dec. 7What it’s about: Willowdean Dickson (or “Dumplin’” to her beauty queen mother) is a self-proclaimed fat girl and fine with that. That is, until she falls for super-cute Bo and, surprisingly, Bo falls back. This turn of events sets off a burst of insecurity that eventually leads Will to do the unthinkable: Join the local beauty pageant. Along with some fellow unlikely contestants, drag queens, and Dolly Parton songs, Will turns the pageant on its head and finds new meaning to the idea of self-acceptance. How faithful is the adaptation? 7/10. Netflix’s movie version is faithful to Murphy’s in all the best ways and unfaithful in ways I didn’t know I wanted. Most of the plot remains the same, but smaller details like Will and Bo’s relationship and Will’s fight with BFF Ellen are toned down. Although that leads to the love story angle to feel somewhat underdeveloped, it also allows for Will’s journey to self-acceptance to really take the lead and shine as the central subject of the movie.