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The Lovely Bones: a film/book comparative

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a film and book
1 review about The Lovely Bones: a film/book comparative

The Lovely Bones: A spoiler-free book/film review

  • Feb 4, 2011

I've learned a valuable lesson when it comes to movies & television based on novels I have not already read: ALWAYS watch the film/tv show first. I am too anal retentive about staying true to the original material to be able to loosen up and enjoy cinematic adaptations, especially when various aspects are omitted and liberties are taken. However, in many cases, if I see the film/tv show first and like it, I am more agreeable to the changes taken place because I have already developed a fondness for the adaptation.




I did this deliberately with The Lovely Bones; I saw the movie prior to reading the book.

Quickie Synopsis: a teenage girl narrates the aftermath of her brutal rape and murder from the Inbetween as she and her family learn to let go.

MOVIE: I enjoyed this movie immensely. I was on the edge of my seat, nervous and anxiety-ridden. I used to take care of children – all of my life I haven taken care of children, professionally for over a decade – which made this material particularly frightening for me; more than any slasher or ghost flick. Not to mention, I grew up in the next town over from Norristown (where the story takes place) – I am very familiar with the area, and easily recognized some of the filming locations. Watching the story unfold with these elements in mind made me extra squeamish, as I felt a real connection to the characters.

98% of the cast was marvelous, especially Susie, played by Irish actress Soairse Ronan. The story was easy to follow for someone who had not read the book first, and I felt it was money worth spent.

BOOK: The book is a fairly quick read, but not a nail-biting page turner. It goes considerably further in time (than the movie) after Susie’s murder, and hops back in time for explanatory purposes as well. Many people said that the book was more “graphic” but I find that the more appropriate word would be detailed. I think the word graphic implies that there are passages that go beyond the necessary, gory and exploitative, when that is not the case at all.

The book is told in first person, and while I agree that this was the correct path for such a story to be told, the exposition is rather gratuitous and overly detailed, beyond what a fourteen year old girl – dead or not – would be able to express (think VC Andrews’ initial first person narrative, Cathy, ala Flowers in the Attic.). I found parts of the narration stretched for this reason, but it did not tarnish the story as a whole.

Both the film and book have the same essence, which I find is vital to film adaptations. The Lovely Bones is a story about life, death and the everyday effects of violence, love and loss.


While I’m not rushing out to purchase the book or film, I am happy that I spent the time and money getting to know Susie Salmon, her life, her death, her loved ones and her afterlife.

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February 16, 2011
I agree with you that usually seeing the film before reading the book is the best course to take. I agree with you about describing the book as detailed. That's how I felt about it when I read it oh so many years ago. Excellent comparison!
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