Love, Simon: Book vs Movie.
Hello fellow YA readers and writers! Welcome to our very first blog. Here's some background for you; Shaun and I have been best friends since high school and we've always chatted (bitched) about movies we've seen and books we've read, so we thought it might be fun to share our ramblings. We'll mostly be focussing on movie/TV/ book adaptations as this is what seems to cause us heart palpitations the most...In advance, please forgive the swearing and the inevitable random tangents.
Quick intro; I'm Hayley Jackson and I write in the Young Adult and New Adult genre. I generally write/read/watch movies and TV shows across genres, but love paranormal horror, historical fiction, time travel adventures and urban fantasy (minus the yawn worthy love triangle). I like reading and watching things that have strong characters I can connect with, with a kick arse plot that usually has elements of hope within a world of dark and twisty. (Cue anything by Joss Whedon).
My name is Shaun Stephen & I am a Young Adult and New Adult author, reader & watcher, particularly in the Urban Fantasy genre but I also love horror, sci-fi and contemporary lit. I am passionate about diversity in literature & movies and I hope to write, read and watch more in the future.
The first book to screen adaptation we will be discussing (massacring) is, Simon vs the Homo-sapien Agenda VERSUS Love, Simon.
*Summary: Everyone deserves a great love story, but for 17-year-old Simon of Atlanta Georgia, it's a little more complicated. He hasn't told his family or friends that he's gay, and he doesn't know the identity of the anonymous classmate that he's fallen for online. They email each other and fall for each other but Blue, a nom de plume for Simon’s crush, is too closeted and nervous to meet. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing especially when someone at school finds out about Simon & Blue’s emails and threatens to out Simon if he doesn’t do as he asks.
*Main Characters & Cast:
Simon played by Nick Robinson (Everything, Everything & Jurassic World)
Leah (bff) played by Katherine Langford (13 reasons why)
Nick played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr
Abby Suso played by Alexandra Shipp
Mum played by Jennifer Garner (Alias, 13 going on 30)
Dad played by Josh Duhamel (Transformers)
The Author of the Book is Becky Albertalli (The Upside of Unrequited). The book is similar in writing style & subject matter of Boy meets Boy by David Leviathon, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
Shaun: Before we compare and contrast the novel to the movie – here are some thoughts by me on the story & characters specifically.
I loved this book because it encapsulated that time when you were nervous about coming out, having secret crushes and hiding both things but wanting to break free and reveal both.
I loved the first person perspective and the neat literary device of Simon talking to Blue via email but not knowing who it really was i.e. the mystery element. I still think Hannah’s tapes in 13 reasons why was the most affective literary device I’ve read to date in YA. Speaking of which – we plan to do a blog regarding book to T.V. series for 13 reasons why in preparation for the second season.
I turned you onto this book so there was some pressure for you to like it! Did you?
Hayley: There’s a certain hesitation when someone raves about a book and demands you read it, though I’ve learned to trust Shaun’s judgement, (mostly!) and this book was no exception. I read it in one night, which is saying something. Simon was an easy character to connect with and provided me with a heartfelt, thoroughly entertaining insight into the mind of a teenage boy deep in the throughs of discovering his identity and what that means to his relationships with his friends and family. So, yes. I loved it.
Hayley: So…Who would you have loved to be Blue if you were Simon?
Shaun: Cal, both in the book and the movie. It definitely helped that the actor who plays Cal in the movie is Alex from 13 reasons why ;) and I thought it would’ve been an interesting dynamic to create in the book a bi-sexual love interest and the tensions this could create
Shaun: How faithful to the source material did you find the movie?
Hayley: It was pretty faithful. Though I missed the older sister Alice a bit. I like the sibling relationship angle in books. Though I did like how they made him closer with his little sister in the movie.
Shaun: Yes, that’s a great one and I also agree we missed the older sister influence but not everything can translate from book to screen I guess. One element I missed from the movie which I loved in the novel was the psychological angle provided by the mum (voice of the author given she’s also a psychologist). I thought this worked really well from a writer’s perspective.
Hayley: Yes, unfortunately the mum psychologist angle wasn’t as important in the movie.But I guess they can't fit everything in.
Hayley: While we’re on the topic, what did you think of how the adults are represented in the movie vs the book?
Shaun: They are predominately background characters in YA novels & movies. In this book however, they were more involved than in most YA novels. In the book, I was quite interested in a couple of the adults - Simon’s mum with her psychological aspect - but I did feel it was the author’s voice seeping through here. I also love the theatre director character in the book and they did her justice in the movie. A problem with movies of course is there are only so many characters that can be focused upon and in YA, they are indelibly not going to be on the adult characters.
Shaun: Speaking of adults, what did you think of the principal character in the movie? His character was one of the few obvious departures from the novel.
Hayley: Ugh. He just annoyed me. What was the point of his character? He seemed like he could have been there to be a Mentor, but then he turned out to be a bit of a weak minded twat when he didn’t support Simon after he was forced 'Out.' I think he was just there for comic relief. Very forced character = not funny at all.
Shaun: Yes - he was way too cringey!
Hayley: What did you think of the main cast? Did the actors suit the characters they portrayed?
Shaun: SIMON was perfectly cast. I liked the actors chosen for Abby, Cal, Martin - great casting. Didn’t care about the Dad. Kinda liked the mum. I saw Leah differently in the book and so Katherine Langford didn’t fit well for me.
Hayley: Oh, I loved her in this!
Shaun: Hey, I’m not crapping on her acting at all, I just find Katherine Langford as a very emotionally strong actress and I saw Leah more emotionally fragile from the book
Hayley: Ok, I guess...What about Nick? He was barely existent in the movie - I hardly remember what he looks like and he was pretty big in the book as a best friend should be.
Shaun: Yeah I noticed that too, but I guess they felt like their subplot wasn’t that important for the movie. One big departure I noticed was that Leah had a mega crush on SIMON in the movie while in the book it was on NICK & that created the love triangle. It felt forced in the movie and barely had an impact let alone any foreshadowing.
Hayley: Yeah! Wtf why? It took me out of the movie - unnecessary really.
Shaun: I guess they were trying to use the semi-cliche of best friend fall for guy, guy is in denial about being in denial then realises and breaks her heart when he has to reveal the truth *cough* Will & Grace.
Hayley: Well I think this movie deserved something better.
Shaun: What did you think of the soundtrack? Obviously music was an important influence for Simon and showed by the author in the novel but a movie can do this so much better.
Hayley: You know I love music when it’s used as a character device in books and movies, obviously I have issues when they change up soundtracks to be more “trendy” with the now. So, yes, I’d have preferred they kept with the original songs depicted in the book.
Shaun: What did you think of the musical college scene with the I wanna dance with somebody Whitney Houston song – too on the nose?
Hayley: *rolls eyes* Look, it was a fun scene and it was probably put in to lighten the mood, but it just kind of cheapened the moment for me. I mean, the book steered clear of stereotypes and this…well, the whole scene was a stereotype. With all the diversity ‘coming out’ (haha) in literature, I think the goal is to normalise not stigmatise.
Shaun: I mostly agree with what you’re saying. All I’d say in defence of it is that I think they were trying to show how Simon felt he could act when he got to college/uni - to be free and gay and happy!
Hayley: In the scene where Simon is outed by Martin, which did you feel captured the emotional impact better - book or movie? And the subsequent impact it had on his relationships with his friends and family?
Shaun: I’ll answer the latter first - although I would never advocate someone outing someone; because omg so wrong & awful to do to someone, it however brought things to a head in the book and for him as a character. Despite the awfulness that erupted at school and between his friends, he was able to connect with everyone better, became free to be himself, got things resolved & truly learned who were his true friends. Painful and awful but worked out for the best. Without this shove, he seemed so nervous (though less so than Blue had been for the longest time) - I’m not sure Simon would have come out. Not during high school anyway!
The book, in my opinion, captured the emotional impact of Martin outing Simon better. First person perspective here was crucial and beautifully crafted by the author. Even though I liked the movie - the book did it really well. I think because you hated Martin more in the book, it had more impact. In the movie he was a dick but you didn’t really believe that he would actually do it - you kinda felt sorry for him. He wasn’t so bad until all of a sudden he pulled the trigger.
Shaun: Have you read any other book which normalises gay/under representation as this book does? In your opinion, does it succeed?
Hayley: The only book I’ve read with a gay main character is Scott Tracey’s Witch Eyes. Very different to Simon, as him being gay was just part of who he was and wasn’t made into a big deal. This (Witch Eyes) is a good example of normalising diversity in literature.
Hayley: Do you feel the movie did justice to the themes in the book? Was there anything missing from the book you think should have been included? Or anything added that you think worked well?
Shaun: A lot of the sub plots were either consolidated or dropped I understand you can only do so much in a movie. They concentrated on the central theme of being closeted, being outed, falling for someone for the first time but hiding it from the world and its impact on Simon and his immediate friends and family. This was terrific!
Everyone deserves a great love story!
Personally, I loved the way the book ended - Simon finding the note in the jumper which had been in his possession for a while and rushing to meet BLUE - Swoooon. Movie ending was a little um … though sweet like um - everyone gawking and watching was a bit creepy - privacy much?!
Hayley: Yes! Creeper-esque! How awkward.
Shaun: And finally, did the movie have the emotional punch the book had. On its own, the movie did have an emotional punch, which we can attest to given one of our best friends cried during the movie, but I do feel the book had more – obviously because you were in Simon’s head for longer.
Hayley: The scene in the movie where Simon was outed and he felt his world was crashing down really got to me. I felt that scene by itself did justice to the emotions in the book. And the scene with the Mum! So good. But you’re right, when you’re reading in first person, you’re totally along for the ride with that character and the book for me definitely had more emotional punch, in particular regarding his relationship with Blue.
So, our scores:
Shaun for the Novel: 4.4/5
Shaun for the Movie: 3.8/5
Shaun for the adaptation: 4/5
Hayley for the Novel: 4.5/5
Hayley for the Movie: 3.5/5
Hayley for the adaptation: 4/5
Our average score:
We recommend both! But the book's better.
Thanks for sticking around. :)