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Lynn M. Lombard: Page-to-screen leap is often disappointing

I love curling up with a good book, relinquishing control and allowing the author to take me into his or her fantasy world. Being part of a book club has allowed me to indulge in all genres. You name it, we’ve dabbled in it: nonfiction, time travel, mystery, historical fiction, romance and, yes, even erotica.

I’ve read about vampires, slaves, sex, murder, hard-core reality and heartbreak that made me a blubbering mess. Some of the stories were difficult to read, while others were light and fun. Many contained important life lessons that left me thinking long after I turned the last page – the kind of books movies are made from.

In reading a book, I have already watched the movie play inside my head before it hits the big screen. I know what the characters look like, the size of their house and where they go to work every day. I know because the author has already described it to me in great detail. And as it turns out, my imagination is far greater than real life.

I’m not a rereader-type of gal. I like surprises, so if I already know the ending, why bother with the movie? Yet I am still intrigued when I see a trailer to a motion picture that was adapted from a novel sitting on my bookshelf. But I always have doubts. We’ve all heard people say it, “The book is always better than the movie.” I can certainly attest to that.

So I start my outings to the theater with low expectations and sometimes find myself horribly dissatisfied as the credits roll. It’s a sad moment when I have witnessed a good book turn into a bad movie right before my eyes.

I understand the need to cut scenes and make necessary changes when one has to condense a 400-page novel into a two-hour movie. But when endings are different and important scenes are omitted, I am left puzzled. What perplexes me even more is when I find out it had the author’s involvement and approval.

I admit that I am a stickler for stories not changing. But hope is not lost. There are several blockbusters that have succeeded in capturing the details of the page extraordinarily well. It can be done!

“Harry Potter,” “The Help,” “The Hunger Games” and even the “Twilight” saga earned my praise. There were small differences between the movie and the book, yes, but nothing that made me scream in the movie theater, “That’s ridiculous!”

Which is just how my latest experience played out. Had you not read the book beforehand, I am not sure how you could have known that there was supposed to be a love story in there. While others raved about this film, I felt that the chemistry of the characters did not come to life on the screen. Instead, it left little to our imagination while simultaneously robbing us on the buildup of their relationship. The book itself was solid gold, but the movie didn’t do it justice.

I truly wish I could allow myself to keep the books I read just that: books. Yet I continue to torture myself, hopeful that the next flick will be the one that brings me to my knees. Because at the end of the day, the undeniable fact remains: With the turn of each page, these books put a spell on me. And I am powerless under their control.