Which is better: reading or watching? FHS students weigh in

Which is better: reading or watching? FHS students weigh in

In recent years, it seems Hollywood’s movie makers have been starved for original story ideas for the big screen. Lucky for them, the literary world has come to the rescue with blockbuster novels and series that can be adapted to film. This means film producers not only find good material, they also can hope that a novel’s fans will flock to the theater.

This has led to a seemingly endless debate about which is better, the books or the movies?

The Flyer turned to knowledgeable Fairmont students to try to settle the debate. In order to be considered an “expert” source, a student had to have both read at least one book and viewed at least one related movie.

The verdict? Well, the debate will just have to continue, because Fairmont students are just as divided as the rest of the world.

Students generally favor the books in the Harry Potter, Eragon, Percy Jackson and Hunger Games series. But the movie versions got the thumbs-up from local teens who evaluated the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings franchises. Interestingly, both the book and movie versions of the popular Twilight series sunk their teeth deep into Fairmont students’ consciousness. The Flyer survey resulted in what is likely a statistical tie, with 51.61 percent choosing the books and 48.39 percent favoring the movie versions.

The book favorites


Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling wrote the first book of the popular series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer of Stone, in 1997 and ended with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007, writing five more books in the series between them. The series quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, as did the movies that followed a few years behind the books.

The first of eight Harry Potter movies (the seventh book was made into two movies) was released in 2001 and the second part of the seventh movie arrived in theaters in 2011. The movies have kept the same actors and actresses playing the main characters since the first movie. These actors include Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Tom Felton.

Of 64 Fairmont students who have read at least one of the books and have seen one of the movies, 56.25 percent of them reported that they liked the books better, while the remaining 43.75 percent said they like the movies better.

According to junior Caitlin Dybvad, the books were better simply because of the loss of creativity and imagination in the movies. “It can be difficult to figure out how to do the scenes because they are so magical in the book. In real life, it’s harder to stage things like the spells in Harry Potter,” she said. “It just isn’t the same.”

On the other hand, senior Kayla Lutz feels that this isn’t the case because of the way creators of the film portray magic. “The movies bring to life something that is so unreal and far-fetched,” she said. “They bring a whole other world into combination with our everyday world and make it all seem so possible.”

Percy Jackson – The Percy Jackson series written by Rick Riordan has five novels: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian.  However, the same author wrote a second series with the same characters, The Heroes of Olympus.  The series website claims that the novels follow the “adventures of Percy Jackson and his modern demigod friends as they fight mythological monsters and the forces of the titan lord Kronos.”

The first movie The Lightning Thief debuted in 2010 and a second movie based on the second book is planned to be released in 2013.

Of 65 students who have read at least one Percy Jackson book and saw the movie, 69.23 percent like the book better, while 30.77 percent liked the movie better.

“The movie didn’t follow the book’s descriptions very well,” said freshman Colin Colbert, an avid fan of the books. “It ruined how I imagined it.”

Eragon – Author Christopher Paolini released the first book of the four-part series back in 2002 and wrote it when he was only 15 years old. The other novels, Eldest, Brisingr and Inheritance, were published between 2005 and 2011.

The Eragon movie was released in 2006 and wasn’t nearly as popular as the books. According to about.com writer Rebecca Murray, Eragon was one of the top 10 worst movies of 2006. She called the acting “atrocious” and “an inferior version of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.” Rotten Tomatoes also reviewed the movie as the 10th worst movie of 2006. As far as making the second movie, Eldest, no news has been released.

Of 44 students who have read at least one Eragon book and seen the movie, 61.36 percent prefer the books, compared to the 38.64 percent who liked the movie better.

Colbert called the books “fascinating” but as for the movies, not so much. “The movie didn’t use many details and was short and cheap,” he said.

The Hunger Games – One of the most recent notorious series, The Hunger Games, got its start back in 2008. Author Suzanne Collins wrote the three-part series in a span of three years. The two sequels of The Hunger Games are Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The science-fiction series follows the storyline of a young girl named Katniss Everdeen who competes in a competition called the Hunger Games in place of her younger sister and alongside her friends Peeta and Gail.

The first movie was released in March 2012 and proved successful at the box office, reeling in over $152 million in the United States on its opening weekend, according to imbd.com.  The second movie, Catching Fire, is set to be released in November 2013. The actors in the films include Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.  

Of 62 students who have read at least one of The Hunger Games books and seen the movie, 77.42 percent liked the books better and 22.58 percent liked the movies better, a fairly large difference.

Usually, books tend to have more information and detail than the movies but in freshman Jacob Lawson’s opinion, that wasn’t the case. He liked the movie better than the book because the movie had a “lot more information than the book,” he said. “The movie overall is a lot more entertaining than the book.”

The film favorites

Chronicles of Narnia – The famous seven Chronicles of Narnia books were written by C.S. Lewis over a span of five years in the 1950s and are being read today worldwide. However, the movie adaptation of the first book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe wasn’t released until 2005. Following that movie was Prince Caspian in 2008 and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 2010.

Among 54 students who have read at least one of the Narnia books and seen one of the movies, 37.04 percent said they liked the books better and 62.96 percent said they liked the movies better.

According to Lutz, the books were much better than the movies. “There was a lot that the movies leave out of the books,” she said. With the books, you get “more bang for your buck.”

However, after only reading one of the Narnia books, freshman Sam Gyenes knew that he liked the movies much better. “I couldn’t really get into the books, but I got into the movies really fast,” he said. “The movies portrayed the characters better.”

Lord of the Rings – J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels were written in 1954 and 1955 as a sequel to the best-selling book The Hobbit. The three-part series includes the book The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. The movies were all released within a year of each other starting with the release of The Fellowship of the King in 2001. The movie cast includes Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Ian Holmes.

Of 51 students who have read at least one of the Lord of the Rings novels and seen at least one of the movies, 25.49 percent preferred the books and the remaining 74.51 percent enjoyed the movies better.

And finally, the tie …

Twilight Twilight has gotten a mass of attention lately with the movie series ending in November 2012. But before the movies, author Stephanie Meyer wrote the four-part series starting with Twilight in 2005 and followed that with New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. The series features a teenage girl who ends up falling for a vampire, giving rise to the recent vampire craze.

The five movies were all released between 2008 and 2012 and quickly became smash hits, raising millions of dollars at the box office. The movies star actors Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner.

Of 31 students who have read at least one Twilight book and seen at least one movie, 51.61 percent of them preferred the books over the movies and 48.39 percent favored the movies.

Lutz says she liked the Twilight books much better than the movies because the reader has the opportunity to visualize the scenes better when reading the book. She also liked the fact that it took longer to read the books. “You form a deeper bond and relationship with the characters,” Lutz explained.