Sunday, October 25, 2020

When Your Favourite Book Hits the Screen

Yes, I can hardly believe it myself - my all-time favourite novel, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan, has been adapted into a Netflix series titled Dash & Lily, which will be premiering this November.

And I am both excited 😁 and terrified! 😨

I'll admit I'm late to the party on this news, having only learned about this days ago when Netflix dropped the trailer for this Christmas-themed series premiering in just a few short weeks. I'm sure those more tuned into the BookTube or Netflix or even publishing scene would've been tipped off to the existence and production of this series a long time ago.

Speaking of said trailer, take a look at it below and see for yourself:

Friends of mine that I ran to after seeing this trailer - some of which have also read the book before, some of which haven't - agreed with me that the trailer for this series does seem really great, and that there's plenty of reasons to feel hopeful. But I'm sure that anybody who has learned that one of their favouite stories is being adapted by Netflix or Prime - or, gulp, Hollywood - has felt this same type of anxiety and fear that I haven't been able to shake, no matter how many times that I've re-watched the trailer.

It doesn't help that this book is one that I have read and re-read countless times before, and I've even made a tradition of reading it within the months leading up to Christmas and New Year's Eve, as that is when this story and its sequel take place. You could say that out of my entire personal library, this book is the one that I have the strongest attachment to - and that puts me in the position of getting clobbered if the adaptation doesn't live up to the original book's potential.😵

But instead of letting myself spiral into a pit of negativity, I decided to whip up a quick list of pros and cons to this upcoming adaptation of my favourite novel.

Dash & Lily Netflix Series: Pros & Cons.

Pro #1: More Love for Dash & Lily!

These characters have a very special place in my heart, and with any page-to-screen adaptation, this series will extend the reach of these beloved characters so that hundreds if not thousands more people will get to fall in love with them just as I did. 💗 Whether or not the series encourages people to pick up the book isn't that big of a concern, although that is always a great perk!

Con #1: What if it Sucks?

Obviously this is one of the biggest concerns I have, and this thought encouraged me to look back on Netflix's history with regards to adaptations. For example, the page-to-screen adaptation of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events was fantastic, not just as a stand-alone show but as a great example of an adaptation that stayed true to the original books.

But if you want a less successful example, well.... One need only remember the Netflix film adaptation of the hit manga and anime series Death Note..... That thing needs little to no explanation.

Pro #2: Another Publishing Run!

This isn't exactly a guarantee, and I haven't yet gone online to check and see if this is actually going to happen, but there is sound logic behind this idea; With many adaptations, part of the publicity for the upcoming series will involve the original book getting a new print run, typically with new cover art that ties into the screen adaptation of the book. And sure, usually movie and TV show tie-in covers aren't that great to look at (especially compared to the original cover art), but it still means that this book will become more readily available to the masses! For a book that was originally published in October 2010, that is a big deal! 📚📚📚

Con #2: Changes/Inaccuracies/Shattered Image of the Story & Characters.

To be completely honest, this isn't something that has me feeling very concerned. I know plenty of people who get upset when a film or show doesn't play out on screen exactly as the story is portrayed in the books - maybe the leading lady has a different hair colour than you pictured, or your favourite part of the book was omitted from the adapted story entirely, or maybe the creators of the movie/show re-wrote the entire story line and only left a vague resemblance to the novel that you once loved.

Despite how this may sound like the biggest downside of all, this isn't something that bothers me very much. Do the main characters in the trailer look differently than I may have pictured them, or how the authors originally described them? Sure. But let's be real, it would be impossible to cast leading actors that perfectly portray the ideal image that every single person who has read this novel will have pictured had for these characters. Will the series make changes to the story that I won't necessarily like? Yes, and I saw a small bit of evidence of this in the trailer. There is a scene where Dash steals the hat of a Santa inside of a large department store, whereas in the book the scene plays out very differently. I won't go into details because any summary I give wouldn't do this chapter justice, plus it is a flat-out hilarious moment in the book and anyone who is even vaguely curious should go and read the book for themselves 😋

But overall, as much as this book means to me, I would never expect pure perfection from any adaptation, no matter who might be producing it. The co-authors of this novel could have 100% control over the script, direction, and casting and I would still know better than to develop unreasonable expectations for any movie or series they could create.

Pro #3: IT'S A SERIES!

Very, very big pro in my opinion! Given the sheer length of some books, or just how much story and plot can transpire within its pages, no feature length film will ever do an adequate job of properly capturing all of the magic that a single book contains. Some do a pretty good job of this, but overall having the length of a series, no matter how many episodes it's split into, gives the show a much bigger chance of being both high-quality and as true to the novel as possible.

Pro #4: Maybe a Sequel?

(I know I should be listing another negative thing about this adaptation, but honestly I've managed to summarise my two primary concerns within the two mentioned earlier in the list, and adding another here would involve me purposefully searching for something to complain about, and where is the fun in that?)

In many adaptations, a sequel isn't usually something to look forward to, especially when there is no more source material to draw from. One example of this I can think of is the series adaptation of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why. I won't bad-mouth the series primarily because I have only watched the first two series. But there was only ever one book for the show-runners to draw from, and they covered the entirety of that story within the first season. I'm not saying that I disliked the second season for this reason, but I did find that by the end of that season, I had lost my desire to continue watching in order to find out where those characters would be taken next; I had read the book back in high school, and I appreciated how much effort was put in to continue the story with those same characters after the events of the book were wrapped up, but it just wasn't for me.

In this specific case, there is actually more source material to draw from, which is why the idea of a sequel is exciting to me. In October 2016, 6 years after Dash & Lily was published, another collaboration of Rachel Cohn & David Levithan was published, titled The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily. It was a continuation of the first novel written with these two characters taking place one year after the original book, something these authors had never done for any of their other novels - Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List, to name a sample.

I personally adore this second novel, and while I would never make a direct comparison of quality between any book and its sequel, especially when the first book has been in my life for 6 years longer than the sequel has, I think that if Netflix decided to do a second season next year, pending on Dash & Lily being a marketable success, it would be a smart decision on their part. On that note, I sincerely hope they don't decide to rope in moments from the second book into part of this first series, and I'm sure they won't because Netflix would surely know that they would just be cheapening their shot of a profitable sequel if this first series tapped into the second book too early.

Sorry if this post has been getting a little long - clearly I have a lot to say about this book-to-screen adaptation news! When it comes to my favourite book of all time, I feel personally invested in the quality of the Netflix series, and I'm sure many of you can relate to this feeling. For now, being ever the optimist, I will be doing my best to keep an open mind about this series - all the while praying to some unknown deity of literature that this show doesn't end up being a piece of garbage in the same realm as the Death Note film. 😆

Dash & Lily premieres on Netflix November 10th, 2020!

Tweet me @KacieCruise or post a comment below to let me know what you think of the book or the show once it's out!

Keep Me Posted! 📮💟

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