Our Picks: Novelisations
By Cameron Phillips, Nuria Berbel Torres, Sarunicka Satkuruparan and Kathryn Alley
Novelisations are some of the most interesting books out there. Most of the time, films are adapted from books, but sometimes it’s the other way round. Novelisations are often useful however in adding to a narrative, especially the internal narratives of a character. With that in mind, here are our picks for our favourite novelised audiobooks.
Cameron’s pick: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover, narrated by Jonathan Davies
Before I begin, I just want to say that Revenge of the Sith being the best Star Wars film is a hill I will die on. Stover’s novelisation is absolutely fantastic and delivers where Lucas failed with his writing. The internal monologues of characters such as Obi-Wan and Anakin, and Yoda, are devastating, especially at the end of the story with Anakin and Obi-Wan’s climatic battle in Mustafar. The novel also fixes some of the pacing issues of the film, especially concerning Anakin’s fall to the dark side. Stover’s interpretation is far more subtle and internalized. Stover also manages to match the operatic feel that made the original Star Wars films so great, shifting effortlessly between world building scenarios, battle scenes, and thoughtful character moments. I adore Lucas’ third chronological entry, but I’d be lying if I said Stover didn’t add some much-needed subtlety and, being honest, decent character writing. Davies narration is excellent too, especially during the emotional highs of the story. For any Star Wars fan, I can’t recommend this enough.
Nuria's pick: The Lost Boys by Craig Shaw Gardner
It all starts with Lucy, a recently divorced woman who moves back to Santa Carla with her two teenage sons Michael and Sam to rebuild her life. Unbeknownst to her is the new sinister addition to Santa Carla’s population. Michael quickly falls in love with a local girl, Star, and they begin to hang out with a local biker gang. His time with them results in strange changes in Michael, sleeping all day, partying all night, a newfound sensitivity to sunlight…
Sam befriends a bizarre boy who works at a comic store and introduces him to all sorts of conspiracies about the strangeness of Santa Carla.
If you are a fan of the film, then you know what wild events unfold.
This novelisation is a direct adaptation from the script and not the final movie, therefore we get to see important plot points and scenes that did not make it to the Final Cut. You get some extra knowledge of the characters' drive and backstories as well as some new exciting vampire lore. It'd be a quick evening listen if you’re in the mood for an ominous vampire story with some great 80s vibes.
Sarunicka’s Pick: Mulan Live Action Novelisation by Elizabeth Rudnick, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller
Remakes have the potential to make or break a story. Add that Elizabeth Rudnick is taking on the job of re-telling a childhood classic and this task is far harder. Mulan Live Action Novelization is a fun, easy to listen, middle grade adaption to the original movie – once you rid your mind of the expectation that it has to be the exact same as the original!
We follow Mulan as she navigates her curiosity and draw towards adventure, her struggles to meet her village’s traditions, her calling as a soldier and her growth into her own. Mulan is a tale of accepting who you are, the rewards of determination and the importance of family.
Emily’s narration is whimsical yet captures the mood of the scene exceptionally. While the plot is set by the script, Rudnick explores the thoughts of the characters to give them additional depth in a way that is hard to replicate in movies. This seems to be this clear pattern these novelisations have – they really allow you to gain a deeper insight into the workings of the characters' minds and this makes you understand the characters and story much better.
Kathryn’s Pick: Coco by Diana Lopez, narrated by Frankie Maria Corzo
Disney films blend adventure and nostalgia for everyone to find comfort in. Coco was produced by Disney Pixar studios and has resonated with audiences as an inspiring tale about the beauty of family and love that lasts beyond death.
This audiobook novelization is a fun retelling of the film with excellent pacing by Lopez and Corzo. We follow Miguel as he journeys to the afterlife and reunites the broken members of his family. What stood out to me are the emotional moments that are heightened by narration. Listening to Corzo enact the betrayal of the villain, Ernesto de la Cruz, and the devastation of an older family member forgetting loved ones, was incredibly powerful. Having a deeper insight into what Miguel is experiencing makes the Coco novelization so strong and invites audiences to share in those emotions in a more intimate way than the film can.
Coco is a celebration of family. This audiobook is a beautiful reminder that family is forever, and even after they are gone from this world, they continue to live in our memories.