Personally, if there’s a film adaptation, I want to watch it before I read the book.
Before you decide I’m delusional, hear me out: it doesn’t go against the concept that “the book is always better than the movie.” Usually, I agree. Usually, I also can’t actually enjoy the movie if I’ve already read the book. I sulk in the theater and mutter, “That’s not how it happened.”
When I watch the adaptation first, though, it’s like a primer to the book, almost a trailer. Whichever direction you prefer to experience your stories, one thing is for sure: 2022 has brought the heat when delivering book adaptations. Here are a few TV and film adaptations you might have missed.
This book of nonfiction recounts the narrative of perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American History, Charles Cullen. Though he was lauded as a caregiver and all-around Nice Guy, this nurse is responsible for as many as 400 of his patients’ deaths. Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain star in the adaptation of this book, which you can stream now on Netflix (Redmayne has also been nominated for the 2023 Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture).
In this installment of the crime fiction Alex Cross series, consultant Cross reunites with his trio to find “The Family Man,” a serial killer known for full family annihilation, including children, while they sleep. A series named Cross is currently in the works at Amazon Prime.
Fans of Emma Donoghue will likely remember her novel Room and its film adaptation starring Brie Larson that won Academy, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice Awards. In the historical novel set in 1862, The Wonder, Donoghue follows Nurse Elizabeth Wright on a post to the Irish midlands. There, Nurse Wright is to observe a little girl who says she has not eaten since her eleventh birthday, months before. This thrilling tale was adapted to film this year as well, starring the unstoppable Florence Pugh. Viewers can stream it on Netflix.
Though it’s not a direct TV adaptation, Emily in Paris fans not only had its second season to enjoy in 2022, but they have this TV-tie in to keep their interest going! The book chronicles Emily Cooper’s life quite literally: it’s her diary about leaving Chicago for France. She also gives tips on fashion, secret locations, French workplace etiquette, and the best romantic spots.
This slow-burn thriller follows therapist Grace Sachs as she prepares to publish her book about how women don’t value their intuition about men. When a violent death leaves her husband missing, her life unravels one thread at a time. HBO recently debuted the TV adaptation of this novel, and it stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant.
Translated from German, this novel relates a resounding narrative of the Great War, in which a schoolmaster inspires a classroom of boys to enlist, only to be immediately disillusioned and traumatized by trench warfare. Netflix recently adapted this work of classic literature, and it’s now on streaming devices everywhere.
In this dystopia, women and girls have developed a new ability: they can telekinetically kill. Though some characters call it a horror, at the very least, it’s an inversion of the patriarchal dichotomy. Amazon Prime is adapting the novel to TV now. The first season (ten episodes) will release in 2023, and it stars (get ready!) Toni Collette, Auliʻi Cravalho, and John Leguizamo.
Mary Kay McBrayer is the author of America’s First Female Serial Killer: Jane Toppan and the Making of a Monster. You can find her short works at Oxford American, Narratively, Mental Floss, New/Lines Magazine, and FANGORIA, among other publications. She co-hosts Everything Trying to Kill You, the comedy podcast that analyzes your favorite horror movies from the perspectives of women of color. Follow Mary Kay McBrayer on Instagram and Twitter, or check out her author site here.