In my day job (or should I say night job?), I watch and review movies. I know, it’s a tough life (although I see my fair share of garbage, which is more than I ever would were I not being paid to see these awful films). When it comes to adaptations, my motto is that if at all possible, “Read It, Then See It.” I don’t always have the opportunity to read a book before its film comes out (especially if I didn’t even know it was a novel first), but lately I’ve felt compelled to try my hardest. All this to say, if you’re planning to see what all the hoopla about “The Hunger Games” is about, read it first! There’s still time — heck, you could get it March 22 and still devour it in time for opening weekend. The Book Sisterhood is even hosting a Read Along, if you want to check it out.
But I think most people reading this blog have heard of “The Hunger Games,” so I’m going to switch focus and plug another of my favorite books, “Before I Die” by Jenny Downham. The book, which is heartbreaking and candid and an all-around amazing read, has been adapted into a film called “Now Is Good.” I understand why they changed the name, fearing the book title would prove too depressing for teen audiences, but I’m not sure the new title conveys anything about the story other than Tessa’s sense of urgency.
Those of you who’ve read John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” should definitely try Downham’s story about Tessa (or Dakota Fanning in the movie) a 16-year-old British girl dealing with the end stages of her leukemia diagnosis. Tessa has a bucket list of sorts that she’d like to accomplish, only it’s not filled with stereotypically sweet to-dos like ride a roller-coaster and kiss in the rain; it’s about experiencing the thrill of adolescence, from losing her virginity and trying drugs to nicking something from a store and saying “Yes” to everything she’s asked in one day.
Soon Tessa meets her neighbor Adam (and at this point I could go off on a tangent explaining my theory that most Adams in YA are awesome, but I won’t except to say that Downham’s Adam is right up there with Gayle Forman’s!), who makes her realize she might be able to cross one more thing off her list: falling in love. The Adam in the movie is Jeremy Irvine, who impressed critics with his big debut in Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse.” As Tessa’s slaggy but loving best friend, Zoey, the producers cast Kaya Scodelario (“Skins”), which is pretty perfect, in my opinion.
“Now Is Good” comes out in the UK May 25, 2012 — and hopefully soon thereafter in the US.