The televised version of “Game of Thrones” actually does a good job of relating and editing down the story – perhaps better than the book does, according to some. But that situation is rare. Usually the book is far better than the on-screen version, according to an analysis of ratings of books and their movie adaptations by Brian Patrick Byrne and Kaitlyn Kelly of Vocativ.
Byrne and Kelly looked at ratings of 800 books and their movie adaptations on Goodreads, an online reading community, and IMDB, a film site, including “Harry Potter,” “Hannibal,” “The Martian” and “Pride and Prejudice.” As the chart below shows, people really do rate most books much higher than movies.
Altogether, books had a higher rating than their movie versions 74 percent of the time, according to Byrne and Kelly. In about half of all cases, the book ranked “much better” than the movie did on their scale, meaning the Goodreads ratings was one point better or more than the IMDB rating. That category includes "Harry Potter and the Prince of Azkaban" and "Battlefield Earth."
In 22.1 percent of the cases, the rating for the book and movie were similar. "The Martian" and "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" both fell into this category. In 4 percent of cases, the movie was rated better than the book, and only 1.2 percent did the movie fit their rating of "much better." One rare exception was “Up in the Air,” a 2002 novel by Walter Kirn that was turned into a great 2009 movie starring George Clooney.
It’s possible there are other factors at work here -- for example, that people rate books more highly because they spend more time reading them, or that Goodreads’ reviewers are more positive and respectful than IMDB's.
But avid readers will likely argue that there's more too it. There’s just so much in a book that just can’t be captured in a movie or TV show.