Call me silly, but I love it when speculative fiction books are turned into movies. If it's a book I've read and enjoyed, it validates my love of the book and gives me chance to see how others interpreted the work. If it's a book I didn't enjoy, it makes me think hard about why I didn't like it and what makes it worthy of adaptation. If it's a book I didn't read at all, then it gives me a reason to read the book in the first place. Why? Because I like to compare adaptations to the original work—to see what's been changed, what's been added and what's been omitted.
If you're like me and like to compare film adaptations to the source material, and if you like to read science fiction and horror (or are looking for an excuse to do so), then you're in luck. A slew of films coming out this year are based on novels that you can get right now. Here's a look at those books and films. (Note: All dates are U.S. release dates and subject to change.)
World War Z by Max Brooks
THE BOOK: Max Brooks' zombie story is a book like no other. Subtitled An Oral History of the Zombie War, the story unravels through a series of individual, first-person accounts of the end of the world, assembled as a report about the zombie war that started a decade earlier. World War Z is a book that has received much praise and is credited with reinventing the zombie genre.
THE FILM: The trailers downplay the zombie aspect of the story in favor of showing Brad Pitt's popular mug. Pitt stars as an United Nations worker trying to stop the zombie outbreak that is bringing about the end of days. World War Z hits theaters on June 21, 2013.
I, Frankenstein by Kevin Grevioux
THE BOOK: ...is actually a graphic novel that takes place in a world where iconic literary creatures like Frankenstein, Dracula and The Invisible Man are updated to more modern, believable beings that co-exist unbeknownst to the human residents of a city called Dark Haven. Adam Frankenstein is the action hero in this scenario, caught in the middle of a centuries-old war between two rival clans of immortals.
THE FILM: Aaron Eckhart stars as Adam Frankenstein in the film version, which hits theaters in January 2014. Grevioux himself wrote the screenplay, which is usually a good sign that the film is true to the source material.
Horns by Joe Hill
THE BOOK: Joe Hill's supernatural thriller is about a man named Ignatius Perrish, who one day wakes up with devil-like horns on his head. He also notices a bizarre new ability: forcing people to share their innermost secrets even when they don't want to. Ig thus begins to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of his girlfriend the year before...a murder for which he was falsely accused, yet seen as his fault by the family and friends that still blame him. With Ig's ability to reveal what's really on people's minds, Horns is a book that exudes creepiness.
THE FILM: Directed by Alexandre Aja, the film adaptation stars a post–Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe as Ig and Juno Temple as his ill-fated girlfriend. Horns is scheduled to hit theaters on October 11, 2013.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
THE BOOK: Card's classic science fiction novel is in continual reprint, thanks to this being on many school reading lists. The young protagonist is Ender Wiggin, a student enlisted in a government program meant to train soldiers to fight alien enemies called Buggers. Filled with mock battles in zero gravity and the trials of growing up (like dealing with a bully of an older brother), Ender's Game is one of those books that endures.
THE FILM: Director Gavin Hill has a built-in audience of fans, and it doesn't hurt that Harrison Ford stars as one of Ender's commanders at the military school. Look for Ender's Game in theaters on November 1, 2013.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
THE BOOK: Suzanne Collins' runaway smash trilogy, The Hunger Games, posits a world where the have-nots fight to the death to earn food from the elite who also watch the spectacle for their own amusement. It's a disturbingly appealing premise, in its own dark way, and a book that I've heard a few non-genre fans admit to consuming feverishly.
THE FILM: The first Hunger Games film was a huge success. A sequel was inevitable. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, featuring heartthrobs Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, opens on November 22, 2013.
John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. As a child, he had a Spider-Man read-along book/record. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal. Or not. See what he cares.