Read vs. Watch #2 - Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
Full confession - this was my first Karin Slaughter novel, and I was pretty entertained throughout. I'd seen the ad for the Netflix series so many times on my feed, but I just kept looking elsewhere, despite how much I love Toni Collette.
But the night I finally decided to give it a chance, I just kept going to find out what happened next. Full binge.
If you haven't read the book, the basic synopsis is: Andrea Oliver lives in the garage suite of her mother, Laura's house in the very small, charming town of Belle Isle, Georgia. But what looks like a calm, quiet life quickly turms into a cascade of traumatizing events that reveal Andrea's mom to be much more than a beloved speech pathologist.
After killing a young man who was shooting up the brunch place where Andrea and Laura were eating eggs and toast, Laura tells Andrea not to talk to the police before she is hustled away to the emergency room.
What follows is a twisty tale, where the previously idle and purpose-defunct Andrea has to go on the run without any details from the woman she thought had not secrets. Wrong. Really wrong kiddo.
Overall, I liked both the book and the series, although I give the edge to the book. It's sometimes easier to follow the plotline in the book, and with all the reveals and the back and forth between the events of 1986 to present day, I didn't think the show did as good of a job with the delicious details that make this a thriller.
Sometimes when a show tries to be too clever, or to focus too much on one plotline, it can take away the desired effect, because it no longer makes sense in its new context.
For example, there were scenes and characters added to the show that I didn't really understand the decision to include/change.
* Charlie, Laura's handler, was not in the book. Mike was Laura's handler, and the two barely spoke. I can see how the addition of the Charlie character helped reveal details, emotions and history about Laura, perhaps making her more likeable?
* There were a whole bunch more 'they' characters in the series. There's a whole scene where Andrea gets chased by - assassins (Did Jasper send assassins?) who want the suitcase. This plotline makes the show more exciting I guess, but Jasper didn't have a big role in the book, so this was largely added to create the cliffhanger ending methinks.
* In the book, the FBI are VERY interested in what happened in Oslo, and continue to question Andrew, Jane and Nick about the events. This includes asking Jane multiple times about if she knew Laura Juneau before the shooting. They were seen in the lounge together and this was a major sticking point for the Feds in terms of whether Jane was an accomplice - or a victim. So in the series, when they leave the gun reveal to the end, and just sloppily explain that Jane got through the serious security with a loaded weapon - it seemed like a cheap way to threaten her at the end, and give Jasper 'ammo' on her.
* In the book, Nick is still in prison and it was never mentioned that he had any interest whatsoever in Andrea. They don't even meet. I get that it made for a better ending where Nick shows up at Clara and Ellis' cabin to have a final showdown with Laura, but that means we miss the terrific book ending where Laura gets to play her beloved piano - and finally outsmart Nick, which I thought was an important event for her as a character. She also gets to enact her sweet revenge on Paula, who was a horrible jerk to her.
But I did love that the show focused more on Jane's career as a pianist, which of course would be quite a lot more difficult to portray in written form. You really get a sense of who she is in front of - and away from the piano.
Karin Slaughter was interviewed saying,
It’s kind of, in a way, a love story between a mother and daughter. And it’s about trauma and how it can really be passed down genetically.
Which makes sense. Andrea barely speaks for the first two-thirds of the book for fear of sounding dumb, or not being able to articulate her thoughts. There are many scenes where the people trying to talk to her wonder what's wrong since she simply keeps her mouth shut. Has she inherited this from her mother, who also seemed to keep her communication for her work as a famed pianist?
Jane's anxiety also seems to be passed down to Andrea, which makes sense as their childhoods were both strange in their own ways.
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
All of this is to say: I enjoyed BOTH the book and the series, and would recommend either or both to anyone who enjoys a good twisty thriller.