A long time ago, before the word lockdown had entered our everyday vocabulary, I borrowed two books from the library.
They were The Island of Adventure and The Sea of Adventure, both being novels based on the Cloud 9 TV adaptation of the Adventure Series.
Then, very recently, some 15 or so months after first borrowing the books, I finally read one.
From bad to worse
In my reviews of the Adventure Series adaptations I’m honest about thinking they’re not very good. They’re better than the Secret Series ones, but that’s not saying much. On the whole they’re moderately interesting and I suspect had they been original works, they’d have been just fine. But as Blyton adaptations they mess with them so much that they don’t always resemble the original books.
If it’s possible, the book is even worse than the TV episode. I don’t know what I was expecting, really. Normally I really enjoy reading the book version of a TV show or film I’ve already seen, regardless of which existed first. I enjoy reading the way it all played out originally in the original book, or if it’s a novelisation then I enjoy the added insights you get into the characters’ thoughts.
The book is the worst of both worlds. It takes an already dubious screenplay and then attempts to make it a novel. A film or TV show adapting a book has to make changes as things that work on the page don’t always work on screen. For example characters’ inner thoughts are hard to show on-screen unless you have a voice over, or some special effects are too difficult or expensive to pull off.
The reverse is also true, perhaps to a lesser extent.
On-screen we learn who everyone is through natural dialogue – whereas in the book (as with Blyton’s book) the characters are named in the narration. We also get some of their background early on; such as Jack and Lucy-Ann’s relationship. It wouldn’t really have worked any other way – to have “the boy” fall out of a tree and argue with “the other boy” until they get back to camp where we learn Lucy-Ann and Jack’s names as it would be cumbersome and confusing.
What doesn’t work so well are the paragraphs describing Bill as he acts suspiciously watching the gallery and so on. Obviously when watching the TV episode we don’t know who he is, and we just have to watch those short scenes where he’s in his car watching. They’re intriguing, they leave us wondering.
The first time Bill is mentioned is in the closing paragraph of chapter one:
They didn’t notice the stranger observing them from his open-topped black sports car. Even after they’d gone back inside the gallery he continued watching like a hawk.
Then half-way through chapter two, jammed in between two bits of dialogue is:
Outside, from the cliffs near the house, the stranger in the open-topped sports car was scanning the island through binoculars. Then he swung round until he got a good close-up of Craggy Tops.
At the start of chapter three:
Outside, the strange an who’d been watching Craggy Tops parked his open-topped black sports car, walked up the steps and entered the gallery.
It’s just such childish writing! It’s as if someone watched the episode and simply transcribed exactly what they saw without adding any sort of detail or background. The man isn’t described at all, not his build, colourings or expression. The descriptions of the car are annoyingly repetitive, though.
Right after the last quote, suddenly the man is referred to as Bill with no explanation, but he is also the stranger and the strange man on the next page.
Another bizarre reworking is the conversation Bill has with Sir George over the radio. In the episode we cut to Sir George and then only hear his side of the conversation. In the book is says that Philip can hear Sir George’s voice coming over the radio but we still only get his side of the conversation!
After that, on-screen Sir George mutters to himself then make a phone call, and we cut to Bill and Philip in Bill’s car arriving at the dock. The book skips the Sir George extra and woodenly describes what Bill and Philip do:
“Quick,” said Bill to Philip as soon as he’d finished his conversation. “We need to get over to that island as soon as possible.”
They raced outside, jumped into his car, drove to the jetty and boarded the Crescendo.
I’m generally quite generous when it comes to rating books, I give most things at least three stars but usually four. This got one star, however.
As I said earlier, the writer didn’t have the best material to work with, but the writing is bland and uninteresting. It’s honestly as if a child has written it – or an adult was given the script and one hour to turn it into a novel.
I didn’t do a word for word read/watch through but I did for a few scenes and I would say 80-90% of the dialogue is exactly the same but there are some unimportant changes made, for no obvious reason that I could see. One or two scenes are reorganised, perhaps to make the reading less choppy as the TV episode does occasionally alternate between scenes occurring at the same time.
In short: I do not recommend. Watch the TV show if you like, it’s not the worst way to spend a few hours but don’t waste your time on this book. It’s an affront to have Enid Blyton’s name on the front of it.
I can’t understand why Blyton attracts so many awful re-writes. The worst are those that seek to impose a wokish politically correctness over writing that is simply a product of its time. What next; destroy all Roman and Greek artefacts because their societies embraced slavery?
I think it boils down to the fact that her name on a cover (whether she wrote the book or not) leads to sales. I assume the TV series was popular and somehow they thought children would want to read the book version, too.
I disagree with the vast majority of updates to Blyton’s books with a few specific exceptions, such as the removal of the n-word.
To add to that though I vehemently disagree with blasting any attempts to make the books accessible and enjoyable for all children as “political correctness” “cancel culture” or “woke”. See https://worldofblyton.com/2021/06/23/english-heritage-vs-enid-blyton/ for why.
A polite disagreement would suffice. No need for ‘vehemence’ or inflammatory language such as ‘blasting!’
Can you point out where I wasn’t polite? I feel strongly about the issue so yes, I vehemently, ie, strongly disagree with that language. I also stand by ‘blasting’ as a synonym of ‘condemning’. Nothing inflammatory about it – unlike the use of woke!
So you think ‘blasting’ something is no more inflammatory than simply criticising it yet at the same time you think Blyton’s language (a product of its time) should be edited to more neutral tones. Your choice of language here reflects not only the strength of your feelings but also the very intolerant attitude that you seek to challenge. Not everyone thinks like you that the past should be rewritten to align with 21st century sensibilities. Rather than placing a fig leaf over the figurative genitalia consider explaining the context in which the art form was produced. To ban or re-write the past is but a short hop away from book burning, statue toppling…
Thinking that children today shouldn’t have to be exposed to the n-word in their story books is a far cry from book burning but you carry on with your self righteous hyperbole. Perhaps the internet isn’t the place for you if you can’t handle someone disagreeing with you?
To abuse those who think differently to you is simply more evidence of the intolerance that has toppled statues in recent months.
It is disappointing that someone who chooses to run a Blyton website should prefer censorship of her work over the value of contextual debate. Explain but don’t censor the past as that way lies bigotry.
Again, point out the abuse. You seem to have an incredibly thin skin for someone who thinks that books shouldn’t be censored in any way – yet you’re seeking to censor my ability to express my arguments by constantly picking at my choice of words.
Have you actually read my dozens upon dozens of posts where I literally compare the newer editions to the original word for word? And then go on at length to explain why I disagree with 99% of the changes?
There is nothing bigoted about removing the n-word or specific racial stereotypes from children’s books.
Funnily enough I think it’s OK to be intolerant of racists and racism, just as Blyton was intolerant of bullies.
You seem incapable of expressing your points without recourse to inflammatory language eg. ‘blasting’ ‘vehemence’, ‘self righteous hyperbole’, ‘thin skinned.’ This linguistic bullying does nothing to advance your cause. Rather than getting personal, try and engage with the points I raised. Kids today might actually benefit from a discussion around the ramifications of the language of the day. Simply to censor such language leaves the stereotypes unexplored: a quick fix to an otherwise uncomfortable discussion but hardly conducive to an enlightened understanding of the underlying issues.
There’s nothing inflammatory about my comments, you just don’t agree with what I’m saying. You accuse me of not engaging with any of your points (when I have) yet your response is primarily picking at my word choice (again), none of which has been offensive or – as you bafflingly claim – bullying.
Children can learn about racism in many ways – they don’t need to read an adventure story with the n-word thrown in with no context. In fact there’s no context that really excuses that language in modern day children’s books. Children who have learned about racism from having it aimed at them certainly don’t need to experience it in books which should be a safe and fun escape from real life.
I think we will just have to agree to disagree on the matter so I won’t be approving any more comments in this thread. I have better things to do than read any more of your condescension and your accusations.
Thank you both for an interesting discussion! I fully understand rascalhowes point of view about the attempts of the woke and cancel culture people who are steadily looking for new targets. Most of them are really fanatics who want to censor everything. On the other side, Fiona tries to be unbiased. I would assume, that rascalhowes is about my age and Fione is a member of the next generation. In our time you could find the n-word in schoolbooks and it was not connoted rassistic. It would be better, the political correct people would put the same effort in preventing from appointed words, rather in preventing the children from pornography.
Fiona does a good and precious job anyway and it´s always a question of tolerance and intolerance. With most articles of her, I fully agree. I hope I could present my point of view in the right manner, because English is not my mother tongue.
Your English is just fine!
While there are probably some people out there who seek to complain for the sake of complaining, or those who are happiest when kicking up a fuss the vast majority of those you brand as ‘woke’ etc are simply striving for equality.
Times have changed since the time Blyton was writing and we know better now. I mean, it used to be legal to own slaves, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t as wrong then as it would be now.
As for ages, I’m in my mid thirties.