To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: I Liked the Movie Better

To All the Boys NetflixI wasn’t planning to write this post, but I loved the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie so much that I immediately felt the need to reread the book. And despite being a huge fan of the book, it turns out that I somehow like the movie more! And I can’t stop thinking about it, hence the need to write this post.

I generally find it a good practice to have a bit of space between reading a book and watching the film adaptation so that I can enjoy the film for itself and not get too caught up in the differences between the book and movie, so I made the deliberate decision not to reread To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before while waiting for the film to be released on Netflix.

When the movie finally came out, I watched it as soon as I could. And I absolutely loved it! They did such an amazing job capturing the feel of the book and making it a fun romcom, and I was in love with the entire thing. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it now! It’s cute and funny and fun, and just an all around adorable movie that I highly recommend.

It was so cute, in fact, that I wasn’t ready to let the feeling go when the movie was over. But since I barely even watch movies, let alone rewatch them, I figured I’d go back to the original and reread the book instead of rewatch the movie.

To All the Boys I've Loved BeforeSo I started reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a book I read and absolutely loved only a year and a half ago. And I didn’t like it all that much anymore. Honestly, I think Peter was kind of an immature jerk and that Lara Jean deserved better than him. Which is such a 180 from where I was when I first read this book!

Heads up: Spoilers for the book and film ahead

I still read through it fairly quickly and made the decision to move into the second one, PS I Still Love You, since the film actually borrowed a fair amount from the second book in order to finish the narrative arc of the film (I approve of their choice—I think the original ending would have felt too incomplete for the type of movie this was, and it tied it up nicely while still leaving it open to a sequel film). And honestly? This time I was team John Ambrose McLaren! He just seemed like a really nice, self-assured guy who was really invested in Lara Jean’s well being and making her happy, unlike Peter, who came off as juvenile and self-centered in comparison.

I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to believe I just wrote that sentence when I was such a fan of Peter Kavinsky last year, but it’s true. He had his moments, but overall I didn’t like him all that much and thought Lara Jean would be way better off with John Ambrose McLaren. So I’m disappointed that she rejected him and went back to Peter at the end of the second book.

In the movie, though, Peter is a way nicer guy who doesn’t seem at all self-centered and irritating. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty cute! But I was totally rooting for him and Lara Jean throughout the entire movie and was really happy to see them together at the end.

I also really liked how Lara Jean was more assertive in the movie than in the film. And I loved that they showed her reading romances out in the open instead of hiding them away from everyone! That would have been really important for me to see as a teenager, and I sill appreciate it now. Plus how cute was Jenny Han’s cameo?!

While it was fun that they brought John Ambrose McLaren in for a mid-credit scene, I actually hope they don’t make the rest of the books into movies. I think To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before works perfectly as an adorable, standalone romcom, and I don’t want to see a love triangle pull the characters apart or have Peter potentially turned into a jerk (seriously, he was waiting for Gen in the hot tub?! My opinion of him sank so low after reading that in the book).

Really, my only complaint about the film is the fact that, while the actresses who played Lara Jean and Margot are Asian (and Jenny Han has a great editorial about why that’s so important to see in the film), they aren’t of Korean descent. I’m not sure about the actress who played Kitty, but I know the other two actresses are of Vietnamese and Chinese descent respectively (side note: Janel Parrish was waaaaay too old to play Margot).

I’m not saying this to undermine their performances or how important it is to see Asian representation on screen, because they both did a great job (Lana Condor crushed it as Lara Jean) and I’m so, so glad this film wasn’t whitewashed, but being part Korean is so central to the story of the book that I think the actors should have been Korean, too. It makes me concerned that the film portrays Asian cultures as interchangeable when they’re not. But I think the overall positive message of this film outweighs that, and like I said, the actresses did a great job!

While the books will always be special to me for how much I loved them during my first read, I’m firmly in the camp of preferring the movie right now. I wish I could put my finger on what changed my opinion so drastically! I think maybe it’s just that I’ve been reading more adult romance lately, so going back to teenage drama just wasn’t that appealing? But it’s not like my reading romance is a new thing, so I’m not sure that’s it.

It’s a weird position to be in, so please tell me I’m not alone! Let me know in the comments how the movie stacked up to the books for you. I’ve since rewatched the movie anyways, so you know I’m a huge fan!

12 thoughts on “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: I Liked the Movie Better

  1. I didn’t read the whole post because I haven’t read the book yet and i’m sure there were things that didn’t make it into the movie. I just watched the movie on Netflix and LOVED IT, so I do have the book on hold at the library but I really don’t think PK from the books (or any other character tbh) could be better than PK from the movie!

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    • They did SUCH a good job on the movie! You’ll have to let me know how you wind up liking the book, because I’m really curious what you’ll think since you watched the movie first and read the book second. I hope you enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The movie was so good! I’m hoping they don’t make it to a series, either. I got so uninterested during the second book that I barely managed to finish it. And I was think the same thing about the actresses. I feel like they should have been Korean. Also, I think I’m the only one bothered by it and I’m kind scared to say it because it might be problematic, but Lara Jean didn’t look like her sisters. Her sisters looked more biracial like they are in the book but LJ was straight up Asian. I definitely wouldn’t have minded if they either made the sisters non-biracial and the dad Asian, but she looked off in the family. Still, she was a great actress for the role so I’m not too bothered by it. 😊

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    • I wonder if you’re picking up on the fact that they were from different ethnicities, and that’s why they didn’t look even remotely alike. Margot was so old, though, that I think I focused more on that than the fact that the sisters didn’t look remotely related because I was so fixated on that. Regardless, it was pretty easy to get past that and just enjoy the movie! They did such an amazing job, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t want a sequel. It’s such a perfect standalone romcom! Which I think I need to go rewatch soon…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, you are totally not alone! I’m only halfway through my reread (like you, I felt the urge to reread pretty much immediately after falling so in love with the film), and I think I already prefer the film in a lot of ways. (Side note: the first book originally came out when I was still in high school, so likely the way my worldview changed through college is another reason I’m liking the book less.) Peter K is just such a jerk in the books, and Movie Peter is much more thoughtful and swoonworthy. I do think the movie did a disservice to Gen’s character by making her out to be a one-dimensional antagonist, though. And I agree on the representation front– while it’s awesome to see Asian actresses playing these roles, the casting does kinda perpetuate the myth that all Asian cultures are interchangeable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am SO GLAD I’m not alone, because I was pretty convinced I would be. Interestingly enough, I only read the books last year (and I’m a few years out of college) and I really enjoyed them, so I can’t imagine my worldview has changed that much? Idk, I’m just so surprised at myself, because you’re exactly right: Peter K is kind of a jerk in the books and super swoonworthy in the movie. So I’m completely baffled as to what happened there. And you’re right, they could have given Gen a bit more depth—the movie was actually a lot shorter than I thought it would be, so they definitely had a bit of time to add that without it distracting too much from the main plot. But seriously, they did such an amazing job, I’m not sure we could have asked for a better adaptation (other than having actresses of Korean heritage play the Song sisters).

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    • Yeah, movie PK is pretty awesome. I think that might be part of why I didn’t like the books as much, because PK wasn’t nearly as dreamy and adorable. I think they made the movie version everything he was for me the first time I read the books

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    • He’s just so adorable! They did such a great job with the movie, and I’m so glad everyone has been enjoying it so much. I think I need to go rewatch it soon…
      And I’m glad I’m not alone in not wanting a sequel! It seems counterintuitive to not want more of something you enjoyed so much, but I think the movie is perfect as a standalone romcom.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: August Wrap Up | Dani's Bookshelf

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