The phenomenon of teen Netflix movies has been in full swing for quite a while now and has gained many fans of the various movies. For me, I have only started to watch these recently due to the extensive amount of free time during lockdown. 

One of the movies I watched, which has also received a sequel, is To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which is based on a series by Jenny Han.

With two movies for the first two books of the series there is a lot of content for viewers and fans of the books to devour, but, like any book to movie adaptation, there are differences. Differences which that end up changing the way the story plays out.

The first difference is the storyline changes within the book and movie. The first book of the series ends on a cliffhanger with the two love interests not entirely on good terms. This move could have been an intentional choice by the author to keep the readers interested in the next book.

This choice doesn’t leave a guaranteed fairytale ending that audiences love. Thus, in the movie adaption, the production crew decided to add some of the earlier parts of the second book into it. A decision that probably would have been fine if the film hadn’t received a sequel. This choice effectively took content from the second film and created a problem where filler needed to be added to it. 

Besides the storyline, the characters and their interactions changed in the transition. Lara Jean, the protagonist of the series, didn’t interact with other characters that weren’t her love interest as much as she did in the books. 

A change that would have been fine if it weren’t for the fact that a major part of the story was that she had a crush on her neighbor as well as the love interest. Without seeing their interactions like they had been described in the book, the love triangle element just fell short. 

The same could be said in the second film where another love interest appears to rival the first. While the second love interest did interact with Lara Jean for most of the movie, it didn’t feel like their interactions were as detailed and focused as they were in the books.

For example, in the book, the second love interest is related to a lady at the nursing home in which Lara Jean volunteers. In the movie, however, there is no relation and they are just both volunteering there for school credits. This took away a layer of the character and made them feel less real. 

Along with the love interests, Lara Jean’s family was not as fleshed out as the books. Something that stood out about Lara Jean as a character was how family-oriented she was. While that is still there in the movie, it isn’t as clear. This relationship should have been explored more considering, the main plot of the movie and book happened because Lara Jean’s little sister got upset at her and tried to meddle in her life. 

While there are these differences that make the books and movies different, I wouldn’t necessarily say that one is better than the other. 

The books explore the characters more in-depth and keep the reader in suspense about what is going to happen between Lara Jean and the main love interest with the addition of different fleshed out characters. The movies, on the other hand, are happier and more romantic by choosing to focus on just two or three major characters. 

That being said, I preferred the movies over the books because of the focus on the romance between the two love interests and how happy it made me feel.