Note that there are spoilers and discussions of the plot of the first season of the show and the first book in the series.
When You premiered on Netflix, it took over social media, with viewers being riveted by the relatable and supremely creepy protagonist, Joe Goldberg and his fatal attraction for Guinevere Beck. Like everyone else, I started watching and quickly flew through the first season. It left me deeply disturbed but interested. And even more interesting was learning that the series was based on a book of the same name by Caroline Kepnes.
Of course I had to read the book and compare. I flew through the book at a similar pace as the show and almost wished I had read the book first, because although it was great, I ended up slightly preferring the Netflix series rendition.
There were many, many similarities between the two, with the show closely following the plot and characters established in the book, with a couple notable exceptions. For example, the character of Paco, an integral character in the series, is reduced to one sentence in the end of the book. The character served to make Joe more sympathetic and understandable, something that rarely happened in the book. He came off as more calculating, more dangerous and move obsessive in the book even. A darker character but seemed slightly less nuanced than he did in the amazing portrayal of actor Penn Badgley.
The character of Beck was also tweaked slightly from the book, but I found those changes for the better. She seems like a polarizing character, as she is seen through Joe's perspective and can come off badly to some, but I enjoyed her character and the complexities that the author was able to give her, most of which translated well into the show. One difference which seems small but I actually really liked is that in the book Beck is not portrayed as promiscuous but it really seemed to fit her character in the show and to me provided more insight into Joe's character and how he was able to handle jealousy and possessiveness.
The character of Candace was also featured much more prominently in the series than the book. In the book she is just referenced as having been an ex girlfriend that Joe killed, and not a character who can resurface in his life. He also rarely thinks about her in the book, which contrasts with his frequent flashbacks in the series.
Overall, I feel like the creators of the show did an excellent job at translating the book and portraying the mind of this obsessive serial killer. It's chilling the methodical way in which he stalks Beck and her friends and justifies all of his actions in his mind, and the way his mind analyzes all facets of her life forming his own conclusions of her thoughts, motivations and intentions into each nuance.
I personally love all the literary references that are peppered throughout the books and the books mentioned, which was a fun addition.
Fascinating, creepy and definitely meme-worthy, I'm looking forward to watching Season 3 (due sometime in 2021) and finishing the second book in the series, Hidden Bodies, that is already a strong deviation from the second series of the show.