Normal People: Book and TV Series Comparison

Welcome to my post! Today I wanted to compare the book and TV series of Normal People by Sally Rooney. For the synopsis, check it out on goodreads. At the moment, Normal People is on BBC iPlayer to watch!

normal people uk

I read Normal People in February, and I rated it 3.5 stars. It was a solid read, and I was invested in the romance and characters, but I wasn’t blown away by the story. I wouldn’t have picked it up by myself, so I’m glad I got to try it out anyway!

The TV series wouldn’t have appealed to me if I hadn’t read the book first. I tend to like series with some kind of fantasy or mystery element, anything that adds drama. Normal People is a lot quieter, but I still enjoyed it, although reading the book made it much more enjoyable. I think this is one of the rare situations where the TV series sticks very closely to the book, so I’ll applaud it for that. It’s rewarding seeing the show after reading it, and comparing your idea of the characters and events to the final result. There were a few differences, for example the timeline in the book is a little more loose as characters reminisce on memories throughout the story, but the chronological structure worked well in the series. You could also watch the TV show without reading the book and still know the same story, but for me personally I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed the TV series by itself. There were lots of dialogue that felt more awkward and artificial in the show even though it was almost identical to the book, so I’m not sure if that’s just because I noticed it more in the show or not.

I think the show was just the right length. I’m terrible at finishing series, and normally I end up either binging the whole series or giving up after halfway. Normal People is a mini series, with 12 episodes that are each about 30 minutes long. It isn’t really a bingeable series, but it wasn’t hard to finish it either.

A few things that didn’t work for me in the TV show were the characters and some plotlines. What the book did really well was get inside Connell’s head particularly (but also Marianne’s). I related to both characters in some ways and it didn’t quite translate in the series, because obviously we don’t have a running commentary of their thoughts. The side characters didn’t feel very developed either, but I had that problem with the book too. Another problem I had in both was the miscommunication. In the series I think it was explained even less, and because we aren’t connected to the characters in the same way, it was hard to understand why it happened and the insecurities on both sides which caused it.

Overall, I would say the TV show did a very good job but to get the most out of it, I would recommend reading the book first then watching the adaptation, so you critique it like me!

Thanks for reading my slightly rambling review! Have you read/watched Normal People, and do you like TV adaptations?


Goodreads ♦ Bookstagram ♦ Ko-fi


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