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  • Martina Bekasha

Does The Book Always Reign Supreme? Tell Me Lies

Is it really a given that the book always trumps its on-screen adaptation? Well, hold onto your reading glasses because we're about to challenge that notion. Let's talk Tell Me Lies. I dove into the pages of the 2018 novel Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering, only to later binge-watch the Hulu series based on the same name. And guess what? I'm torn. In this case, the lines between book and screen blur, making it hard to pick a favorite. The differences between the Tell Me Lies book and series are pretty major. Think different settings, timelines, and a whole bunch of characters coming and going. Despite all that, I'm finding both storylines pretty compelling, even if they're as different as, well, night and day.

Enter the whirlwind romance of Lucy Albright and Stephen DeMarco, spanning both the novel and the series. Stephen, a reflection of someone real from the author's life, embodies every negative trait under the sun: narcissism, manipulation, deceit—you name it. Meanwhile, Lucy tries to navigate their tumultuous relationship as best as she can. But here's the kicker: despite Stephen's toxic behavior, Lucy finds herself falling deeper into obsession while he keeps her dangling on a string for a staggering 4-5 years. It's a gripping tale of love, obsession, and betrayal that'll have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

Lucy, from Cold Spring Harbor, and Stephen, from Bayville, cross paths during Lucy's freshman year at Baird University, where Stephen is already navigating his junior year. While the novel sets the university in California, the show relocates it to the east coast, marking the first notable difference between the two narratives. In the show, Stephen's best friend, Wrigley, has a younger sibling, Drew, a character absent from the novel but whose presence becomes pivotal to the series' intricate storyline. Drew's inclusion introduces a web of intrigue, entwining elements of crime, guilt, and depression, dimensions left unexplored in the book. Comparing the two renditions, it's difficult to declare a preference; each narrative possesses its own allure, rendering them almost unrecognizable as variations of the same tale.

One aspect I truly appreciated was the accuracy with which the show portrayed the characters. While the novel undoubtedly delves deeper into their characteristics, the casting in the series is truly exceptional. However, there are notable disparities in character traits between the two, with certain characters entirely absent from the show's rendition. Conversely, the novel introduces characters seemingly on the sidelines but crucial to the series, emphasizing the divergent paths each narrative takes. Such differences in character portrayal and storyline divergence are not only understandable but also contribute to the distinctiveness of each version.

I'd rather not divulge further details to avoid spoiling the experience for those considering delving into the book or watching the series. As of now, one season of the show is available on Hulu, with the eagerly anticipated second season currently in production. I wholeheartedly endorse both the show and the book. Experiencing the show after reading the book was a delightfully captivating journey, offering a unique perspective on the narrative and its adaptation to the screen.


Fun Fact: Grace Van Patten, who plays the role of Lucy, and Jackson White, who plays Stephen, are dating in real life!



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