Book Vs. TV Show: The Rook (Pilot Episode)

Posted November 29, 2019 by Amber in Bookish Things / 0 Comments

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Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to discover The Rook, a fun paranormal series that takes place in England and features Myfanwy Thomas – a young woman with extraordinary abilities and complete amnesia. I was surprised and delighted to see a preview for the television adaptation pop up when I was messing around on my smart TV earlier this year, and knew I wanted to give it a try. I mean, while the book isn’t quite my genre, I really enjoyed it and thought Myfawny was a fun character with a lot of snap to her. So, TV show? Yes please?

Now, whether or not you’re going to like this television show will be largely based on how you like your TV shows. Even in the pilot episode, it was immediately clear that there was going to be a lot of drama and a very slow pace. So slow, in fact, that I had to watch the pilot in two sittings because I was bored.

The Rook is set up as a sort of long-form paranormal romance drama.  Honestly, coming from Starz, this should not have surprised me – there was a lot of this weightiness in Black Sails as well (which I loved) but it was well-balanced with adventure and the pacing was good. But a heavy paranormal romance?  That’s all well and good, except that it’s staunchly not my type of television show.

Other initial observations were, as always, creative changes from the book. There was actually more paranormal elements to the show than I expected, as the trailer let me to believe that Monica’s character was going to be Myfawny’s and that actually left me flailing in exasperation – I thought they had relocated the show to the States and just… no. But, good news, dear readers – they did not! The Rook is very happily set in England. Character names remain the same as well as the paranormal element.

Only, there’s been some changes.

For one, Gestalt.

Lets be clear, in the book Gestalt is this fearsome and creepy character. Starz’s version is a very ARyan sexy beast with four bodies (which… why.  Why add a fourth from the get-go?). Even in just the pilot, it’s easy to see that Myfawny X Gestalt is going to be a major thing throughout the series. OR at least through the season.

And it’s there for the all types of viewers! They made sure to include both hetero and LGBTQ+ in the Myfawny x Gestalt rep!

And I’m absolutely completely frustrated by this change because I feel it takes a lot of that creepy edge away from Gestalt’s character, while also completely shifting Myfawny’s from how she was in the book. I have nothing against romance and everything against unnecessary romance added for deeper drama and higher ratings. There was enough going on in The Rook to be interesting without adding this whole romantic entanglement as a major plot line.

One of my favorite things about the book was the very clear personality shift between Myfawny and Myfawny 2.0. In her original incarnation, Myfawny was shy and quiet and a ridiculously hard worker. She wore grey and kept to herself. This, of course, frustrated Myfawny 2.0 because she’s a bit more upbeat and fun-loving. There are nods to this in the series – Myfawny’s apartment, for one – but that constant run and internal monologue is completely gone. I’m not sure if the flat personality will persist throughout the series, but in the pilot… Myfawny is an absolute bore to watch and none of that fun, quirkiness translated to the screen.

In most basic terms, this show is simply going to be heavy on the romance and light on the paranormal. Myfawny’s abilities are all wrong – there’s a scene where an enemy agent touches Myfawny’s skin and nothing happened and I just died. Because it wasn’t like her ability is one that couldn’t be translated to the screen.

But of course, it had to be changed, because otherwise Gestalt and her could not have had intimate relations, as her abilities would have ruined their whole plot.

Gah.

As for the other characters….

The book is so centralized on Myfawny and her rediscovery that characters like Gestalt, Monica, Linda, and Conrad did not get a whole lot of time in the forefront? My initial impression is that will change here – we’ve already had a bedroom scene with Conrad (did I mention this show will be heavy on sex?) and there is no doubt one with Monica (possible Monica and Conrad) later in the season.

As a translation? It’s tough. There are a lot of similar elements – enough that some fans of the book will likely gobble it up. For those who are particular fans of steamy paranormal romance, this is going to be a great show.

But.

I am not a fan of these things and it was the quirky humor and fascinating characters that led me to devour The Rook as a bit of a guilty pleasure read. The changes in the adaptation only frustrate me, so this is not a show I want to continue. The pacing is way too slow for me to sit through, and the actress who plays Myfawny is driving me crazy. It may be the direction and not the acting, but she has this sort of half-angry, half-vacant, possibly-about-to-cry-at-any-moment stare on her face almost constantly that annoys me.

Petty, I know, but The Rook is defintiely not a show for me! If you enjoy drama-heavy paranormal romances, defintiely give it a go!

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Have you tried out The Rook yet?  I’ve love to hear what others think on the quality of this adaptation – the genre is just so out of my wheelhouse that I feel a bit prejudiced. 🙂 Let me know what you think of it in the comments!

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