I saw “Never Let Me Go” years back. Can’t remember why. I can remember a few scenes, a few scattered bits and pieces. That’s all.
But it still wrecked the book for me.
I’m not giving the standard complaints here: I didn’t mind that things were spoiled. The art of a great novel is a joy in itself–when reading, a good reveal makes for a fleeting satisfaction, while the crafting is makes for lasting.
It’s just that I couldn’t stop trying to imagine the actresses I remembered from the movie. I couldn’t stop trying to force them into the novel. Couldn’t stop wracking my brains to remember whether this scene occurred in the movie too.
That’s the real reason to read a book first. Because the movie will force itself on the book in a way that just isn’t possible in reverse. Reading a book first enhances the enjoyment of a movie: you see an interpretation different from your own, and you can appreciate the whole thing in a new way. But when you see the movie first, that interpretation has already become “the only one” in your mind. It’s hard to get away from that.