Crawdads: To Read or Watch?

A new novel and newer movie have kept book and film lovers on the edge of their seats and arguing which is better.


Zoe Schneider

Paper copy of the novel “Where the Crawdads Sing” featuring the Reese Witherspoon book club stamp.

Sony Entertainment

“Where the Crawdads Sing” has been a widely popular novel since its release in 2019 and has recently become even more recognized with the release of a movie. Many readers and watchers have a wide range of strong opinions about these pieces, but which truly takes the cake for best entertainment?

The plot focuses on a young girl, Kya, and her family who leave her one by one. She is left alone to fend for herself in the marsh and endures the typical coming-of-age story. This relatable sequence of events is met with a murder mystery thriller once a town boy is found dead. This unique perspective of an outcast shines a new light on social issues and humanity.

Where the Crawdads Read…

“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens is a book many now recognize the name of. It has taken the NYT best sellers list by storm for the past 168 weeks (and counting).

Currently, it has won the Best Seller award in Japan, the British Book Award, the Goodreads Choice Awards Best Historical Fiction, and the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author. It even was Amazon’s most sold fiction book in 2019, and continues to gain popularity with the new movie release.

Despite the many awards and good reviews, many locals say the book was far from outstanding.

Mr. Fulton, Dallastown’s current AP Literature, English, and Mythology teacher, rates the book a mere 3.95 out of 5 stars. 

While I can see why it’s been a story that’s really grabbed people, I think it has a number of holes … I felt that the story, while one of empowerment, was not believable and relied heavily on character types, as opposed to strong, interesting characterizations,” Fulton said.

Catherine Lasher, a current Senior at DAHS thinks otherwise. 

“I think that it was very well written with an intricate plot and a lot of suspense. I would definitely give it recognition and awards…overall it was just a really good novel to me,” Lasher said. 

Personally, the comparison of gender values and the main characters’ interpersonal conflicts with men and women really spoke to me and I enjoyed the novel. I definitely believe this book deserves its current popularity and recognition. 

A Good Reads reviewer stated the following,

“This book exceeded my already high expectations; it emanates a quiet power, a slow drawing in and connection of reader to book,” they said. 

Clearly, this book has evoked many different emotions from its readers, any of which accomplish the author’s intent to capture her audience. 

Where the Crawdads Watch…

The movie, “Where the Crawdads Sing,” is based directly on the Owens’ novel. It has currently made $106 million at the Box Office worldwide.

The movie was produced by Reese Witherspoon and her company Hello Sunshine after it gained popularity within her own book club. 

Ayelet Dekel, a critic from Rotten Tomatoes- a well-known and respected movie review site- says, the film tells its tale of abandonment, poverty, abuse, and murder in such a placid manner, smoothing over any possible rough edges, that it is bereft of emotional depth.” 

Keith Garlington rebuttals Dekel with, “It’ll leave you wishing for the kind of movie this could have been.” 

However, DAHS sophomore Clara Anile says she preferred the movie to the book.

“I thought the book was mediocre at best. It just bored me. I think the movie did a good job of capturing it. Some details were left out, but overall all it was pretty okay,” Anile says.

 Personally, I felt the movie didn’t do any of the characters justice with their background or character development. I believed the book to be good and thought the movie would be better, but it disappointed me just like Kya’s family did her. 

One of the aspects of the book I enjoyed most was the comparison of genders within the rising action. Kya seemed to crave female friendships when her father angered her, and male friendships when her mother angered her.

The movie neglected this crucial personal conflict with Kya, leaving the movie to feel bare of emotion and complexity. 

Should I Read or Watch?

The book did a far better job at capturing the raw intensity of Kya’s situation and her character.

If you are looking to entertain yourself with a story about social rejects, young love, and murder, do not waste your time with the movie. Instead, I say curl up on the couch to enjoy the printed novel, “Where The Crawdads Sing.”