The Alienist: Book VS TV Series Review

“We are not obligated to provide everyone who comes to this country with a good life,” Morgan went on. “We are obligated to provide them with a chance to attain that life, through discipline and hard work. That chance is more than they have anywhere else. That is why they keep coming.”
― Caleb CarrThe Alienist

the alienistIn 1896 New York, a newspaper reporter is sent to examine a horribly mutilated body of a teenage boy prostitute. Together, the two build a small team of investigators to take up the task of creating a psychological profile of the “multi-murderer” behind the crimes. Taking up the task is no easy feat as it leads them all over the Northern States and into the twisted mind and past of a deeply disturbed man who will kill again and again before their job is done.


My husband and I finally finished watching the limited series The Alienist last night. I really enjoyed it and felt it did the book justice! It followed almost to a tee, with the exception of tiny changes here and there and enough added to fluff out the characters. The book itself was a rather short one and my husband and I listened to it all in one day while installing floors a couple of weekends ago. By this point we had already watched half of the TV series so I was able to pinpoint what was added or removed from the show while listening.





Things they added that I enjoyed:

They really fleshed out the characters that run Laszlo’s household staff and added backstories and personalities that really do them justice. I especially liked Mary’s character and her complicated relationship with Laszlo.

The sexual tension between John Moore and Sara Howard was a nice touch and well done. They didn’t put this tension in to the detriment of Sara’s strength. She’s not a very large character in the book, but you’re able to glimpse her strength, integrity, and determination in the little you see her. This was well played by Dakota Fanning, and John’s attraction to her seems to come, not in spite of it but because of it. I really enjoyed that aspect.

In all, all the characters were really fleshed out and given backstories that befit their personalities and added to the show.

Things they added that I didn’t either care that much for or outright hated:

Hand in hand with adding a relationship between Mary and Laszlo, they then killed off Mary and ruined his blossoming petals of happiness. In the book, Laszlo is neither happy nor unhappy. He’s a more stoic character who is confident in himself. In the show, he’s much more troubled with a much darker past than we really grasp until the very end and his budding romance starts to pull him from the dark and pessimistic front he presents. I know that she was an added character so she could rightfully be killed of without much damage to the storyline, but I liked her darn it!

There is a lot of animosity between Laszlo and Sara Howard because she isn’t afraid to call him out or address his insecurities and, at one point, he strikes her. This is old and tired and doesn’t do either of them justice. Sara wouldn’t have been that harsh with him to begin with and, if she had, his stoic behavior would have taken it in stride because she wasn’t really being that harsh. She was merely attempting to get to the bottom of his psychosomatic injury to his arm (which in the book is an underdeveloped limb with no drama behind it).

All in all, both the show and the book deserve some attention! I am torn with appreciating they stopped the series on a high note and torn with wanting it to continue because all characters were well played and well cast.


Have you read or watched the Alienist? What did you think?

Happy Reading!



3 thoughts on “The Alienist: Book VS TV Series Review

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