I didn’t even know that The Kissing Booth was a book until I saw the movie trailer pop up on Netflix. As soon as I saw that it was based on a book, I rushed to the library to borrow it.
The best way to describe the major difference is that the book is more drama while the movie is more comedy. The main plot and timeline are the same for the most part, but the scenes are enhanced to include more comedic parts. Some scenes from the book were combined with others, such as when Elle is injured in the garage and when Lee finds out about Elle and Noah, which helped speed up the timeline and keep the story flowing. However, several of the lines in the movie were direct quotes from the book, which was fun!
One of the biggest differences is that Elle is more awkward and goofy instead of popular like she is in the book, which I actually enjoyed more about her character. Her character now has agenda—like how she is on the soccer team and co-president of the Dance Club with Lee. The whole dance part was actually a really fun addition. The movie opens with this awesome intro of Elle and Lee (and Noah) growing up and how the two best friends love to dance in the arcade with Dance Dance Revolution. They also created a list of rules for their best friendship (rule number nine being of course to not date any relatives, aka Noah). Their parents also play a bigger role in the movie, with the Flynn brothers’ mother (Molly Ringwald) acting as a surrogate mother to Elle ever since her mom died from cancer (it was a car accident in the book).
Another difference that I appreciated was that Noah’s character mellows out—he’s still the bad-boy who rides a motorcycle and gets into fights, but he is not nearly as controlling and aggressive with Elle as he is in the book (something I found very problematic). Their relationship also seems to develop more through the use of the “dating” montage. One thing that was a little off was that it seemed like a couple of months were missing from the year (most notably the winter season). The book begins with the spring semester while the movie starts with the first day of school after summer break (so September). Noah and Elle sneak around for about the same amount of time as in the book (a couple of months), then Lee finds out and ignores Elle for a few weeks (longer than in the book), and then all of the sudden it’s the end of the year—so the timing is off.
Some minor differences include the popular “OMG” girls (these characters were Elle’s friends in the book), how the idea for the Kissing Booth came about, and the ending sequence with Prom and Elle and Lee’s birthday party (Prom is a masquerade in the book and Noah gets back together with Elle right before the dance and takes her to it).
The book seemed to be on the longer side for a contemporary romance novel, so I enjoyed how the story was shortened and made more comedic in the movie as well as the differences in Noah and Elle’s characteristics. Final verdict? Skip the book and watch the movie instead for a fun rom-com.