Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes: Comparing the Book with the Netflix Series

Dept. of Thumb Kissing and Misplaced Scottish Accents


This article contains major spoilers for Behind Her Eyes.

Based on the bestselling novel by Sarah Pinbrough, the set-up for Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes sounds simple enough. What begins like a straightforward love triangle and psychological thriller, quickly descends into a brain-bending, diabolical, and (honestly) ludicrous narrative with an ending that will literally have you going “WTF?”


We reached out to four of our readers, all of whom were fans of the novel, for their opinion on how the Netflix series fares in comparison to the book. Here’s what they had to say.

They requested that they be referred to using pseudonyms. This review was brought to you by Slow Reader, Book Snob, Miss Ice, and Aunty Shrimp.

Behind Her Eyes

The Book vs. the Series

Miss Ice: I would say the series was largely quite faithful to the book. Right down to the details of how things happened. One of the things I was looking forward to was how they’d portray the whole astral projection thing. I loved that they did with that subtle “view from over the shoulder” technique. That was excellent. 

Slow Reader: Yes! That camera angle trick was great. I wonder if we would have caught on to that as quickly had we not read the book.

Book Snob: I asked my fiancé if he had noticed it and he said, “no.” So I guess that’s something we caught only because we read the book? It’s either that, or he just isn’t all that observant.

MI: It was something that was revealed at the end, so it’s clearly something they wanted you to notice. Whether or not you’d read the book.

BS: I would say they were about 85% faithful? 90%? The one thing they didn’t do in the book was reveal Rob’s sexual orientation so early. That was my biggest gripe. Also, they had six whole episodes and so much time to share the many ways Adele helped Louise in terms of her physical health, but they didn’t make it clear as to why she did that. In the book, Adele was always nagging at Louise to get her to quit smoking, but in the show, it was just a quick throwaway line of Louise saying, “oh yeah, I quit smoking.” That was all. The evil, long-term scheming was not as prominent in the show as it was in the book. I hate to be that person but I have to say: the book was better!

Aunty Shrimp: Rob’s sexual orientation was too big of a reveal too early. The fact that he was attracted to David was supposed to be a gut punch at the end.

SR: I didn’t have issue with the sexual orientation reveal. In fact, I think one of the only pros of the series was that you had time to understand Rob’s motives. Reading the book I was like, “WAIT! WHAT?” Then I had to go back and look for all the signs I might have missed. 

You know who pulled off evil long term scheming the best? Our queen, Rosamund Pike, in Gone Girl. There has been no other reveal of a crazy ass scheme I can think of that has been so chillingly and casually scary. She also has my heart for bat shit obsessed, crazy and calculated, character/actress. It was hard to not compare Adele to Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl.

I believed in Rob’s craving for love, for a better life, and for attention. Be it from Adele or David. It was compelling enough that you can kinda, maybe, sorta understand why he would go to such lengths to retain it in his life. I say “kinda, maybe, sorta” because let’s be fair, all of it was batshit crazy. 


BS: I think one of the last lines that Rob said to Adele before they did the body switch thingamajig encapsulated his feelings for her best. He said: “I love you, Adele. I love everything about you.” Then that’s when you realise that he literally loved her everything – her face, her body, her life, her fiancé, her house. Who cares about her dead parents? Rob’s motto is to live life with no guilt.

AS: I want to talk about Louise’s best friend! In the book she was portrayed as this narcissistic girl, who cheats on her husband, and gave no shits about Louise. But I actually like her in this show. She gave really good advice to Louise and actually cared about her!

MI: There was a moment at the end when she just looks so heartbroken and disappointed. She wants to go, and all she says is, “do you want the door open or closed?” It’s a simple and effective allusion to the state of their friendship. Good writing.

SR: That “door” line is one of the few times I felt the writing was good. Other times, it just came across as corny. Which is a shame given that I didn’t feel that way about the book. 

Behind Her Eyes

Why is David Scottish?

SR: I think it’s safe to say that none of us pictured a Black lead. But that probably says more about how these kinds of novels always have white blondes as their main characters. LOL. I can’t remember if Adele was meant to be brunette, but i imagined her to be blonde, and bubbly, and bright. Not so cold. I don’t think we are meant to be hung up on their identity, but David’s Scottish accent REALLY threw me. 

AS: I definitely didn’t picture Louise as a Black lady. She also wasn’t chubby as she’s described in the book. Louise’s best friend also gives her good advice here and isn’t as narcissistic as she is in the novel. As for Adele, she came off too cold and stuck up in the show. Which I didn’t get at all when reading the novel.

BS: Why must David be Scottish? That, “Oh, Macallan is from Scotland. Just like you” line was so cringey.  

SR: GOD, THAT MACALLAN JOKE! WTF! Minus points already in the first episode. 

BS: IS THAT WHAT FLIRTING IS? Did I not get the memo? 

MI: I think Adele had crazy eyes too early in the series. That gave away too much. And Louise should have been more “frumpy.” It would have made the switch at the end a bit more dramatic.

SR: Speaking of flirting, I totally didn’t buy the intensity of David and Louise’s first meet. When I read it in the book, it felt like undeniable chemistry. The kind that would make you sleep with your married boss. Even though you know he’s crazy.

I just didn’t think the actor who played David showed the complexities of his character well enough. He was just kind of brutish. In the book, you’re like “OMG, IS HE AN ABUSER?” and then “OMG, IS HE TRAPPED?” In the show just felt… lukewarm about him. Maybe it’s the accent. I’m really hung up on that. 

BS: The fact that Louise said that when she first met David at the bar, she thought that he looked sad, essentially means she was attracted to his misery. That already spells disaster. I can’t remember if that was a line from the book, but I agree that there was very little chemistry between them at the start. I mean, I was expecting more of an Ezria type of BAM! (Editor: This is a Pretty Little Liars reference, so feel free to roll your eyes.)

SR: Not everyone is sane like you. An attraction to misery is a real thing. 

Behind Her Eyes

Slower Than a Herd of Snails Traveling Through Peanut Butter

SR: My biggest complaint, however, was the pacing of the show. Let’s compare it with the book. I remember devouring this book over a weekend. I literally was distracted at dinner because I wanted to go home and finish it. I had to know how it ends. I did not feel that way about this series at all. In fact, I kept checking the time to see how many more minutes I had left. How did you guys feel about it? 

AS: Behind Her Eyes is really…. slow. They should have just made this a movie. Like Gone Girl. Keep it short and punchy.

BS: I would stay up until 2AM… on a school night… just to finish this book. That’s how much dedication I had, and how engrossed I was with it. That said, I’m not sure if I felt the series was slow because I already knew the ending. I’m not sure if that took away some of the fun. I agree that it could have worked a lot better as a movie.


MI: I struggled so much to finish Behind Her Eyes this morning. It definitely needed to be shorter. Sometimes, I watch YouTube at 1.25x – 1.5x speeds and I wish Netflix had the same. Especially for this show.

BS: I thought Netflix had this feature.

SR: They do, and I always thought it was rude, but in this case I think we definitely needed it

MI: WAIT! WHAT? Okay, I’m going to go find this setting.

SR: If it wasn’t for this review, I would have given up. The pace only picked up in the penultimate episode. Ain’t nobody got time to wait that long. 

AS: It only got exciting at that fifth episode. I fell asleep many times during the first four.

Behind Her Eyes

So, What Did the Non-Readers Think?

SR: What did your boyfriends think? Did they find it enjoyable since they were going in blind?

BS: Mine had a lot of fun coming up with theories after every episode. He guessed some of them but others were way off. He thought the show was “alright,” but when I asked if he would recommend it to his friends, he said probably not. I don’t know if that’s also because both the show, and the book, seemed to be targeting women. They revolved around female friendships and, you know, fighting evil men together. That said, when the big reveal took place, he did look pretty shooketh and went, “OMG!”

AS: I had told my boyfriend the entire plot after I read Behind Her Eyes because I was so excited about it. So he went in knowing the ending already. He kept seeing Rob in Adele which was quite creepy.

SR: It’s great that your fiancé had fun coming up with theories! Did he question the science behind the lucid dreaming and astral body travelling? I definitely needed to Google that. I don’t think I’ll be counting my fingers and pinching myself anytime soon. 

BS: He didn’t question them. I think we just saw it as a science fiction of sorts. But in Episode 5, when Adele and Rob were lying on the bed saying they want to try something together, he was like, “OMG! How could she do this to David,” before he realised what they were doing, and then came up with the theory of: “THEY ARE GONNA SWITCH BODIES!”

AS: My boyfriend wants to try lucid dreaming after watching the show. We both went on to do quite a bit of research on it. “Pinch your fingers… count to five… I’m awake!” 


MI: Ive been able to control some dreams, but not to the point of manipulating whole environments. It’s more like meditation. But it’s tiring and I don’t like it. It’s also not something I set out to do. It just happens. So, if I’m having a nightmare, I can somehow “get out” of my body, grab my shoulders, and shake myself awake. It’s a weird feeling. But maybe that isn’t lucid dreaming. Maybe it’s just all in my head. Ignore me. This is totally off topic.

SR: Err. We cannot ignore this. I believe this is lucid dreaming. That’s both incredible and scary! It must be exhausting. It’s exhausting enough to be in a dream and know that it is a dream, but to control it is next level. 

BS: You know what the acting after all the body switches reminded me of? Especially after Adele/Rob took over Louise’s body. Get Out. White people taking over a Black person’s body. She even had that crazy person look before the paramedics arrived.

MI: I haven’t watched Get Out.

SR: Me neither. Maybe we shouldn’t admit that on Goggler.


Behind Her Eyes

What’s Up With All the Thumb Kissing?

BS: I know this isn’t really relevant, but when Louise and David parted ways at King’s Cross, and he said he was going off to Scotland to make things right, he put his hand on her face and she freaking kissed his thumb. His thumb! Again… DID I MISS THE MEMO ON HOW TO DO FAREWELL KISSES?

MS: I didn’t notice that. Isn’t that what they do in movies when they wanna fake kiss and you’re not supposed to notice.

MI: I didn’t notice the thumb kissing. I thought he just touched her chin?

BS: Can someone please rewatch and verify this. I swear there was thumb kissing and I laughed out loud.

SR: It’s because of COVID. Or maybe he didn’t want to kiss her yet until everything was settled you know? Like they have to WAIT. Not that they waited that night, at the apartment. Or all the other nights after. But, I digress. 

AS: I think it was just a bad kiss. 



Behind Her Eyes

Invasion of the Body Switchers?

AS: Can we talk about body switching now? Both my boyfriend and I thought Louise was damn dumb for not calling the firefighter at Adele’s house and just decided to get out of her body to save her. And at that point, how does she knows she could go into Adele’s body?

SR: Good question. I thought she was just going to go up the stairs. But maybe Adele knew Louise would do it, and used that as a reason to quickly hijack Louise’s body.

BS: Yes, Louise is a dumbass for not waiting for the fire brigade to arrive. But then again, we all knew that Louise in the book, and Louise in the show, is stupid and makes bad decisions. The thing is, she ALREADY called 999 when she was in the cab, so she could have just waited longer. D.U.M.B. 

MI: I think that’s why they kept replaying the scene of Louise finding her mom dead from overdosing on pills. It’s something so traumatic that she doesn’t want to experience again. Hence why she tried to be hero. She does seem like the self-sacrificing type. (Except maybe when she’s sleeping with her boss and trying to be best friends with his wife.)


AS: Do we also agree that the story would have worked better if the “spirit” in the show was an actual human being and not a “bright dot?” There would be more emotion. Like when Rob and Adele got out of their bodies before the switch, they could have showed Rob being malicious and Adele being scared. The bright dots don’t show. They were just… lights. Flying around. We don’t know what these spirits were thinking. 

SR: I wish they didn’t use cartoony colours. You’re expecting the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty to appear. They definitely could have done better on the production of the paranormal stuff. Even the running down the hallways felt a bit… cheap?

MI: I’m not sure how they could have portrayed the soul thing better. They needed multiple colours to best symbolise the different people. I think a whole humanoid shape would be weirder.

BS: Having that humanoid shape could also make them look like ghosts instead of souls. Then it could end up looking like Casper or something. I guess the concept of a “soul” is just hard to capture on TV and in movies. Even Pixar just showed them as cute blobs with facial features.

AS: I think they could have been depicted as blurred human beings. You know, like Adele or Louise, but in soft focus.

SR: Oh, that could have worked.


Last Words?

MI: Overall, I’m a little disappointed. Even thought it’s a competent adaptation, the pacing was far too slow, and sadly not interesting enough to keep viewers invested.

SR: That about covers it. To summarize, no big love for Behind Her Eyes, thumb kissing, or Scottish accents.

BS: I wouldn’t call this a “don’t watch.” It’s a good enough weekend binge. People might still enjoy it if they haven’t read the book. 

SR: The book just deserved better. I guess play it in the background while doing chores? Like folding clothes. Or ironing.

Behind Her Eyes is now streaming on Netflix.

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