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It's official: Hollywood has turned to Young Adult books for movie magic inspiration. The large fanbase for these books provides an opportunity to bring new stars in the limelight, make big bucks, and show off new special effects. After the explosion and mania of Harry Potter and Twilight took hold, followed by The Hunger Games, Beautiful Creatures, Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Divergent, The Maze Runner, The Book Thief, and The Fault in Our Stars.
As a fan of several of these books, I’m equally thrilled and anxious to see the result when I walk into the theater. More often than not, the fans of the books enjoy the film adaptation, but movie reviewers don't—always—and poor reviews can stop or stall future productions (Looking at you, Mortal Instruments.)
Hollywood is partly to blame for YA-book-based movies that get bad press: patience is in short supply when there's money to be made, and moving too quickly from novel to screenplay leads to sloppy shortcuts in filming and editing. But even regardless of production process, a good book-to-film adaptation starts with a good book: one that appeals to all audiences, not just a built-in YA fanbase (The Fault in Our Stars and The Book Thief are ones I’m sure will appeal to everyone, but they're becoming movies as we speak, so they don't count here!) These are my top contenders for YA books that would survive—and thrive in—the journey from page to screen.
Valentine’s Day Rom-Com: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith: This movie would have everything for your light-hearted rom-com: flashbacks, planes, traveling, England, a wedding, a funeral, and a divorce, all mixed with a 24-hour whirlwind once-in-a-lifetime romance between strangers. Think Notting Hill with airplanes, or Love Actually meets a teenage Sliding Doors.
The Next Dystopian Fantasy: Defiance by C.J. Redwine: For the lovers of The Hunger Games, the Lord of the Rings enthusiasts, and the Game of Thrones action fanatics -- this is the movie.
It’s got a fierce, independent female warrior, a dragon awakened from oil drilling that destroyed the land, advanced technology in a medieval-esque city-state, and a quest for an instrument that turns into something larger than anyone could ever imagine.
Cold War Suspense: The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford: Do not be deceived by this cover photo that promises a happy winter romance. On the surface, this is a story of impossible love. But deeper down, it’s about soul and passion in a time when Russia and America had a tense relationship. No one could be trusted. Spies were everywhere. The KGB could arrive at any moment and arrest without explanation.
For history buffs, Russian culture curiosity, and suckers for bittersweet romance.
Southern Horror: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson: No chainsaws, no haunted houses. Slaves, a charming benefactor, Mississippi heat, and a history of murders. The Bluebeard fairytale meets 1850s murder and suspense. Naïve love meets dangerous obsession.
This movie would be bound to have some amazing scenery and color, yet still be quiet, chilling, and atmospheric.
Historical Thriller: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson: For those who love criminal justice, detective work, paranormal activity, and murder mysteries, this movie would totally deliver: special effects, plot twists and turns, and murder most grisly. Someone is killing people in modern-day London, mirroring the murders by Jack the Ripper in the fall of 1888. Modern security cameras are no use—the killer stays unseen.
Which YA books would you like to see turned into movies?
Laura Crockett is a graduate student, bookseller, Anglophile, tea devotee, musician, and book hoarder. Everything good in her boils down to her Midwestern upbringing.