With the success of movies like Divergent and The Hunger Games, young adult movie adaptations are all the rage. Dystopias are particularly hot right now, as evidenced by the upcoming release of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. But it’s not just dystopias – no young adult series is safe from being thrust onto the big screen. Earlier this year, John Green’s Paper Towns was adapted by the same people who adapted Green’s zeitgeist-capturing The Fault in Our Stars (and are currently working on Green’s Looking for Alaska).
Adaptions of series like Rick Yancy’s The 5th Wave and Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children are set to release next year, but there’s a whole other set of young adult series still stuck in the earliest stages of development, including Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, and Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood. But these popular series are just the tip of young adult iceberg, which is rich with fantasy and sci-fi series made for the big screen. In honor of the young adult series without a movie in the works, here are 10 Young Adult Series That Should Be Adapted Into Films.
The Rebel Belle series, by Rachel Hawkins
The Rebel Belle series, by Rachel Hawkins, has accurately been described as Clueless meets The Terminator. While it’s classified as paranormal young adult, there are no vampires and witches. Instead, it has Paladins, Oracles, and Mages, and it reads more like a classic teen comedy than a fantasy. If the series gets adapted, you can expect the relationship drama of a classic teen movie, combined with superhero-level action and enough witty one-liners to please even the most die-hard Joss Whedon fan.
It follows Harper Price, a debutante Southern Belle with her act together and a lock for homecoming queen, as she balances both her social and scholarly responsibilities. But things change quickly when a chance encounter turns her into a Paladin – a magical being with super strength, assigned to protect her high school arch-rival, David, aka the Oracle. The first two books in the series are already out, and the third is expected to be published in spring 2016.
The Abhorsen series, by Garth Nix
Also known as the Old Kingdom series, Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series has been a long-time fan-favorite in the young adult fantasy genre. With Sabriel, the first in the series, published in 1995, the only thing surprising about its inclusion on this list is the fact that there isn’t already a movie in a works. The series follows Sabriel, a smart and capable heroine, who lives on the border of Ancelstierre (a semi-modern world with technology) and the Old Kingdom (a medieval-esque type world with magic). When her father, the Abhorsen (the sorcerer responsible for putting dead spirits to rest), goes missing, she must journey into the Old Kingdom to find him.
The series has a rich mythology for the movie to pull from, which would be fascinating to see translated onto the big screen. The series was originally a trilogy, but a prequel novel was published last year. Nix also plans to extend the series with a story set in the future, though there is no release date for it yet.
The Throne of Glass series, by Sarah J. Maas
Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series is a high fantasy re-telling of Cinderella, but with a salt miner-turned-badass assassin instead of a husband-seeking princess. The first in the series, entitled Throne of Glass, follows Caleana, an imprisoned salt miner who is given an opportunity to compete against other criminals for the chance to be the King’s glorified lackey.
With the deadly competition, the book is slightly reminiscent of The Hunger Games, but with medieval and historical touches. So for the movie, you can expect a Hunger Games style competition that takes place at Cinderella’s palace.
The Winner’s Trilogy, by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner’s trilogy is a fantasy series from Marie Rutkoski that mixes elements of Ancient Rome with more traditional dystopias. The series follows Kestrel, the daughter of a Valorian general, in a society that is reminiscent of Ancient Rome. After the Valorian army conquered the Herrani, they took over their homes and forced the people into slavery. As the daughter of a famed general, Kestrel has spent her life training to join the army. But when Kestrel buys a slave at an auction, she quickly learns the price of winning is sometimes higher than the money spent.
A movie version of the series could play up the Roman and Greek callbacks, making for a cinematic experience similar to 300, but with society drama worthy of a Jane Austen adaptation. It’s a very slow burn book, with a lot of focus on character interaction and social status, which would put an interesting spin on a Greco-Roman landscape.
The Jackaby series, by William Ritter
If you’ve ever thought Sherlock could be aided by adding some elements from Doctor Who, then William Ritter’s Jackaby series is the perfect book-to-movie adaptation for you. Set in 1892 New England, it follows a young girl named Abigail Rook who is searching for adventure. Adventure is exactly what she finds when she meets R. F. Jackaby, a Sherlock Holmes-esque character that can sense the supernatural.
The cinematic Victorian atmosphere is perfect for a creepy murder mystery, and a movie adaptation would take the best part of any Sherlock Holmes movie and elevate it with supernatural creatures. The first book in the series is available now, and the second book will be available this fall.
The Dualed duology, by Elsie Chapman
The Dualed duology, by Elsie Chapman is a dystopian sci-fi series where every person in the city of Kersh, a safe-haven separated from the rest of city, is born with a clone. The clone, or “Alternate,” is raised by a different family, so that the city can ensure only the best and brightest eventually join society, meaning the citizens must hunt down and kill their Alternate to prove their worth. The fist book in the series, Dualed, follows West Grayer, who has been training for years for the opportunity to kill her Alternate.
It’s an exceptionally violent and active world. Collateral damage casualties, suicide, and assassinations are basically the norm. What with Divergent and Maze Runner, dystopian young adult adaptations aren’t anything new, but this series adds the new element of clones. While the kids-killing-kids element is reminiscent of The Hunger Games, the series is more like Orphan Black meets Quentin Tarantino.
The Earthsea trilogy, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series consists of one original trilogy, two subsequent novels and a short story collection, making this an incredibly rich world for any director to pull from. The trilogy is a classic young adult fantasy saga, which starts with A Wizard of Earthsea, set on hundreds of islands that are home to the original wizard school – Roke (the series was published almost 30 years before Harry Potter hit Hogwarts). The story follows Ged, who goes on to become the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, during his childhood years as he learns magic.
Imagine a movie that follows Dumbledore as he goes through school, except instead of set in the Scottish Highlands, it’s set on an archipelago, and you’ll probably come close to imagining the movie version of this series. In 2005, the Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy) attempted to adapt the series into a mini-series, but it was largely unsuccessful, with even Le Guin criticizing the adaptation. There’s plenty of room for a big screen adaptation in its place.
The Program series, by Suzanne Young
Suzanne Young’s The Program series is set in a near-future Earth where teen suicide and depression are epidemic. The first book in the series introduces us to “The Program,” which is a place that depressed teens are sent to have their memories removed and to seclude them from the outside world. When Sloane’s friend commits suicide and her boyfriend ends up in The Program, Sloane can’t help but slip into a depression that lands her there too.
The way Sloane loses her memories and starts to fall into the truth all over again is similar to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, so we know this type of story can successfully translate on to the big screen. But instead of just Eternal Sunshine for teens, imagine it mixed with a society similar to the one in Divergent. It’s a classic dystopian vibe, where the utopian intentions of the government have led to horrific results.
Wind on Fire trilogy, by William Nicholson
The Wind on Fire trilogy, by William Nicholson, starts with The Wind Singer, which is basically a cautionary tale against standardized tests set in a dystopian universe. While dystopian films have become increasingly popular, this series could add some much needed variety to the genre. It’s a basic quest story, with the characters venturing away from the main city and encountering everything from giant animals to murdering zombies.
The books follow twins Kestrel and Bowman, who live with their family in Aramanth. Inside the city walls, all is not well thanks to a color-coded social strata and lack of personal autonomy. When Kestrel grows tired of the Examinations that control every person’s future, she stages a rebellion at her school that eventually sends her on a quest with her brother and a classmate named Mumpo to retrieve a legendary object that will restore harmony to their city.
Reboot series, by Amy Tintera
While technically a zombie series, Amy Tintera’s Reboot series features zombies that are more comparable to super soldiers than the zombies of The Walking Dead. In this dystopian world, a disease causes some people to reanimate into stronger and faster beings called Reboots. In addition to super-strength, the Reboots also lose some of their humanity, making them highly feared in a society that all but enslaves them to serve as soldiers for a corporation. The first in the series, Reboot, follows Wren, a girl who was dead for three hours before she rebooted and now serves as one of the most powerful corporation soldiers.
The book is violent and bloody. The main character is a Reboot, and she sees herself as distant from humans, repeatedly offing them to finish her job without much remorse. Since the focus of this series is on super soldiers, a movie adaptation could focus on that military aspect and differentiate itself in a bloated dystopian market.
In addition to these series, there are dozens – or more likely, hundreds – of young adult series that could easily translate to the big screen. Did we miss anything obvious? Let us know in the comments below!
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