Let’s be honest – media adaptations of our favourite books very rarely actually stand up to the original source material. From the pure abomination of The Golden Compass, to the passable fun of The Maze Runner, film and TV adaptations never quite manage to capture the same magic and escapism as the books. But, despite all that, we still *want* to see our favourite stories on the big (or little) screen, to see our heroes and villains played out by talent (and beautiful) actors and actresses, and I am not above all that. Even though I know full well that adaptations are hard to pull of satisfactorily, I still thought I’d make a list of TEN ace YA/MG books or book series that I think would make a fantastic Film or TV Show, if done RIGHT. So heeeeeeeeeeeere GOES –
The GONE Series by Michael Grant
Format: TV Series
I’ve been a massive fan of the Gone books for years now. Their perfect blend of science fiction, horror and twisting mythology creates a series of books that feels fast, driven and gore-soaked, in a universe that has real depth and history behind it. Author Michael Grant has alluded to the idea of a TV Adaptation on many occasions, and it seems that a deal has been agreed upon, but these things can takes years, even decades to get greenlit, so I don’t think we should be holding our breath. I do think that with a talented young cast and a great set of special effects, the FAYZ could be brought to life superbly, though, creating a dark and unpredictable TV series.
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Format: TV Series
Okay, so this one isn’t YA, but it sure has crossover appeal. I feel like Sarah’s subtle, supernatural (but not quite) tale of mania and paranoia in the wake of a tragic set of plane crashes would make the twisting thriller that Lost always promised to be. It’s full of sudden pitfalls and cliffhangers, and teased out in week by week episodes it could create a superb sense of tension. The rise of social media could push people to talk about each sudden shock ending across the globe and turn the story into a phenomenon, and it has just the right investigative angle to drive the narrative along at a good pace, with the right feeling of discovery.
The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
The visuals in Ava Lavender are absolutely stunning, creating a haunting sense of magical realism that absolutely sings to the heart of readers. I think done right, with a good sense of cinematography and colour palette, then this book could make one of the most stunning visual feasts for decades. The plot is achingly beautiful, spanning generations and filled with youthful energy and hope, with just the right pinch of fantasy about it to make it feel special. It’s got enough breathless romance and tragedy to make a hugely popular stand alone film, and I’d love to see it on the big screen.
The Wells & Wong Detective Mysteries by Robin Stevens
Format: TV Series
Robin’s two books (to date), A Murder Most Unladylike and Arsenic for Tea, have proven absolute smash hits in the MG world and beyond, capturing a Blyton-meets-Agatha Christie atmosphere that’s been just as popular with adults as they have with children. I feel like a brilliant Sunday afternoon series could be made from these shows, or maybe a CBBC afternoon programme? The brilliant mix of strong morals and genuinely gripping mysteries would be brilliant TV for younger viewers, and the retro feeling would really appeal to adults as well. Getting the right young actresses in to play the precocious Daisy and fabulously level headed Hazel would make the whole thing a charming, wholesome murder mystery show for all the family!
Say Her Name by James Dawson
When I first reviewed Say Her Name, I geeked out an awful lot about the clear love of J-Horror themes and styles that James brought into the story. So, naturally, I feel like Say Her Name has the potential to make a brilliant supernatural horror film! In a genre saturated by dumb teen slasher movies, intelligent supernatural chillers are very hard to come by. Horror is probably my favourite film genre, but honestly finding great examples is tough, and getting tougher, especially if cheap shocks and gore bore you as much as it does me. Say Her Name has just the right feel of urban myth and creeping dread to understand that what you *don’t* see is the most important when it comes to scaring the bejesus out of people.
Othergirl by Nicole Burstein
The world is crying out for more lady superheroes in films, and as Black Widow is constantly being overlooked despite being a legitimate member of the Avengers, it’s high time some original, funny and lovely story came out and took centre stage. Othergirl is Nicole’s debut novel, and I feel like her story of friendship and self -discovery would translate brilliantly to the screen, especially in a down-to-earth way similar to C4’s Misfits. She plays the comic book tropes perfectly, and her passion for the superhero and YA genres really give the story a lovable feeling of fandom and friendship. It’d be a heartwarming and ass-kickin’ flick.
Lockwood & Co. By Jonathan Stroud
Format: TV Series
I absolutely love Jonathan Stroud’s MG series about paranormal investigators fighting spooks and phantoms on the streets of a Victorian-esque London, and I think the Gothic feeling of frights and fun would lend itself perfectly to a brilliant TV adaptation. Lockwood himself is a teenaged Sherlock if ever there was one, and he’d make a brilliant lead in a TV show, all genius and trouble darkness, and I feel like the mixture of humour and horror would be hugely popular with kids and adults alike. The books have some brilliant historic mysteries to them that would work so well in a week by week episode format, leaving each week with more questions than the last.
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
The Accident Season is probably the best debut YA novel of 2015, in all honesty. The brilliant chaotic mix of magic, love, tragedy and pure angst is a heady cocktail that breaks readers hearts and fills your soul up with hope and melancholy. In the same way that Ava Lavender‘s beautiful visuals would translate so well to the screen, The Accident Season‘s bleak sense of twisted unease would also create a beautifully haunting treat of cinematography. All the characters are wonderfully messy and diverse, and I think bringing them to the screen would be an important step in breaking the cycle of attractive, well adjusted YA protagonists, as well as representing the LGBTQ spectrum much better.
The Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
Format: Film Trilogy
It’s no secret to anyone how much I love Patrick Ness’ work. Pretty sure the binmen on my street know all about it by now. While we are getting a film adaptation of A Monster Calls soon (and I am SO excited), I feel like The Chaos Walking series (The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask & The Answer and Monsters of Men) would make a truly epic and philosophically important science fiction trilogy. From the wonderful concepts and visuals of a hostile, alien environment, to the themes of genocide, gender and humanity, the three books really look at human nature in all of its brutality and love, and the sense of hope and the message that worlds and societies can be changed is one that is so powerful that it deserves as wide an audience as possible. Plus, the core concept is so unique to YA, it’d really make a big change to a lot of the other big YA trilogies out there.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Format: TV Series
“But Darran,” you cry “Didn’t they already make a film based on The Northern Lights?”
SHUT UP NO THEY DIDN’T WHAT EVEN WAS THAT. An Alethiometer is NOT A GOLDEN COMPASS WHY IS THAT EVEN A THING?! That film was SO BAD AND ALL WRONG AND I WILL HATE IT FOR ALL OF MY DAYS.
Ahem. Sorry. His Dark Materials (Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) is my favourite set of books ever of all time, and they’re one of the best and earliest examples of YA as a subgenre emerging, with fantastically complex, sprawling fantasy set across multiple universes, powerfully well drawn main characters and deeply complex, intelligent themes that refuse to talk down to their audience. The film-that-shall-not-be-named completely missed the mark, so what I’m suggesting is a TV Series in a Game of Thrones style (no, not like that, you gutter-dwellers). What I mean is a high budget, 10 episodes per season, each episode lasting an entire hour sort of epic show crafted with love for the source material and a dedicated desire to tell the story. So many cable shows have been able to circumnavigate any censorship by being independent channels, and I feel like a lot of the themes of His Dark Materials could be represented in much more bold confidence in a TV series than through a film that relies on funding.
Anyway, so that’s my two cents on the whole thing. There’s a few more I could think of I’m sure, and I’m not saying any of those would work… But I’d give them a watch, for sure. What would you want? Feel free to talk in the comments, or write your own blog about it! Let me know if you do – @ShinraAlpha
Thanks for reading!