No one can really deny that Young Adult fiction continues to be popular, but only handful seem to make an impact at the box office when adapted for the big screen. Of course, you do have a few exceptions. Not all YA franchises feature Jennifer Lawrence fighting against the tyranny of The Capital in The Hunger Games, or a group of teenagers trying to escape a labyrinth filled with deadly traps and creatures in The Maze Runner.
Despite a few notable failures (I’m looking at you Percy Jackson), there is no reason to just stop making movies out of YA novels. Right now, there are a number of YA books that would make incredible films adaptations, and introduce a number of characters that could potentially rival cinema’s most popular teenage heroes.
Artemis Fowl is just your typical teenager with desires to rule all of humanity with an iron fist. Cold, calculating and most certainly diabolical, Fowl in Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series is YA’s titular anti-hero. A criminal mastermind and a pathological liar, Fowl learns of the existence of a secretive science-fantasy world filled with magical creatures and advanced technology. Hoping to restore the fortune of his family, Fowl kidnaps and holds for ransom a Fairy police officer named Holly Short. The series is very much a fantasy version of Die Hard, and would make a great film for those wishing to see a young adult version of Hans Gruber.
Number the Stars
Written by Lois Lowry (The Giver), Number the Stars follows Annemarie Johansen, a ten-year-old living under the Nazi occupation of Copenhagen in 1943. Taking part in the rescue of Danish Jews, Annemarie hides her Jewish friend, Ellen Rosen, pretending that she is her older sister, Lise, who died in the early days of the Nazi invasion. The novel was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1990 for its contribution to American literature for children. Genocide, war and death are all explored through the eyes of a young girl. If a film adaptation were to happen, it shouldn’t avoid the very adult themes that the novel addresses.
So, you have 14 kids, a supermarket and a never ending series of natural and biological disasters happening outside. What do you have? It’s Emmy Laybourne’s post-apocalyptic YA novel Monument 14 of course! A tale of survival, Monument 14 follows the surviving children of a collapsed school who have barricaded themselves inside a supermarket as society crumbles around them. Violent, tragic and often depressing, Monument 14 is probably the most mature YA novel you’ll see outside of The Hunger Games. A film would most certainly be pushing the PG-13 rating, but it will be worth to see the roving bands of insane marauders.
A Wrinkle in Time
Published in 1962, Madeline L’Engle’s science fantasy novel follows Meg Murry, an intelligent but troubled young girl, whose government scientist father has vanished after conducting numerous studies on a tesseract, an object that allows travel though different dimensions. Learning that her father’s disappearance may have been caused by the study of this mysterious object, Meg, her brother Charles and friend Calvin, go off on a spacefaring adventure to rescue her father. A Wrinkle in Time received a television film adaptation in 2003, but it failed to capture any of the gravitas of the original novel. If a movie were to be made today, it would most certainly be able to capture L’Engle’s vivid alien worlds.
The Westing Game
Written as a whodunit mystery, Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game follows 13-year-old Tabitha-Ruth “Turtle” Wexler and fifteen other characters who are called to The Sunset Tower Apartments to hear the last will and testament of multi-millionaire, Samuel W. Westing. Providing each of the guests with $10,000 from his fortune, Westing posthumously asks that they take part in a game that he devised before his death. If they solve the mystery behind his death (or rumored murder), he promises to name the winner as his heir, and his $200,000,000 fortune. Acting like a young adult version of an Agatha Christie Poirot novel, The Westing Game provides a fairly inventive mystery, and enough unique characters to keep readers interested long before the final pages. A film version made for television was released in 1997, but that movie, much like A Wrinkle in Time, has long been forgotten. A theatrical version of the book would be perfect for one of the best mysteries for young readers.