Friday, August 2, 2013

Young Adult Literature Coming to the Big Screen

Blockbuster film series like Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games have proven that there’s a lot of money to be made presenting stories from the pages of young adult fiction on the silver screen. The rest of 2013, and the next few years, promise to be filled with releases of films based on books that have captivated young readers. The line-up is a mixture of newcomers and classics. Teenage book lovers may want to get started on reading the following titles, arranged by release date, if they’re the type who likes to read the book first*. The ages cited below correspond to readers, not movie-goers.


City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (ages 14+) - August 21, 2013

One reviewer called the first installment of the popular The Mortal Instruments series Buffy-esque, and it’s a fitting term. Fifteen-year-old Clary witnesses a murder that no one else sees and gets swept up in the world of the Shadowhunters, teenage vigilantes who kill supernatural demons and monsters.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (ages 13+) - October 18, 2013 in the UK; no word on when we’ll see it on this side of the pond

This award-winning book is the story of Manhattan-native Daisy’s trip to the English countryside to visit her cousins. Sounds idyllic, but when terrorists suddenly invade England and war erupts, Daisy and her cousins are forced to fight for survival.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (ages 14+) - November 1, 2013

Ender’s Game, released almost 30 years ago, needs almost no introduction. Brilliant Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is recruited for Battle School where he undergoes vigorous military training so he can help save the world from hostile aliens. Many parents will be just as excited about this release as their kids!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (ages 14+) - November 15, 2013

We are not the only ones who adore this book; it is the winner of several awards and has been on the best-seller list for several years running. The story is narrated by Death, who has his hands full in WWII Germany. The course of his work brings him several times across the path of young Liesel Meminger, a foster child who is placed with a couple outside of Munich and finds she can’t resist stealing books.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (ages 14+) – 2014, no other date specified

Like most teenage girls, Hazel finds herself suddenly head-over-heels in love. Unlike most teenage girls, she meets the object of her crush at Cancer Kid Support Group, a retreat she attends to help her cope with the fact that her terminal illness is incurable. We hope the movie will do this much-lauded novel justice.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (ages 11+) - February 14, 2014

Fans of The Hunger Games will love this fast-paced book. Thomas, the protagonist, wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing about his life but his own name. He discovers that he has somehow landed in a world his 60 teenage peers call “the glade,” which they have been trying for two years to escape by navigating through the maze that surrounds it. The Maze Runner is the first book in the eponymous trilogy.

Divergent by Veronica Roth (ages 13+) - March 21, 2014

Beatrice lives in dystopian Chicago, where sixteen-year-old citizens must decide which one of five factions they will belong for the rest of their lives. This book, the first in a three-part series, consists mostly of the initiation trial Tris must undergo as a result of her decision. And, of course, she has a secret she is desperate to keep to herself.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (ages 13+) – 2015

The horses that run in the annual Scorpio Races are no tame thoroughbreds; they’re blood-thirsty, man-eating creatures taken from Celtic mythology. Tomboy-ish Puck and her brothers are barely scraping by after their parents are killed by water horses when Puck’s oldest brother announces that he will be leaving their island to work on the mainland. In a desperate attempt to keep her remaining family afloat, Puck enters the race with her eyes on the purse; as the first female ever to compete, she will pit her inexperience against reigning champion Sean Kendrick and her opponents’ murderous mounts.

The Giver by Lois Lowry (ages 11+) - in pre-production; no release date available

As far as we are concerned this book is the gold standard by which YA dystopian novels-all the rage these days-should be judged. Young Jonas is shocked to learn that he has been chosen to be the next Giver, keeper of the memories people have forgotten, or never had a chance to make in the first place. As an apprentice to the current Giver, Jonas learns more and more about the experiences of people in the past-gifts, family, snow, war, love, pain-and begins to have doubts about his own world. Little information is available about the movie, but Jeff Bridges has been cast!

*Reading the book first isn’t for everyone. Some students achieve much better comprehension if they see the movie before delving into the more complex,demanding, written version. Young people for whom reading doesn’t come as naturally may already have a sense of which order works best for them – book before movie, or movie before book. If not, the movie-book duos above would be great opportunities for experimentation.

All release dates found through

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