We are certainly living in a golden age for teenage culture. Of the top ten New York Times Young Adult bestsellers, only one hasn’t been optioned or already turned into a film.
The one that hasn’t is Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award Winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian—although Wikipedia says it has been optioned, there’s no information readily available online. The story of the geekiest kid on the Rez who sees the tragedy and desperation of his community, yet still laughs, deserves a wider audience that a film could bring. In that vein, here are some other YA books that we’d love to see turned into films.
Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy
One of the most unique and satisfying YA trilogies I’ve ever read, Ness’ beautifully imagined dystopia would be an immense challenge for a filmmaker. The characters are real and tough and heartbreaking. The plot moves quickly with plenty of plot twists and action sequences, and there’s a whole new world to bring to life with spaceships and settlers and the Spackle. And then there’s Noise… I’m not sure a film could do it justice, but I would love to see one try.
Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series
A YA fantasy classic, it’s amazing this hasn’t already been optioned. The interconnecting tales of a family of necromancers begins with Sabriel’s journey from the relatively modern and non-magical Ancelstierre to the magical Old Kingdom across the wall to find her father. A movie seems like a sure bet given the popularity of similar fantasy epics like Game of Thrones.
Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series
An awesome female-centric fantasy series from the 80s that follows Alanna of Trebond as she switches places with her twin brother and pretends to be a boy so she can train as a knight instead of being sent to school in a convent (wise choice!). Alanna grows up over the course of four books, has a juicy love triangle (and a good amount of sex) with two equally strong and complex male characters, and ultimately defeats her enemies using her skills and her smarts. Basically, she’s Katniss Everdeen and Arya Stark before “strong female characters” were a thing anyone other than librarians talked about. An Alanna movie would be sure to make a lot of grown-up teens very excited.
Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown
Who says a heroine has to be conventionally strong? Not Robin McKinley, whose heroines struggle with depression and self-worth, before ultimately getting up and doing something about it. (If you haven’t read her “Girls Who Do Things” Newberry award acceptance speech, you must go and do so now!) Aerin is the marginalized princess of Damar who teaches herself to slay dragons and saves her kingdom in the process. If that doesn’t deserve a movie, or an HBO TV show, then I’m out.
Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles
Like a few others on the list, this series has been optioned but no other movies news has been released. With strong female characters, plenty of action and romance, political intrigue, and familiar fairy-tale plotlines with an awesomely inventive science fiction twist, this one seems like it might actually make it to the big screen. We need more female-centric sci-fi for all the girls who can’t get enough Leia, Ren, Starbuck, Ellen Ripley, Dana Scully, and Captain Janeway. And don’t tell us fans won’t go see female-led films—case in point, how awesome does the trailer for the new Star Wars movie Rogue One look?!
Libba Bray’s Going Bovine
After being diagnosed with mad cow disease, Cameron goes on a crazy quest with a dwarf, a lawn gnome, and an angel to try to find a cure. Absurdly funny, this is the antithesis of teen road-trip drama, a kind of modern-day Wizard of Oz, that questions the nature of reality and would make one entertaining film.