YA Books That I Think Should NOT be Adapted for Film

It’s a common thing for us to read a wonderful book, take a big sigh, and imagine what it would be like to see the book on the big screen. Then we yell and scream and cry when our favorite books end up on the big screen and they ruin everything! (They cut out my favorite scene! She never did that! Why did they add this scene?! They cut out my favorite line! I never pictured him to look like that!)

Beyond the idea that a filmmaker may or may not handle your favorite book with the care you desire, there is also the simple fact that just because the book is good, it doesn’t mean it would make a good movie. In college, I took an Entertainment Marketing class, and we had a project where we had to read a book that had not been adapted to film yet and then market it like we were going to make it into a film. Since this was a group project, we all had to agree upon a book to read, and we picked The Shack, which was on the tail-end of its popularity then. I found the book to just be so-so, but what was worse was that while reading it, I realized it would be a terrible movie! Needless to say, the project ended up being much less fun since I had no idea how to market it!

Not all books would make good movies. Here’s a few young adult books that I just don’t think should be adapted to film.

The Kill Order

The Kill Order is the prequel to The Maze Runner series, which is in the works for adaptation to the big screen. I already feel sketchy about this, as a lot of weird stuff happens in these books and I’m sure it’s going to be a CGI fest for the movies (not to mention the series ends TERRIBLY), but if they adapt the prequel too that will just be the last straw (the last straw to what exactly I am not sure). There’s so much bad things happening, lulls in action, zombie-like people invading, and just general hopelessness. Really, let’s not adapt The Scorch Trials or The Death Cure either. Sigh.

The Book Thief

Unfortunately, this is happening. I know this might be an unpopular opinion, but I just don’t think it’s right. Now, if you’ve read my posts for the last couple of weeks, you know I recently read this book and really loved it. So this is nothing against the book itself. But the thing is, half of what makes this book as amazing as it is is the prose. And how can that possibly be translated properly onto the screen? I admit, it’ll probably still be good and interesting to see the story of Liesel and her Papa and Rudy and Max and everyone else, but it won’t have the same resonance without the prose and without Death’s narration, especially the end. (P.S. voice over narration is usually annoying, so this would not be the fix either!)

But Liesel is awfully cute here...

But Liesel is awfully cute here…

The Matched Trilogy

If this series were to be adapted… Well, there is simply not enough action in these books to carry a trilogy of films. And while not all movies require action (for example, every Jane Austen adaptation ever), there ought to at least be a plot that continually moves forward and interesting character development. Man, I did not realize how much bitterness I had towards these books until I started blogging… ha ha. I actually enjoyed reading all of them in the moment at least some of the time, but then when it all ultimately ended it just fell flat. And the series would make for flat movies as well.

What do you think? What books (YA or otherwise) do you think would not make good movies? What book to movie adaptations are you looking forward to? (Personally I’m looking forward to Ender’s Game, Catching Fire, and Divergent.)

29 thoughts on “YA Books That I Think Should NOT be Adapted for Film

  1. NOT THE BOOK THIEF! NOOOOO. I love this book, and I am so so SO disappointed that they are making it into a movie. The main reason I loved his book was because of the unique narrator, and the way he described things, and his little definitions of words and feelings. How can that be in a movie? It can’t, really, unless you have a narrator (but even that’s not the same). Sorry about this rant, I just really do not want this movie to come out!

  2. I’m actually kind of excited about The Maze Runner & The Book Thief movie, but I can definitely see your point about the Matched series. How they plan to make decent movies out of those books in beyond me. The only redeeming part about the first one was the ending, and I swear I almost fell asleep at least eight times while trying (and somehow suceeding) to get through Crossed.

  3. I don’t mind movies from books as long as they stay faithful to the book. I really can’t imagine Matched though, there wasn’t even enough of a story line for 3 books never mind a movie or worse movies! Making a book in to a movie does make more people read the book though. I do this all the time 🙂

  4. With you, 90%, on The Book Thief. It’s an amazing book with a very powerful prose, like you said. Something that I just don’t think can be translated properly onto the big screen. I will still watch it, of course, but I’ll hold onto my reservations.
    These are the other YA books I’d be nervous about: A Great and Terrible Beauty, Shiver, anything by Neil Gaiman, and The Giver.
    But I also have YA book-to-movie adaptions that I DEMAND a redo–Ella Enchanted and Inkheart primarily.
    I’m really looking forward to Catching Fire, Ender’s Game (even though I haven’t read it yet) and The Fault in Our Stars (if they cast Augustus correctly; however, I already have my doubts on Shailene Woodley as Hazel).

    • I would probably still watch it too, unless the trailer looked terrible. They are doing a movie for The Giver, I had forgotten about that. I’m not certain how that will go. I forgot the name of the actor but they did cast Augustus, and it’s the same actor who is playing Caleb in Divergent. Which is weird, since Shailene Woodley is playing Tris. I actually haven’t read The Fault in our Stars yet, but I plan to sometime.

  5. I completely agree with you about The Book Thief. The thing that made me love it so much was the narrator and the prose. Sure, it was a good story, but without Death and his commentary… it’s just another WW2 story. :<

    To be honest, I'm also kind of terrified to see Daughter of Smoke and Bone made into a movie. The writing provides such rich imagery that I have very clear pictures in my mind of everything and everyone in that book. I'm so scared that the chimaera wouldn't turn out looking like they do in my head. 😦

  6. That class you took sounds really fun. It’s too bad it was a group project that didn’t allow you to pick something more interesting. I haven’t read the Book Thief yet and never got into the Maze Runner series, but am definitely with you on Matched. I only read the first book in that series and thought it was a total snooze-fest. I hated it. Besides, after The Hunger Games and Divergent, do we really need another dystopian YA series made into movies? Overall, I agree that some books, no matter how awesome they are, just don’t translate on the big screen. Great post!

    • The class was pretty fun! How can you not like a class when your homework assignment is to go watch a movie? I worry that there is going to be a burnout of dystopia stories, both books and movies, before too long.

  7. I’d generally want to see a film adaptation of books…that’s just me.

    But some books are should not be adapted YET because even though all those special effects technology have come very far it is perhaps not quite there yet to bring the story to screen realistically. Or they perhaps they don’t have the kind of budget to make it look realistic enough. CGI is not cheap.

    Which brings to another issue of marketability. Some of the YA books (even the dystopians) just have more of a female audience…so how marketable is that movie? Not that marketable means less budget. So how would they bring that futuristic world to life?

    Your college class seems very interesting. I kinda think, adapting and marketing a less popular book would be better. For one…it will not be up against a fiercely loyal fanbase. This could mean they have more freedom to change some aspects of the book for the movie to either to make it more marketable or just better without being heavily criticised. Someone could take something average/good/not popular and make a good movie out of it. Look at movies such as Drive and The Prestige (which I understand was true in essence but not faithful all the way)…most people have not read the books or know of their existence still.

    Of the YA adaptations coming real soon, I’m looking forward to Ender’s Game, Catching Fire, City of Bones, The Spectacular Now and Divergent.

    • I generally enjoy movie adaptations too, this post was more in response to the absolute inundation of books being adapted to film, seemingly without regard as to whether it will translate well to film or not.

      My example of the Maze Runner series I think goes well with what you said about CGI. I think technology needs to evolve more before those books can properly be made into movies.

      You make a good point about marketing lesser known movies. I loved the movie The Prestige and did not even know it was a book until years later.

  8. I totally agree with you about The Book Thief. It’s such a shame if the prose was never mentioned. But then, making death a character would be too ambitious, and voice-overs, for most of the movie? No thank you.

    I also don’t think The Fault in Our stars would be a good movie. I think what made me really enjoy the book was the humorous and sarcastic voice of Hazel. Without, all you’re left with is a plot that’s quite unbelievable.

  9. Once I had heard that The Book Thief was being adapted, the first thing that popped in mind was ‘what would happen to Death?’. Death is such an important voice in The Book Thief so it would be devastating not to have him but on the other hand, what could the filmmakers possibly do to include his storyline?

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