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.)

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My Top 10 Books I Have Read So Far This Year

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and The Bookish) is the Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2013. Well, I’m an extremely lightweight book blogger, so I have read exactly 10 books so far this year (if you don’t count a couple of really short companion e-books). Though this isn’t much for some, this is actually pretty big for me as it means I am on par with my goal of reading at least 20 books this year (though I would love to pick up the pace and read a few more!), which will put me at reading more books this year than I have in a single year since… before high school. So there you have it.

Since I have read only 10 books this year, I thought I would rank each book from least favorite (which thankfully I still didn’t hate) to most favorite, and why I ranked them accordingly.

TTT

10. Reached by Allie Condie (2 Stars)

This book, as the end of a series, was fairly disappointing. The beginning of the book showed potential, with a plague outbreak caused by the Rising, who we had believed were supposed to be the good guys, but then it went downhill. For starters, since this was the first book of this trilogy I had read since reading The Giver, I suddenly realized that the Society in this series was a little too similar to that of The Giver. Also, I thought most of the characters felt out of place. I don’t want to re-review the book; you can see my thoughts on it by clicking on the the book title.

9. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (3 Stars)

I loved the concept of this one… a girl who is cryogenically frozen wakes too early on a spaceship still years from its destination. The execution of it… was just OK for me. It featured a really creepy mating season among humans on the ship, a lackluster romance, but some interesting twists. I plan to finish the series one day as I’ve heard it gets better, but let’s just say I wasn’t rushing to buy the second book after finishing this one.

8. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (3 Stars)

The Last Battle turned out to be neither my favorite nor least favorite in The Chronicles of Narnia, with a story that was part boring, part interesting, but wrapped up with a beautiful ending.

7. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (? Stars) 

I still haven’t figured out how to rate Till We Have Faces, because it left me with more questions than answers. Maybe it’s not a bad thing, as I know C.S. Lewis was much smarter than I am, but it left me feeling a little unsatisfied. Still, there was a certain captivating quality to it. Watch for my review to come soon.

7-10

6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

This follow-up for Cinder did not do as much for me as the first book of The Lunar Chronicles, but I still found it enjoyable overall. I do love the characters and world Meyer has created, and I am looking forward to Cress!

5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (4 Stars)

Reading this book was me dipping my toe into science fiction waters. It’s an interesting story about a bright boy who is sent to train for a war when he is far too young, and the secrets kept from him. I enjoyed it overall, but there were parts that were slow and that did not enjoy as much. By the recommendation of a friend, I do plan to read at least one of the follow-up books, Ender’s Shadow. I’m also looking forward to the movie later this year!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

I absolutely adored this first book of The Lunar Chronicles, especially the friendship/blooming relationship between Cinder and Kai. Truly the most swoon-worthy romance (even though it was really a pre-romance) I’ve read this year! The only real reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 was because it was just way too predictable. Still, this was a great debut by Meyer!

6-4

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (5 Stars)

A heartbreaking book filled with beautiful words. I’m not sure what else to say without writing another review.

2. Start by Jon Acuff (5 Stars)

If you’ve been on this blog long enough or read my About Me, you know I have been influenced by author and speaker Jon Acuff, who has this idea that anyone can work towards their dream, but it may not always happen the way you expect it. I can’t really do his words justice, though. But if you’ve had a dream banging around the back of your mind, if you’ve ever wondered what your next step in life should be, if you wake up every morning wishing you could quit your day job, read Quitter and Start. They are five star books for me because if you follow his advice, it’s life-changing. I’m still in the middle of the process of working on my dream, and starting this blog has played a role in that. 

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (5 Stars)

Unbroken, the true account of a WWII fighter pilot’s life before, during, and after his incarceration at multiple Japanese POW camps is simply a stunning tale. I don’t read much non-fiction, especially long historical books like this one, but it always kept my interest, and Louie’s story never ceased to amaze me. If you only read one book on this list, it should be this one. I would recommend it to EVERYONE.

3-1

What have been your favorite reads this year so far? 

My Top 10 Elements in Dystopia

In my not-forgotten-but-slightly-neglected quest to figure out what works for dystopias for me and what doesn’t, I thought an excellent topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday freebie would be the top ten elements I like to see in dystopia stories I have read. This can be the nature of the characters, the plot, the society structure, etc., and it can be from specific stories or in general. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Sameness of the society

Though I think several dystopias have adapted this idea, but I like the way it is illustrated in The Giver the best. Not only does everyone follow the same progression through life up until they are selected for their job and start to train for those, but they do not exhibit much independent thought because of this environment. The ability has not been taken away or suppressed by drugs, but they have been encouraged through positive reinforcement all their lives to live a certain way, to not question it, and to not want any more. When Jonas learns of the past and colors and things no one else in his town knows about, it challenges his thoughts on the status quo. It’s easy for everyone to be the same, but is it really a life worth living?

2. Separation within the society

capitol-citizens

I think The Hunger Games in particular does an excellent job in showcasing a clear divide between the two main groups of people within the society: The elaborate Capitol and the struggling Districts. Not only do they force the Districts to give up children each year for the annual Hunger Games, which serve as a source of entertainment and gambling for the Capitols, but they subject the winners to their ways for the rest for their lives, so even the winners don’t really win. Some, like Finnick Odair, are even forced into prostitution because of their good looks and charming nature. Whatever the Capitol wants, the Capitol gets, and subjects the Districts to.

The Selection also shows a divide with a caste system and monarchy set in place, though I do not find Cass’ world building quite as detailed or effective as Collins’, but it does have a lot of potential.

3. The “stand-out” among the society

tris-divergent

I think there are several dytopias who have their main character a stand-out. Tris (and others) are Divergents in their society, and cannot be categorized by one faction of their society, which some see as a threat. In The Giver, Jonas stands out because he is the Receiver, he has the ability to receive past memories and see things differently than the rest of his society. In Across the Universe, those who think differently from the norm, like Elder and Harley are considered crazy, when really they are just creative and the others have had their creativity suppressed. It’s an obvious element not just for dystopia, but for any story, but it is an effective one. I believe most all of us have a desire to stand out somewhat, even if it scares us.

4. The “good guys” aren’t as good as they seem

For all the things that drove me crazy about Reached, the conclusion of the Matched trilogy, the strongest element of the story, I thought, was how it was clear that the Resistance, the “good guys” in the story, aren’t as good as they had been romanticized by Cassia and Xander to be. They are willing to sacrifice people and create chaos in the name of their cause; they turn to panic rather than logic or strategy to overthrow the government. Cassia’s world grew more gray in Reached, which I think was a necessity for that series.

It’s also interesting to see in Divergent and Insurgent how among these five factions, one cannot really be labeled “the good guys.” Yes, there are the honest ones, the peaceful ones, the humble ones… But just the same, the factions are not particularly good or particularly bad. It is the individual who is good or bad.

5. A secret rules the society/main character

In either movies or books, I am always fascinated by the notion that everything the main character has believed about their life has been a lie or at least a facade veiling secrets. It happens in Across the Universe, Insurgent, The Giver, Ender’s Game, Cinder, The Maze Runner series, and of course in other stories as well.  It’s funny when you’re on the outside looking in, not understanding why the main character can’t accept that their reality is not actual reality when it seems so obvious to you. Or sometimes, it takes the reader by surprise too. But either way, if I think about it, it would be hard for me to accept too. It’s a “what if” question that certainly makes for a fascinating string of possibilities.

6. Humans as test subjects

The-Maze-Runner-Concept-Art-Copy

The Maze Runner series was not my favorite, but one thing I did find fascinating was what these teens were being put through. First they are forced to live in an environment with a seemingly unsolvable maze (as well as potentially dangerous), and then when they finally escape it, they only face more trials that they forced to go through in the name of science and discovery. Unfortunately, I found the end of the series to be unsatisfying for an explanation as to why all these weird techniques were supposed to help, as well as an unsatisfactory resolution to the characters and their journeys, but the overall concept of using humans as test subjects is certainly fascinating.

7. Revolution

salute

This is also a common theme in dystopia, but I think the way it was built up and ultimately played out in The Hunger Games trilogy is especially fascinating. Katniss plays the rules of the game to a point, but she slowly, and not completely purposefully, starts the destruction of the system from the inside out. She also has a lot of help along the way because even a teenage girl as strong as Katniss can’t take down a whole government herself.

8. Genetic mutation/manipulation

Unfortunately I have not seen too much yet of this yet in the dystopias I have read, and in the ones I have found it in, they have been used in somewhat underwhelming and disappointing ways, but as I have mentioned before, genetic engineering fascinates me. I want to see more!

9. Strong and diverse characters

hg-characters

This, in a nutshell, is what really makes The Hunger Games stand out from other dystopias in my mind. I have never, in any other dystopia series I have read, fallen so in love with so many characters as I have in The Hunger Games. They are so well-rounded, each with such unique personalities, that they just feel so real. Sometimes I think authors get so caught up in their epic story line that they forget to give special treatment for the characters. But plot alone cannot carry a story; we need more epic characters! (Though I will say that The Lunar Chronicles are producing some pretty great characters as well, and I’m looking forward to seeing them develop more and meeting new ones in the last two books!)

10. Post-War

Any story that starts off in the ruins of a previous society marred by war, or even years after war but with lingering aftermath, (Hunger Games, Divergent, Ender’s Game, The Selection, Cinder, etc.) piques my interest. What caused the war often determines how the society is rebuilt afterwards. There is often this notion that society will be better this way than it was before, but many times, as we see, that is not necessarily true.

Books mentioned in this post:

dystopiasWhat about you? What elements interest you in dystopias?

Review: The Matched Trilogy

Since The Hunger Games I have been seeking out other young adult dystopia stories. So far I have read: the Matched trilogy (by Ally Condie), Divergent and Insurgent (first two of a trilogy by Veronica Roth), The Maze Runner series (trilogy + prequel, by James Dashner), The Selection (first of a trilogy by Kiera Cass), The Giver (a little bit more classic, by Lois Lowry), and I started Delirium (first in a trilogy by Lauren Oliver) but halfway through stopped caring about any of the characters and thus stopped reading. And unfortunately, aside from The Giver and The Selection, these other stories don’t seem to have it down.

What is it?

I’m not really sure.

It’s part realistic and interesting dystopian future, part great characters, part engaging story. I mean, all these stories have these traits somewhat, otherwise they would have fallen by the wayside like Delirium (sorry to all the Delirium fans… I know there are many out there…), but it seems something just seems to fall flat. And I fear so badly my books will do this too. So in an attempt to understand what I like best in these stories… I’ll analyze them… starting with Matched, Crossed, and Reached.

matched trilogy

I read Matched last summer by the pool and on the beach while in Destin. I actually really, really enjoyed it and flew through it Hunger Games style. After finishing it, while still on vacation, I insisted on going to the Barnes and Noble in Destin to buy Crossed. Read it and liked it alright, though not as much. Then I had to wait for Reached. I got it in January with a gift card and read it. And the book was fine, in fact some of it was pretty interesting, but towards the end I could see it spiraling down fast in a way I was not thrilled about. Both the second and third books also lagged in places, unlike the first. But let me break down further…

Problem #1: She chooses the wrong guy. I won’t spoil this for those who have not read, but our main character, Cassia, has two guys pining over her, much like The Hunger Games. Both guys are decent, don’t get me wrong, but the guy she didn’t pick… I just loved him way more. More than the other guy and more than the main character (like how I cared way more about Peeta than everyone else in The Hunger Games). I think this a large part of the reason why I loved Matched more than the others… because things still seem quite hopeful between Cassia and the guy. But ultimately, it doesn’t happen. And it crushed me.

Problem #2: Mushiness + poetry = ICK. The second book is most guilty of this. Cassia lives in a society where everything is limited: there are only a hundred songs, a hundred stories, a hundred paintings, etc. that society is exposed to. When she discovers “new” poetry, it excites her. She wants to use it to communicate her feels. And it gets mushy. With the wrong guy. Boo.

Problem #3: Crossed is kind of weak in hind sight. First, there were all the unrealistic aspects of it: Oh, I have taken poison but can trek through deserts and mountains. Oh, we just stumbled upon the Resistance and they let us join. Oh, my new friend just saw a picture of this guy and decided she’s in love with him. And again, there’s the mushiness: “I want nothing more to cuddle in a cave and read poetry with my love!” (That’s not an actual quote but it could be… blech!) And there’s a lot of walking.

Problem #4: They kind of ripped off The Giver. I didn’t realize this until I read Reached, since I read The Giver in between Crossed and Reached. As I read Reached and it reminded me of all the ceremonies and rituals the Society had, I was like ohmygoshthisisfromthegiverwhy?! When it comes to dystopia stories, I want to see new and fresh ideas. Sure, all books borrow ideas from others, and that’s OK, and though it’s not a blatant rip-off, there were more similarities than I cared for.

Problem #5: The meetings in Reached are very anti-climatic.  It’s hard to get into the details of this without spoilers, but there were several meetings between people that should have been interesting in some way, but they just fell flat. By Reached, I almost feel like Condie gave up on doing anything new or dynamic with the characters individually or when they interacted with each other.

Problem #6: Ky never seems to care about the causeOne of the guys, Ky, is painted as a pretty strong character in some respects. He is against the Society, however, he’s not in love with the Resistance like Cassia and Xander. By the end of the trilogy, I wasn’t so in love with the Resistance either, so I understand, but it felt so weak for him to just play along for Cassia. Everything he did was for her. I can respect that to some extent, but after a while it just feels kind of pitiful.

Problem #7: Lackluster ending. I don’t mind endings that are left open to interpretation. I don’t mind the sentiment that some things are unresolved now because it will take time. I don’t mind  growth in characters. But I don’t like endings that feel like they just stop when the author doesn’t know what to write anymore, and I don’t like characters having sudden changes in personality so they can move on to different paths and I’m supposed to be happy for them for that.

Things I did enjoy about the series… the first few chapters of Matched were beautifully written and made me feel so happy. The Society, though it did borrow from The Giver, was also pretty interesting. In Reached, there is a plague that spreads and mutates, and that to me was pretty interesting, but unfortunately that story line ended up sagging instead of thriving. And I did really enjoy one character, but did not care as much for the others… even Cassia was just OK for me.

The first few chapters of Matched were literally good enough to carry me through reading the series, and though Condie does have a beautiful writing style, overall, it left me feeling unsatisfied.

williamshatnercutout

If only William Shatner had made an appearance in the books. Instantly more gratifying. I have no idea why this picture exists but it made me smile when I stumbled upon it.

So if you’ve read this series, what did you think of it? Any other young adult dystopias you would recommend for me?

Favorite quote from the trilogy: “You cannot change your journey if you are unwilling to move at all.” (from Reached)