Recently, books have been turned into films with as much frequency as you’re turning oxygen into carbon dioxide. A few years ago, conventional wisdom stated that if one wants to predict the next bankable movie, one should turn to comic books. But now the paradigm has shifted as movie producers browse the Young Adult section of their local Barnes and Nobles.
Although superhero movies such as “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” are still vacuuming money out of our pockets, studios are realizing that people are paying to see Katniss Everdeen shoot squirrels or Bella Swan surround herself with attractive supernatural beings.
It’s relatively easy to point to where this trend started. People were always making movies with teenage audiences in mind (may the late, great John Hughes rest in peace), but fantasies starring teenagers were seen as kitschy (“Teen Wolf”) or campy (“Labyrinth”).
Then along came the Boy Who Lived. Suddenly, the movie going public was introduced to a world where teenage fantasy had stakes larger than being popular in school while also being a werewolf. Harry Potter took its audience seriously and gave them life, death, evil, love and sacrifice. Warner Brothers took the money Harry and friends were making for them very seriously, and now the franchise makes more money than most small countries.
Then came “Twilight.” Love it or hate it, it popularized the “blank slate” female protagonist and the love triangle. The character of Bella Swan allows for readers and viewers to put themselves into her shoes. As the ubiquitous “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” wars showed us, the franchise was never so much about whom Bella would choose as much as it was about whom the reader or viewer would choose.
Several movies are riding on the coattails of both franchises. So even if your taste in movies is highly specific, you can find something you like. If you like yelling “The book was better!” at the screen, here are some books to start reading before you see their film adaptations:
by Isaac Marion
R is a zombie that eats people, but at least he’s conflicted about it. When he meets Julie, a zombie-hunter, he strives to protect her and starts to feel something in his cold, dead heart. In this smart romantic comedy, R and Julie’s budding relationship examines pop culture’s obsession with paranormal romances. Who says a human/zombie relationship can’t work out?
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
When Ethan meets Lena, he feels as if he’s destined to be with her, no matter what. Never mind that she’s a Caster (a more politically correct term for ‘witch’) and on her sixteenth birthday she will be claimed by either the darkness or the light. There’s a lot of time spent on the “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” question Dorothy Gale was able to answer in mere seconds in “The Wizard of Oz,” but for those looking for a rebound after the Twilight saga, it could satiate you, at least until “The Host” comes out.
by Stephenie Meyer
All of humanity has succumbed to an alien race known as the Souls, which use mind control on humans. When a Soul named Wanderer tries to take over Melanie, she resists with her memories of Jared, a boy she fell in love with before the alien invasion. If you loved the love story of Twilight but wished it had more aliens (a grievance I think we all had with Twilight), then this is the movie for you.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Sea of Monsters
by Rick Riordan
Logan Lerman reprises his role from 2010’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” as Percy, son of Poseidon and camper in Camp Half-Blood. This time around, Percy and his friends Annabeth and Grover have to find the Golden Fleece to save Camp Half-Blood, battling monsters and gods from Greek mythology.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
by Cassandra Clare
Clarissa, or Clary, is in a New York City nightclub with her best friend when she witnesses a murder (don’t you hate when that happens?). She learns that, because she saw the murder, she belongs with a group of demon hunters known as the Shadowhunters. An exciting romp for people who thought “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” left something to be desired (read: everybody).
by Suzanne Collins
Everyone’s favorite archery master who isn’t Hawkeye from “The Avengers” or Merida from “Brave,” Katniss Everdeen, returns in this sequel to “The Hunger Games.” Catching Fire deals with the repercussions of the last Hunger Games and the revolution that’s starting to gain traction in the districts. Plus, the film was made right under our noses here in Atlanta, Georgia.
If you don’t care for young adult adaptations, then I’m sorry to say that you might have to sit out 2013. And 2014. And 2015, if current projects keep going forward. Young adult adaptations are as popular as splitting movies in half and Disney buying, well, everything. It is either that, or you tell your teenage friends to save their allowances for things other than books and films.
— By Grace Cummings