Last week, Vanity Fair published a piece that got many people riled up. No, the problem isn’t the excitement building over John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars getting closer to being on the silver screen. It’s not that his book Paper Towns is in the works, with Green being executive producer. It’s that the piece suggests Green is leading a teen-movie renaissance, wherein Green’s film for teens is the only one that “lacks a supernatural or post-apocalyptic bent” in recent times. It goes on to say that his books on screen will lead a revolution in filmmaking, reviving realistic teens on screen.
The problem is there have been plenty of realistic teen stories put on film in recent years. While Green’s will undoubtedly be popular, he’s not alone here, nor should he be credited for a revolution. Vanity Fair offered up a second piece about 10 movies that could fuel a realistic teens on screen comeback, but it, too, discredits the wealth of realistic teen flicks that have been made — or are coming out soon.
We thought for this month’s installment of Get Genrefied, we’d talk about the realistic teens who have had their stories move from print to the big screen. This isn’t a revolution of any sort; it’s a spike in popularity due to a well-known and recognizable name (to teens and adults) at the helm.
If you read about book news on the internet at all, chances are you’ve read about books being “optioned.” It happens a lot, much more frequently than movies actually being made from books. I (Kimberly) have learned over the years not to get too excited about a favorite book being optioned, since it doesn’t guarantee a film. An option is basically someone renting the exclusive right to make a film (or tv movie or tv series) for a certain period of time. After that period of time expires, the option becomes available for someone else. While that first someone holds the option, no one else can try to make a film out of the book.
All sorts of things can happen (or not happen, as is more often the case) during this option period. If your favorite book was optioned but you never end up seeing it at your theater, it’s possible that the filmmakers couldn’t secure funding, the script wasn’t up to snuff, they couldn’t get the actors they wanted, or they just didn’t actually like it all that much after all, but wanted to keep it available in case they changed their minds. I’m no insider; this is information I’ve gleaned from reading a lot on the web and asking a lot of questions of people who do know things. Writers Digest has a very clear and more detailed explanation of what an option entails and the next steps that bring a book to the screen.
We’re addressing this in our genre guide because news of YA books being optioned can sometimes skew perceptions and make it seem like we’re awash in YA adaptations and Hunger Games ripoffs. Often the information that a book has been optioned is used as a marketing tool for the book. Take the information for what it is. Just because the book has been optioned doesn’t mean you’ll ever see it. It’s the first step, but it’s far from a green light.
What Would You Like to See?
It’s fun to dream about seeing our favorite books on the big (or even the small) screen. We’ve rounded up a few lists of YA books that readers would love to see made into films. A lot of the titles mentioned actually have been optioned – but as mentioned above, that’s no guarantee. It’s a little hope for the dreamers, at least. Which books do you wish would be adapted?
- Molly Wetta at Wrapped up in Books writes about YA Movie Adaptations in a Perfect World, including Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley and Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.
- This isn’t a wish list, but it does a good job of collecting some of the books that have been optioned and are in various stages of production. Again, no guarantees you’ll see them all on the screen: What’s Next: Over 60 Upcoming Young Adult Book-to-Movie Adaptations.
- Margot at Epic Reads rounds up some YA books that she thinks would make great horror movies: 12 Creepy YA Books That Should Be Made Into Horror Movies
- Sarah Pitre has a top ten list at Litreactor that includes Beauty Queens and Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series: Top 10 YA Books That Should Be Adapted for Film
Realistic Teen Novels Made Into Movies
Here’s a roundup of the realistic (mostly — we could debate titles like The Princess Diaries but we’re including it) YA novels that have been made into movies. These are older and newer titles, all of which you can seek out and watch. Books like Caroline B. Cooney’s The Face on the Milk Carton have been left off because, while it was made into a movie, it was made for TV and isn’t as easy to track down and enjoy. We’ve included the movie images, linked to IMDB descriptions, and we included the source titles for the movie, since it’s not always obvious. After this list, we’ll dive into move movies that feature realistic teen characters and stories but which had source materials from adult books.
Worth noting: not all of the movies based on YA books are made for the teen audience. Some skew a bit younger and others skew a bit older. It’s worth checking ratings in the event you want to show one or these in a classroom or library — Fat Kid Rules the World, for example, is rated R, despite the fact the book is a YA novel. Same with The Spectacular Now.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story based on Ned Vizzini’s book of the same title.
Speak based on Laurie Halse Anderson’s book of the same title.
The Outsiders based on S. E. Hinton’s book of the same title.
Fat Kid Rules the World based on K. L. Going’s book of the same title.
The Perks of Being A Wallflower based on Stephen Chbosky’s book of the same title.
Tiger Eyes based on Judy Blume’s book of the same title.
How to Deal based on two books by Sarah Dessen, That Summer and Someone Like You.
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist based on the book by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan of the same title.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants based on Ann Brashares’ novel of the same title.
Flipped based on Wendelin Van Draanen’s novel of the same name.
Geography Club based on Brent Hartinger’s novel of the same name.
Now is Good based on Jenny Downham’s novel Before I Die.
The Spectacular Now based on Tim Tharp’s novel of the same title.
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen based on Dyan Sheldon’s book of the same title.
That Was Then, This is Now based on S. E. Hinton’s novel of the same title.
Whip It based on Shauna Cross’s novel Derby Girl.
Drive Me Crazy based on the Todd Strasser book Girl Gives Birth to Own Prom Date.
Lemonade Mouth based on Mark Peter Hughes’s novel of the same name. Technically, this is a made-for-TV movie, but it should be easy enough to track down and watch, as it came out in 2011.
Paranoid Park based on the Blake Nelson book with the same title.
Hoot based on the novel by Carl Hiaasen with the same title. This likely skews more middle grade, but we’re including it anyway.
The Princess Diaries based on Meg Cabot’s book with the same title.
Rumble Fish based on S. E. Hinton’s book with the same title.
If I Stay based on the novel by Gayle Forman will be in theaters August 22, 2014.
The Fault in Our Stars based on the novel by John Green will be in theaters June 6, 2014.
Realistic Teen-Driven Films Based on Books That Aren’t YA
Here’s a roundup of teen-driven, realistic movies that are based on books that weren’t published YA. These are adult fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as graphic novels, but they have good appeal to teen viewers (if that’s not the movie’s primary target audience). Note the ratings and note, too, not all of these are right for all teen viewers. But we included some titles, like The Virgin Suicides, because we know it can be a teen cult favorite.
Ten Things I Hate About You is loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shew.
I Love You, Beth Cooper is based on Larry Doyle’s novel of the same title. We couldn’t decide if this was a YA book or an adult book, since it seems to be all over the place, so we’re putting it here.
Mean Girls is loosely based on Rosalind Wiseman’s non-fictional work Queen Bees and Wannabes.
Election is based on Tom Perrotta’s novel of the same name.
Persepolis is based on Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel of the same name.
The Virgin Suicides is based on Jeffrey Eugenides novel of the same name.
Girl, Interrupted based on Susanna Kaysen’s book with the same title.
“O” based loosely on Shakespeare’s Othello.