Books Movies

My Thoughts: Not Every Young Adult Novel Needs to be a Movie

I just read another article about the unfortunate news that the second part of the last book in the Divergent series is now being shuttled off to television. Hehehe it’s kind of funny. But at the same time, disappointing. It’s sad to see something that could have had potential be squandered away and ruined. I liked the first book and the first movie, with a few things that could have been handled better in the film, they both were pretty solid. I think it was easy to tell though that Veronica Roth is new author with how the series was handled, perhaps she got a bit lost in her own story. But onto what I really want to talk about.
So the Young Adult genre has a lot of rich stories in there. A lot of them overlap in terms of how they’re handled etc but there are very interesting and unique ones. While that’s true, not all of them need to be a movie. I don’t have every YA adaptation at my disposal but I think it’s important to note that there are a lot, mainly series that were turned into films, that probably could have done better as a tv show, or maybe even a TV Movie as the big theatrical release wasn’t good or necessary. It’s also important to note what is considered “YA”. I also haven’t seen every film adaptation IE: The Book Thief, The Maze Runner nor have I read every book counterpart, so some of these on the list will feature movies I have seen and I will talk about why the film should have been a show, not how it compares to the book but I probably will mention book elements.
Eragon (2006)
Failed as a movie: So, it’s been years since I read the first two books and watched the film, but I remember enjoying the books and I was so excited for the movie aaand I was so disappointed. Everything was wrong, minus how the dragon looked and some of the actors but everything, the characterizations, their appearances, ages, how stuff looks… UGH! So annoying.
Reasons to be a Show: You would think the nature of these books would make for a great franchise with films like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings as it’s predecessors but perhaps that was it’s undoing. These books could have been given a Game of Thrones type treatment (I haven’t watched the show but I get the idea)
  • The Characters– There are so many characters in the first book alone, this short movie did not do enough justice for the viewers to get to know them. Especially since they weren’t handled well at all. I understand the need for cutting out certain characters, but when characters that are in the first book are not introduced in the first film it kind of puts a damper on them in the second film as their roles are larger in the second book.
    • Murtagh– my favorite character, has a large role when he’s introduced and while I enjoyed Garrett Hedlund’s portrayal of him, he was butchered. We should have been able to really like and connect with him. He’s like the opposite of Eragon in ways and he’s just cooler.
    • Brom– Jeremy Irons was a perfect choice and one of the better portions of the film but Irons could have really chewed up that role had it been in a better movie, or if it was a mini series or something on HBO or BBC.
  • The Action/Magic– I didn’t finish the series but there was a lot of action, wars, battles, and magic involved. I mean dragons and what not, but for some reason, the movie muted a lot of that down. Eragon had to learn how to wield a sword and it was packed in there, along with everything else that needed to be accomplished that it felt so stale. We should have been there with him learning it, a tv show would have allowed the viewers to feel his pain in learning, to watch him each episode grow in strength and knowledge. It would have been awesome. Plus, if given the GOT treatment, the battles could have been grand. There’s still time I guess.
  • The History- A lot of history for these characters, motivations, how things are built, etc a show would have allowed so much for that. It didn’t always need to be linear but flashbacks work better in shows. Gives for more time.
  • The Future- There are four books, which means there was still a lot of story to tell. I only got to book two as it was the only out at the time, so I will reread but there’s so much that needed to be set up. The first itself, could have filled two seasons. If done correctly, this series could have at least two season per book, so about 8 seasons. Unfortunate.
Possible Networks: HBO, Starz, BBC America
The Seventh Son (2015)
Failed as a movie: I’ve never read the books but there are 50 million books in this series. But the movie was boring. If you read my “Sequel Baiting” piece, I talk about this one in there. The characters could have been interesting but there was apparently too many of them to really be given enough story. While the cast had some great actors, the lead definitely needed to be recast. Nothing against Ben Barnes but meh. The action was boring, the special effects were subpar and I didn’t really care about the story.
Reasons to be a show: Another fantasy type show that could have benefitted from a GOT treatment. Could have been useful on HBO, Showtime whatever but it needed flesh. The movie was a boring skeleton. The characters needed more time, we were supposed to root for the lead but he was boring, perhaps it really was the lead actor, but still. Jeff Bridges was cool in his role and perhaps could have done better with a better script but that character definitely could have been better on tv. Julianne Moore had a great character, probably the most interesting but again needed a tv show treatment and then whatever was going on with Alicia Vikander’s character… plus they added in romance. It really needed a show.
Possible Networks: HBO, Starz, FX, The CW
The Divergent Series (2014-2016)
Failed as a movie: Well, like I said before, the first one was pretty solid but could have benefitted from a show. The second movie is really forgettable and adds a lot of stuff that wasn’t in the book. The third movie, continues down that deviating path which didn’t do it any favors. Unfortunately the characters weren’t very interesting, nor were they very distinguishable outside of Tris and Four, and Christina being that she was Zoe Kravitz. A lot of plot points were rushed, characters that are important in the series were cut out from the films, which prevents a chance for emotional weight later. Plus, it wasn’t handled well enough that they’re already going to do a tv movie for the last part, which didn’t need to have two parts anyway.
Reasons to be a show: Now, as this is a trilogy, each book could have had two seasons. The entire series could have been called “Divergent” and in season 1A could have dealt with Tris being in her own faction, for us to understand why she felt she was out of place, seeing her in her tests, interactions with her family, then depending on how they play it, seeing her choose her faction and going through learning how to be Dauntless, it could have a midseason finale with Al’s death or something.
  • Characters– So many characters that are pretty important in their roles. From Tris, to Tobias (which I was always kind of miffed they never stopped calling him ‘Four’ in the films, that was a big piece of character development for him) but everyone else? Meh. Just to point out a few.
    • Christina– She is Tris’ best friend and while we see them interact, it’s never really enough for us to really get invested in their friendship. Especially to even understand why Christina was so upset with Tris for lying to her about killing Will.
    • Peter– Outside of Miles Teller playing a douche very well, nothing else about Peter is really interesting which he is a pretty interesting and ruthless character. He stabs a guy in the eye with a plastic or butter knife because he was leading in the Dauntless trials. I mean come on. I get why that would have been risqué but that’s a big part and tv shows these days show a lot so put that in there!
      • By extension, they tried to add the eye stabbed kid in the sequel but he was just a henchman, when he reappears in season 2b, it would have held more weight because it’d be like “revenge!” due to what Peter did to him.
    • Will– blonde smartypants (in the movie, Peter, Will and Al all looked alike for some reason) and he’s really smart. Outside of a few moments here and there, we wouldn’t really know that in the film. With an entire season leading up to his death, we would have seen that, his friendship with Christina grow into a would be romance, and his friendship with Tris as to why it was so hard and emotional when she killed him.
    • The Story– definitely needed time to develop, it was rushed. Considering how there are a lot of plot holes in the films and a lot of stuff that needed to be explained, it would have benefitted from a show. The whole Divergent storyline, the side plots with Tobias and his family, Jeanine’s whole thing, the whole Evelyn storyline… yeah all of that was necessary.
    • The Drama– Needed time to be fleshed out more, Tobias’ attraction to Tris (let’s also not make her too short because I really hated her description in the books about being “childlike” it to creepy), the relationships, the friendships… the hatred of other characters, the emotional weight… yes. Tv show. It could be on ABC, Freeform would probably be best for this type of show though.
Possible Networks: Freeform, ABC, The CW
Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
Now, I don’t think this failed as a movie. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it so maybe if I watch it again now it’ll be different, but I think this should have been a show because being that it’s also a book series, it probably wanted to have a franchise which it didn’t succeed in doing.
Reasons to be a Show: Without going all into details on this one as it’s been a while but all of the characters could have used a bit of flesh. The three children were interesting on their own and together they were funny, I would say they played off each other well but considering how Freddie Highmore played twins lol, but get some young teenaged kids (maybe try to find twins), really spend some time building up the bad guy, only get a glimpse of him at the end of the first season. Also could have been helpful for us to really learn Arthur Spiderwick’s fascination with these other creatures etc… it’s hard to choose a network for this particular show as it’s more for older kids, but the scary elements could be make it work on Freeform or maybe The CW.
Possible Networks: ABC, AMC, Freeform, The CW.
Percy Jackson (2010-2013)
Why It Fails as a Movie: I haven’t read these either but as films, they were both boring and bland. I enjoyed them but they were just… mindless fun which I doubt the author had that in mind when he wrote the series. I’m not sure how old Percy is in the first book, but Logan Lerman seemed to be too old to play the role, especially as there are like five books. Alexandra Daddario definitely was too old for her character. I enjoyed Brandon T. Jackson though lol. Anyway, his reveal of being a demi god was too fast, the whole Camp thing was too fast… the movie was too fast.
Reasons to be a show: The idea behind the films are good and interesting. It also would have given viewers enough to really get into these characters and the lore. Greek lore is interesting but the movie never really allows the viewer to sink into it, for us to really connect these characters in their lives, their anger at their parents, the disconnection.
  • Characters– The characters were all interesting enough, but get younger actors so there is time for physical growth (or young enough looking actors that if the story jump 5 years in time, they don’t look 10 years older).
    • Percy Jackson– Allow us to know who Percy is before he finds out he’s a demi god, because that’s what makes characters like him interesting, they may be special but they hold on to their humanity and values.
    • Annabeth Chase– She’s the daughter of Athena, which is pretty cool and she seems to be one of the best in the camp. Then she decides to go with Percy and Grover on a “quest” and meh, definitely would have liked to gotten to know her more. Especially to see why Percy likes her other than her being pretty.
    • Grover Underwood– I liked him the most, he’s funny, but he’s our exposition for a lot of the film. Didn’t need to be but a lot of plots he has in the movie (both of them) would have been better fleshed out.
Possible Network: The CW, Freeform, AMC, FX
I Am Number Four (2011)
Why It Fails as a Movie: I enjoy this movie too, but again boring. The most interesting character is number 6 and she’s not in the movie very long. I remember thinking she was awesome in the trailer. It has some fun moments, but again same problem, too much is going on, too much is being set up in such a short amount of time, it’s really hard to care for anything or anyone. When Timothy Olyphant’s character dies, it’s sad but you probably don’t really care unless you’ve read the book. The action seemed really subdued and the romance was ugh oh so forced. I didn’t find Diana Agron to be a very good actress and she did not make her character interesting at all. The lead was also boring and bland. I like Alex Pettyfer for the most part but he did not bring any charisma to this character. The plot was convoluted and anytime they tried to explain it, it sounded dumb.
Reasons to be a Show: Not going to go into detail here either, but the characters and their developments would have gained a lot, we could actually believe John and Sarah’s romance outside of it being weird. We could understand the relationship between John and Henri better and why John was so rebellious towards him. Learn more about why these people were being hunted down. See more glimpses of number 6 so that when she shows up, it’s even more awesome. The fight scenes would also have a chance to really be good and not feel ridiculously stupid and rushed.
Possible Network: The CW, Freeform
Beautiful Creatures (2013)
High definition wallpaper
Why it fails as a movie: I watched this movie once and again it was another movie I enjoyed but I don’t think I got it. I also don’t remember much minus a few cool moments and Emmy Rossum being awesome. It was also really long and gave me a headache lol. However, TV show. I appreciate the slow build up to the romance, but a lot of dragged out that I was thinking “jeez, get it together!”, there’s a lot of backstory, a lot of history between characters and while some of the characters did get some flesh it was really slow. There was a LOT of build up but the payoff was weak. Plus, it’s very very forgettable. I have no idea who any of these characters are. I literally only remember one scene and it’s with Emmy Rossum.
Reasons to be a show: With a slow buildup, the show would have allowed for a better payoff because we’ve would have had to wait a week to get a new update. Got to experience the history in a longer run/arc etc. It’s pretty much the same as everything else… would have allowed for more time to understand everything and since there are like three books in this series and then like a spin off or something series, this show could be a long one.
Possible Networks: The CW (seems like the best network).
Inkheart (2008)
Why it failed as a movie: SO BORING! You would think this type of thing would be awesome which in some parts it was but overall it was a messy boring pile of a movie. It had potential, it had heart and it some good stuff in it but meh. I wanted to know more about where this particular power came from, bringing stories to life, that’s cool, but there’s a price, also interesting. The villain is interesting and Dustfinger (a fire twirler) was the most interesting in the story and he also has a backstory that we only get in flashbacks. So annoying.
Reasons to be a show: Now because I’ve only seen this movie once and haven’t read the books, which I do want to, I think this series would be best as a series. The books are pretty thick, I’m sure there is plenty of flesh in there to make a long running fantasy adventure series. Mo and Meggie were both kind of boring in the films, so I’m sure with episodes instead of an hour and a half movie, would allow for character development. Including their pain with the mom disappearing. We would also get a chance to learn over time more about Dustfinger as he’s so cool! I feel like there was so much about him that was ignored or cut out due to film time restraints. We’d also probably get to see more of what happened to Meggie’s mom from her end, an actual episode that would focus on it. The first book could probably fill two seasons.
Possible Networks: The CW, Freeform, ABC, HBO
The Host (2013)
Why It Failed as a Movie: SOOOOO boring! I remember enjoying the book enough, a lot more than Twilight but this movie was a missed opportunity. I like Soairse Ronan but I think she was too young for this role, all of main actors were personally. I pictured all of these characters older than what they were portrayed as in the film. This movie was so long and nothing was happening.
Reasons to be a show: Because the movie was so long with nothing going on, this would have been perfect for a series with perhaps a chance at two or three seasons. Or maybe a miniseries. As there is only one book, they would really have to be smart at how they played the episodes out in order to get enough out of one book. But season 1A could focus on Melanie, Jared and Jamie and how the earth was overtaken by the aliens, their family, how Melanie and Jared met instead of being flashbacks, show us how strong their romantic relationship was, how strong her relationship was with her brother and the fear of being caught by the aliens. Season 1B could have started with Melanie waking up realizing she is now inhabited by an alien named “Wanda”. Or the lead up to all of that could have been one season and bring the actual alien in habitation in the second season. It’s easy to see how this could all work out. It would have worked out better. Season 2 would be about Wanda being with the humans and falling in love with Ian. It would have been amazing! Definitely not as boring.
Possible Network: The CW, FX, AMC, Freeform
Mortal Instruments (2013)
Why it failed as a movie: Oh gosh, so boring, so boring. SO BORING! Lily Collins is also not a leading lady and Clary in the film was annoying. Jace was probably the most interesting out of everyone but he seemed to be like a broody prick, Alec and Isabelle could have been removed, everything dealing with Simon later on was just silly, Luke was interesting (plus I love Aidan Turner) but meh, and obviously there was a set up for a sequel considering what happened with Clary’s mom but ya know how that ended up.
Reasons to be a show: It’s already a show on Freeform lol. Which is good, I saw maybe five or six episodes and I enjoyed it for the most part. So that’s all.
Alex Rider Series (2006)
Why it failed as a movie: ARGH! It could have been amazing because I loved the series, I got up to Ark Angel before I fell off due to school and losing contact with getting my hands on the next ones. Anyway, I think I was so obsessed with this movie that I watched the trailer 50 million times. I thought Alex Pettyfer was perfect for Alex Rider’s casting, and everyone else was fine since I had no idea who any of those people were in that movie (haha) and I own the movie. Anyway, the movie moves way to fast, Stormbreaker the book isn’t a thick book, none of them really are, but his training sequence goes so fast it’s almost like it happens in one day. That part of his life could have at least been three or four episodes. In the film, his uncle dies so fast, I think we should have at least seen Alex be with his uncle in order to get why he was so affected by his death because in the movie, it happens in the first 15 minutes of the movie that it’s like “umm okay.” Jack was also interesting in the book and we get a nice bit of her in the movie but not only should she have been a redhead (I mean come Alicia Silverstone could have dyed her hair red) but we should have been able to see the three of them, as Alex considered them family. Not to mention his entire crush on Sabine… which I can’t remember if she was all that important in the first book as they made her in the movie. Also the villain, wow, Mickey Rourke is a great actor but SOOO wrong for the part. The whole mission was opened and closed so fast. Meh.
Reasons to be a show: First of all, so many books, so much time to really dig into these characters and these missions.
  • Characters– Alex, Jack, Mrs. Jones, all of these people would have been allowed their chances to be interesting. While I thought at the time Alex Pettyfer was perfect for the role, physically he was, but he was a bit too… broody. It’s hard to connect to a lead character who is robotic.
  • The Missions/Story– Since this is a series, this allows for many seasons, especially if each episode is not the typical “mission of the day” but maybe a mission lasts half a season or something, with a few other things sprinkled in there. The Stormbreaker mission could have filled up the second half of the first season. But the movie was an 1hr and 33 minutes long which with Alex finding out his uncle is dead, being recruited by MI6, going through special agent training, learning about the case, going undercover and everything after it… to fit all of that in this short movie… meh.
Possible Networks: Freeform, BBC America, ABC.
So those are the movies, so far, I think should have been television shows. The movies didn’t do well, no matter if I enjoyed them, they weren’t very good. As television shows they might have had chances to being successful. It’s because of this that I think a lot of YA adapted films fail. Those involved don’t understand how to handle the story as a film so why not just make it a show? Most of these might have had a longer running time if given that chance. Mortal Instruments already has gotten that treatment, which is good because the story was interesting but the movie was so bad that my interest in reading the series was shot. Still is to be honest. But some YA novels don’t need to movies, some honestly don’t need to be adapted at all but if they are going to be, then consider television.
If you want to adapt a YA novel/series into something, call me and I’ll help make it a TV show!
What YA novels do you think could be a successful TV show? What YA adapted novel into film do you think could have been better as a show that I missed? Please let me know in the comments below!

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