Summary: Imprisoned by an adult world that now fears everyone under 18, a group of teens form a resistance group to fight back and reclaim control of their future.
Pretty Good Acting. I like Amandla Stenberg. I don’t think there has ever been a movie that I didn’t like her in. The movie might not have been great, but I usually always enjoy her. I think she had an interesting character in this movie in that Ruby has some baggage and trauma that she deals with, not to mention being afraid of her abilities. It’s something we’ve seen before but it’s still interesting because we don’t know the extent her powers and nor does she. Amandla manages to show all of that. I do acknowledge that she makes some funny faces but that’s just her face lol and it doesn’t bother me, nor do I count it against her. Harris Dickinson as Liam was also pretty good, he’s a leader in their runaway group and it’s clear he really cares about those in his group. He’s very passionate and it shows. I also enjoyed Skylan Brooks as Chubs, and while she didn’t have any dialogue Miya Cech as Zu was also cute.
Character Skeletons. I didn’t want to go through each character and actor like I normally do because I don’t think the characters are that interesting overall, but we got some interesting character skeletons. Even with Ruby being the main character, she wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to care about her, BUT I thought there was enough setup for interesting characters. I liked that each one of our runaways had a different ability and that they viewed themselves like a family. The villain was also interesting, but he was so random that it didn’t work overall.
The Story. I haven’t read the book, so I am not going to be comparing this at all. I did read the first two or three chapters and it was interesting. The idea is that 98% of the children die in the US leaving the survivors with abilities. The government wants to cure them, so they put them into these camps. Their abilities are rated on a color scale from harmless to lethal.
Green- High Intelligence
Red- Unknown (I mean I know but it’s kind of cool to find out)
Orange- Mind Control etc.
That’s all cool and stuff and I would like to know just how they planned on curing these kids or if they would rather use them as weapons. Plus, there are three books so I’m sure they planned on making two more movies, which I would have been interested in watching but ya know it did terribly, so I doubt it. Anyways, the fact that Ruby managed to survive in the camps pretending to be a green was interesting and I would have liked to know just how she managed to survive for so long. Not to mention, when she met up with Liam, Chubs and Zu, they escaped from the camp they were in and were on the run, but what next at the end ya know? I thought there was the makings of a cool and immersive story.
Dull and Boring. Ya’ll this movie is so dull. Nothing happens. I mean, stuff happens but nothing happens, and it was very anticlimactic. I really wanted the end to be more interesting than it was because you have all these kids with powers in one place and none of them thought to use their powers to help?? I mean, listen, if I had telekinesis (which is the power I always choose) then I would be fighting. Besides, I can’t imagine anyone not catching on to that “twist” at the end. Also the little dust thing where Ruby is like disappearing or whatever you always see… so disappointed in that lol. I get it but BOO. Disappointed.
Use of Abilities. A big missed opportunity was how the powers were used. I think it makes sense that Ruby’s powers were a bit of mystery because she didn’t really know how to use them herself so that’s fine. However, the others should have had some better use of their powers. For one, I feel like the Greens having high intelligence is just so passive in the world where the others aren’t. I felt like they should be able to control or connect with technology, be technopaths or something like that. We see Zu use her powers maybe three times and each time she had to touch wires or something, which is cool to give it limitations but is that it? Is that why she always had to wear the rubber gloves? As for the telekinesis which can also be called “Psychokinesis” is a powerful power which is why I was so shocked it was considered “less dangerous” considering how they can not only move things with their mind, they can move people, create force fields, I guess depending on the limitations of that power. Missed opportunity because Liam was already considered a powerful “blue”, but that power is powerful in general. I just wish we got to see more of the powers used overall in more than just the usual ways.
Unfocused. It was allllll over the place. Sure, it had a through line, the kids had somewhere they wanted to go and Ruby ultimately wanted to go home but being that it’s a dystopian ya film, it kind of has the same tropes that all the others have (The Hunger Games, Divergent, The 5th Wave), and they wanted us to be interested in so much that they didn’t flesh out the stuff that really mattered. Why didn’t we get the chance to really know just how close Liam, Chubs and Zu were? They told us they were, they said it, but other than the fact that they seemed stuck with each other, we didn’t really get to know them as a unit. Then there’s the stuff with Mandy Moore’s character and that was just here and there. THEN the stuff with Gwendolyn Christie who seemed like an interesting character but that was just brushed aside. It was all over the place ya’ll.
Romance Aspect. Listen, I don’t have a problem with romance in movies, but sometimes it’s hard to accept that people are falling in love while the world is ending, or their lives are in danger. I can’t say it’s unrealistic because ya know teenagers, but it’s so ridiculous sometimes. There’s a part where Zu insists Ruby put on this red dress, and she does, and she walks around in this fancy red dress… why? So random. She and Liam also clearly are going to be interested in each other, sure, but how long were they together? They don’t really know each other and they’re just like making decisions about each other and I’m like ‘but Ya’ll don’t know each other’ not to mention, something happens with another person at the end, and while I get it to an extent, YOU ALSO DON’T KNOW THIS GIRL!
So Many Questions. I was interested, and I think I’ll read the books now because I feel like the movie didn’t do the justice it probably deserved. We’ll see. But I had a lot of questions. For example, where did the disease come from? Why is it only kids that are affected? What happens to the survivors with the abilities once they are no longer kids? Will they maintain these powers or lose them? If that’s the case, why not allow them to live their lives (maybe keep a close eye on those Reds and Oranges) until they’re 18 or whatever? How did Ruby managed to stay hidden for so long? Did she just mind control people who got suspicious of her? Why didn’t the government conduct the “white noise” procedure often? They seemed to only do it a few times but if it was me, I would do it at the end of the year or every six months or so just in case someone slipped through defenses. Is the eletrokinesis only if they touched things that held a current, or could it be from the body directly? What about the telekinesis… since that’s kinetic energy, they should be able to do a lot more than what was continuously showcased. What about the Greens? They only have high intelligence? Why not use them instead of making them do stupid grunt work? ALSO, what happened to Lady Jane??? lol so many questions and the movie wasn’t doing a good job at answering any of them.
Overall, The Darkest Minds was a mess and I feel bad for it to be honest. I feel like there was some good stuff there but being in a movie format didn’t help the movie at all. Adding this one to the YA books that should have been a TV show. The acting overall is good, I don’t think anyone was bad and Amandla I think is always likable no matter what she does. The characters had an interesting base and I think the story is good but needed some flesh and extra life but unfortunately it was dull and boring. It was unfocused, focused way too much on the romance aspect when it should have focused more on the Runaways family aspect, their powers and Ruby’s internal struggles. There was also a ton of missed opportunities with their powers. Lastly, so many questions that weren’t the good kind. Listen, if it comes on TV check it out, but otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it.
SIDE NOTE: That little girl they chose to play a young Ruby, not only looked NOTHING like Amandla, she was a completely different complexion. Sure, kids grow up and get a little darker or a little lighter, but I think that was a missed opportunity to cast a dark-skinned actress as Ruby. That was annoying.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen The Darkest Minds? If so, what were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear from those who have seen the movie and perhaps also read the book! No spoilers though!
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Summary: When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.
The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.
Colorful Characters. We meet a lot of characters in this story. They all stand out on their own I think, with their own usefulness, nicknames and what they mean in Marvin’s, and by extension, Tyler’s life.
Marvin Johnson. He is our narrator and he’s just a regular teenager in Alabama. He’s considered an “oatmeal creme pie” because he’s black but “acts white”, whatever that means lol, along with his two best friends. He’s smart, but unlike his brother, he’s the less popular one and maybe more awkward. Marvin wants to go to MIT, he knows that life is challenging due to the color of his skin and he tries to make sure he’s never in the position where his life is threatened, sometimes it just happens. When they have an encounter with an officer in the beginning, he watches his twin become increasingly distant and he worries. He often thinks he should do or say more than what he does, so when Tyler dies, he feels a tremendous guilt that he should have done something to help Tyler. As the book continues, we learn more about his anger, his extreme pain as he feels like his life has been taken away from him because his brother was taken away from him. Marvin is likable, and you really feel for him, but you also root for him to find peace. The fact that the book is told in his point of view, really allows for an up-close and personal look.
Tyler Johnson. Yes, he does die, but in the beginning of the book, we get to meet him and love him, and feel conflicted the same way Marvin does. Tyler and Marvin are close, but after an encounter with an officer in the beginning, Tyler becomes distant and we learn that he gets involved with a group of kids who he really shouldn’t. He says that it’s because he wants to help their mother out more around the house, but I think, that he was doing it because he wanted to feel safe or feel that he could protect himself if the time came down to it with another encounter. We don’t really know for sure, but I feel like, from what we’re told about him, that I really do like this kid and I wished he could have lived to live out his life.
Mama Johnson. You really feel for their mother. I believe they live in Alabama so she’s constantly worried that something will happen to her two black sons. When Tyler first “goes missing” she believes Marvin’s lie that he was at a friend’s house, and she’s hopeful, especially with the nonsense that happened at the party that everyone heard about. She breaks when Tyler’s body is discovered, and you really hope that she doesn’t remain broken throughout because Marvin needs her as much as she needs him. It’s sad watching her through Marvin’s eyes and how he feels like he can’t do anything for her, but she remains a strong presence for him, especially at the end.
Ivy & G-Mo. I put them together, but they are Marvin’s best friends and they complete the “Oatmeal Creme Pie Group”. They are ride or die friends, no matter how much Marvin might push them away in the story, they understand which I liked. They didn’t turn on him in his time of need which showed the strength of their friendship. Anytime Marvin called them and needed them, they answered and came. It was really sweet. Plus, whenever all three of them together, know there might be some corniness going on.
Faith. She starts out at this mysterious girl Marvin sees at the party. I at first thought, she was just going to serve a purpose and never show up again, but she becomes a large part of Marvin’s life. She starts out affiliated with Johntae (the gang member Tyler started hanging around) and Marvin goes to her for help, she at first refuses, but his persistency causes her to get more involved. She becomes another lifeline for Marvin and she’s really sweet to him. I wouldn’t have minded if she wasn’t in the story, but I saw the purpose she served, she was someone who entered his life because of the tragedy and remained.
The Story. The idea of a teenaged black boy being killed by a police officer is unfortunately nothing new, especially now. This book is very relevant considering its nature and I think that’s what makes it so powerful and emotional. It’s told from Marvin’s point of view, and we get to see him experience atrocities such as having guns pointed at him, dealing with his wrongfully incarcerated father, his brother who he feels pulling away from, not to mention his brother missing for a large chunk of the book, and worrying about where his life will head next. I think all of this is something that most people, especially young black people will experience and relate to. The principal in the school was absolutely ridiculous and I think people experience that in real life. I just think the story, at its core will hit very close to home.
Powerful Message. The book talks a lot about grief, loss, police brutality, blackness, among other things. I don’t think it rushes past anything, I think the grief is handled as realistically as possible. Marvin is in pain from losing his brother, but he feels a strong guilt as well that he should have done something. Justice, hatred and racism is a large part of the story as well, and Marvin gets to experience it first-hand. Just be prepared to go through a lot during this book, but it’s not preachy. It doesn’t feel heavy handed.
Realistic/Emotional. I teared up in quite a few places while reading. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record in the nature of the book, but I think it’s imperative to know that this isn’t an easy book to read. I mean, what it’s talking about should be something that’s acknowledged and talked about in society period, and Marvin often shares his feelings, I mean it’s in his point of view, but he doesn’t shy away from his anger, confusion or frustration. Reading about him watching his mother fall apart, or reading Marvin trying to make sense of his feelings, or his reaction when he finally sees the video of Tyler’s final moments. It’s pretty heartbreaking.
The Ending. So, I’m going to kind of mention this later, but the actual ending of the book was beautiful. I know what it’s like to have to spread ashes of a family member, it’s kind of weird experience, so I can relate to Marvin in that way. However, while there are still a few things that need to be tidied up, we get a sense of “moving on” for everyone, even Tyler.
The Cover. I mean just look at it. It’s beautiful. I love the flowers and the softness of the black boy. I just like that it’s not aggressive or sensual or any of the typical covers with black teens on the cover. I like that a lot of these young adult covers with black characters are going this route. It shows that our young people can be soft too.
Starts off Slow. Because you pretty much know that Tyler dies at some point thanks to the description, you’re waiting for that moment while reading the book. It’s like you’re tense for most of the story, which is a good thing in ways, but it’s also a bad thing, because it takes a while to really gain some traction. I didn’t really get sucked into the story until a bit later, the first few chapters were for setting up, but it did really slowly.
Drawn Out. There are a lot of moments in the book, mostly towards the end, where it felt like it should have concluded many times. There was a part where it was damn near a perfect ending and I don’t think I would have been upset with that being the ending. The actual ending is great, don’t get me wrong, but I got the sense that Jay Coles tried to wrap everything up as best he could, but he could have done it many times.
Overall, I liked Tyler Johnson Was Here, the cover is beautiful, and I wanted to read it from the moment I saw it. I love the cover with the flowers and the soft, handsome black boy on the cover. I like all of the main characters, we definitely get some hated characters like the principal, and Johntae, and of course the police officer, but mostly all of the characters are likable. Especially Marvin and his friends. Marvin is our narrator and he tells the story with an emotional connection that keeps you invested once the story really picks up. It’s a realistic and emotional story that hits close to home with the tragedy of a black boy being murdered by a police officer, not to mention the many encounters of police brutality. I think the dialogue is pretty witty and sounds like black southern teenagers haha, I never felt like they were just characters in a book because some teens talk like that in real life. My only negatives are that the book takes a while to pick up, it starts off with a bang but then it slows down for a while. It kind of does that throughout as it feels like it’s being drawn out, there were many moments where the book should have ended, but it kept going. Don’t get me wrong, the ending was great but there were a lot of moments where it could have ended well. WITH THAT SAID, this is a great read and a great experience. Check it Out.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
What I’m Reading Next:
Scott Pilgrim– Bryan Lee O’Malley (but I’m not going to review these)
The Last Black Unicorn– Tiffany Haddish (might review this, dunno)
Summary: February 12 is just another day in Sam’s charmed life, until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over and over, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she’s losing.
Pros: Cast and Characters. We meet a lot of people in this movie, but I won’t go into detail about all of them.
Zoey Deutch as Samantha Kingston. She’s the main character of the film, she wakes up on Cupid’s Day (Feb. 12) and goes about her day with her three best friends. I guess they’re popular, but they’re kind of mean to people, particularly Anna and Juliet. Sam is expecting to lose her virginity to her boyfriend that night, they go to a party and then they get into a car accident. She wakes up the next day, not understanding what’s happening and she tries to do things differently, she tries to avoid the crash because she thinks it’ll stop. But she gets some sad news and it starts over anyway. Samantha didn’t seem to fit in with her friend group, but as the movie went along, we got to see just how different they were but they fit together (they should stop being mean though) and Sam didn’t seem to fit either. I don’t know if that’s because of Zoey or not, but she’s affected very much by what’s happening and she tries to deal with it the best way she can. It was great to see her growth throughout the film. I think Zoey Deutch is definitely the standout in this film, we spend the most time with her obviously, but I think she holds the film very well. She’s likable and even when Sam is being mean, she’s still likable because it just doesn’t fit her. I think the times when she’s emotional, you really feel it from her.
Erica Tremblay as Izzy Kingston. She’s not in the movie like that, but she’s great with Zoey whenever they have scenes together and she looks just like her brother Jacob Tremblay.
Halston Sage as Lindsay Edgecombe. She is one of Sam’s best friends, probably the “leader” and she’s the meanest of the group. With her friends, she’s not bad, she’s not like Regina George where she’s mean and fake the entire time but she’s mean to the people she’s mean to. Lindsay is that girl who will turn on you when you tell her about herself, or who will claim you did something to cover for what she did. Halston Sage is fine in her role, she manages to be both mean and sympathetic.
Elena Kampouris as Juliet Sykes. One of the main victims of the bullying and she’s a bit odd, and her role is minor though important and I think Elena does a good job at playing this role of a withdrawn character.
Logan Miller as Kent McFuller. An old friend to Sam, he throws the party that they go to and as the movie goes on, we learn more and more about him and his past with Sam. He’s very likable.
The Story. So I’m a sucker for time loop stories, I think it’s interesting to see how people handle having to repeat the same day over and over again, getting to make different choices and try to find out why it’s happening and how to beat it. It’s very interesting to me and I like how this one just happened. There wasn’t really any set up to it, it was a mystery that had to be figured out as well. Each day happened and Samantha learned a bit more every day and it was great to watch her experience different things. Of course it was bad that things were emotional for her but it was great to see how she reacted to each new day.
The Music. Adam Taylor is in charge of the music and I liked it. It was a mixture of being whimsical during some of the quiet moments, especially when Sam was allowing herself to enjoy life and the moment. Most notably the moments with her sister, or the moments at the end. I also liked that the contemporary songs weren’t just in the film, but they were what the characters were listening to which helped it sound less jarring when a random pop song or rap song popped in. There is a song though that sounded like a less impressive version of “Irreplaceable”.
The Ending. So, I don’t know if it was because I was emotional watching the last 30 minutes of the movie, but I teared up. It’s common knowledge now, if you’ve been following this blog, that I’m a crier at movies in general lol, but still! I think the ending had a lot to say in terms of understanding purpose, how to treat people, living your life to best of your ability etc. It was pretty interesting how it turned out.
Cliche/Cheesy. This is a type of story that’s been done many times. It’s Groundhog Day, Source Code, Edge of Tomorrow, and any movie that has to deal with living the same day over and over again. This doesn’t really bring anything new to that genre as it still follows that same formula. Plus, it’s based on a young adult book so it has to be attached to those tropes that are found in those books. The bullying troubles, mean girls, the weird girl, stuff like that and while this movie tries to add a bit more to it, it just can’t feel original.
The Story/Message. So this is here in the cons as well, because while I like the story (I generally enjoy time loop stories), I think that it’s a bit unfortunate with how it ended. Why did it have to end that way? Why did Samantha have to be the one to make the hard choices? Perhaps the book goes into more detail about it but the movie doesn’t really help out with that and it makes the ending feel unsatisfying. It wants to be deep and stuff but since there are so many unanswered questions, it just feels cheap.
Overall, I enjoyed Before I Fall very much so. It’s a movie based on a YA book and though it’s easy to tell that, I don’t think it super dramatic like those can be sometimes. I thought the acting was good across the board but Zoey Deutch really stands out in this film, she truly manages to hold her own and her character is compelling. I think the story is interesting, I really like Time Loop stories and the ending had a lot to say in terms of character, people and life. The music is also very nice. Unfortunately this movie is a bit cliché and cheesy, while it is based on a YA book and one of the better adaptations, it still falls into that category that feels like a YA book. While I did like the story, I do think it tries too hard to hammer home certain messages that’s cheapened by the ending. There are a lot of unanswered questions that make the ending feel unsatisfying. But it’s a good movie.
Rating: 3.35 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Before I Fall? Have you read the book? What did you think about it? Is the movie a good adaptation?
What is your favorite or the best Time Loop movie? Let me know in the comments below!
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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
The Characters. The way this book is written, we get to meet and learn about a lot of characters, including the supporting ones. But I’m not going to really get into all of that here, just a few, mostly the two lead characters.
Natasha Kingsley. She is Jamaican-American, and her family is being deported for being illegal immigrants. She is trying to figure out how to stop that from happening. She ends up meeting Daniel by chance. Natasha comes off as cynical, she really loves science and believes everything should be able to be explained by science. She is a bit brash, likes honesty and says what she wants when she thinks it. She has a determined personality and doesn’t believe in fate.
I quite liked Natasha. I thought she was a very realistic teenager in how she thinks, how she reacts to things considering how she’s grown up. I loved the fact that she was black with a large afro and that she carried herself confidently and that she was extremely smart and interested in science. There were times when I wish she wasn’t so… cynical about life and hope etc but I thought that was kind of realistic for what was happening and how her life had been.
Daniel Jae Ho Bae. He was my favorite. Korean-American, he and his older brother were born in America but his parents are immigrants from South Korea and his father especially is steeped in doing what’s best, not doing what they want. He wants to be a poet but his parents want him to go to Yale, become a doctor, marry a Korean girl and all of that. While he wants to do his own thing, he doesn’t know what that is. He happens to meet Natasha by seeing her dancing across the street in New York City and a series of events allows him to actually meet her.
I like Daniel a lot, like I said he was my favorite. I like guys who are romantic without being “too much”. I like the fact that it was him who fell first and that he was intelligent enough to talk to her, to let her know he wanted to know what she knew. He was quite the charmer and he seemed like if he was real, he would be really interesting to talk to, I’d think I’d like him. Plus, the Noraebang (karaoke) scene was the best.
The relationships. A big part of this novel is how Daniel and Natasha interact with other people, as well as each other. Due to the way the novel is written, we are able to see a bit more into some of these character’s backstories, which helps humanize them in a way they might not be through what is thought and said by Daniel and Natasha. It’s great.
Daniel and Charlie. Charlie is Daniel’s older brother and he’s a major douche nozzle. We learn from Daniel the moment when they started to drift apart and they basically have an antagonistic relationship moving forward. Charlie seems to hate Daniel but I don’t think Daniel necessarily hates Charlie, it’s just that he doesn’t get why his brother seems to dislike him so much and Daniel had to learn how to stand up to him.
Daniel and his parents. Definitely an interesting dynamic. His mother is like a mother, a bit nagging but loving. The tone of Daniel’s day really starts because his mother tells him something about his brother than Charlie overhears, but we really don’t spend that much time with her. When we meet his father, it’s at their shop and his father discovers that Daniel is with a black girl and he basically tells him “no” and that he needs to stick to the plan. It’s quite interesting.
Natasha and her father. We do meet her mom and brother but it’s really the relationship with her father that is most prominent and interesting. She is upset with him, it’s his fault they’re being deported, she hates him because of something she overheard him say to his wife and she hasn’t said a word to him about it. But we learn a lot about him through her eyes, as well as from his backstory tidbits we learn throughout the novel
Natasha and Daniel. Obviously, being the main center of the story… they just work.
The Style of Writing. The way the novel is written is very different. The story is told in present tense in Daniel and Natasha’s point of view, it switches back and forth between the two. Sometimes it’s a few pages of a chapter and other times, it’s just a page or two. It also includes backstories of other characters they have come into contact with as well as minor histories of things such as: the Black Hair Care business, fate etc. I quite liked it. It makes for easy read and it helps to understand side characters because even if they are minor, they all have reasons to be involved with the story.
The Story/Romance. It’s a romance, but it’s a tentative one. The characters have to progress into it. Natasha is so cynical that she doesn’t believe in love the way that Daniel does, who is a romantic. They really do spend the day getting to know each other, learning about each other’s strengths and weaknesses and it was natural, the way young adults would. I thought Nicola Yoon handled their personal problems well, their inner voices, their struggles and all of that built into what they grow into.
Starts off slow. It did take me a moment to get into this book. I normally don’t like reading books told from different points of views. Sometimes it’s not done well and it’s annoying. That didn’t bother me here, it was just that it took a moment to get started. Once the day actually begins with Daniel and Natasha being away from home… it starts to pick up.
Not for everyone. This is the kind of book I would think is not for everyone. I mean, no book is, but definitely noticeable here. I think if the characters and the writing didn’t sweep me up, I might have disliked it. If you’re not into romance, don’t read it. If you don’t like it when characters doubt where things could go… then don’t read it. Personally, I do think this book could change your perspective on that but just saying.
Overall, I loved this book. I don’t think I’ve loved a book like this in a long time. One that featured non-white leads, written by a black woman and that didn’t have some fantasy element to it. I like adventure/fantasy type books and I loved this book and it had none of that. I loved the characters, I loved the way they interacted with each other. Normally, I’m wary of young adult books because the dialogue could sound older than what it is but I didn’t think that here, and the times where I might have, it wasn’t jarring. I loved their romantic progression, it wasn’t forced. The ending tore me up inside and was filled with hope. I cried. If a book can make me cry and no one died… well done.
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.
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)
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).
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!