YA Book-To-Film Adaptations: 2013-2014 Edition

It’s no secret that we like a good Young Adult novel. Whatever –  we’re functioning, erudite adults who like books written for the 12-17 year old age bracket. It looks like we’re not the only ones, because there are a whole bunch of YA books being made into movies this year.

Here are a few of the films we’re most excited about. We’re including the release date – so you know how long you have to read the book. We’re also letting you know whether you should make an effort to read the book first, or if you if  can just skip it or pencil it in at your leisure. Our final category is the  Predicted Potter effect. See, most Harry Potter fans agree that the books by JK Rowling are the One True Harry Potter Series – but I love the movies, too. The filmmakers included just enough of the plot and captured the visuals of the books so well that the movies – by themselves, not in comparison to the book – are excellent. So, the Predicted Potter Effect is, on a 1-10 scale, how well the movie will work as a stand-alone piece.

Catching Fire

Release Date: November 22, 2013

Should I read the book first? Maybe. If you saw the first Hunger Games movie but didn’t read the book, then I wouldn’t skip the first book and jump into the second. Just go to the movie and catch up on the books later. If you have already read the first book and somehow didn’t finish the whole series within the course of a week, then you’ll probably want to read the second before seeing the movie.

Predicted Potter Effect: 8. I know people who saw the first movie without reading the book and they still enjoyed it, so I suppose this can hold up by itself. But, I also heard stupid confused comments in the movie theater from people who clearly hadn’t read the book — so, I think some of the narrative is a little clearer if you’ve read the book.

The Book Thief

Release Date: November 22, 2013

Should I read the book first? Probably – although, maybe this is one where the movie is better if you aren’t comparing it to the book, meaning that you could save the book for later. Either way, it’s worth reading.  I’m not sure how the narrative device will work in film — the book is narrated by death. The story follows Liesel, a foster child living in the outskirts of Munich during World War II. This is one of those books that’s for whatever reason labelled as Young Adult, but I can think of plenty of novels that are categorized as regular adult fiction with a young protagonist and straightforward narration. It’s a respectable grown-up read, too.

Predicted Potter Effect: 7. From what I’ve seen of the trailers, I expect the tone of the book to come across, although I am interested in seeing how the narration will work. The plot is so full that it will make a great stand-alone movie, but it will probably suffer a little in comparison to the book. This may just be me, but I find that books that have a large scope – lasting several years – feel a lot more compressed on film.


Release Date: April 21, 2014

Should I read the book first? Probably – meaning, I probably should read it too. It’s been on my to-read-list but I’ve sort of had Teen Dystopian Universe fatigue.

Predicted Potter Effect: 7. Judging by the synopsis, a lot of the story rests on Tris’s inner life — her knowledge that she’s Divergent and decision about which faction to join. Obviously, that’s not so easy to convey on film. But, this sounds like a solid sci-fi/action film, so if you’re into those genres you might be okay without so much emphasis on the character’s feelings. Also, Shailene Woodley is such a solid actress that I think she’ll be able to show-not-tell the character’s conflict (I didn’t like The Descendants (sorry!), but she was great in it). Also also, Kate Winslet.

The Fault In Our Stars

Release Date: June 6, 2014

Should I read the book first? You should read the book – but whether you read it before or after the movie is probably immaterial. That is, I don’t think there will be any plot difficulties that you’ll have trouble understanding if you haven’t read the book. Still, my advice is to read it first because (1) it’s good, and (2) you have time. Author John Green has been involved in the film-making process, and has said that everyone from the actors to the set designers has done an awesome job in bringing his book to life in the way he imagined it. It will be fun to pick up on the little details from the book on-screen.

Predicted Potter Effect: 9. I have high hopes for this movie. In many ways, it’s easier to translate a book like this to the screen because it’s set in our everyday world. There’s a lot of variation in how you can envision Panem or Divergent-ville (I’m going to read it! I promise!), but I think we all have a handle on Indianapolis. So, there’s less of a chance that you’ll have to have read this book to fill in the holes of the plot and setting, making it easier to create a stand-alone film experience.

The Giver

Release Date: August 15, 2014

Should I read the book first? I’m assuming that most of our readers were already in fourth grade once, so I’m going to go ahead and guess that you already have.

Predicted Potter Effect: 5. I just don’t know how much I’ll be able to let myself slip into a different world while watching Taylor Swift and Katie Holmes. Also, apparently the guy playing Jonas is 24 – so, twice the age of Jonas in the book. All this makes me think it’s okay if you go into it already having loved the book, but might feel a little … weird as a movie. I don’t know. I just feel like most of the plot depends on Jonas and the other kids being put into their roles as soon as they’re hitting the teen years. If you are watching this because you loved the book you will like it, but if you don’t already have positive associations with the story you may feel a little skeeved out.


2 thoughts on “YA Book-To-Film Adaptations: 2013-2014 Edition

  1. Pingback: Saturday Spotlight: What’s My Age Again? | cookies + sangria

  2. Pingback: ICYMI: Shailene Woodley Creatures | cookies + sangria

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