THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES (Image Credit: 2013 Constantin Film International GmbH and Unique Features (TMI) Inc.)

The Best (and the worst) of Young Adult Book-to-Movie Adaptations

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES (Image Credit: 2013 Constantin Film International GmbH and Unique Features (TMI) Inc.)

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES (Image Credit: 2013 Constantin Film International GmbH and Unique Features (TMI) Inc.)

One of the best parts about first reading a book is being able to create the world inside of your head. The author guides you, but it’s up to your mind to fill in the blanks. You get to imagine everything for the first time, from what the characters look like to the ambiguous items and places they encounter. These days, however, our imagination isn’t the only one bringing a story to life. Young adult book-to-movie adaptations are growing in popularity, causing production companies to turn our favorite fictional characters and their stories into something we can actually see. There are so many mixed emotions that come from these adaptations; from the moment the book is optioned, to when the credits roll at the end of the film. Some adaptations leave us walking away beyond satisfied, happy to have seen something we hold so dear being brought to life exactly as we’d hoped. But that’s not always the case. Here are some of the best, and some of the worst book-to-movie adaptations:

The Best

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

The adaptation of the highly praised novel by C.S. Lewis was received with equally positive feedback. The cinematography, the brilliant talent choices and the creation of Narnia followed the books in all the right places, taking only necessary liberties in recreating the novel.

YA10 YA11

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

There’s really only one thing I need to say about this book-to-movie adaptation: Stephen Chbosky is brilliant. He wrote the novel and directed the film, which is probably a major factor in the success of the movie. He had his hand in every part of this film’s creation, keeping it in tune with the novel he wrote and with what his fans connected with.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Should it come as a surprise that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was the highest grossing young adult book-to-movie adaptation in the history of adaptations? Probably not. Jennifer Lawrence (did I mention she’s an Oscar winner?) brings Katniss Everdeen to life in a performance that even outshined her performance in the first Hunger Games. It’s two and a half hours of absolute genius.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Or, should I say all of the Harry Potter movie adaptations? Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire just happens to be my favorite of the eight. What can I even say? The creation of Hogwarts, the perfect casting, the special effects: everything about this series absolutely blew me away. Watching the movies didn’t have me reminiscing on things in the book, but rather sitting in amazement at the beauty of such a perfect adaptation.


The Worst


There are many reasons why this particular adaptation ranks in as one of the worst book-to-movie adaptations (which is ironic, as it spearheaded a worldwide phenomena). Most of it, in my opinion, weighs on the decisions of director Catherine Hardwicke. The colorization, giving the entire film an odd shade of green, the lack of characterization and the questionable acting skills of the leading lady Kristen Stewart made the first movie in the Twilight franchise a disappointment. No worries, though, because it continued to improve with each of the adaptations.


Ender’s Game

Great book. Okay film. There aren’t many red flags about this adaptation other than the unfortunate factor of acting. If you’ve read or watched Ender’s Game, you understand why there probably wasn’t much that could be done about this falter. Why? Because all of the characters are just children. Therefore, all of the actors needed to be just children. I applaud them, but their performance made it difficult to enjoy the film.


Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

I am one of the kids who grew up reading Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Like, I literally was obsessed with them. I would read them in almost one sitting. So, naturally, when I heard of the movie adaptation, I was really excited to see one of my favorite stories brought to life on the big screen. I think where this adaptation went wrong was their attempt to squeeze three books into one movie. It made it all feel so rushed, not giving the viewer (and, most likely, previous readers) the satisfaction they need. Perhaps if they’d only put two of the books into one film, pouring more material from the books into the film, it would have been more successful.


The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

It’s not breaking news: this book-to-movie adaptation seriously flopped at the box office. It’s hard to say what exactly sunk the ship of this adaptation. It seemed as though they were trying to make the scripted story a bit lighter than it was originally written. The dark overture of the story is what called to readers (at least, to me), while the movie seemed too much a love square. The casting wasn’t exactly on point, either. When it comes down to it, the impact of an actress/actor and their chemistry with the rest of the cast is all that really matters. The on-screen relationship between Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower didn’t feel like Clary and Jace. There, I said it.


Writers will never stop writing, young adults will never stop reading and movie adaptations will never cease to exist. So this list will do nothing but continue to grow as some of my favorite books debut on the big screen! What does your list look like? Let us know in the comments below!

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