25 young adult novels heading to the movies

The Lists Sarah Dobbs
10/16/2015 at 11:32AM

Wondering what you’ll watch when The Hunger Games franchise is over? We’ve got some ideas…

As well as sequels, remakes, and comic book adaptations, there’s one kind of movie you can feel fairly sure is going to keep popping up at a cinema near you: young adult adaptations. Stories about teenagers are still doing big business in the book trade, and thanks to Harry PotterTwilight, and The Hunger Games, Hollywood is convinced of the genre’s appeal, too.

A couple of new franchises have already been kicked off – there’s still at least another Divergent sequel on the way, and another Maze Runner sequel – but what’s more interesting is the list of YA novels that have been optioned and may soon be taking over the box office. Now, not all of the adaptations on this list will see the light of day, but it’s a pretty safe bet that at least some of them will make it…

1. Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

The book: In a world where only young people can see and defeat ghosts, demons, and other assorted spooks, a team of teen exorcists heads to a legendarily haunted house to try to solve the mystery of the Screaming Staircase.

The adaptation: The rights to adapt the book were snapped up even before the novel was released, back in 2012. Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures were working on it, but no more news seems to have been forthcoming since that initial announcement.

For fans of: Harry Potter, maybe? It’s vaguely reminiscent of the first few books.

Franchise potential: Two novels about the adventures of Anthony Lockwood and his team have been published, so there’s definite potential.

2. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

The book: No supernatural shenanigans here. Dumplin’ is the story of Willowdean Dickson, a fat girl nicknamed, well, Dumplin’, who decides to enter a beauty pageant.

The adaptation: The book only came out in September, but Disney has already pounced and acquired the film rights. Prometheus producer Michael Costigan is said to be in talks to produce the film, but that’s all we know so far.

For fans of: Tough one, this. It’s a comedy drama about self-acceptance with some inevitable romance along the way... Seems like it’s likely to be aimed at girls, but beyond that, who knows?

Franchise potential: At the moment the book hasn’t even been released in the UK.

3. The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The book: In a dystopian future, three children are just trying to survive in a lawless city – which might just have given them the skills to escape.

The adaptation: The rights to make a Walled City movie were acquired by Ivanhoe Pictures late last year, and, um, that’s all we’ve got.

For fans of: The Maze Runner, maybe?

Franchise potential: There’s only one book so far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean no.

4. Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

The book: Not-very-popular teen Charlotte feels invisible. Then she chokes to death on a gummy bear and is literally invisible – a ghost, recruited to act as a conscience to other teens in need.

The adaptation: X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughan’s production company, MARV Films, snapped this one up last year. Vaughan himself is set to produce, alongside Valerie Van Galder. And… again, that’s about all we know so far.

For fans of: Supernatural comedy romance, basically. Maybe like a younger-skewed Dead Like Me?

Franchise potential: Yup, there’ve been three Ghostgirl books so far.

5. Eleanor And Park by Rainbow Rowell

The book: An utterly devastating romance, Eleanor And Park was Rainbow Rowell’s second novel, and it catapulted her onto bestseller lists. It, well, it’s basically a love story, but it’s an incredibly moving one.

The adaptation: DreamWorks optioned the book last year, and Rowell herself wrote a draft screenplay. Things don’t seem to have moved on much, but everyone still seems pretty optimistic that it’ll make it to the big screen.

For fans of: Heartbreak in general.

Franchise potential: Rowell has mentioned wanting to maybe return to those characters one day, but no, it’s a standalone story at the moment.

6. A Tale Dark And Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

The book: As the title suggests, it’s a kind of fairytale adaptation. Hansel and Gretel run away from their story and find themselves in the middle of other familiar fairytales, trying to find their own happy ending.

The adaptation: Optioned by FilmNation in 2012, Henry Selick (director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) was tagged to direct, with John W. Mann and Jon Gunn writing the script. Things seem to have gone a bit quiet on the news front, but it’s still listed as in development on the IMDB.

For fans of: Fairytales, basically.

Franchise potential: There are three books in the series: A Tale Dark And GrimmIn A Glass Grimmly, and The Grimm Conclusion, so yes, it could well become a franchise.

7. Fallen by Lauren Kate

The book: After her crush spontaneously combusts, heroine Luce is sent to the Sword And Cross reform school. Cue more romance and more danger – and some supernatural goings-on.

The adaptation: Disney nabbed the rights to the book (plus its three sequels) almost immediately, and, well, it’s already in the can. Directed by Scott Hicks, written by Nichole Millard, Kathryn Price, and Michael Ross, and starring Addison Timlin, Fallen is set to hit screens next year at some point.

For fans of: It’s maybe a bit Twilight-y.

Franchise potential: There are four books, Disney’s got the rights to all of ‘em, and reportedly production has already begun on the second movie (though we’ve been here before with The Mortal Instruments, so if the first film doesn’t do well, that second movie might not actually happen).

8. Daughter Of Smoke And Bone by Laini Taylor

The book: A fantasy about a blue-haired art student who lives with chimaera – creatures that need her to collect teeth for them.

The adaptation: The film rights were acquired by Universal Pictures back in 2011. Stuart Beattie, writer of G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra and Tomorrow, When The War Began, was named as the man who’d be adapting it to the screen back in 2013, but the project seemed to hit a sticking point somewhere after that. Author Laini Taylor said she’d worked on a draft of the script at the end of last year, but there doesn’t seem to have been any further news since.

For fans of: Well, it sounds like there are similarities to both His Dark Materials and The Mortal Instruments

Franchise potential: There are three books in the franchise, so if the first one ever gets off the ground, there’s room for a trilogy.

9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

The book: A teenage girl is tragically killed in a car accident. But that’s not the end. She gets seven chances to relive her final day, trying to figure out what her life really meant.

The adaptation: Fox 2000 optioned the book in 2010, but now it’s with Awesomeness Films – you know, the company behind Smosh: The Movie. Ry Russo-Young is set to direct, with script writing duties falling to Maria Maggenti and Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Zoey Deutch starring as the unfortunate teen.

For fans of: Can I say The Fault In Our Stars again? It’s not really the same, but there’s something in there about death and love and learning.

Franchise potential: Yeah, not so much.

10. Panic by Lauren Oliver

The book: Yup, another Lauren Oliver book. In the future, teenagers are pitted against one another in the terrifying game of Panic, in which the aim is to prove yourself fearless.

The adaptation: Universal’s got this one. Earlier this year, it was announced that the studio had hired Oliver herself to write the screenplay and bring her characters to the big screen.

For fans of: The Hunger Games, DivergentThe Maze Runner, etc.

Franchise potential: It’s a standalone novel, so maybe not. For once, maybe not.

11. Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The book: An orphan girl in a fantasy world discovers her own magical abilities when her best friend is in danger –making her an in-demand monster hunter.

The adaptation: The rights were snatched up by DreamWorks back in 2012. Producer David Heyman, the man who saw the potential in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, was attached to produce, along with Jeffrey Clifford of Heymaker Films.

For fans of: Harry Potter, and His Dark Materials?

Franchise potential: Perhaps inevitably, the book is the first of a trilogy.

12. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

The book: Another of the seemingly rare YA novels set in the real world, 13 Little Blue Envelopes follows a teenage girl who sets off on a trip across Europe, following a bizarre set of instructions from her aunt.

The adaptation: The book was published in 2005, so it seems to have taken a while for Hollywood to catch its scent, but the rights were acquired by New Line Cinema earlier in 2015. It’s early days for the film project, and this is another one that’s far from certain, but John Green’s excited about it, which can’t be bad.

For fans of: Sounds like Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants territory, maybe.

Franchise potential: Well, there is a sequel…

13. Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness

The book: Chaos Walking is the name of the trilogy, which includes The Knife Of Never Letting GoThe Ask And The Answer, and Monsters Of Men. It’s set on a New World, where all living creatures can hear one another’s thoughts.

The adaptation: Lionsgate bought the rights in 2011, presumably with an eye to launching a new YA film series when The Hunger Games wraps up. Robert Zemeckis is reportedly attached, but the script seemed to be getting bounced from one writer to another, with Charlie Kaufman taking a crack at it in 2012, and Jamie Linden tapped to write a draft last year.

For fans of: Again, probably The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games.

Franchise potential: Obvs.

14. The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The book: In a post-apocalyptic world, the Red Lung Virus has turned most of the world’s population into vampires – and those that aren’t are either ravening mindless nightmares, or in thrall to a vampire master. Except Allison, a teenage girl looking for a fabled Eden free of vamps.

The adaptation: Well, it was optioned by Palomar Pictures in 2012. Sadly, that’s all we know.

For fans of: TwilightResident Evil, and probably even Buffy.

Franchise potential: The book is the first in, you guessed it, a trilogy.

15. Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

The book: Cas is a teenage monster hunter. Anna is a vengeful ghost. Cue horror and a bit of romance, weirdly enough.

The adaptation: Speaking of weird, the film rights to this book were picked up by Fickle Fish Films. That’s Stephenie Meyer’s production company. Yes, that Stephenie Meyer.

For fans of: Um, Twilight?

Franchise potential: Yup. There’s a sequel, and plenty of potential for more stories about Cas and his adventures.

16. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The book: In the future, an evil corporate dictatorship controls everything –but a young woman with clairvoyant powers might be about to change that. If she can avoid the criminal underworld and inter-dimensional beings, that is.

The adaptation: Andy Serkis’s Imaginarium Studios saw the potential in the novel (written by a 22-year-old Oxford student, if you ever want to feel bad about your life and choices) and bought the rights last year. It’s currently in production.

For fans of: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, all that kind of stuff.

Franchise potential: Shannon signed a contract to write seven books in the series, so yeah, there’s room for a lot of movies.

17. The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

The book: A distinctly Harry Potter-ish story from the writer of The Mortal Instruments and the writer of The Spiderwick ChroniclesThe Iron Trial sees Call enrol in the Magisterium, a school for mages, where he’ll learn to control and develop his own magical powers. If he survives.

The adaptation: Film rights were acquired by Constantin Films, the same company who created The Mortal Instruments movie (and the upcoming Shadowhunters TV show, also based on Clare’s novels). Clare and Black have already written a screenplay, but there’s been no further news.

For fans of: The Mortal Instruments, Harry Potter, and Harry Potter fanfic.

Franchise potential: It’s the first in a planned five-book series.

18. Pure by Julianna Baggott

The book: In a world devastated by nuclear war, humanity is divided in two: the 'pures', who live inside a protective dome-shaped bunker, and the 'wretches', who don’t. Pressia lives on one side, Partridge on the other, and then… they meet.

The adaptation: 20th Century Fox snapped this one up, and writer-director James Ponsoldt, director of The Spectacular Now, is attached to direct. Though he’s currently working on an adaptation of Dave Eggers’ The Circle, so it might be a while away yet.

For fans of: Dark and depressing post-apocalyptic worlds.

Franchise potential: Yup, there are three books in the series.

19. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

The book: Another real world story, this book is about Elise, a 16-year-old misfit who’s considering suicide until she discovers an underground rave where she learns to DJ and finds new meaning in things.

The adaptation: Interesting, this one: it’s been optioned by Glee producer Michael Novick and Broadway producer Kevin McCollum, and looks like it’s heading for both a screen and stage adaptation.

For fans of: The Fault In Our StarsWe Are Your Friends, music, stories about growing up and figuring things out.

Franchise potential: Probably not.

20. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

The book: A collection of three intertwined short romance stories, all set at Christmas. Aww.

The adaptation: Universal Pictures is doing this one. Kay Cannon, the screenwriter behind Pitch Perfect, is on board to adapt the screenplay, and it’s got a tentative release date – 9 December 2016. Just in time for Christmas, naturally.

For fans of: Easy one, this: Paper Towns and The Fault In Our Stars.

Franchise potential: Well, not really. Though it’s not totally impossible, either.

21. Blood Red Road by Moira Young

The book: Another post-apocalyptic novel, this one follows teenage Saba on her quest to rescue her brother from an evil kind who plans to sacrifice him – unfortunately, she gets herself kidnapped along the way and forced into cage fighting. Cue lots of action, and lots of drama.

The adaptation: Ridley Scott himself wanted to make this one, and acquired the rights back in 2013. Again, though, it’s all gone a bit quiet, and Scott’s got an awful lot of other projects on the go right now.

For fans of: Argh, probably The Hunger Games.

Franchise potential: Yup, there are three novels in the series so far.

22. The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

The book: Annnnnnd yet another dystopian world split in two: in the future, all children are born in pairs, with one twin healthy and the other deformed, in some way. Cass, the heroine of The Fire Sermon, hides her deformity – psychic powers – until she and her twin are in their teens, but while she dreams of equality for all, he’s scheming to get rid of her.

The adaptation: DreamWorks acquired this one before it was even published, after a bidding war between UK publishers. Carla Hacken, producer of Walk The Line, is attached to produce.

For fans of: Allegory, politics, and superpowers.

Franchise potential: Yup, there’s a whole trilogy of books planned, with the second coming out next year.

23. Firelight by Sophie Jordan

The book: A girl who’s descended from dragons and a boy who’s been sent to hunt them meet and, well, sparks fly.

The adaptation: Okay, to be honest, this one might not be happening any more. It was optioned by Mandalay Pictures in 2011, shortly after the company also picked up the rights to Joe Hill’s Horns. That came out in 2013, but while Nick Pustay was tapped to write Firelight in 2011, things don’t seem to have moved on.

For fans of: Dragons and forbidden romance. So, like, Twilight, but with dragons.

Franchise potential: There are three books, so yes, if it ever gets off the ground.

24. The Young World by Chris Weitz

The book: A bizarre virus kills all the adults and children in the world, leaving the teenagers to fend for themselves. Fun at first, it turns dark when the teens realise they don’t know how to grow crops, or run power stations, or drive. A small gang sets out in search of a possible cure, and there’s some romance along the way.

The adaptation: Author Chris Weitz is also a producer and director, so the book’s cinematic tone is no coincidence. Rights were acquired by Warner Bros, with Weitz himself set to write, direct, and produce the movie.

For fans of: Weitz’s other work includes About A Boy, The Golden Compass, and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, so that might be a clue.

Franchise potential: Definitely.

25. The Queen Of The Tearling by Erika Johansen

The book: Set in the distant future, this is still more fantasy than science-fiction. The Queen Of The Tearling sees Princess Kelsea battling the evil Red Queen in an attempt to claim her throne.

The adaptation: Another Warner Bros project, this one has the backing of Emma Watson, who reportedly loved the book so much she’s even considering tying herself to another franchise for the sake of being involved. Potter producer David Heyman is also on board.

For fans of: Hard to know where this one will land. Somewhere between Game Of Thrones and Star Wars?

Franchise potential: There’s a trilogy planned. Did you even need to ask?

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