Jeff Bridges and Taylor Swift in The Giver/Photo © 2014 The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved.
The past few years have found many of the greatest hits of young adult (YA) literature finally getting their due in Hollywood. Next week, perhaps the greatest of them of all, Lois Lowry's The Giver, hits the big screen. From what we've seen so far, the filmmakers have infused the novel with a sheen of slick authoritarianism masquerading as technological utopia in order to present a wildly seductive take on Jonas' troubled society. Though it may not be in keeping with many of our own personal visions, we can anticipate a consummate world -- one where the modest budget of a TV movie or mini-series would have failed to fill out the nuances of such a beloved book.
The most recent craze arrived with the success of the Twilight series, and reached a more poignant artistic note with 2012's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", which was both a critical and commercial success, recouping its budget three times over at the box office. Followed by the juggernaut of this year's "The Fault in Our Stars," we can only assume that right now there's a litany of YA novels stuffing the shelves of many a studio executive, simply waiting for their turn on the celluloid merry-go-round. In addition, the line between what is classified as Adult, Young Adult, and Children's literature is becoming increasingly blurred, as more than half of all YA readers are over eighteen. Everything's up for grabs, guys.
It stands to reason that, within a few years, nearly every YA book worth its salt will become a thrilling, watchable experience. And yes, that includes all the Hunger Games/Divergent clones. All of them.
Yet a precious few classics have been left out in the cold, or, worse, they've been horribly mistreated during their first ride on carousel. Let's hope the following eight receive the immortality treatment they deserve soon:
John Green's Paper Towns (2008)
John Green is the current undisputed heavyweight champion of YA adaptations ("The Fault in Our Stars"), so we already know he can get a nice sized budget on any film bearing his name. Indeed, there's already some talk of getting the same gang back together to make Paper Towns, his 2008 study in mystery and longing.
Gary Paulsen's Dogsong (1985)
As the Jack London of YA, Gary Paulsen prolific body of work has seen its share of adaptation attempts, namely 1990's "A Cry in the Wild," a worthy go at his seminal novel Hatchet (1987). But the narrative structure of Dogsong is cleaner and more adventurous, following a young Eskimo navigating the virtues and perils of tradition.
Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea (1968)
Long before The Boy Who Lived, there was another gifted young Wizard named Ged, who was both more ambitious and more dangerous than Harry. Le Guin's first of five novels set in Earthsea, the novel was poorly adapted by Japan's Studio Ghibli in 2006.
Roald Dahl's Boy (1984)
Few works of autobiography touch the level of humor and color of Dahl's memoir (and its sequel, 1986's Going Solo). Spanning more than twenty-five years, an adaptation might have to take on "Boyhood" levels of ingenuity in order to match Dahl's own. But in the right hands? Magic.
Lois Lowry's Number the Stars (1989)
Often occupying the breath directly after The Giver, Lowry's 1989 novel has been crying out for an adaptation ever since its inception. Sean Astin is the latest filmmaker devoted to cinematizing the tender and terrifying story of Annemarie Johansen and her devotion to her Jewish friend Ellen Rosen in Holocaust-era Denmark.
Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962)
Though Bradbury's novel received an agreeable treatment by Disney in 1983, his carnival horror fantasy could benefit from a remake, perhaps capturing even more pithily its many meditations upon youth, death, and evil.
Judy Blume's Are you There God? It's Me, Margaret (1970)
We've previously advocated for the adaptation of Blume's pivotal novel, which, among other things, dives into the horrors and wonders of adolescence, along with the spiritual awakening that often accompanies it. Our pick for the heroine would be the undeniably natural Bailee Madison, who could ground the wanderings of Margaret's unresting mind in the guise of a relatable young woman with admirable self-control.
Roald Dahl's George's Marvelous Medicine (1981)
Dahl's second appearance on our list shouldn't come as a surprise. Despite his perennial favoritism as a Hollywood adaptee, there's still a few studio blind spots within his enormous body of work, and, with the announcement of the upcoming adaptation of The BFG, George's Marvelous Medicine has sprung to the top of the list. Is it mean-spirited? Yes, but reasonably so -- I don't think anyone is truly sad to see his verbally abusive grandmother disappear within the palm of his hand.
Tell us: Which YA novel would you like to see adapted?