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Saturday Seven: Young Adult Books into Movies

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Recently, it seems to be largely young adult books being made into movies (there are exceptions, of course, but the majority have been). Since I’ve been reading a lot of YA in the past few years I decided to share the ones I’ve both seen and read, and my opinions on them.
1. Divergent/Insurgent/Allegiant
I still remember my kid sobbing on my shoulder after she finished Allegiant. And being told I “had” to read the series. So I did. I will say, even if I hadn’t already known how the last book would end, I would have known how the last book would end, simply based on the author’s choice of POV in book three. Dead giveaway (pun intended). I still think there were some problems with the plot of the series, but it was still pretty good. So, we went to the movies. Divergent was quite well done. It held to the meat of the plot, the casting was solid and overall I really enjoyed it. Then came the train wreck that was Insurgent. WHO wrote that screenplay? Did they even read the book? The entire movie focused on having a divergent open “the box”… a box that didn’t exist in the book. And the focus of the book wasn’t on that anyway (by “that” I mean the secret inside the box). What a mess. I can’t comment on the Allegiant movie, because I haven’t seen it, and have no desire to. Of course, it was only part one, and to the best of my knowledge, they haven’t/aren’t filming part two due to an utter lack of interest on the part of movie goers. And that should be a lesson to film makers everywhere.
2. Hunger Games/Catching Fire/Mockingjay
Now this movie series was incredibly well done. And the fact it was running at the same time as the previous one may have affected both. These screenplay writers actually, yanno, followed the story instead of going off on weird tangents just for special effects. Yeah, I missed Madge and some of the other minor characters who just disappeared when they did the movies, but the kept to the meat of the story. The big plot points didn’t disappear (though I was surprised Peeta didn’t lose his leg in the movie. Since he got a prosthetic, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, money/effects-wish, but whatever) and the casting was solid (except maybe Haymitch…don’t get me wrong, I loved Woody Harrelson, but in The Hunger Games Haymitch was described as a fat, old man). All in all, one of the better done adaptations I’ve seen.
3. The Maze Runner/The Scorch Trials/The Death Cure
I’ll be honest. When I saw the first movie, I hadn’t read the books. We mainly went because the kid was a Dylan O’Brien fan (“Teen Wolf”) and it looked interesting. After I saw the movie, I really felt like I was missing stuff, so I got the book (at the time, it was free on Nook, go me). The movie was largely faithful to the book, and I looked forward to seeing the second movie, but decided I’d finish reading the series first.
I will say this … the books were kind of boring. Not because of the story, I think, but because of the writing. In fact, my kid ended up not finishing the series because she was bored to tears. This figures into my opinions on the movies. We went to The Scorch Trials and … it was virtually nothing like the book. Yeah, there were some plot points that were the same, but it definitely veered off pretty sharply. However, it really didn’t bother me and I think in some ways the movie was stronger. That does mean that I’m not entirely certain what The Death Cure will be like because they omitted/changed some pretty important things in the second movie so there are some pretty important things from book three that won’t work in movie three. And I have to think that the reason people don’t seem to care about that (like they did for the Divergent series) is because the books just weren’t that great, so there wasn’t this avid/rabid following. It matters.
4. Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief
I saw this movie before I read the book, and enjoyed it. The kid did not and grumbled the entire time. SO much was changed for the movie, not the least of which was the main character’s age. In the book he was significantly younger, which really impacted things. He was just a kid in the book, NOT a teenager, and that really did make a huge difference. Plus, the movie focused on finding the pearls, which was only part of the book. So, while the movie was entertaining for me, the kids who read the book apparently found it less so. They did one more movie based on the series, but it pretty much flopped (even though, in this case they held a little closer to the book).
Don’t mess with rabid fans. They can make or break you.
5. I Am Number Four
I read this book first. I didn’t even know they’d made a movie based on it until the kid told me. I kept seeing the series at Barnes and Noble and was intrigued enough to pick it up. I honestly was kind of bored by the book and had zero desire to read the rest of the series. I do think the movie did a pretty good job holding true to the story, and honestly, if they’d made more movies I would have seen them. I am actually relatively interested in knowing how the rest of the story pans out, but not enough so to muddle through the books.
In this case, I’d have to say the movie was better.
6. City of Bones
I saw this before I read any of the books. The kid was (is) a HUGE fan of this series (and all related series by the author). She reads, rereads, obsesses over, talks about the characters and the stories to any and all who will listen. So we sat down and watched.
I hated the movie. I hated the hero–he came across as creepy and stalkerish and I couldn’t understand why the heroine had anything to do with him. The story was disjointed, I felt like I was missing really important parts (as it turns out, I was) and overall they did a horrible job. The books are actually pretty dang amazing. The author’s world-building is fan-freaking-tastic. The series (all of them) are really a “must read” if you like paranormal YA. Just … skip the movie.
They currently have a TV series running (Shadowhunters) based on the books. I haven’t watched but a little in passing. When the series was announced, the author made it very clear she was going to be changing things up so readers wouldn’t necessarily know what was going to happen. My kid watched it for awhile, and then was frustrated and annoyed by the changes. She makes noises about going back to it now and then, but hasn’t yet.
7. The Giver
Another movie that I didn’t even realize WAS a book before I saw it. Truthfully, I haven’t read the entire book, even now, because it bored me. Also truthfully, I thought the movie was pretty dull, too (and I hated the ending). So, maybe it followed the book to a “T”, I have no idea. There were a lot of very deep ideas that I think didn’t translate well to film, too, which matters.
I’m looking forward to more book-to-movie movies this year, including The Death Cure (this Friday!), A Wrinkle in Time and others.
What about you? Movies from books you loved? Hated? Do tell!

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. I’ve heard of all these movies, but alas, the only ones I’ve seen are the Hunger Games trilogy. I hated the first one, I mean, kids killing kids as sport?? It was a bit much. But the other two were way better as the “kids” fought against their oppressors. Divergent looks good. I’ll rent that one this weekend! I really need to get out more ( heehee) since my daughter is now grown and gone on her own, I don’t have my movie wingman anymore. Great post!

    1. Peggy, the Divergent movie was decent but the rest of them were horrible… not sure I’d recommend seeing them. However, I can absolutely recommend The Maze Runner movies (though I haven’t seen the final one — it releases this Friday). I know what you mean about your movie wingman! My daughter is 18 and still here, but I know it’s only a matter of time before she flies the coop, and then where will I be? Watching the Avengers movies on my own, I guess. LOL!

  2. I’m a huge fan of The Giver, but I had mixed feelings about the movie. While there were some parts of the plot translated okay to the big screen, I wasn’t happy with a lot of the changes they made to the storyline.
    This is my Saturday Seven post.

  3. ooooohh — good topic!
    Like you, I think they did a great job with the Hunger Games series, which I saw only because my daughter dragged me along. I haven’t read/seen the others you’ve mentioned, but it is hard for me to imagine that they could have done anything that matched the tone/feeling of The Giver.
    Lord of the RIngs! I loved each of the movies in this trilogy. And I loved the Harry Potter movies, but maybe especially the first, feeling that the later ones could have used some editing (as could the books, in my opinion). I hated The Hobbit, though (the book), and every movie that’s been derived from it…
    Bridget Jones’s Diary, for sure. I loved the book, but the movie might be even better. With Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, how could it miss?
    Also Tinker Tailor (with Gary Oldman), but for all that it moves at a 1970’s pace, there’s some challenging, close-up violence (which is harder to take than the wide-spread wreckage of any Avenger’s movie), and plenty of emotional tension. A really good movie, though…

    1. I agree with LOTR … though I still shake my head when I think they crammed the three books into three movies, but took the book with the least amount of “meat” (The Hobbit) and stretched it out into three movies. I loved The Hobbit book, but I also read it in fourth grade, which may account for that. The movies, when taken as something NOT The Hobbit were actually something I enjoyed (well…the first one was a bit dull, but the next two were decent), but since the barely followed the book I know a lot of purists who were angry. I also think the Harry Potter movies did a good job sticking to the heart of the story. I couldn’t stand Bridget Jones’ Diary … but I’m not a fan of British movies/humor for the most part. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I have no opinion since I’ve not read any YA – but your list and your observations are valuable. Thank you for an interesting and well presented post!

  5. Loved Hunger Games but have not read the books. I had to read The Giver for a class I was teaching and did not enjoy it a great deal, but I’m more a happy fairy/evil witch kind of person so the starkness of it got to me. Have not seen that movie. I’ve been disappointed by a few YA books made into movies–namely City of Ember and The Dark is Rising. Both fantastic books and lousy movies. it’s hard to capture the marvelous and magical feeling of a good YA book. The really great ones appeal to any age. Great Saturday Seven!!

    1. The Dark is Rising in particular was one of my fave books as a kid and I was SO disappointed in the movies (they tried twice to film it and failed miserably both times).

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