BY AMANDA CLARKE
With popular young-adult novels being adapted for screen and dominating the box office, every studio is looking for their next big franchise. Here are some books they should take a look at. (Feel free to chime in with your own suggestions in the comments below.)
1. Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
The Song of the Lioness quartet follows the story of Alana, a girl who disguises herself as a boy who switches places with her twin brother so she can train to be a knight. These books were as much a fixture of my childhood as Harry Potter was and I’ve always wanted to see them turned into films. Pierce’s novels taught me that women can be just as heroic as men and that sometimes it’s the guys who need saving. They also taught me that it’s okay to be vulnerable sometimes. It doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human. In addition, it has everything to make a great action fantasy film. Alana is a girl who has destiny thrust upon her and is led to become a hero whether she likes it or not. It’s also fast-paced, with sword fights and magic, a very realistic love triangle, a fantastic villain and, of course, a kick-ass female protagonist who is very easy to relate to. It also has the benefit of a very loyal built-in fan base ready to get behind its big-screen incarnation and plenty of extra material to drag the franchise out for as long as they would like.
2. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
With the popularity of distopias, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy (quartet if you included Extras) is a perfect choice for the big-screen treatment. The series covers a lot of territory, but the focus is on freedom, identity and, most importantly, physical appearance, which has become something of an epidemic among young people. Uglies is about the importance of coming to terms with oneself and standing up for what you believe in, even if it means working against everything you’ve ever known. These are lessons that are important for any teen to learn, and when presented in a format that allows for some cool flight sequences and stunning visuals, you can’t really go wrong.
3. The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty
The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie is an odd little story about the smartest girl in school. She doesn’t have many friends because, quite frankly, she’s too smart for her own good. The book is pretty typical teen content, but it’s presented as a collection of memos, e-mails, diary entries and Bindy’s transcripts. It’s full of quirk and charm, and in the hands of the right director, (like Richard Ayoade of Submarine), it would be a great vehicle to introduce a younger audience to be exposed to something that’s not a linear, classical Hollywood style. Something light, fun, completely relevant to their present existence and a little bit out there.
4. The Secret Under My Skin by Janet McNaughton
A smart and cool mystery thriller set in a post apocalyptic future, The Secret Under My Skin would make a great neo-noir film. It raises questions of identity and emphasizes the importance of understanding personal history to find it, something that is missing in a lot of young-adult novels that emphasize being your own person, separate from outside influences.
5. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
It may not strictly be a young-adult novel, but The Little Prince is a beautiful book that I’d love to see someone like Jean-Pierre Jeunet tackle (it’s actually in the works for 2015). It’s wonderfully lyrical, about the beauties and tragedies of life. Among all the stories about growing up and discovering one’s adult identity, it would be nice to have one about the importance of retaining a childlike wonder and fascination with the world. You’re never to old to learn and grow, regardless of age and to lose the love of this is to never fully live, because it is one of the only never-ending constants in life.
Amanda just graduated from the U of T Cinema Studies program. She’ll watch anything that is bright and colourful and loves everything science fiction.