9 Young Adult Books that Should Be Made into Movies, or YA Movie Adaptations in a Perfect World*

Ever since Harry Potter became a worldwide phenomenon and people (myself included) went to see Twilight in theaters eleven times, Hollywood has been paying attention to popular young adult series and snatching up film rights to YA properties. But unfortunately, when they don’t reach The Hunger Games level of success some really smart people online proclaim THE DEATH OF THE YA ADAPTION.

young adult book to movie adaptations

I could argue against these sorts of articles and pick apart their logic or refute their commentary.

I could explain how it’s ridiculous to make these sorts of claims about how Hollywood will stop making movies based on YA popular books when the movies aren’t mega-blockbusters when they still keep making movies out of random adult books (like, do you see a lot of people over-analyzing Labor Day? Or Winter’s Tale? Or The 100 Foot Journey? Don’t know what I’m talking about? I’m not surprised). The point is, Hollywood has always made movies based on books and will continue to do so until the end of time.

I could complain that Fox wants to make Paper Towns into a movie (which I haven’t even read so am not really allowed to have an opinion about).

But instead, I decided (after drinking some whiskey and  chatting on Twitter) to make a list of the YA books I’d turn into movies if I was head of a production company and/or Hollywood studio. Instead of talking about why so many YA book-to-movie adaptations fail (spoiler: they’re mostly BAD) I’m going to share the movies I’d put on the big screen and explain why they could succeed, if done right. These are books that I not only think are awesome, but that I think would translate visually and have commercial success if they were written well, had decent acting, were marketed properly, and the expectations were appropriate. Some have the potential to be blockbuster success, others have the potential to be cult classics or gain critical appeal.

Graffiti Moon

Reasons why Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley should be made into a movie: 

1) Takes place in one night. Events are easily condensed into a movie timeframe without compromising the story.

2) OMG the art and poetry. I know I made a tumblr devoted to this already, but seriously, how cool would it be to integrate all of these references into a cinematic masterpiece?

3) That shade of blue that rips your heart out.

My review of Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Reasons why Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor should be made into a movie (or possibly an HBO TV series): 

1) Setting: Prague and Morocco are so incredibly atmospheric, and most of the scenes take place there. Not to mention — Poison Kitchen? Brimstone’s Lair? Elsewhere? These are all amazing backdrops to this fairy tale of doomed love.

2) Characters: Karou, Akiva, Brimstone…these are just the beginning. Write a good script, actors are going to line up to play these complex characters. You can get Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons to do fucking Beautiful Creatures with that horrendous story, you can get some A-list actors to sign on to DoSaB.

3) If we can spend tons of movie on special effects for shitastic movies like I, Frankenstein, then we can make Brimstone and the rest of the chimera on screen. No arguments.

My review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone

White Cat

Reasons why White Cat by Holly Black should be made into a movie (or possibly a CW TV series): 

1) Noir is the new black (or at least it should be). The noir feel of this book would be so amazing captured in that cinematic style.

2) When I pitch this to the networks I can say The Vampire Diaries meets The Sopranos. (Because people like stupid random popular thing meets random popular thing pitches, apparently).

3) Just think of the hot guy that they will find to play Cassel.

My review of White Cat by Holly Black

Imaginary Girls

Reasons why Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma should be made into a movie:

1) Nothing is what you believe. Small town with secrets. Real world with hints of the supernatural.

2) Low budget/indie/hipster potential.

3) Can we just contemplate the amazing soundrack.

My review of Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

The Sharp Time

Reasons why The Sharp Time by Mary O’Connell should be made into a movie:

1) Sandinista Jones. I feel like the main character’s name alone is enough to justify a movie.

2) The entire story takes place in the span of a week. With effective flashbacks, there would be plenty of time to explore the main conflicts of the plot in a two and a half hour movie.

3) This is the #1 most under-appreciated YA novel of all time. It might possibly get the recognition it deserves if it were made into a movie. It’s a kaleidoscope of emotion, with an erotic bakery, a pawn shop, monks who make and sell preserves, a vintage clothing store, a pretty pink gun with a pearl inlay, a visit to a Catholic church, and it would be a fantastic film.

My review of The Sharp Time by Mary O’Connell

All Our Pretty Songs

Reasons why All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry should be made into a movie:

1) Soundtrack possibilities are amazing. This is set during the 90s grunge rock scene of the Northwest.

2) This story blends the fantastic of myths with the reality of a very specific time and place. Can you just seen a Donnie Darko kinda of vibe going on here or what?

3) Imagery. That is all.

My review of All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

Finnkin of the Rock

Reasons why Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta should be made into a movie or possibly an HBO TV series:

1) People who make movies want to bet on a sure thing. Just compare this to Game of Thrones.

2) Epic medieval fantasy (see #1).

3) Oh, the character development. Again, these are the kind of roles (that if well-written) A-list actors will want to play. And they will actually (probably) do a decent job.*

My review of Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Reasons why Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green should be made into a movie:

1) Some people want a known quantity. John Green is a  safe bet. I’d much prefer this to Paper Towns (even though I haven’t actually read Paper Towns. I just think Will Grayson, Will Grayson would actually make a better movie than a book).


3) See #2.

My review of Will Grayson, WIll Grayson by David Levithan and John Green

Tiger Lily

Reasons why Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson should be a movie: 

1) Peter Pan angle makes it a known quantity, and therefore it has general appeal.

2) The Tinker Bell narrator aspect would be fun to translate on screen.

3) Great story, twist on a classic, diverse cast, fun for the family.

My review of Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson.


Not ever movie is going to appeal to such a wide audience as The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, or Twilight. I think all of these books could make first and foremost good movies, and that they would find appeal with general audiences outside those who read the books, and could be a hit with both teen and adult audiences.

What YA books would you like to seen made into a movie or TV show?


Molly signature *A world where I am in charge.


14 thoughts on “9 Young Adult Books that Should Be Made into Movies, or YA Movie Adaptations in a Perfect World*

  1. Tiger Lily would be so lovely!
    I would LOVE Daughter of Smoke and Bone on the big screen/silver screen!!! That would be so amazing and wonderful to see all of that come to life!

  2. I might be wrong bit I think DoSaB is going to be a movie and maybe it has a director? This list is brilliant! I would watch every single one of these movies. I haven’t read Paper Towns either ;)

  3. I love this! Though I wish I had read more of the books that you mentioned. Definitely yes to Finnikin of the Rock and Daughter of Smoke and Bone, though! And after the train-wreck that was the Ella Enchanted movie, I’m a bit wary of having beloved books be made into films. But, as you said if the movies are written well, marketed properly, have decent actors, then they totally could work out.
    Some recent books I’d love to see adapted to film: In the Shadow of Blackbirds (so atmospheric and creepy and good for paranormal AND historical fiction fans), Graceling (more YA fantasies need to be turned into films). The rest of His Dark Materials also needs to be adapted to film. The first one was decent enough and I love that series. And there needs to be a remake of Ella Enchanted that does justice to that book stat.

  4. I love this post! Great picks. I love your reasons for each pick too. I especially agree that Daughter of Smoke and Bone would be so cool as a film. I’d love to see what the make up/costuming/effects teams come up with for the chimera. It could be incredibly visually appealing.

  5. Loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone & Finnikin of the Rock! Finnikin of the Rock is one of my all time favorites. Both would be fabulous as movies. Now I want to read the others on the list.

  6. I love your ideas and your reasons why. And I’m sitting here contemplating the soundtracks for both Imaginary Girls (and the settings they could use here would be visually stunning) and for All Our Pretty Songs.

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