Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014: The Year of YA Adaptations

Earlier this month I wrote an article for BTS eMag about it being the golden age of YA adaptations. This morning, I watched the first trailer for the film adaptation of Gayle Forman's If I Stay  - it looks awesome!and thought this was a topic definitely worth some more discussion, considering the number and variety of YA stories coming out this year.
The Golden Age of YA Adaptations 
(First published April 9, BTS eMag)

Book to film adaptations are nothing new, be they sci-fi cult classics based on the seminal works of Asimov or Philip K Dick, or the gooiest of romance films adapted from Nicholas Sparks novels. Since Harry Potter burst onto the scene and became a multi-millionaire dollar franchise, movie studios have been jumping on the YA bandwagon, eager to adapt the latest best-seller for the silver screen. Most recent smash hits include the Twilight saga adapted from the books by Stephanie Meyer and The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, which has so far only delivered the first two films in the planned 'quadrilogy'.
2013 saw a truckload of new adaptations including the movie adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s alien romance The Host, Cassandra Clare’s paranormal smash-hit The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones, and Orson Scott Card’s space epic Ender’s Game. This year, we’re in for several more YA book-to-film adaptations, from endearing contemporary tales of love to the bleakest dystopian tales, and let’s not forget the ever-present vampires.
Here are some of the YA film adaptations already out or still to come in 2014:
Vampire Academy based on the books by Richelle Mead
Divergent based on the books by Veronica Roth
The Fault in our Stars based on the book by John Green
The Giver based on the book by Lois Lowry
If I Stay based on the book by Gayle Forman
The Maze Runner based on the books by James Dashner
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I based on the books by Suzanne Collins
The vast majority of this year's adaptations fall under the speculative fiction umbrella, particularly into the science fiction genre. While I’m not completely vamped out yet – I’m an abashed fan of the blood suckers provided they don’t sparkle – it is refreshing to see so many sci-fi stories being made into films given the somewhat disappointing ‘adult’ science fiction films being churned out lately – films like Prometheus, After Earth and Pacific Rim. Say what you will about young adult literature, but the stories making their way into film have a lot more to offer than awesome special effects and adrenaline-soaked action sequences. There’s real heart in these YA stories, with relatable heroes and heroines who are resonating with viewers of all ages and genders. And this is a trend that isn’t limited to the big screen.
As an avid fan of CW shows like Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries (another YA book series adaptation!) and The Originals, it has warmed my geeky heart to see so many new sci-fi series eschew werebeasties in favour of aliens, genetically superior human beings and a radioactive, futuristic Earth. While The Tomorrow People and Star-Crossed are CW original series, the recently debuted The 100 is yet another YA adaptation, this time from the similarly titled book series by Kass Morgan. While all three of these shows boast incredibly good-looking casts – as we’ve come to expect from the CW – these three series are about a lot more than pretty people saving the day.
The Tomorrow People examines what it means to be a family, calling the old adage of ‘blood is thicker than water’ into question in every single episode. While this show is definitely science-lite, the main teen character’s struggle to come to terms with his new found powers and the responsibilities thrust upon his admittedly broad and buff shoulders, is a fairly obvious analogy for what most teens go through as they transition from child to adult in that search for self and identity.
Star-Crossed presents something rather different. Although this show features good-looking, tattoo’ed aliens, there’s a lot more going on than interspecies hook-ups. Again, this show presents thinly veiled analogies to ongoing social issues such as racism, xenophobia, intolerance, immigrant integration and cultural acceptance. Featuring a diverse cast including Asian, black, and even LGBT characters, this series has a lot of potential if it’s given the chance to develop a second season.
The 100While the science behind the premise is somewhat dubious, I can suspend my disbelief because this show has a real Lord of the Flies element to it that I find as engrossing as it is disturbing. Who honestly thought sending 100 teenagers to Earth unchaperoned would be a good idea? Still, here’s a show that doesn’t shy away from the brutality of teenagers, that doesn’t mince its words and isn’t afraid to ask difficult questions, like what would you be willing to do if the fate of humanity was in your hands? Not a question easily answered and yet this show expects a bunch of petulant, criminally-minded teenagers who are finally free from the constraints of guards, government and parents to step up to the plate and deliver humanity from impending doom.
Love it or hate it, the golden age of young adult is happening right now, and I expect – and can’t wait – to see a lot more adaptations of these exhilarating, heart-breaking, soul-touching books making their way on to the big and small screen in the future.

Which are your favourites? Which YA books would you like to see made into movies?

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