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From Book to Screen

Posted by inkpopbecki on March 11, 2011

In the past couple of weeks we have seen a huge uptick, here at HarperTeen, in the sale of our books. Is it because there was a sudden interest in books across America? No! Is it do to some really big sales going on at a major bookstore chain? Nope! It’s because of film and television.

That’s right, currently three (that’s right three) HarperTeen books are getting some special treatment from the big (and small screen). With I Am Number Four, Beastly and Pretty Little Liars all topping the bestseller list, we thought we investigate what film and television does for books.

“In many ways, the task for film makers seems almost impossible – how can you possibly squeeze all the nuances, subtleties, compelling characters and slowly shifting plot lines of a great novel into a two hour movie!?” Writes the Authonomy blog.

Indeed this decision is crucial to the plot and can sometimes have some negative results. My favorite example is perhaps Harry Potter. While many have seen the movie without reading the books, I wonder how many people understand some of the fine details of the story. For example, after seeing the movie could you tell how many Horcrux exist and how many were destroyed?

Not all books are capable of being translated into a film or television show. If you are creating a project that you hope will one day find its way to screen, it is important to have a strong plot and engaging characters. While voice is a huge aspect of making a great novel, generally the tonality of a novel does not come through in film,

so it is less necessary.

Now lets be creative. Tell us what YA books that have not already been bought for film or television might translate well to the screen. Also tell us why.

Five users with the best answers will each win a HarperTeen Print to Screen prize back that includes the movie and television editions of I Am Number Four, Beastly and Pretty Little Liars and Pretty Little Liars #2:Flawless. Winners will be selected and announced March 18, 2011.

25 Responses to “From Book to Screen”

  1. Mallory Dobry said

    I believe that Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles would make an absolutely amazing film. The story is relevant and contemporary to teenagers today. The characters of Britanny and Alex are realistic and relatable. Since the narrations of the book are so casual, there aren’t excessive details that would slant the viewers understanding of the book or movie. The story is easy to follow, yet at the same time, viewers would really grasp the story and fall in love with the characters.

  2. I think one of the obvious answers is James Dashner’s ‘The Maze Runner’ (and it’s sequel ‘The Scorch Trials’.) These books are filled with action, suspense, great characters and gripping locations that would translate perfectly to the big screen.

    • Since I see that everyone else seems to be providing elaborate reasons for their answers, I’ll just add on to mine a little.


      1- Action – Obviously, every movie needs some action. Both these books are filled with it! There are various fight scenes, a chase scene, attacks by mysterious creatures… Especially the fights against the weirder creatures, such as the Grievers, would work well in a movie since we’d actually get to see it. The fast-moving, action-packed plot of these books would make it so there would never be a dull moment in a movie.

      2- Suspense- Even when the there is a momentary break from the action the suspense is still paramount. There are numerous questions, What is WICKED? Why are they in the Maze? What does Thomas have to do with all this? that keep the reader (and the moviegoer) wondering. Even the dialogue is emotionally charged and helps to further the plot. At the end of each book enough is revealed to make a semi-satisfying conclusion, but there is still plenty to encourage people to come and watch a second (and third) movie.

      3- Characters- The story focuses mainly on one character, Thomas, who has lost his memory, which would work well for a film since they wouldn’t need to clog up the film with backstory (other than a few of Thomas’s quick dream sequences which would be very effective in a film.) As for supporting characters there are dozens of other boys in the glade, but luckily only 3 or 4 of them are actually given names and personalities, making it much easier to keep track of them in a movie. These books even have a touch of romance with the introduction of the sole female character, Teresa. Her relationship (and possible betrayal) with Thomas creates an interesting subplot that will delight romance lovers without bogging down the action.

      4- Setting- One thing Dashner does wonderfully is create vivid settings for his stories. An impossibly high maze, a roasting hot desert, a deserted city… All of these locations would translate very well to film. He also makes sure that all of the action happens in interesting places, such as underground tunnels or houses that seem to change from day to day. While Dashner does an admirable job describing these in a book, I for one would love to actually ‘see’ them in a movie.

      All in all, I think James Dashner’s The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials should be made into movies because of their fast-paced action, riveting suspense, believable characters and vivid setting. For fans of ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘I Am Number Four’, this would be a great movie to see.

  3. Wildgreenskittle said

    Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick would be a great book to bring to the big screen. The paranormal genre is huge right now, and the first book, Hush hush, and also it’s sequel Crescendo are really popular right now. And what girl wouldn’t want to see a hot angel on huge screen for two hours? I sure would 😀

  4. I think that the steampunk series (Leviathan, Behemoth)by Scott Westerfeld would be awesome on the big screen. Not only are the characters amazing and fun, but it has a great plot, and a lot of the steampunk aspects of it might actually be even better if you could see them visually. The epic illustrations already in the book would provide a blueprint for the look and feel of the world, and it would just be epic to see these huge creatures/inventions brought to life.

  5. Chelsea Butcher said

    Two book series that I really want to see brought to the big screen:
    Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld,, and the Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong. The Uglies trilogy, I think, would look so amazing on the big screen. It would require lots of visual effects as well as very detailed makeup. It would make for a beautiful, visually engaging film. Not only that, the dynamics of all the characters and the some of the complicated twists and turns would make, I think, a blockbuster hit. The series itself is supsenseful, book by book, wondering what is going to happen to Tally. I believe that it would just translate so well to film.

    In the Darkest Power Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong, I think the books turned to film would have an almost “Twilight” effect. The plot line is incredibly engaging, and fast paced, and the love triangle between Chloe, Derek, and Simon will leave people wanting more and wondering who she’s going to end up with…very similar to what happened in the Twilight series. I believe that the films for this one could potentially be as popular as Twilight.

  6. Sakira said

    Bayern series, starting with GOOSE GIRL. The plots are fairly simple on a surface level and engaging at the same time, filled with just the right mix of court intrigue and action. The protagonists have powerful voices. Each has his/her own issues with self-identity, and we grow with the characters as the story progress.

    For example, Ani from GOOSE GIRL is a princess who has a gift for learning the languages of animals. Because of her gift, she is despised in her own kingdom, and when she is sent to Bayern to marry the prince, she is forced to flee when her lady-in-waiting Selia leads a mutiny against her. Afterwards, we follow Ani as she tends to the king’s geese, makes Forest friends, witnesses the segregation in Bayern, and falls in love with Geric (who I won’t talk about here). GOOSE GIRL is a compelling novel, and I would love to see the series brought to film!

    • Sakira said

      Another book that must go on screen:
      ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

      I love this book. It named by NPR as one of the top five teen books of 2010 and for good reason. The characters are lovable, Anna’s voice is charming and so is the light romance. Etienne St. Clair, the love interest – the “English French American Boy Masterpiece,” to quote the novel – is hot all around, which is a big must with the (main) romantic interest! Not to mention that Anna finds a great crowd of friends.

      It would be fun to see it as a movie because of the cultural experience. It’s easy picturing Anna and St. Clair touring Paris and hanging out over the holidays brought to the screen. Anna does make mistakes sometimes, but no matter her course of action, the reader keeps falling more in love with her and the story. Perkins has a cute, realistic writing style and a story to which every girl can relate. Her book is chick-lit material.

  7. MusicLuver2330 said

    The Private Series by Kate Brian would be too fantastic for words! That is the series that got me into reading. That is also the series that got a lot of my friends into reading.
    It would great on TV because the main character, Reed Brennan, is so relatable. She comes from a small town with a bad family, and she enters this world full of money, glamour, and even murder. It is filled with funny, romantic, sad, and shocking moments in each and every book!
    It has been on the NY Times and USA Today best-seller list many times and has been on many other best seller lists too. If you go here: then you will see how many people would love to see that happen. And here is the Facebook page for Private run by Kate Brian herself:!/PrivateNovels?ref=ts Out of both of these websites and the profit that Private has made in the past few years, it should definitely be on the screen!

  8. Laura said

    I think The Hollow by Jessica Verday must go on screen. The reader is hanging on the author’s every word by a thread. Caspian and Abbey’s relationship was made for the screen. The main character’s attitude keeps you entertained every second and it was impossible to put down. Verday has surprises around every turn that help shape the character’s as the story goes along, leaving you lost for words at who they truly are…what they are.

  9. SasuSaku'sLittleGrl said

    I think Maximum Ride would be a good book series to make into a movie. It tells the story of a group of kids with avian DNA who are trying to stay alive and save the world.

    It’s mostly action with little sprinkles of romance. It also teaches the value of family and living everyday as if it’s your last. It might even become a movie in the future, and I really want to be in it as one of the main characters. 😀

  10. Lithiawood said

    1. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
    This book isn’t well known, but it’s set in England (point 1: Americans love English accents), in the Fifties (point 2: Amazing costumes/Elvis!) and centers around a girl named Penelope, an awkward teenager growing up in a huge deteriorating manor in post-WWII.
    Every character in the book has amazing characterization; all the quirks and oddities of each (for instance the main love interest has different colored eyes) would translate fantastically to screen with some good actors. And while the plot is completely predictable (the main character falls in love with her new friend’s brother, who in turn loves someone engaged to someone else), the setting, witty dialogue, amazing and characters, coupled with the fact that every chick romance film out there ends the same, prove that this would hardly be an issue.
    While this book never hit it big on the bookshelf, I still believe it would do extremely well at the box office.

    2. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
    This is a book I hold near and dear to my heart. I have been in love with it ever since a friend of mine bugged me non-stop to read it for a year. Now it is in my Top 5 Children/YA books of all time.
    The plot revolves around a young boy born in the future, in a world where drug lords have set up a country in between Mexico and the US, to serve the dual purpose of capturing illegals (people trying to cross the border) and forcing them to work in the fields as mindless drones (they put a chip in the brain), as well as producing the world’s supply of Opium.
    In such a rich setting, it’s hard to imagine how it could be any better. It get’s better. The boy learns at an early age that he is a clone: an exact copy of the most powerful Drug Lord out there, who insists that he (Matt) be raised like any other boy, despite the fact that all other clones are “stupified” at birth. This doesn’t change the fact though that once the Drug Lord hits a certain age he’s planning on harvesting Matt’s organs to keep him alive.
    The story follows Matt through several stages of his live, as he grows up, and the adventure truly does not end. There is action in all the right places, and while it would be a little hard to fit all of it into a 2-hour film, it could be done with the right screenwriter, and it could be done brilliantly.
    One character who would especially make an amazing translation to the screen would be one of the main antagonists: Tom, a boy who’s cruelness shows no bounds (we have seen from the likes of Voldermort that an audience knows how to appreciate an antagonist of pure evil). And let’s not forget Maria, Matt’s love interest — yes, this rich tale even includes romance.
    So in conclusion, this book would make a fantastic film because:
    1. It’s setting and plot are extremely creative and would translate beautifully to screen.
    2. The coming-of-age timeline and plenty of action would suggest that this movie would appeal to almost all ages. Were it to snag a PG-13 rating, I can see the parents taking their kids being just as interested as the little ones.
    3. It’s got just the sort of character development and current day parallels (border control anyone? stem cell research?) that with a good cast/director, this really could be one for the Oscars.

    And I will probably think of something to round out the number 3 spot on my list in a little bit. 🙂

  11. Haley Ryan said

    There are very few books that can actually make me cry, hyperventalate, smile, and make my heart beat faster right along with not only the main character but the supporting ones, too. However, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy Series did, in every single one of her books. The main character Rose is a strong-willed girl who I think a lot of the girls of this generation will be able to look up to. There’s also the romance she has with her slightly older mentor Dimitri and for some reason, their relationship was one that left me thinking about them for weeks after I finished reading the series. The bonds between the characters in the book are amazingly strong and it seems impossible to read the books and not feel like you know each and every character on a personal level. I’m a strong believer that Vampire Academy would do great as a big screen movie because it has a little something for everyone: there’s the action and violence, the love and the friendships, and even the hurt and the heartbreak. This series is by far my favorite and, let’s just say, i would definately be in the midnight line on the night of the premiere, running for a front row seat. 🙂

  12. Heyheyhey said

    I think Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia would be a great book-to-movie transition. First, the main characters are fairly good role models throughout the book, and they learn from the mistakes they make. If the sets were to stay true to the way they’re described in the book, they would be absolutely gorgeous. The plot is also unique: it involves magic, destiny, romance, adventure and friendship. I think fans of Harry Potter would enjoy it a lot (I know I did). :]

  13. Mrs.D said

    I think we can all agree on the fact that usually it’s non-paranormal YA books that tend to get across on-screen very well because the logistics of it all can be seen. When you have paranormal on-screen, then will concepts become difficult to portray–the Horcruxes, for the second time is a good example.
    Two of my favorite books that can be portrayed well on-screen would be (I’m sorry both of them have the number 13 in them, it’s the authors who came up with that). . .
    1) Thirteen Reasons Why:
    This is self-explanatory (I think). Thirteen Reasons Why is about suicide and teen angst given in a unique point of view. Given the tapes, the talking, the MC’s thoughts and everything will be explained. In a way, even the protagonist’s thoughts would be unnecessary because the girl who committed suicide explains his presence in her thirteen reasons, too.
    2) Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes:
    I read this AGES ago and remembered it only now because I felt it would be an amazing movie (given the right cast and relation to the events of the book, of course). This book is suspenseful (in the oddest way), catchy and diverse. The protagonist goes from place to place, travelling all over the world (something I wish I could do!) and has an awesome, non-paranormal, NORMAL adventure. It’s amazing. The book can be portrayed on-screen because the envelopes would explain her adventure, what she has to do next, and how the adventure would end. I would absolutely love it if a movie based on this book would be out!


  14. While I know the series(which I believe will be a trilogy) has just begun, I think Courtney Allison Moulton’s Angelfire would make a wonderful transition from book to film. First off, there are a lot of paranormal movies when it that went from book to movie (Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, I am Number 4, Twilight etc.) but there hasn’t really been anything Angel related, and even if there was, Angelfire’s quite different and unique. Also, the descriptions that Courtney uses throughout the book are some of the best I’ve ever read. Angelfire is a very visual read, and I think that it could be portayed well on the big screen.

    Same goes for the upcoming release by Veronica Roth, Divergent. Such an amazing read, I think it would be FANTASTIC as a movie. The world building and character relationships in this one are simply wonderful. Not only is it my favorite book of the year so far, but if done right, it could be an epic movie as well.

  15. Sakira said

    I better explained why GOOSE GIRL should be brought to film:

    Bayern series, starting with GOOSE GIRL. The plots are fairly simple on a surface level, making the story easy to follow and engaging at the same time, filled with just the right mix of court intrigue and action. The protagonists have powerful voices. Each has his/her own issues with self-identity, and we grow with the characters as the story progress.

    For example, Ani from GOOSE GIRL is a princess who has a gift for learning the languages of animals. Because of her gift, she is despised in her own kingdom, and so she is sent to Bayern to marry the prince; however, she is forced to flee when her lady-in-waiting Selia leads a mutiny against her. Ani has no home to which she can return, so she is forced to make a living in Bayern. However, Selia has told the Bayern people that her lady-in-waiting rebelled against her, so Ani’s life is in danger, especially because her yellow hair stands out against the black hair of the Bayern people.

    Afterwards, we follow Ani as she tends to the king’s geese (hence, the title of the novel) and learns the language of the winds. Her newfound power will save her life when she finally confronts Selia, having found out that Selia planned to turn Bayern against their home kingdom. The novel also presents class issues. In Bayern, Ani witnesses the segregation against her Forest friends she made while watching the geese. We also see romance blooming as Ani falls in love with Geric, which is conflicted due to her need to hide her true identity.

    With action, intrigue, the classic search for self-identity, and its touch of magic, the Bayern novels consist of compelling plots that I can easily see being brought to big screen. I would love to see the series brought to film!

  16. Summer Angel said

    THE SONG OF THE LIONESS Quartet by Tamora Pierce

    This series has been one of my favorite. Alanna is a girl who longs to be a knight in a time when women cannot become knights. Because her brother wants to become a sorcerer, they switch places. Alanna goes to the castle for knight training while her brother goes to the covenant to become a sorcerer.

    The time that Alanna at the castle is filled with mishaps as she struggles to keep up with the strict discipline and rough training. She befriends the crown prince, makes enemies, and struggles with the Gift (of sorcery), which she fears.

    The reader grows with Alanna as she learns to live with her gender and her Gift while adjusting to life at the castle. Jon, the crown prince, and George, King of Thieves, are wonderful companions that leave the reader wondering who she will choose.

    The series will transfer wonderfully from book to screen for its coming of age story that explores Alanna’s conflict with self-identity as she tries to deny her feminine qualities in favor of embracing her dreams of becoming a lady knight. It has a rich plot with priceless characters headed by a stubborn, strong-minded, and independent female lead with whom the audience can relate. Tamora Pierce has a large following who will certainly love to see her works brought to screen, and even without having read the series, viewers everywhere will enjoy joining Alanna on her adventures in theaters.

  17. Congratulations to the winners of the this blog game:
    Elanor Lawrence
    Summer Angel
    Sherry Salach

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