YA Books to Read Before They’re Movies

We’ve always had a thing for book-to-movie adaptations, particularly in YA. Not all of the adaptations are stellar, but there’s something inexplicably interesting about them. Then again, I don’t consider myself a very critical moviegoer. I recognize the flaws in many adaptations, but I don’t care.

Everyone’s making a huge deal about young adult novels being turned into movies, but really it’s NO DIFFERENT than any other type of adaptation in the sense that things have to be judged on a case by case basis. They’re different stories and visions. But that doesn’t mean they offer no value to the generations. There are people out there who wax poetic about Molly Ringwald movies, then call enjoying current YA adaptations immature. And worn out action movies flop all the time, but nobody’s railing against them. Holy hypocrisy, Batman!

In that spirit, we’re going to talk about YA books we love that will become (in some cases, hopefully become) movies. They range from dystopian to contemporary to fantasy, from “coming out next week” to “recently optioned for film”.

DIVERGENT trilogy by Veronica Roth (Dystopian)


Not gonna lie. We really, really, really did not like the last book in the Divergent trilogy. After reading, I actually referred to screwing up the last book in the series as “pulling an Allegiant”. But we fell in love with the first novel and so far, the clips have looked interesting, bar the occasional hokey line. The first book is fast-paced, emotional, and really intense at times. Our butts will be in the seats next week!

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green (Contemporary)


The following sentence requires a lot of commitment, but I’m going there: TFIOS, as fans lovingly abbreviate it, is my favorite standalone book of all time. At least at this point in my life. Yes, it’s about a terminally ill teen whose quiet existence is turned around after meeting someone who’s willing to connect with her despite it all. Everyone goes “Urgh! Cancer kid novel!” But it’s SO MUCH MORE than that. John Green is one of the most phenomenal writers in existence. TFIOS is smart, honest, and brave. It’s the kind of book that tears you apart and puts you back together again. And the trailer was so freaking good! We expect to laugh and cry and then do it all over again.

THE MAZE RUNNER trilogy by James Dashner (Dystopian)


There’s a lot of back and forth about The Maze Runner, coming out in September, for two reasons:
1) The industry seems to have high hopes for it.
2) There’s a male lead and all but one co-star is also male. Some people believe that this is the reason the industry has high hopes for it.
We call shenanigans! The Maze Runner is a dystopian series, but it’s also a mystery series. You never know what’s going to happen next. Details trickle out only as they’re needed and you can’t help but want more. But you need to know. If the movie keeps that up, we’d certainly forgive the gender discrepancy.

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy by Laini Taylor (Fantasy)


DOSAB is in the very, very early stages. It’s only got a director, as of right now. The books are worth it anyway. Laini Taylor has this lyrical quality about her writing that makes it easy to flit between modern day Prague and another realm with Karou, a seemingly normal girl who just happens to serve as a currier for otherworldly creatures. The films are going to require some serious CGI, so let’s hope for an amazing technical team!

SHADOW AND BONE (Grisha) trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (Fantasy)


This project was optioned by producer David Heyman of Harry Potter fame and it’s easy to see why. This series is BADASS! Leigh Bardugo has such a creative take on her world and a keen skill for molding stunning characters. The books are quite dark and intense, but there’s some amazing moments of levity in there too. They take on both whimsical and gothic elements of fantasy so effortlessly. If translated onto screen well, the films will be stellar!

PANIC by Lauren Oliver (Contemporary)


Panic came out last week, but it was optioned by Universal months ago. You’ve probably heard people say it sounds exactly like The Hunger Games, but other than the competition element, these people are full of it. Panic is a contemporary based in the impoverished fictional small town of Carp, New York, where students pay into a pot throughout high school and after graduation, they can choose to compete in a deadly competition of dares to win the money. There are two narrators: Heather enters because she’s trying to outrun herself– she thinks she could be a better, more likable, even prettier person if she could just leave Carp– and Dodge desperately wants revenge, even if it means murder. Important note: THEY DO NOT FALL IN LOVE. THX.

Hopefully, this list will do you some good if you’re adaptation junkies like us!
The Girl With The Pearl



  1. I’m not really a fan of contemporary YA, but Panic sounds awesome. Thanks for mentioning it!

    And we definitely need to get “pulling an Allegiant” into the urban dictionary.

  2. Between TFiOS and Mockingjay Part 1…..lets say I’m going to cry a lot in the theater 2014.

    I haven’t read the Divergent book but was Allegiant THAT bad? Everyone told me Mockingjay was the worst book out of the HG trilogy and I still loved it anyways….

    1. Obviously, reading is subjective so I think you should check out the Divergent series and choose for yourself. There are plenty of people who love the last book! I also love other books and movies that I know aren’t technically *good*, so I’m not the best judge of anything haha

  3. Ok, I don’t agree on everything said but we can agree that TFIOS shines as an incredible must read book that I think should become a modern classic.

    Allegiant…hmmm. I don’t agree it was the worst. I think it lost a lot of the momentum of the other books, but I after going back and re-reading, I could see why she made some of the decisions she did. Don’t understand why she dropped important themes such as being all the virtues (one of Four’s best lines).

  4. Also, Maze Runner: I can see how it might be more appealing to male action loving audience. Personally, excited to see it but doesn’t have the same emotional resonance as Divergent.

    Panic looked very good from the four chapters I read online. I appreciate the warning that they don’t fall in love so I am not rooting for that.

  5. Lastly, I am kinda surprised you didn’t mention The Giver in your list. I read the books because of finding them on VV’s rec pages. There is this beautiful haunting quality to the writing, and I also thought the book is considered to be the founder of the YA dystopian novel.

    1. Replying to everything here! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Allegiant isn’t the worst final book I’ve read lately (I may have to change that phrase to “pulling an Ignite Me”), but I found the last book disappointing. The themes are lost, the characters were inconsistent, and most of the story was very static. I feel like a lot of the final decisions were made to avoid predictability, but they didn’t actually make sense. That being said, I did have an emotional reaction to the end, though I really couldn’t justify it.

      Agreed about the emotional resonance of TMR. It’s more about satisfying curiosity than digging into the emotional depths for me as well.

      Alas, The Giver was not my rec! It was Them There Eyes’ rec. In this article, I only rec’d adaptations of books I’ve read… and I haven’t read The Giver yet. I know, I know! Don’t kill me!

      1. What? What? What?! Can not believe you haven’t read The Giver. I kinda love that she finished the quartet 20 yrs later.

        Um, yeah, I think I can identify a lot with “pulling an Ignite Me”. I mean, I understand she wanted to empower Juliet, but… Not happy with where she took Adam’s character at all. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

        I guess if I didn’t love Tris and Four so much, I wouldn’t have finished the book, for many of the reasons you mentioned. But I do appreciate her effort to bring up healing from what feels irrecoverable. It is an important topic… But agree the book as a whole just didn’t come together quite right. Sorry, Veronica.

  6. Kait touched on a lot of the reasons why Allegiant was a massive disappointment for me. Five months later, I still have an anger hangover about it. Unfortunately it influences how I feel about the entire series now. I have to remind myself that I actually enjoyed the first book to motivate me to see the movie.

    So basically, I should have just read Divergent and left things there. But I know there are other people who don’t see it that way and liked Allegiant too. (I don’t understand it, but hey, we all respond to stories differently)

    1. Just go to the movie and let it be a “Calgon- take me away” moment, and forget the rest of the story. ๐Ÿ™‚ The theater near me is actually doing an early release, so I get to see Theo and Shailene getting all badass in six daaaaayyysss *singsong voice*

  7. Definitely adding DOSAB and Panic to my reading list-right underneath I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class Predident and Pride and Prejudice with Zombies.

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