Lousy young-adult book-to-screen adaptations we wish were never made
Screenwriter and producer Josh Schwartz finally got to work on his dream project after thirteen years. Hulu commissioned a limited series based on John Green’s bestselling novel, Looking for Alaska, published all the way back in 2005.
It’s been a long time coming, but after the success of 2014’s The Fault in Our Stars as well as the publication of Green’s latest exploration of teenage strife Turtles All the Way Down, the writer’s particular brand of quirky angst will premiere this October.
Schwartz was previously known for his work on The O.C. and Gossip Girl, so there’s surely no one better to tackle Green’s debut novel, which received some controversy upon release but now feels as tame as Jane Austen.
The novel follows Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter’s experiences in boarding school, and his obsessions with poetry, last words and his first love – the self-destructive Alaska Young. It received flak upon its release for its depiction of teen sex, drug use, and profanity, but now seems more problematic for launching the long and painful line of Manic Pixie Dream Girl characters.
It’s a coming-of-age tale for the pretentious and self-obsessed, and it will be interesting to see whether the upcoming adaptation will prove just as irritating as the original text. For a while there it seemed like the YA craze was mercifully dying out, but since John Green is back with a vengeance, we’ll take a look at some of the worst movies and series to emerge from our obsession with young adult fiction.
The Maze Runner
Finally coming to an end this year, after an unfortunate accident left the show’s star Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf) unable to complete the shooting schedule, this trilogy began with an intriguing premise, but much like the original novels, grew more and more ridiculous yet somehow even more boring as they progressed!
The Divergent Series
So, this was a disaster waiting to happen. Awful books unsurprisingly made for an awful series of films not even Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) was able to save. After leaving the story unfinished, with hopes of an Allegiant Part Two to wrap up loose ends, there are talks of a spinoff TV show to conclude the story that we’re praying never happens.
13 Reasons Why
Netflix should have known better. There are far more than thirteen reasons why this show stinks, not least for its awful depiction of teenage suicide. It’s baffling that this is getting a second season.
Margo Roth Spiegelman is Alaska Young squared in this John Green adaptation, and is all the worse for being played by Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad).
Ah, thank you pretty white boy for teaching us that we should distrust medical diagnosis and go against the wishes of our loving parents.
Yes, Everything, Everything incorporates a twist ending in which (shock) Maddy’s mother has actually been lying about her illness in order to keep her to herself, but this is a serious real world issue (look up Munchausen syndrome by proxy) and wrapping it up in a twee, fairytale romance was frankly insulting.
We can’t blame Hollywood for getting a little too wrapped up with the Twilight craze, but this supernatural romance was a pale imitator of a series that wasn’t all that good to begin with. Hey, at least it gave us Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story).
The Mortal Instruments (and Shadowhunters)
One of our favorite things to remind people is that the “hot new superstar” Jamie Campbell Bower’s last film role was playing Skiff the boat in a Thomas the Tank Engine movie. Really says all you need to know about the quality of this hopeful franchise. But now there’s a Netflix Originals based on the books, too? How did that happen?
It’s only natural to have read and loved the Percy Jackson books when you were a kid. They filled the long waits between the next Harry Potter book and tapped into our love for Greek mythology, even spawning a spinoff series for dedicated fans based on the Egyptian deities. The films, however? Just terrible.
In case you were wondering, The Duff stands for The Designated Ugly Fat Friend. First of all, what a terrible concept. Second of all, whose bright idea was it to cast the gorgeous Mae Whitman (One Fine Day) in the titular role and try to make us believe that she’s supposed to be ugly and fat?
Hey, remember when The Lord of the Rings came out and blended classical, epic filmmaking with modern style and state of the arts special effects? Imagine that, but half as long yet ten times more boring.
The 5th Wave
After a slew of remakes and YA adaptations, it’s disappointing to admit that Chloë Grace Moretz’s (Kick-Ass) best work in the last few years was probably Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. The 5th Wave pits Moretz against an oncoming, slow alien invasion, and it’s just as dull and uninspired as it sounds.
I Am Number Four
What happened in this again? We’re pretty sure it involves aliens and some “Chosen One” nonsense, but all we can say for sure is that Alex Pettyfer (Elvis & Nixon) definitely takes his shirt off at some point in the film.
Most adaptations on this list were pulling from terrible source material to begin with, but The Giver is widely regarded as one of the best books ever written for kids – right up there with The Hobbit. However, despite the film starring both Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski) & Meryl Streep (The Post), it still managed to send everyone to sleep.
Twilight may be awkward, sloppy, and crap all over the mystical mythos of the vampire, but at least it introduced the world to a pair of fantastic actors in Kristen Stewart (Snow White and the Huntsman) & Robert Pattinson (Good Time), featured some gloriously hammy performances from a range of guest stars, and taught a generation of female readers that sexuality isn’t the evil that society keeps telling them it is.
However, nothing nearly that positive can be said about Stephenie Meyer’s follow-up or its ropey feature adaptation.