Should YA Books be Adapted for the Screen?

I mean, is there even a point?

We can probably go back to 1899, when Cinderella was adapted for the screen from the Brothers Grimm version*. As what may be one of the first book adaptations, you can be sure film-goers left thinking, “Eh. The bOoK waS beTTeR.”

*(Yes, I did Google “when was the first book to movie adaptation” to make a dramatic point.)

As booklovers, we can list SO MANY reasons why the book version is better. Off the top of our heads, too. Almost like we’re preparing for this moment our whole lives or something.

📖 You have the author’s authentic vision.
📖 You can let your imagination do the walking — not the CGI, and costume-designers, and acting coaches, and location scouts, and, and, and.
📖 You can really dive deep into the characterization by literally jumping into their minds and truly find out what makes them tick

💭 have more reasons? drop them in the comments below!

Buuuuuuut in the past year or so, a ton of YA movie adaptations have come out. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say some have caught my attention. There have been the good (The Hate U Give), the bad (After), and the ugly (The Kissing Booth)*.

*my personal thoughts, feel free to disagree

With such a medley of reactions to YA book-to-film adaptions, Mandy and I wanted to weigh their worth with you. Should we keep shouting out our favourite books to Netflix in the hopes an adaptation will come about? Or should the announcement of a new screen adaptation fill our little bookish hearts with trepidation?


YA Books Becoming Movies in 2019 (List compiled by Mandy and I)

^ to refresh your (and let’s be honest, my) memory ^


yay to book adaptations

📌 The Hate U Give, a case analysis by Sha

I read Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give and when the film version came out, I saw it in theatres. The beginning of the movie I was all, “Okay, okay, this is pretty good for an adaptation.” Amandla Stenberg was well cast, IMHO, because she played Starr’s grief and joyous moments to a T. Seeing Starr’s family on-screen was actually, surprisingly, just as dynamic and beautiful as reading their interactions in the book.

What absolutely sold me on the movie was its ending. The Hate U Give (film) did not end the same way its book counterpart did. While that could make for a very, very angry Sha, I found that the movie ending gave an equally strong message along the themes Thomas explored.

In conclusion, what do I think a good book-to-movie adaptation needs?

📌 strong cast (how do we define that? 💭 drop your thoughts in the comments)
📌 commitment to the book’s message
📌 one or two original scenes 


📌 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, aka when Hollywood’s messing with our story went right for me by Mandy

Mandy has only watched YA movie adaption this year, which was a nay, so I’m using an old one to bring some intrigue, I suppose.

To be honest, I wasn’t really a fan of the book. I know, I know, *gasp* Mandy not enjoying a book? I thought this was just okay, but my friend and I thought the movie trailer seemed cool on this one so we gave it a try. I ended up pleasantly surprised by this one, because I actually really enjoyed??

This was one of the few times that I actually really enjoyed the changes that Hollywood made to the book. I felt throughout the book that it meandered, and I never really connected with it. In the movie edition, there was action, intriguing new moments, and while I still had my thoughts of, “that wasn’t in the book”, it was usually followed up with, “but that’s a cool new edition.” It brought far more excitement, and the graphics/visuals were quite bright and stunning.

HOWEVER. I don’t think this should be done for all or most books. I think the originality worked in this one super well, because I didn’t enjoy the original source material as much. But if it was a book I loved? These would probably be fighting words. Just wanted to point out this example.

In conclusion, why did this movie work better than the book?

📌 amazing visual graphics 
📌 less boring time, more action and intrigue


nay to book adaptations

📌 why The Kissing Booth broke my brain, by Sha

Some books don’t need adaptations. My point here is actually that simple.

Once a book is released, it’s literally its own thing. As in, it garners reviews of its own. Unlike an original movie that receives limited critique before widespread release, in the book-to-movie scenario a producer only needs to click onto Goodreads and think, “Hmm. Is this a good idea?”

The movie did go through a lot of changes from the book, I’ll acknowledge that. (They weren’t good changes, though.) But when you start off with a book where everyone is pointing out the gratuitous violence, lack of realism and logic, flat main character, and emotionally manipulative romantic interest, well. At the very least try to not replicate that in the movie.

*I don’t intend to hurt the feelings of anyone who is a fan of The Kissing Booth. Please understand this is my opinion, as I know you’re entitled to yours.

In conclusion, what do I think leads to a bad book adaptation?

📌 poor source material
📌 lack of research by production team
(what do people think about the book, what can be done to improve it)


📌 why I Maybe Should Have Read the Book First aka The Sun is Also a Star, by Mandy

Let’s preface this: I’m a firm believer of reading the book before the movie. However, when facing a multi hour flight from England to the US and still reeling from the end of X-Men Dark Phoenix, I decided to let my inhibitions go and clicked on The Sun is Also a Star after seeing much acclaim from the YA community. I also liked both the actors – Yara Shahidi is amazing and ridiculously pretty, so I was game.

I knew a lot of Nelson’s books are full of depth and intense characterization. And I think perhaps books like these don’t always translate quite right to the movies. There were a lot of periods of just whirling in circles or no speaking or just showing images or intense glances that just left me confused. I wasn’t clear on everything, and the chemistry between the two characters – which was simmering – never boiled, so I was left feeling hollow. If we had more time and more time to focus on characterization, I think it would have worked.

I was also bored? I love character driven books if they are done right. Perhaps the book was done right, but there was little action. There was really only one obstacle? And the rest of the the time Natasha and Daniel just kind of walked around – and it was like, two hours of this. Some parts were interesting, but it just…dragged mostly.

*I don’t intend to hurt the feelings of anyone who is a fan of The Sun is also a Star. Please understand this is my opinion, as I know you’re entitled to yours.

In conclusion, what do I think leads to a bad book adaptation?

📌 lack of enough action to sustain the loss of character’s thoughts/internal struggles and battles
📌 poor chemistry


All that being said, YES, I am going to watch To All the Boys I Loved Before 2 aka P.S. I Still Love You. Who do you think I am?

What are your thoughts on book to movie adaptations? 

36 thoughts on “Should YA Books be Adapted for the Screen?

  1. I think it’s so hard to say whether I like book to film adaptations, because there are a few really great ones and so many that didn’t hit the mark. My favourite adaptation is probably Brokeback Mountain though – it did so much to this short story, yet kept it feeling very authentic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that is a classic that I have yet to watch. I’m also ambivalent on if I like adaptations on not. It’s very much a case by case basis. There’s too much room for error — or complete, remarkable success!


  2. I think if they are done well like The Hate U Give was then I don’t have a problem with them. I did not like what was done with The Hobbie, I didn’t think those were done well at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t really have that strong opinions on book to movie adaptations, though I’ve found I tend to like them more when I haven’t read the book (for instance, I really liked Dumplin’ and thought To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was really cute). Meanwhile, I have somewhat controversial opinions on adaptations like The Hate U Give (I personally think it didn’t quite manage to do what the books did, and a few pieces of dialogue didn’t make sense without the book). I don’t know. I’ll watch the ones for the books I’ve read and liked and promptly be disappointed, but I don’t have that much stake in adaptations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really liked Dumplin’ too, and I haven’t read the book.

      I’ll agree, no hesitation, that The Hate U Give (book) is better. You can get so much more nuance and background from reading the story and getting into Starr’s head. As an adaptation, though, I think it succeeded in not watering down the storyline or confusing the message, which seems to happen to at least two-thirds of adaptations.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree that THUG was a good adaptation as far as adaptations go. I’ve only seen it once (and that was in theatres), so I don’t really remember too much about it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! In theory, I like book to movie/TV adaptations because often (for me, anyway) it spurs me to read the books before they come out, or introduces me to new books – e.g. I only started reading Percy Jackson, To All The Boys, Eragon, Coraline etc. AFTER I watched the movies. (Despite the FEELINGS I have regarding the Percy Jackson and Eragon adaptations, they helped me discover some of my childhood favourites so I can’t regret their existence.) I also find it interesting to see what Hollywood decides to keep/change from the source material, and what that says about mass media today! Also some of them are just awesome adaptations, e.g. How To Train Your Dragon, A Monster Calls, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Finding new books to love is a huuuge bonus for sure!! Ahaha, okay, at least the Eragon and PoJ movies did *something* for this world. Ooh that is a very interesting thing to note for sure! Like how so many adaptations sneak in an extra romantic plot?

      Okay, I’ve heard so many times How to Train Your Dragon is an adaptation but I never looked into what the source material is. A novel, a children’s book? How long ago was it written? But YES, those movies are *amazing*.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I personally prefer the movie adaptation of HTTYD but that’s because the books are written for younger children – they’re still fun, quick reads though with really cute, personal diary-style illustrations full of character and vibrancy. I think the series is still ongoing! They’re by Cressida Cowell.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome post! I really like this topic for a discussion, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately haha. To answer the big question, //yes// I think YA books should be adapted for the screen—and mostly for one reason: YA books are crushing it at telling diverse stories. The book community has done an awesome job of supporting unique POVs recently, and I think one of the payoffs of that is seeing our favorite stories become major motion pictures that can reach a wider audience. It really sucks when the movie adaptations kinda suck (@ The Sun Is Also A Star lol), but it’s cool to see media companies picking up on the different types of stories we want to be told 🙂.
    I really need to watch The Hate U Give though! That’s interesting that they changed the ending 😮.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES YES YES, that is soooo on point. Book adaptations contribute some of the most diverse films we see on screen these days. You said that wonderfully Belle, and I totally agree with you. If you end up watching The Hate U Give, let me know what you think of the new ending!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I try not to have personal thoughts regarding book to film adaptations any more because despite whether the films turn out be good or bad, they are bringing these stories to a much wider audience, especially if they have messages akin to those in THUG which have worldwide impact and appeal. Also If you have teens who are not big readers, who struggle with literacy, or prefer a more visual medium etc, the adaptations are providing access to these stories those teens would not otherwise have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s okay to have your personal opinions, but you’re entirely right, it’s so great that these books are reaching a larger audience. I love seeing non-readers suddenly carrying around a book after it becomes popularized by a movie adaptation.


      1. 1) because I go back to school tomorrow and I’m trying to adjust (not working: I woke up at 7am (yay) but went back to sleep and forced myself up at 7.30 (okayish)) so yeah and also can we rant about how daylight savings is the wOrSt?!

        2) oh no. not unless I wanted angry stans coming at me

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 1) oohhhh this is true. I was never good at preparing myself to get up early. i just … did it. or didn’t. 😂

        okay um, apparently brisbane doesn’t DO daylight savings? like, just brisbane.

        2) nope. would not want that!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. 1) honestly I have like no choice cause I get a bus and don’t like inconveniencing (is that a word) my parents to drive me even though that means everyone gets a sleep in?? idk my thought process okay?

        ur so lucky what the heck

        2) definitely not

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so disappointed that my country didn’t show THUG!! And as you’ve said there is the good (Harry Potter, The Hunger games) and the very bad (Vampire Academy!) so the jury’s still out 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think some books lend themselves to adaptation much better than others. The Hate U Give was one adaptation I particularly enjoyed as I went with two male friends who would never have read the book. It made for a really interesting discussion afterwards. I have definitely discovered books by watching adaptations and going to buy the book afterwards. The author’s vision is of course very important but a director’s vision can be extremely powerful too and sometimes it is nice to see something re-imagined. There will always be cases of books being better than films and vice versa but I am always happy to talk about a story either way 🙂 Having a story in multiple formats helps with accessibility too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s always hard with adaptations because while you don’t want anything to change not everything translates well into film. Like you can’t show what a character is thinking without always having the constant voice over and that only works in some kinds of films. And then there is horrible CGI that can really ruin an adaptation. I just always go in knowing an adaptation will never be perfect and while it has to be compared to the book it is not the book. If that makes sense lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get EXACTLY what you’re saying. I always want the movie to be exactly like the book even while I know it won’t be — so I also want to movie to be its own thing. It’s just a whole mashup of wants that won’t totally happen, and an eventually acceptance that whatever I get is … well, what I get XD

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Mandy. *holds hand over heart* You can’t tell me you liked the Peculiar Children movie! 😂 I really enjoyed the book, and it’s actually one of my most reread books… which means I didn’t like the movie. For me it was okay, up until the last 20 minutes because that part was not in the book, haha! (But it’s okay and I’m just kidding, love you)

    I always believe that the book will be better than the movie, simply because it’s the author’s original content, the way it was intended, and the way it will make the most sense! I think it’s awesome that so many books are getting film and TV adaptations, because that means more attention to the book community! However, I also think a lot of the movies being made (like After and The Kissing Booth, and even The Sun Is Also A Star) which are not amazing movies… I think those give people the wrong idea about what YA is. People might think that those movies represent what teens are reading these days, and that the books are just like the movies, and they might automatically assume that it’s just not good literature 🤷‍♀️ I don’t know, just some thoughts! Either way, I really hope more books get adaptations soon.


  11. Yes! I was waiting for To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before because it is precious and perfect. It shows that there can be good (and even amazing) book to movie adaptations. But for me, even if it’s not great and I end up saying the book is better than the movie (which it is 99.9% of the time) I still love to experience that world, even as I’m simultaneously cringing.


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