As the Maze Runner hits cinemas we look back at more teen novels on the big screen
The Maze Runner looks set to be another smash hit for the young-adult crowd. TOAD takes a look at the best YA adaptations in recent years.
The Fault in Our Stars (2014) One of the most beloved young adult novels of recent times, The Fault in Our Stars got the movie makeover this year. The result was a film that stuck to the book’s spirit, and told a heartwarming – and heartbreaking – romance for the ages. Also starring in 2014’s other big YA adaptation, Divergent, Shailene Woodley plays Hazel; suffering from cancer and having to carry an oxygen tank around, life for her isn’t that of a typical teenager. When she meets Gus (Ansel Elgort), a boy with a prosthetic leg and one wicked sense of humour, their romance turns her world upside-down – even though they both know they have less time on this planet than others. While it might not sound all that cheery, few films this year have been as brimming with life as The Fault in Our Stars – and even fewer with a central performance as good as Woodley’s.
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part II (2011) Although the Harry Potter book series started off as a children’s tale, as the characters of Harry, Ron and Hermione grew up while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, so too did its readers. The final few novels of Harry Potter’s battle against evil – and homework – became very dark and adult, and the same can be said about the films. In the final part of The Deathly Hallows (it had to be split into two movies, because the book was so long), Harry finally goes up against his nemesis Voldemort in a stunning two hours of incredible special effects, breathless action sequences, and shocking plot twists that had been building up over the course of eight films. Of course, Harry’s world of spells and school work wasn’t for everybody, but after a series of mediocre-to-decent films, finishing in superb style like this was a special treat for the fans.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) The premise isn’t that exciting; wannabe writer Charlie (Logan Lerman) starts his first year in college, but has trouble making friends thanks to his crippling shyness. Two final-year students, Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam, played by Emma Watson in her first big role since Harry Potter, take him under their wings and show him a world of culture, music, and friendship. What unfolds is a great coming-of-age story; Charlie’s problems are ones we can all relate to, and that’s the key that makes The Perks of Being a Wallflower a success. That the film is as good as the book is no surprise, either; the director was Stephen Chbosky, who also wrote the book the film is based on. The fact that Charlie’s journey through adolescence is still relevant now shows the impact that this trio of friends have had on different readers and filmgoers alike.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) The oldest book on this list still fires the imaginations of young adults everywhere, so a film adaptation was long overdue. C.S. Lewis, author of the The Chronicles of Narnia book series, initially never wanted the stories to be turned into movies – but after his death, his stepson Douglas Gresham sold the film rights after being impressed by test footage showing the computer-generated beasties that would inhabit the cinematic version. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was the first book C.S Lewis wrote (although it’s story events come second chronologically in the seven-book Narnia series after those of The Magician’s Nephew); four children in wartime England travel to the fantastical world of Narnia via a wardrobe, and the classic story of talking lions, kindly fauns and evil white witches was brought to breathtaking life onscreen.
The Hunger Games (2012) A new benchmark for cinema was set by The Hunger Games in 2012. Without it, we probably wouldn’t have had this year’s Divergent or the upcoming The Maze Runner. Although Twilight first lit a flame under young adult adaptation back in 2008, it also gained a lot of criticism, even though fans of sparkly, loved-up vampires flocked to see it and its three sequels. What Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her dark, gritty future world did, however, was put the seriousness back into teen movies – and some of the blood, too. Watching Katniss fight for her life against other contestants in a deadly free-for-all was one of 2012’s biggest thrills, and not only was it the third biggest film of that year, it was also a huge hit with the critics. With a similarly huge smash sequel done with and another two on the way, it looks like the odds are constantly in Katniss’ favour.