When it comes to figuring out the next big movie franchise, young adult novels have always been a big hit. From “The Princess Diaries” to “Harry Potter” to “The Fault In Our Stars,” audiences have experienced movies from every genre there is in the YA dystopian novel universe.
However, one genre — the dystopian novel — looms head and shoulders above the others within the YA universe, as apparently the thought of some distant future in which teenagers are forced to fight for their survival makes for a pleasant matinee experience for the whole family.
Macabre or not, the fantasy quality of dystopian novels works as a perfect distraction from regular life, allowing viewers to jump from their troubled universe into an even more insane one. Plus, when a director turns a novel into a movie, the adaptation has the added bonus of piquing the interest of teen viewers in the book that birthed their favorite film.
With the release of the final “Maze Runner” movie “The Death Cure” in 2018, audiences witnessed the end of one of the most well-known YA dystopian franchises ever to grace the silver screen. However, while “The Maze Runner” was the last dystopian series in production, it is by no means the last YA novel capable of being franchised.
While, yes, the dystopian theme can get a bit repetitive (another teen trying to overcome another harsh futuristic government?) there are plenty more amazing, original stories out there that would do just as well on the big screen.
“The Lunar Chronicles”
“The Lunar Chronicles” by Marissa Meyer is one of the best, most underrated YA series of the last few years. It’s a four-part story with a few different spin-offs that follow the story of a mechanic named Cinder and her attempts to save Earth from the evil queen of the moon.
Each book takes on a different Grimm fairy tale, yet continues the same narrative. The series starts with book one, “Cinder,” which is loosely based off of the story of Cinderella.
Like the fairy-tale heroine, Cinder has an evil stepmother and stepsisters and ends up meeting a royal love interest — in this case, Prince Kai of the Eastern Commonwealth (New Beijing). For the most part, though, the similarities end there.
After the two meet, Cinder’s stepmother then tries to get rid of her by volunteering Cinder for cure-testing for the plague that’s wiping everyone out. Cinder ends up discovering, however, that she’s immune to the disease and that she has a chance to change the world.
Each new book adds a new character and new fairy tale to the mix, including Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. Packed with space traveling and racing against the clock to save the Earth, the lovably geeky narrative will have you quickly turning the pages for the next scene.
It’s a great series to be made into a movie because of the amount of action and all the cool gadgets used, as well as the fact that there are so many interesting and complex characters.
Meyer has another amazing YA dystopian novel that would make a fantastic movie and it’s all about superheroes and villains. The catch is that the reader is totally on the villains’ side (most of the time). The novel “Renegades” takes place after an uprising where those with powers have had enough of being shunned and try to take over the city.
The story follows Nova, a secret anarchist who joins the Renegades (heroes) to spy on them and give the information back to the villains so they’ll be able to take over. But what happens when Nova starts falling for the handsome Renegade Adrian, who’s got a few secrets of his own?
“Renegades” is set to be just two books, the latter of which will be out in November 2018. It would be cool to get to see the other side of the superhero lifestyle on the big screen and even be able to sympathize with them.
If you’ve ever heard of the ABC show “The Bachelor,” then this next YA dystopian novel might sound familiar to you. Kiera Cass’s “The Selection” centers on a kingdom sorted by a caste system that divides people based on their jobs and how much money their families have.
America Singer is a Five, part of the artist caste. Her family is fairly poor and has a hard time just getting by. When the royal family announces that Prince Maxon will be holding a Selection to choose his bride, America enters because there’s a chance she can earn money for her family.
America has no real interest in the competition (which is similar to that of the bachelor except so much more is on the line) but when her boyfriend breaks things off and she finds out she’s chosen, she is determined to stay as long as she can just to send money back home. There’s a war, a love triangle and so many near-death experiences that the three book series would be perfect on screen.
The last on the list of YA dystopian novels has a little bit of everything above and yet so much more. “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard is so riddled with plot twists and surprises that it would definitely have you on the edge of your seat.
The Kingdom of Norta is ruled by Silvers (aka people who have powers) and Mare Borrow is a red (no powers). Her family is incredibly poor and she’s about to be drafted into the army until suddenly the royal family is requesting her as a maid. When Mare shows up and on her first day she survives a deadly electrocution, showing that she’s a red that also happens to have powers, her entire world gets turned upside down.
The king becomes terrified about what it would mean if the world found out reds might have the potential to have powers, so he lies to everyone saying that she is a long-lost silver and betroths her to his youngest son. The only thing problem is that there is already a group of reds starting an uprising and Mare is about to get caught up in the middle of it.
Readers were constantly surprised during the first three books in the “Red Queen” series. It’s so much more intense than you would think and the incredible powers that some of the characters pose would be spectacular on the big screen.
The last “Red Queen” book is set to come out later this year and with all the unexpected storylines the ending of the series is set to be huge. Universal Pictures was rumored to be working on a film for the YA dystopian novel but there’s been no confirmation.
Any of these tales would be a great addition to the rapidly growing success of YA novels on the big screen. There are a lot of romantic comedies in the works now but we’re definitely in the market for some new YA dystopian film, so hopefully we’ll see these novels on the big screen in a few years.