We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
This suspenseful novel is the winner of multiple literary awards, including the Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction (2014). The story is set on a private island owned by Harris Sinclair, told from the point of view of his granddaughter Cadence. Harris’s three daughters – Carrie, Bess, and Cady’s mom Penny – each own a house on Beechwood Island.
Cady spends every summer on the island with the Sinclairs and the Liars: her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and Gat, the nephew of Carrie’s partner Ed. During the summer of her fifteenth year, Cady and Gat fall in love, but Harris disapproves of their relationship because of Gat’s Indian descent, just as he disapproves of Carrie’s relationship with Ed.
Summer Fifteen, as Cady refers to it, is also tainted by a mysterious tragedy she can’t remember when she recounts the events in retrospect. Whatever it is prompts Penny to send Cady on a trip to Europe with her estranged father for Summer Sixteen, when she develops an addiction to Percocet. When she returns to Beechwood in Summer Seventeen, she finds that a lot has changed on the island, including her friendship with the Liars.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The Arrival is a 2006 graphic novel by the Australian author Shaun Tan. The story follows an immigrant who moves to a strange new land inhabited by magical creatures, floating ships, ethereal plants, and evil oppressors. Each page is illustrated with a level of detail that is a testament to the author’s imagination and the careful creation of this new world.
Tan has won an Academy Award for the adaptation of another one of his books, The Lost Thing (2010). The Arrival would make a perfect short or even feature film accessible to viewers of all ages; the fantastical creatures add an element of fun and joy to the man’s new, lonely home. Since the story is already so visual, it could be adapted for the screen seamlessly.
Gone by Michael Grant
Michael Grant is the author of over 160 books, many of which he has co-authored with his wife. His most popular works are the six Gone series novels, published from 2008 to 2013, proceeded by three follow-up novels published from 2017 to 2019. The series is a dystopian science-fiction saga reminiscent of The Lord of the Flies in which all residents of Perdido Beach aged fourteen and under are trapped inside of a dome.
The children start developing strange superpowers and mutations that they later learn are a result of an underground radiation spill. Their abilities range in strength and category, and coupled with the class differences, makes the little society extremely volatile and dangerous.
The series is popular among young adult audiences, who have been requesting adaptations for years. On several occasions as early as 2012, Grant announced that the books had been optioned to be adapted into a television series. In November 2019, Grant Tweeted about casting for a teaser, but no information has since been released.
The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
Cassandra Clare is known for her urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments, which has seen two adaptations: the 2013 box office bomb, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and the Freeform series Shadowhunters, which was cancelled after three seasons. The popular book series is preceded by The Infernal Devices, a trilogy set in nineteenth-century London. In terms of publication, the two series were published almost side-by-side: the trilogy was published between 2010 and 2011, while the six-part series spanned from 2007 to 2014.
In The Infernal Devices, the ancestors of The Mortal Instruments characters unite when Tessa Gray moves from New York to London searching for her missing brother. She soon discovers that the two boys she ends up living with, Jem and Will, are Shadowhunters: demon-slaying creatures with angel blood in their veins. They discover a common enemy in the Pandemonium Club, which is a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans – needless to say, this is a combination that should be avoided at all costs. Over three books, Tessa, Will, and Jem, become inseparable, forming a unique bond that transcends friendship or romance.
Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman
Morris Gleitzman is an Australian author who has penned many children’s books, including his 2002 book Boy Overboard. The story follows a young boy’s dream to become a professional soccer player, but he lives in Afghanistan, where children aren’t allowed to play. Jamal and his family flee the country as refugees to Australia, but he and his sister are separated from their parents along the way.
The dark and mature themes explored in the book are presented in such a way that they can be easily digested by young readers. Adapting the book into film format could make the story more accessible to a broader audience – and this is one that is definitely worth telling and worth hearing by more people.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green
A few of John Green’s books have already been adapted for the screen, including The Fault In Our Stars, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, and Let it Snow. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is one of his darker and more mature pieces of work, perhaps because of Levithan’s influence. Levithan is known for writing about male gay characters in his young adult fiction books, such as Boy Meets Boy (2003) and Two Boys Kissing (2013).
In Will Grayson, Will Grayson, two strangers, both by the name of Will Grayson, meet, and their lives become closely intertwined. But apart from their names, the boys don’t share much in common. In fact, Levithan’s Will narrates entirely in lowercase, because it reflects his personality better. As to getting the book adapted, John Green writes on his website that a movie producer once said of his book, “The only thing Hollywood hates more than smart teenagers is smart, gay teenagers.” Proving this producer wrong is one reason why the book should be adapted for the screen – a medium that could reach more viewers who identify with the characters.
Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
Messenger of Fear consists of three books, the second of which is a novelette. A teenager named Mara wakes up in a strange, foggy field with no memory of anything except her own name. She meets the Messenger of Fear, a pale young man dressed in black who wants to show Mara the darkness living inside young people and how it affects the world. She doesn’t understand why he has chosen her as his companion.
The Messenger must challenge those who have committed terrible deeds and gone unpunished by offering them a game; if they win, they can go free. If they lose, they must face their deepest fears. Meanwhile, Mara struggles to recall her lost memories.
The allegorical story offers audiences a glance into the evils of the world and how they can taint society at large. In particular, it explores how prejudice and hatred make people violent and the effects it has on victims and those who must dole out punishment, like the Messenger. With their episodic structure, the books could make a great television or web series and, with the right platform, these intriguing stories could reach more people.