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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Best film adaptations of young-adult novels

Youth is impermanent, but somehow young-adult novels transcend the test of time. After all, how many conversations have you had with friends about which “Harry Potter” house suits you best?

With the recent release of the film adaptation of the Judy Blume classic “Tiger Eyes “, we’re reminded why we cherish the beloved novels of our youth on the silver screen. Like “Tiger Eyes”, Judy Blume novels resonated with me. They encompassed our juvenile soul, the quirks of growing up, or simply the spirit of hope. Young adult novels aren’t merely just books we used to read: they’re personal.

Whether you’re like me, a college-aged student longing to see the essence of my childhood relived on screen, or if you’re simply just a sucker for young-adult fiction, film adaptations of young-adult novels are exciting to see. Here are examples of some:

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

“Perks” is the quintessential young-adult novel. The story follows Charlie, an introvert and outsider seeking a sense of belonging while trying to battle his inner-demons – all as he’s traversing high school.

The film adaptation – written and directed by the author of the novel himself, Stephen Chbosky – perfectly captures the essence of growing up; the classic coming-of-age story, if you will. Logan Lerman hit the nail on the head as Charlie, who aptly embodied his innocent awkwardness and the nuances of his emotional toil.

“Howl’s Moving Castle”

“Howl’s” follows the story of a young woman named Sophie as she travels with Howl, a wizard, on his literally moving castle in pursuit of breaking a curse put on her by a witch.

The novel was rendered into a beautiful animated film of the same title by Hayao Miyazaki. On screen, it remained as whimsical and adventurous as the novel, and still managed to capture the over-arching emotional themes as we see Sophie embracing her true character by conquering her fears.

 “The Hunger Games”

While I admit I never read “The Hunger Games” upon its initial release, I admire its adventure and post-apocalyptic twist to a young girl’s story about rebellion, hope and courage. If anything, the film adaptation boosted the Hunger Games series into a phenomenon of even vaster popularity. 

The film captures the heroism of Katniss Everdeen as she participates in the Hunger Games, where boys and girls fight to their death. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss perfectly embodies Katniss’s unwavering resilience. She shows the world that there is hope in a world that is otherwise despondent.

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The “Harry Potter” series

No “best of” young-adult list is complete without the mention of “Harry Potter.” I think this echoes most of my peers, but “Harry Potter” was a quintessential aspect of my childhood.

My generation grew up with these novels and their corresponding films and became attached to Harry’s story. As an end of an era had approached with the series, so did a chapter of our own lives. “Harry Potter” epitomizes the effect young-adult novels have on their audience.

“Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist”

A personal favorite of mines, “Nick and Norah” follows teens Nick, a member of a rock band, and the often too cautious and passive-aggressive Norah, as they traverse New York City after a fateful five minutes pretending to be each other’s significant other.

The film aptly captured the essence of the adventure of New York City after midnight, or simply the juvenile spirit. The two quirky leads – Michael Cera and Kat Dennings – were appropriately cast. The soundtrack may also be one of my favorite movie soundtracks, featuring indie acts like Vampire Weekend or Rogue Wave, to further enhance the novel’s idiosyncratic, alternative setting. 

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