by: SUBMITTED PHOTOS - In case you’ve been living in Antarctica the last few months and haven’t heard, the epically popular novel of teen love, cancer support groups and loss, John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars,” has hit the big screen. The movie stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, fresh from playing sister and brother in the recent movie adaptation of another teen bestseller, Veronica Roth’s “Divergent.” Teens will tell you that this is just plain wrong, going from playing siblings to playing soul mates, and yet the movie version of “The Fault in our Stars” is highly anticipated by teens and adults alike.

“The Fault in Our Stars” and “Divergent” are but two examples of Hollywood mining popular teen books for blockbuster appeal and a share of the lucrative teen market. Other recent teen books-to-movies include JRR Tolkein’s classic “The Hobbit” (with more screen time to come), and Suzanne Collin’s “The Hunger Games” trilogy, which will, in Hollywood style, grow into four movies before movie-goers know whether Katniss chooses Peeta or Gale.

Three other popular teen books have recently been made into movies, without some of the fanfare of those big-name productions. Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game,” the science fiction classic, tells the story of Ender Wiggins, a shy but brilliant teenager who is the military’s next great hope in the upcoming battle of hostile aliens versus the entire human race and the future of the earth as we know it.

Markus Zusak’s profoundly moving “The Book Thief” tries to make sense of the horrors of World War II. Narrated by Death itself, “The Book Thief” is the story of Liesel — a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors. It is a librarian’s dream theme, with literacy and books providing the power to change and save lives.


Another recent adaptation is Meg Rosoff’s fabulous 2004 Printz Award-winner, “how i live now”. (The movie poster solved the issue of the un-capitalized title words by changing it to the all-caps, “HOW I LIVE NOW”.) In a not-too-distant future, to get away from her pregnant stepmother in New York City, narcissistic fifteen-year-old Daisy goes to England to stay with her cousins. Nuclear war breaks out, communication with the outside world breaks down, and Daisy is forced to think of things far bigger than herself as she helps her family to survive.

The enduring themes of young adult literature — coming of age, the search for meaning and self in a world gone terribly wrong, the importance of friendship (adults are usually missing or seriously flawed)—are themes which translate well to the big screen.

Teen conflict and drama make for great reading and great movies. Read the books (check them out at West Linn Public Library!) and then watch the movies (you can check those out, too) in hopes that they live up to the writing. Or watch the movies and then check out the books to find all the good stuff you missed.

Contract Publishing

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