In the world of Teen/Young Adult literature , 2013 and early 2014 are set to be remembered as the years when Hollywood woke up to the potential of the right book, at the right time, to equal the fanatical followers and massive box office draws of Harry Potter, Twilight & The Hunger Games. Every major studio has a teen novel in its pocket and is currently getting ready to unleash it on the cinema-going public.
While not all of these adaptations will be as successful as studios wish them to be (take a bow Eragon, Beautiful Creatures & Alex Rider), I must admit that the Class of 2013/14 does contain some of my favourite books of the last number of years and in fairness, until the final credits roll on the screen, I can’t help but get excited!
The list is long and the popcorn will be plentiful but before you head to your local multiplex, remember: all of these movies existed as books first and I would wholly recommend getting ahead of the curve and reading them first – because as we all know, the book is always better than the movie!
First out of the blocks is the second Percy Jackson adventure, coming August 7th. Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The Sea of Monsters returns to the world of Greek Gods & Monsters, in a follow up to the excellent Lightning Thief (a far superior movie to Clash of the Titans, in my humble opinion). A hugely popular series with a massive fan base, I think the books can be best described as rip-roaring… and, in fairness, you’ve got to love a bit of modern-day meets Greek Mythology!
Next up is Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, landing August 21st. One of the first paranormal series post-Twilight to make a dent in the hearts and minds of teenagers in Ireland and the US, The Mortal Instruments is a tale of Shadowhunters, monsters, demons, vampires and werewolves, which has grown in popularity book by book. With the movie starring Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, early sneak peeks and feedback look extremely positive for Clary, Jace, Simon and Valentine. This has the potential to be the big breakout franchise.
Meg Rosoff’s stunning dystopian novel How I Live Now arrives as a movie on October 18th and stars Saoirse Ronan and Tom Holland, with Kevin MacDonald directing. Rosoff’s novel is a beautiful coming of age story situated in the English countryside and set against the backdrop of a Third World War outbreak. Again, I have high hopes for this movie, and while it may not scream ‘blockbuster’, it has ‘indie hit’ written all over it and definite cult-classic potential.
One film that will surely capture the people’s imagination and introduce a whole new audience to Orson Scott Card’s brilliant sci-fi dystopian novel is Ender’s Game. Set seventy years after a horrific alien war – think Starship Troopers for teens – I devoured this book in one sitting. The movie looks similarly as intense and impressive, and will definitely be edge of the seat stuff. With a great cast of some of the best young new actors (Asa Butterfield, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld) and some legendary old ones (Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley) , this is one book that I’d implore people to read as soon as possible, preferably before the film’s release here on October 25th. I repeat: It is Fantastic.
Finally, on November 22nd, we see the release of the sequel to last year’s box office smash hit. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire continues on with the tale of Katniss, Gale, Peeta & President Snow, this time against the backdrop of the 75th Annual Hunger Games. This exhilarating trilogy and its iconic female lead, Katniss, is still one of my favourite series of the last ten years. If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to join the revolution now. Down with the Capitol!
In the sequel to this Book to Movie Preview, I’ll take a look at some of the big adaptations coming our way in 2014 including: Divergent, The Fault In Our Stars, Seventh Son (otherwise known as Spook’s Apprentice), The Book Thief, Vampire Academy and The Chaos Walking Trilogy. I did say it was going to be a memorable year or two, so start making room on that bookshelf.
Roar! Roar! Mike Waszowski… Mike Waszowski!
Too many times as a young child I found myself shouting that… ah, who am I kidding? I was a grown adult, in awe of Pixar’s incredibly loveable characters: Mike, Sully and Boo in 2001’s Monsters Inc.
Well here we are 12 years later, on the verge of finding out how Mike and Sully’s friendship grew in their college years. In this year’s prequel Monsters University (in cinemas July 12th) a whole new generation of kids are about to experience what happens when a large, furry, blue beast and a small, one-eyed green dude get to share a room in their University years. Plus an older generation are going to find out how it all began in the first place!
Me… while I most definitely will miss the Boo character in the new movie, it won’t stop me randomly shouting “Mike Waszowski!” at strangers on the street over the coming weeks in her honour.
I must’ve read The Hobbit at least eleventy-one times as a young wannabe-Dúnedain but I still get a little shiver of excitement when I read the opening lines:
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
Can Peter Jackson’s upcoming film adaptation of Tolkein’s classic book do it justice? He recently announced that he’s splitting the book into three movies, allowing him to explore additional plotlines that only appeared in the Lord of the Rings’ appendices. Well, he seems to have created an action-packed first instalment, judging by the new trailer.
But is there enough material to warrant such a move without watering down the story? Let us know what you think!
Though touted by many as “the greatest novel ever written”, the truth is that Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is a weighty tome, one that I’m ashamed to say I have yet to commit to reading. Nevertheless, its prevalence in popular culture means it is a tale that many will be familiar with – beautiful married socialite falls for dashing young Count in nineteenth century Russia, only to be ostracised from society for her adultery before descending into madness.
I was particularly intrigued to see this year’s big screen adaptation of the book (the latest in long line) since the director, Joe Wright, had done such a good job with Ian McEwan’s Atonement back in 2007. And while many filmgoers seem to have an unhealthy dislike for her, I was pleased to see Kiera Knightley as his leading lady once again, in a flawless performance as the tragic heroine. The cast choices in general are commendable, with an aged Jude Law in a convincingly broody performance as Anna’s cuckolded husband, Karenin, and Kickass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson (hiding his baby-faced looks behind – it has to be said – ridiculous facial hair) as Anna’s seducer, Count Vronsky. Period-drama stalwart Matthew MacFayden provides comedic relief as the womanising Stiva, brother of Anna, while Irishman Domhnall Gleeson’s turn as his friend, Kostya Levin, is most enjoyable, not least because his life as a rural landowner makes for a welcome change from the fast-paced theatrics of high society Russia.
Speaking of theatrics, you should be prepared, when going to see this film, to be completely baffled for at least the first quarter of an hour. You may find yourself wondering if you’ve inadvertently stumbled into a Moulin Rouge-esque musical. I was certainly unprepared for the theatrical setting, complete with revolving stages, painted backdrops and backstage ropes and pulleys. The idea seems to have been to literally ‘stage’ the film as if it were a play but, since scenes regularly switch between this theatre setting and real outdoor locations, it ends up feeling quite disjointed and takes a while to get used to. It nonetheless makes for an impressive visual spectacle.
Back to the story itself, I imagine that Shakespeare in Love penman Tom Stoppard’s screenplay only barely scrapes the surface of Tolstoy’s thousand-page tale. Anna spends more time worrying about society’s perception of her than she does about seeing her children, which I’m told is not the case in the original account. Little time is awarded to the wider political and cultural issues of the day, which we all know were of intrinsic concern to Tolstoy in all of his writings. But you can only expect so much from a two-hour film and in fairness, if you want to know the whole story, there’s always the book (which is in our Autumn/Winter 3 for 2 promotion). The movie poster promises “a bold new vision of the epic story of love” and there’s no denying that this is exactly what you get.
We’re pretty excited about the upcoming movie adaptation of Yann Martel’s 2002 Booker Prize-winning Life of Pi. Judging by this trailer, director Ang Lee has done a great job of bringing the story to the big screen.
If you haven’t already read the incredible tale of Pi Patel’s 227 days in a lifeboat – with a hyena, a zebra and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker – we recommend you do so before the movie is released on December 21st this year. Click here to find out more about the book.