For the past couple of years, movie studios have been searching through pages upon pages of fiction, looking for the next big media franchise to follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter.
In this age, when companies are created for the sole purpose of creating novel-length film pitches, there are still a few books out there that Hollywood has has yet to turn into a major motion picture. This week, I present to you three such books, or series of books, worth your time.
#3: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
While there is a movie version currently in development, it is highly likely that the script won’t find a production studio anytime soon, as has been the case with other books by John Green that have been adapted into screenplays, such as Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines.
The book follows a 16 year-old girl named Hazel, diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 13, who reluctantly attends a support group for children with cancer. At one fateful meeting, she meets Augustus Waters, a former athlete, currently in remission, who lost his leg to osteosarcoma.
While most stories about people with cancer tend to focus on the disease and “the fight,” this story instead focuses on the people and is, at its heart, a story of star-crossed love. Its realistic, non-canonizing look at the characters and their actions paint a far more realistic picture of life with cancer than most charities and news reports would have you believe.
The book was listed in TIME as the #1 fiction book of 2012; it has branched beyond the usual demographic of “young adult fiction.” Definitely a must read for anybody who wants a story different from the usual tales of romance among teenagers.
#2: Circle of Magic by Tamora Pierce
While this series never quite hit the mainstream buzz that Harry Potter attained, this series of books features its own fair share of endearing characters. It stands as a great example of well-written young adult fantasy.
The story follows a group of four mages, each coming from radically different backgrounds, who begin learning to control and develop their unique magical talents in the cottage known as Discipline.
While I haven’t read the entire quartet, I can say with a good degree of certainty that this is a good story for people who enjoyed the Harry Potter series and for people who are looking to get into high fantasy. I don’t know any details regarding whether movie versions were attempted or not, I can definitely say that this is a series worth reading.
#1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
This is a book that has stood the test of time and now influences many adolescent readers to this day. Published in 1951, it has since been translated into almost all of the world’s major languages with around 250,000 copies sold each year.
The story takes place over the course of two days in December of 1949, narrated by the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, a 17 year-old recounting events that led to a nervous breakdown.
One of the things that make the novel so interesting is that it takes full advantage of its medium, using simple things like passive voice and digression to give us an insight into the mind of a teenager trying to find his way in a world of adults that is confusing and terrifying.
So why hasn’t this influential novel been adapted for the screen? Simply put, Salinger has gone out of his way to prevent any adaptation of any kind. People such as Jerry Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio and even Stephen Spielberg have tried to secure adaptation rights.
Since Salinger’s death in 2010, the fight for film rights has only gotten more heated, despite word from Salinger’s agent Phyllis Westberg that nothing has changed in terms of adaptation rights.
If ever there was a book that could be considered “safe” from the Hollywood adaptation machine, this book is it.
Those are my recommendations for books that have, for now, avoided the distillation that franchises such as Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games attain when made into film.
This distillation often results in people knowing more about the movies, directors, and actors than the authors who brought the characters to life. Just ask Robert Bloch, the author of Psycho.