10 Best Book-To-Movie Adaptations As Told By A Book Nerd

Below are my Top 10 YA movie adaptations. My rankings are not always by how faithful a movie is to its source material. It’s whether they accurately capture the essence of the book and make an unforgettable impression as their own cinematic entities.

10. Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement: Though this movie had very little to do with its source material, I always love watching this movie (better than the first). And how can you not? It has Julie Andrews (who is my favorite elderly actress, quickly followed by Dame Maggie Smith), Anne Hathaway, and Chris Pine. Not only are all beautiful on screen, their acting chops make this slightly ridiculous and definitely kooky story remain in my heart (even though the film wasn’t considered a success).

9. Bridge to Terabithia: It made me weep on the page and screen. Also, who can resist a young Josh Hutcherson? Not me. Some people were disappointed with this adaptation, feeling it glossed over some important book material, but I disagree and think it was very well done. Everyone should see this movie (after they’ve read the book, because I’m all for “book first, film later”), but bring tissues.

8. Series of Unfortunate Events: Okay, clearly I like Jim Carrey (he’s a great actor when he’s not Green—and apparently even then). This movie is actually an amalgam of the first three books in the Series of Unfortunate Events (in a really long series): The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window. I think they glossed over some stuff, but the movie makers did an excellent job of linking the three together in a cohesive, 2 hour movie. I was very disappointed when they never made a sequel. Now that the “girl” playing Violet is now too old, I doubt they will. Everyone should still see this movie, though.

7. Divergent: If you haven’t read the book, read the trilogy. I don’t care what people say, you have to read all 3. In this very faithful adaptation (albeit changing the climactic scene and some other stuff), this movie kept the heart of Veronica Roth’s book alive while the packaging changed. And since they did it well (in my opinion), I’m not going to begrudge them box office success. Sidenote: Theo James is the perfect Four, and he’s British.

6. Coraline: I expected this movie to give me horrible nightmares (I had a really bad track record with “scary” movies. I’m looking at you Jim Carrey  (The Grinch). Anyway, my fears were unfounded. I loved this movie and slept like a baby afterwards. Very Alice-in-Wonderland-y, Coraline is a dark spin on wish fulfillment and the dangers of an alternate world. As much as I loved the book, the published drawings were much more frightening, and this is the one movie I’d be okay with people just skipping the book. It’s faithful enough not to cheat them of the book, and not as scary as the illustrations.

5. The Book Thief: I found the movie better than the book. There, I said it. The book’s narrator, Death (it’s not a spoiler, I promise), is always interrupting the narrative flow and kind of whiny. The movie almost completely removes him except from the beginning and end. Sophie Nélisse is a perfect Liesel Meminger and I started crying halfway through the film. I think everyone should see this touching movie (and bring tissues while they’re at it).

4. The Lovely Bones: Everyone in my class thought I was too “innocent” to read The Lovely Bones. I had to remind them that I read Speak the summer before 5th Grade (a decision I regretted, but whatever). I loved this movie for its poignant adaptation of Alice Sebold’s novel, though there was one particular creative choice that did not sit well with me. When I first saw it, I thought they had ruined the plot, but I won’t say what it was. Besides that, it was a very good film (though it didn’t do well in the box office), and it was nice to see Stanley Tucci be mean for a change.

3. Hunger Games: Catching Fire: First, let me explain why I did not choose The Hunger Games: I got nauseous from the shaky, hand-held camera, and felt some other directional choices were ill-advised. But I loved the production design and casting, and obviously the books, so much that I still went to the theater to see Catching Fire. The second installment of the Hunger Games movie adaptations exceeded my expectations. Possibly the most faithful film adaptation I have ever seen. The reason this didn’t rank as #1 is that even so, I feel certain integral foreshadowing details were cut from the script.

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower: My best friends and I love this movie. Another example where the film was more cohesive than the book, the movie tells the story of a teenage boy who doesn’t quite fit in—something we can all relate to in some way. What makes this movie awesome is that the actors breathe life into their characters in an amazing way. And it’s Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, people. It can’t get much better than that.

1. I bet you thought I forgot about Harry Potter. You would be mistaken, however. How could I forget the book series and movie franchise that defined a generation? My friends are divided into 4 groups on this book-to-film adaptation: some who only watched the movies (I still insist they read the books, but whatever), some who refuse to see the films, those who know both but hate what was lost between page to screen, and a few who like both within their own entities. I’m with the last group. I honestly think the Harry Potter films are among the best book-to-film adaptions—not because of their 100% adherence to the source material, but because they stay true to the heart of JK Rowling’s famous series.

And there you have it! Did I get to any of your favorites? If not, feel free to comment below.

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