Looking For Alaska: John Green
John Green’s 2005 debut novel Looking for Alaska is the one that I’m optioning for a movie, in spite of the author’s concerns of the work “not being the best.” In technical story-writing terms it may not be on par with The Fault In Our Stars, but boy does it have heart.
The story follows Miles, a quiet and rather unassuming boy, who decides to do something different with his life and transfers to a boarding school to “seek a great perhaps.” There he meets Alaska Young, and nothing is ever the same. The novel’s true potency stems from the relationship between Miles and Alaska, and how their subdued passion and undeniable chemistry give and take throughout the story. It speaks to a generation struggling between finding something to do and doing what they love. Given good casting, this could be a very engaging and endearing movie with the potential to capture the innocence and fantasy of falling for someone who is just this side of odd.
It probably seems like cheating to list a movie by an author whose most recent book is one of the most anticipated films of the summer, but I've been hoping to see this book adapted since the first time I read it almost four years ago.
Feed: M.T. Anderson
The story takes place in the not-so-distant future, where the moon is a hot spring break spot and everyone has a ‘feed’ installed in their brain at a very young age. Basically it’s an advanced form of the internet that people can access mentally anywhere, anytime. The main character, Titus, is on the moon when he meets Violet, whose critical thinking and skepticism of technology and society are new to Titus.
The novel itself is a brilliant critique of culture, but even in the futuristic setting, the teenagers are still very accessible. Anderson changes the language to drop the reader into this strange world, but keeps the teenagers, well... teenagers. The not-so subtle social commentary about dependence on technology and consumerism would definitely be some food for thought for today’s audience, and as an added bonus, the futuristic technology would add great visual interest to an on-screen adaptation.
The Mediator Series: Meg Cabot
There still hasn’t been a movie that has done a Meg Cabot book justice, and it's really a shame. There have been attempts, and even decent hopefuls, but as far as faithful and well produced (mostly faithful) productions go, everything has fallen short.
The Mediator is really the last chance for redemption, and the only series of hers not tapped to be a potential movie/TV series, which is even more tragic because it is one of the best YA lit stories around. It features a sassy, strong protagonist who isn’t afraid to admit when she’s afraid, but still manages to do right for the people around her. Oh, and did I mention that she can see ghosts? The mystery of her powers and exactly what she can and can’t do is gradually revealed. This offers a great plot for those who are fans of the supernatural.
More importantly, the story doesn’t feel like it’s shrouded in mystery on purpose; it feels like a teenage girl just trying to get through the day while occasionally seeing ghosts. But it is definitely not lacking in action; it brings on suspenseful stand-offs, intriguing murder mysteries, and ghostly components galore—not to mention a bit of romantic tension with not one, but two hot guys.
But don’t get too upset, the romance doesn’t take up the entirety of the book, (I’m looking at you, Twilight); thankfully it has a little more girl power than that. It’s more of a will they/won’t they tension intermixed with the other paranormal events at hand, and there is some potential with this to tap some major up-and-coming actors and actresses with some on-screen chemistry that can leave Twilight in the dust.
*note: It was optioned for a movie, but has long since been abandoned due to the writers’ strike.
Marvel’s Runaways: Brian K. Vaughn (creator and first writer), Joss Wheedon, Terry Moore
With all of the Marvel superhero movies making a killing at the box office, I would love to see them attempt this adaptation, because it takes every part of the Marvel universe that is good and puts it into a comic with engrossing plots and sassy teenagers. We begin by finding our heroes, typical teens, just hanging out while their parents are having a meeting of their own. But curiosity gets the better of them and they snoop, only to discover their parents are really supervillains that are responsible for wreaking havoc and chaos and are planning to continue to the point of destroying the world! So, naturally, the teens decide to run away and rain down their own form of justice upon their parents before it’s too late.
Brian K Vaughn, the mastermind behind the popular comics Saga and Y: The Last Man, is the creative brain behind this powerhouse of teenage characters. They are the children of a wide range of villains, from time-travelers to mad scientists, dark witches, aliens, and even mutants. This has Vaughn’s signature flair for supernatural creativity and sci-fi tropes, but for teens!
The first major plot arc outlined in the series would be a perfect starting point for a film and maybe even a franchise, as there is quite a bit of material to work with, especially since some of the characters have made appearances in other Marvel comics. Throughout the series, other heroes and villains show up on occasion (Spiderman, Captain America, and Ultron, to name a few) and new teens are introduced to the group, which could be added into one epic film or leave room for sequels later. Joss Whedon also penned a 5 issue arc that was one of the best in the series, so they could potentially tap him for a movie adaptation, thus assuring strong ties to the larger Marvel universe.
*note: was optioned and in very serious development for film adaptation in 2008, but was dropped because the studio decided to focus on The Avengers. I guess you can’t say that choice didn’t work out for them...
Going Bovine: Libba Bray
Going Bovine is about a kid named Cameron who, like anybody at the end of high school, is struggling to find meaning on his path to nowhere. With hardly any ambition to see the bigger picture, things change when he begins to have ‘hallucinations.’ First he has one in his English class, then at his fast-food job, and finally he is attacked by fire giants in his kitchen. Shortly after this, he is diagnosed with a fatal disease, but an ‘angel’ from one of his so-called hallucinations tells him that he has been chosen to defeat the Wizard of Reckoning and save the world. And as an added bonus, should he complete the quest, he will recieve a cure for his disease.
This book deserves an adaptation for many reasons, first and foremost being that it’s a dark comedy, something that is pretty rare for a teen audience. Also, it takes a good look at how we see life and all the crazy things that happen. In the end, the story comes to a bold-yet-satisfying conclusion. If the right director and screenwriters got a hold of this, along with a few good teen leads, it could be a great blockbuster surprise, not just for the thought-provoking theme and the surrealness, but the visuals and witty dialogue as well.
While the ‘surreal’ genre doesn’t appeal to readership everywhere (and admittedly, to say that it is a ‘surreal’ novel is kind of an understatement), I think this particular story can appeal to a larger audience. It sticks close to Sci-fi/Fantasy tropes, which any nerd can appreciate, and can stack up to some of the more disappointing sci-fi YA adaptations that have come out recently.