Since the birth of cinema, many films have drawn their inspiration from literary wooks. These days, as it’s so often pointed out, the film industry seems to make more remakes, reboots, spin-offs and adaptations than original scripts and ideas. However, although the recent boom in adaptations, especially of the YA genre, can be seen as a bad thing, it also gives the opportunity for readers to see the stories that they love and adore come to life on the screen before them. As well as this, it pushes the story into more hands than when it was just a book. In this week’s edition of ‘Closer to The Edge’, our writers have somehow managed to find books which are yet to be made into films, but explain why they should be.
Vampirates Saga by Justin Somper
“I’ll tell you a tale of Vampirates, a tale as old as true; ye I’ll sing you a song of an ancient ship that sails the ocean blue… that haunts the ocean blue…”
A series of books that has always been far too underrated for my liking, Justin Somper’s Vampirates Saga was a childhood favourite of mine, and a series that I have desperately wanted to see on a screen since my first time reading them way back over a decade ago now. The story follows 14 year old twins Connor and Grace Tempest, who run away from their home in Crescent Moon Bay, Australia upon the death of their father, and see their lives take a turn for the peculiar when a tempest (ironically) tears them apart from each other. Connor finds himself rescued by a pirate ship, whereas Grace finds herself on an altogether more mysterious ship…
The story manages to expand itself into six books in total, plus a World Book Day special, which saw so many exciting elements that I think would be perfect for the big screen. From sword-fighting sequences, to vampires pillaging villages, to an extensive boat race, to a whole novel set in a vampire healing facility, as well as love triangles and plot twists; this book screams of all that the world looks for in a YA lit adapted movie.
Although admittedly the dream cast I had in my head as a child, wouldn’t all work as well now (don’t think that Colin Morgan could pass for 17 anymore lol), many of the adult characters could still be played by the original people I imagined. In which case, the film series could still boast the likes of Karen Gillan, Sienna Miller, Liam Neeson, Angelina Jolie, and Chris Hemsworth; the latter of which Somper has said himself, would be dream casting. If they made them into films, they would have to make all of them though, or at least the first four, because so many of the iconic characters take a while to be introduced.
Considering the last book came out 2011, it’s unlikely that this will ever become a reality. But if anyone ever did purchase the rights, I’m willing to get to work on the script!
words by Rehana Nurmahi
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Ask any three John Green fans what their favourite John Green book is and you’ll probably receive three different answers. But ask a large number of them and you’ll probably receive the same three answers multiple times over. And on top of that, two of those likely three answers have already been made into films leaving just one John Green favourite left; Looking for Alaska.
Green’s first book has become a hugely popular coming of age tale over the years (11 years in fact!) and has flirted forever with a big screen adaptation; the rights having been bought yonks ago. I don’t want to delve into story details as it’s really hard to do so without spoiling the book, it’s really worth a read, but what sets this book apart from his others is that Looking for Alaska is arguably his edgiest (if you’ll pardon the meta-pun) and most adult book, filled with explicit sexual content, smoking and drinking. If this book were to come to screen then it would be immediately set apart from the rest of the coming of age crowd but it would have to be rated accordingly, none of this 12A watered down material. The characters all have their own unique quirks and characteristics, the story is interesting and the humour is excellent, honestly even though it may not be my personal JG no. 1 (it is my no. 2 though) there is hardly a part of this novel that wouldn’t translate well to a movie.
words by David Mitchell-Baker
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
For anyone lucky enough to have read A Visit from the Goon Squad last year as part of the Narrative and Culture module in English, or anyone lucky enough to have read this book in general, you may be thinking, how on earth could it be made into a film? You’re right, it would certainly be a challenge, and the director and screenwriter would have one hell of a job ahead of them. There are so many wonderful characters and stories, and only a finite number of minutes. But not one adaption of this novel would be the same, because the interpretations and lasting impressions of this novel are so personal to the reader. For me, the film would begin with Alison Blake’s PowerPoint, unedited and unabridged, with no point of reference for the viewer. This would then seep into Sasha’s world, and from there, into Bennie’s.
The film would definitely have to be a little avant-garde to work, but someone brave enough to take this on could come out with something really special. However, it couldn’t just be a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards with no clear plot to tie it all together. After all, it’s a book about rock and roll, time and people, inextricably linked to one another not linearly and ephemerally, but infinitely.
words by Tash Williamson
The Call by Peadar O’Guilin
Why would I like to see The Call on the big screen? Simply because it is one of the best YA novels I have read since The Hunger Games and following Katniss Everdeen’s departure from the cinema last year, I’m desperate for something just as thrilling.
Set in Ireland, Peadar O’Guilin’s The Call is a horror fantasy which follows Nessa as she and her friends train for the most dangerous three minutes of their lives: The Call. At any time, without warning, they each wake up in a terrifying land, alone and hunted by the deadly Sídhe with only a one in ten chance of survival.
Combining the tensions and jaw-dropping moments of The Hunger Games with the dark magic of Harry Potter, The Call is a perfect candidate for an exhilarating big screen adaptation as the brilliant cast of characters paired with the knowledge that at any moment one of them might meet their end made for a delectable page-turner. Based on Irish folklore, The Call also has a real sense of identity that makes it unique and exciting.
They have three minutes to save their lives. Hollywood has three minutes to buy the rights before I revolt.
words by Laura Woodhouse
Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
In 2013, Anthony Horowitz’s very successful Alex Rider Series came to a close with its last instalment, Russian Roulette. Since I was fifteen years old, I always thought that this series was worthy of hitting the big screen.
It was only when I decided to watch the 2006 movie attempt at the first book, that I realised that it was not that easy. Geoffrey Sax took on the role of directing Stormbreaker and even with the likes of Ewan McGregor and a good casting choice for the protagonist in Alex Pettyfer, the film did not rise to the challenge of bringing the wonderful character and his adventures to life. Due to bad reviews and a unsuccessful box office, it was stripped of a sequel.
That is why I would like there to be a reboot where the exciting and thrilling missions that Alex goes on will capture the eyes of not only the people who had read it during their childhood, but those who know nothing about it and are intrigued to see a great and fresh spy-movie. Anthony Horowitz has a wonderful tendency of bringing out the life of a modern and young version of a James Bond-esque character with words, and it would be nice to find a screenwriter and director who could do the same thing with film.
Bring back Alex Rider!
words by Tina Munyebvu
The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix
The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix is a series which seems made for the screen. This series of books focuses on the figure of the Abhorsen, who is charged with battling the dead, and those who raise the dead, as well as free magic creatures, based in The Old Kingdom, a land which borders Ancelstierre (a land which is rather similar to early twentieth-century England). With its own special brand of magic, called Charter Marks, and a particular formation of necromancy, which uses hand bells, The Old Kingdom series of novels seems to be a visual effects dream. The series also features well rounded characters, including interesting central female characters in Sabriel and Lirael. The series comprises of five full length novels, with the potential to more, and would suit the serial nature of a television show, particularly given the lengths of chapters in the novels.
Words by Rebecca James
Legend by Marie Lu
Since The Hunger Games: Catching Fire came out in 2013 and the YA Dystopia genre peaked, we’ve been force fed so many generic, average movies in the same vein and everyone is clearly a bit sick of them now. But one book that has not yet reached the big screen is Marie Lu’s superb Legend.
Marketed as a re-telling of Les Misérables (which I must admit I have not seen or read, soz guyz) the book tells the story of June and Day, a girl and boy living two very different lives in one war ravaged, militant society. June is a Government graduate, born and bred for the role, and Day is the most wanted criminal in the Republic. The two cross paths when June is sent to track down Day who is the prime suspect in her brother’s murder, but together they develop a much different relationship than expected and uncover something a lot bigger than them.
Now it may sound rather generic, but the book manages to avoid most of the YA cliches, unlike its sequels unfortunately. It takes an espionage-type approach to the genre as well making it an intelligent and gripping story. But what would make the movie so different is the racial differentiation of these characters; Day is the son of a Mongolian father and Caucasian mother, meaning that he is mixed race. It’d be refreshing to see a story that isn’t about two basic white teens bemoaning their problems with the government and their love for each other.
If the book does make it to the screen, I’d like it to be a standalone piece as the two sequel books really don’t live up to the strength of Legend. It may be a little late, given that the book came out in 2011 and is probably past its prime of popularity, but with a script allegedly written and production slated for a 2018 start, I’m optimistic that this one will make it to the big screen sooner rather than later.
words by David Mitchell-Baker
The Mediator by Meg Cabot
My childhood self would have loved for a couple of films to be made out of Meg Cabot’s The Mediator series, so I can’t help but demand for something now, to rid my childhood soul of any unfinished business. Meet Suzy Simon, the kick ass ghost buster who lives with her mum, step dad, three stepbrothers, and Jesse fricking De Silva, the sexiest ghost in the whole world, ever. OK, so Cabot may have been trying too hard on Suzy’s behalf to make her too cool for school, but I was completely obsessed all the way through till book 6, ‘Heaven Sent’. It had action, murder, romance, comedy, time travel, and a plucky heroine every person who read it just wanted to be. To be honest, it’s weird that not even a shitty kids TV show from the 90s spawned from this abundant storyline, with all its twists and turns and love triangles. Apparently, Cabot is still hanging onto the rights after all these years, waiting for the right producer/studio combo to come along. (Which is probably fair given the changes that Disney made to The Princess Diaries.)
Now excuse me, while I just go and shamelessly order Cabot’s new novel, ‘Remembrance’, the new mediator novel published 15 years after the release of the first. Get ready to gush.
words by Tash Williamson