10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies

Fans have been waiting over 20 years for a movie version of Lois Lowry's The Giver, and we're finally getting one this weekend. But this isn't the only classic novel that's overdue for a movie adaptation. Here are 10 beloved YA novels that would make for incredible movies... and why they probably won't get adapted.

A note: All of these books will be spoiled.

10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies

10. A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle

Let's talk about Vicky Austin. She first came on the Young Adult scene in 1960, in a book called Meet the Austins. The book, and its sequel, were about how she grew and formed her identity in as wholesome a way as anyone could wish. All the time, she was surrounded by her loving, well-adjusted family. Vicky's third starring role didn't come until 1980. At that time, every YA heroine on the market was busy discovering she had second sight, or could see ghosts, or had an astral projecting evil twin. This may explain why Vicky suddenly discovered that she could psychically connect with dolphins. During a summer spent visiting her grandfather, who is dying of leukemia, she is torn between two handsome potential boyfriends, and two potential world-views. After going through harrowing, but non-life-threatening, trials, she finally forms her own world view.

Why It Probably Won't Be Made Into a Movie

You know what you don't see in movies these days? A loving, supportive family, whom the hero becomes closer to as she grows into adulthood. The series' wholesomeness remains its bane. There are some dark moments in the book, during which Vicky confronts the reality of death and the unfairness of life, but no one is blowing anything up or overthrowing the government or fighting an ancient evil. One girl is just coming to terms with the joy and pain in the world and deciding what she thinks of it. (By the way, the final Vicky Austin book involves her thinking over her life while adrift on an iceberg in Antarctica, which I also think would be a great movie.)

10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies

9. Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan wrote many of the evil twin, astral projection, girl-psychic books that formed the backbone of YA literature in the 1980s, but the book of hers that most deserves to be filmed is Daughters of Eve. It proves that you don't have to go forward in time to find dystopia. Published in 1979, this book is messed up. When one of the characters decides to join the newly-reformed women's society, Daughters of Eve, her mother lightly reminisces about how much fun she had back in high school in the Daughters. Why, they even had a secret song reserved only for their fellow sisters. The character's father immediately demands to hear the song. The wife demurs, the daughter bolts upstairs, knowing what will come next, and hears her mother get beaten until she tremulously sings the song. You'll have to look hard to find a more symbolic scene in young adult literature. All of the characters are miserable in their regressive town. Daughters of Eve injects a little feminism into their lives. The leader of the group, (ominously named Irene Stark), supports them in their dreams, and helps them fight back when they're harassed. The "pranks" that they play on their harassers and oppressors get worse and worse. The fact that the girls are getting back at people doesn't seem to change anything —except their thirst for vengeance. Inevitably, the entire situation spirals out of control.

Why It Probably Won't Be Made Into a Movie

I have a recurring fantasy that involves Jane Campion (of The Piano, Top of the Lake, and Holy Smoke) adapting this film for the screen. I doubt it will happen. The politics are too complicated, and the entire pitch of the book is too fevered and political to make a popular movie. More importantly, Daughters of Eve represents a genre that doesn't really exist anymore - the kid cult. In these books, kids band together to stand up to the forces that oppress them... and totally screw everything up. Even if they're in the right, they can't "fix" society. They can't even put a reasonable limit on their own behavior. They're nothing like the youthful saviors of today.

10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies

8. The Chain Letter series, by Christopher Pike

I won't lie: This series is just pure "pulp paperback thriller," but it's a hell of a ride. A group of friends get involved in a hit-and-run accident. They leave the body, and seem to get off without consequences, until they start receiving chain letters demanding they do increasingly horrible things. (Before you ask, yes, this was published about thirteen years after I Know What You Did Last Summer.) This series runs for two books. Some of the material is seriously dated — like when a character would rather risk death than spread a rumor that she is a lesbian — but it could be revised. The characters come to realize they are not dealing with an ordinary human blackmailer. They're dealing with... something worse. Unlike most books today, the teens are not gifted with supernatural knowledge, friends, or abilities. They don't even know how to fight. The author of the anonymous letters, called "The Caretaker," will kill them if they don't comply, and most of the time, they do.

Why It Probably Won't Be Made Into a Movie

This isn't a story about resisting a dictatorship or getting by in a world gone mad. It's a straight-up morality fable. Are you willing to commit an action you know to be degrading, destructive, or morally wrong, to save your own skin? The teens, when they complete all their tasks, get a letter in which their name is literally entered into a black box — indicating they are both physically safe and spiritually hellbound. At the end, some of the characters are saved by a literal miracle. Today movies focus more on asserting individuality and resisting "the system" rather than pondering the spiritual impact of your actions on your own soul.

10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies

7. The Grounding of Group 6 by Julian F Thompson

Five kids go off to a special reform school after disappointing high school careers. They are put together in "Group 6," and taken by a friendly counselor on an orientation hike. The friendly counselor has been paid by the equally friendly principal, who in turn has been paid by their rather unfriendly parents, to "ground" the group. They are to be quietly poisoned, and their bodies dropped into a chasm. When the counselor changes his mind (after hooking up with one of the students), the entire group is hunted by the principal, two loony teachers who dabble in sharpshooting, and, eventually, the entire school.

Why It Probably Won't Be Made Into a Movie

Teen movies, especially about a group of kids fighting for their lives, tend to be utterly earnest. This book is intended to be a very black comedy. The school is a hippie haven, and the principal refers to body disposal as "organic." The group is made up of 1980s young adult stereotypes - the overachiever, the directionless rebel with booze, the sexually adventurous girl, the nerd. There's even a psychic girl, whose gifts prove both annoying and useless.

10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies

6. The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

Here's a fable about a kid who would rather live in reality than in a dream world that's designed to cater to his every desire. Harvey is lonely and bored with his life, and he follows a strange man's directions to a special "holiday house." There, there are four seasons in a day, so that Harvey can enjoy every holiday of the year every single day. His wishes are instantly granted. When Harvey meets two other kids, Wendell and Lulu, he begins to realize that he's not the only kid who has been brought to the house. And they aren't the only kids who have been brought to the house. What happened to the other kids? And how can he get away from the house and the mysterious Mr. Hood, who seems so friendly, but won't let Harvey leave?

Why It Probably Won't Be Made Into a Movie

It's great. It was written all the way back in 1992. But if it's made into a movie now, it will just be Boy-Coraline.

10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies

5. The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson

This is the book that gave Lord of the Flies the finger. Lisa Nelson's parents were killed off by a virus, along with everyone else over the age of twelve. Lisa lives in Chicago, and, along with all the rest of Chicago's children, scavenges from stores for food. When Lisa realizes where the food and clothes they've been eating come from (farms and warehouses), she becomes the leader of a group that strives to rebuild society. Does she stay on the farm and build an agrarian society? No! She wants to rebuild modern civilization, with electronics and schools and stuff. She also wants a place to live that's easy to defend, as her little group of kids is shaken down by an aggressive gang. So she moves the entire group to a high school, makes it a fortress and supply house, and commences with the learnin'. The climax of the story comes not when she faces the gang leader — but when the gang leader realizes that a leader needs to instill a sense of order, purpose, and mutual respect among his followers, and only Lisa can do that.

Why It Probably Won't Be Made Into a Movie

The kids are a little too young, and it's also not grim enough. There's some good fodder for modern movies - a lack of adults, feral kid gangs, and a spunky young girl with ambition. On the other hand, few movies end with the villain realizing that he needs to learn how to work with people and establish an atmosphere of mutual respect. That's a little anti-climactic.

10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies

4. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

Most of the books on this list are set in modern times, and in the "real" world. But when life gives you an oracular pig and a pig-keeper-turned-hero, can you turn away? If you want to know about this book, know that it's just good. It's fantasy, and it has comedic elements, and it's about Welsh folk tales, and it incorporates all of those things without leaning too much in any direction. It's fun. It's touching. It's inspiring. It's whimsical. It doesn't overdo any of those qualities. It's roughly about Taran, the "Assistant Pig-Keeper" and his slow rise to heroic status, but it's also about exploring a world that is both charming and strange. The things a visually gifted director could do with this book!

Why It Probably Won't Be Made Into a Movie

The most famous installment of the series has been made into an animated movie in 1985. The Black Cauldron is considered a classic by fans, but flopped utterly at the box office. Although it might be revived, simply because the film industry is re-booting everything, the dark turn that most fantasy epics have taken does not bode well for these relatively sweet books.

10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies

3. Have Space Suit, Will Travel by Robert Heinlein

A boy, a girl, a Mother Thing, and a story of pure, undiluted idealism. The story isn't just idealistic about each of its main characters, (although Kip, the point-of-view character, is so earnest, so solemn, so responsible and yet hopeful that it almost hurts to read about him), it's also idealistic about the world of the future. There, you can win a space suit by writing a jingle for a soap manufacturer. The suit may be antiquated, but everyone in your town will help you fix that thing up, gosh darn it! And when you have to sell it, to pay for college, and you take it for one last spin, well, anything can happen. Including a series of adventures and a meeting with a confederation of species that, although somewhat fearsome, prove by their very existence that your species can get ever better, ever wiser, and ever more powerful. And yes, in the end, Kip does go to college. On a scholarship.

Why It Probably Won't Be Made Into a Movie

This is the least dystopian book ever written. It's also the least rebellious. This book advises the following things: listening to your wise elders, going to school, majoring in something practical, and conscientiously working to be part of society.

10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies

2. Hangin' Out With Cici by Francine Pascal

It's the swingin' seventies, and Victoria hates her school, hates her life, and, most of all, hates her mom. Felicia does nothing but pick at her, and the picking makes Victoria act out even more. On the verge of a major disciplinary meeting with both her mom and her principal, Victoria gets a bump on her head on the train to New York. When she wakes, everyone is a younger version of themselves, but seeing as time travel is completely impossible, Vicky doesn't catch on. She doesn't even catch on when she returns to New York and finds everyone wearing decidedly "square" clothes. Instead, she meets and bonds with a girl named Cici, only to be dismayed when she realizes that she's gone back to 1944, and Cici is the hated Felicia.

Don't worry, this isn't going where you think it's going. This is not a book about understanding that your mom was once you, and liking her. It's a book about understanding that your mom was once you, and realizing you don't really like her that much. It's about realizing, while she might be fun some of the time, she's acting stupidly, irresponsibly, and cruelly. And, should you be lucky enough to escape having to live through the 1950s by returning to your own time, you need to shape up.

Why It Probably Won't Be Made Into a Movie

Hey kids! Want to hang out with your mom? Want to go back in time to when everyone looked like a frump? Want to realize that you're not acting cool, you're acting like an asshole? No? Thought not.

10 Classic Young Adult Novels That Would Make Amazing Movies

1. House of Stairs by William Sleator

A group of teens wake up in the scariest environment possible. They are in what seems like a bottomless room, crisscrossed by narrow stairs. Everything is terrifying. There's no food, no shelter, no explanation. To even get to a toilet, they have to walk out along a spindly bridge over a huge chasm. The only nice thing about their environment is the food. (We get an idea of the state of the world they came from when all of the characters are shocked and delighted that they're being fed "real meat.") The problem is, food can only appear when a light starts to blink. Even then, the food only does appear when the kids do something. It takes them a while to work out to find out what that something is. Whenever the light goes on, they dance around, hoping that some movement will make the food come. Eventually, they realize that they only get fed when they hurt each other while the light is on. It's at this point that the group divides. Some of them form a predatory group, while the others starve as conscientious objectors. Over time, the unofficial leader of each group conditions their followers (and themselves) using different techniques. The predatory group leader mimics the conditioning of their captors, enforcing rules through a lot of abuse and scant reward. The other group leader tries to pile on rewards for good behavior, while patiently ignoring bad behavior.

Why It Probably Won't Be Made Into a Movie

Because life is stupid and unfair. There were some noises about developing the book into a film a few years ago, but since then there's been no news. The major problem is the end of the book. Although the kids live in a messed-up society, that society has limits. The kids are liberated, in the end, because the scientists in charge aren't willing to keep the experiment going until the pacifist group starves to death. The pacifists are debriefed, and told that they will be sent to an isolated island. They seem to accept that. The heroes don't triumph by overthrowing the system. They triumph by keeping their minds and their control, in a situation in which they are being turned into automatons.