We’re hunkering down and cuddling up for the snow event of the season. Not really. It’ll just be a few inches, maybe even less, and the New Englander I live with calls it a rain event because he yawns if it’s less than eight inches. That is until he complains about having to shovel it, and by shovel we all know I mean use the snowblower. But any snow is a good reason to get cozy, eat some gluten free strawberry cupcakes, and watch movies until Saturday starts to turn into Sunday. When the sky turns that beautiful early early blue, and it’s definitely not morning, but it’s no longer the witching hours of the night. Together we’ve seen a lot of these-the in betweens. Different continents, different skylines, but the same lifetime. Ceaseless and beautiful. Speaking of . . . ceaseless things. Our first movie stars Nick Robinson, and it wasn’t even my selection. The movie is not YA; it’s supposed to be awful, but my Sweets’ film buff friends say people just don’t get farce. We shall see. And even if it’s bad, well . . . there’s beautiful.
Our movie plans got me thinking about Netflix and Hulu’s embrace of all things YA. Sure, the big studios have always churned out YA movies, but save for recent cinematic successes like Love, Simon and The Hate U Give, they usually get it wrong. Not that streaming services always get it right. I’ll hold on to my unpopular opinions of some recent adaptations because I support the attention and respect YA is being given; I wouldn’t want my attitude to get in the way of more adaptations. You know because the streaming executives spend a lot of time reading this blog. Obviously. I thought Netflix and Hulu might like a little guidance, and once again if they’d like to hire me as a consultant or Vice President of YA Development, I’m game. I have but one request, the job must be telework. I do my best reading flopped onto a sofa or over the arm of a chair that is more cloud than chair while swaddled in the softest and comfiest of clothes.
I suppose I need to show and prove my talent for spotting adaptation winners, so here we go, but two things:
The first, I won’t even try to act as a casting director, but every so often I might be tempted to offer a casting suggestion. I’m going to resist the urge to suggest Nick Robinson star in every one of these adaptations, but if his name pops up a few more times before this blog post comes to an end just know it has nothing to do with anything other than my admiration for his talent and affection for his pillowy lips. I have a problem, and I admit I am powerless over it.
The last, in keeping with my renewed commitment to middle grade, I’d like to see the Percy Jackson series get a second chance. The books are so rich. In fact, I think they might be too rich for the movie treatment. Each book would be perfect for a five-eight episode limited series. All I ask is that it deviate from the books in one small way. A way so minute no one will even notice. Kill Annabeth Chase and elevate Rachel Dare. I’m never going to let it go. Never!
Here we go!
1. Openly Straight and Honestly Ben - I really want a third book about Ben and Rafe. My students really want a third book about Ben and Rafe. These are two books they don’t even bother checking back into the classroom library; they just pass them on to their friends. They are chain letters in book form. KJ Apa redeemed himself with his performance in The Hate U Give, and I can totally see him as Rafe. Ben is more difficult to imagine, but he’s blonde, tall, and solidly athletic. These books deserve more than a movie. I want to see the build, and movies tend to rob the audience of valuable exposition and the deep dive of rising action. Instead they move quickly to climax then slide into resolution. Please executives, I want more. We all do.
2. Eleanor and Park - If you’ve read this, you know this book deserves an adaptation. If you haven’t read this, who are you? You know what else this book deserves? A sequel. I digress. Who doesn’t want to see Park’s face the first time Eleanor boards the bus? Who doesn’t want to see Park, never making eye contact, slide a comic book across the seat to Eleanor? Who doesn’t want to see Eleanor sitting outside of her house in the cold while a million thoughts race through her head? Who doesn’t want to see Eleanor and Park sitting on the floor of his room while he touches her hand? I want all of that. I want this whole book. It deserves to be consumed in words, in pictures, in every way.
3. Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue - Greg Berlanti agrees with me, and this is in development. I just put it here because I want it. I also don’t want it. I’m also afraid Monty and Percy will be ruined. Must have faith. Could Miles Heizer be Monty? Is he too tall? Can he be that roguish? Would it prevent the inevitable, yet unwanted Season 4 of Thirteen Reasons Why?
4. Dread Nation - Justina Ireland basically saved the zombie genre. She also made it smart. Here’s what I’m asking. Could we please not cast Amandla Stenberg as our protagonist, Jane. I get that she’s become the go to girl for YA adaptations along with being talented and lovely, but let’s expand our horizons. You know who could be in this adaptation? Nick Robinson as Gideon. Go read the book, and tell me I’m wrong.
5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Picture it. Set in the 1980s means a soundtrack from the 80s. It means high waist jeans and striped shirts that look like they were stolen from Bert’s closet by Ernie. It means those weird all white mid-calf socks that old men and your math teacher friend wear. It means glorious manes of hair, shiny and feathered. It also means a story of friendship and love, along with anger and forgiveness. This one could be so good. So good.
6. The Disasters - it’s basically Guardians of the Galaxy without aliens or super powers and with a social message and actual diversity. It just fun.
7. White Rabbit - I’ve talked about this one before, but there hasn’t been an adaptation announcement, which is surely a sign that my made up job is necessary. What’s the other explanation?
8. What If It’s Us - Like most of Albertalli’s writing, What If It’s Us screams theatrics and drama. Her books are tailor made for a big screen, quick and dirty 120 minutes, but Silvera’s writing is deeper and needs the episodic treatment. His writing demands the slow. The good kind of slow not the Brönte sister’s kind of slow. Slow hand, easy touch, spends some time. And maybe in an adaptation they can fix Arthur. He’s too too much in the book. Ben is the real star.
9. The Belles - I just want to see Auguste in the flesh. And to trash a live action Remy. I bet he’s just as boring in moving pictures. There is nothing wrong with watching something just to hate parts of it. It’s the same as looking forward to a movie with horrible reviews because someone in it is a tall drink of water.
10. Genuine Fraud - Have you seen Killing Eve. It’s insane. It’s brilliant. This book is insane. It’s twisty with a relentless pace. Every character is ridiculously flawed to the point of being unlikeable, but this book works. It would make quite the thriller, especially for those unaware of the beginning or the ending or the middle.
I could keep going, but it’s Nick Robinson time. Call me. That was for Netflix and Hulu, not Nick.