Discussion Time – Where Have All the Good YA Movie Adaptations Gone? And Why Hollywood Needs to Respect the Readers!

There was once the golden age of young adult cinema. You had Twilight, Hunger Games, and of course, the last few Harry Potter films, each breaking more records than the last. However you felt about those movies, even if you didn’t personally enjoy them, you had to admit that they were tremendous successes.

Recently though, YA films have been on a decline.

Every year a bunch of young adult novels get turned into film, and it’s sad to say, but most of them suck.

The question now is why that is.


In recent years we’ve had movies like The 5th Wave, which had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 15%. We had Vampire Academy (score of 14%), Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (score of 13%), and even the last Divergent movie, Allegiant Pt.1 (score of 12%).  (By the way, I love how the scores just start counting down. That was not intentional and these are the real scores that you can look up yourself.)

Anyway, as you can see, YA hasn’t been doing too well lately and why is that? It’s not because YA books aren’t good, or deserving of being out on the big screen. In fact, just the opposite is true. YA films are bad because the books are so good. 

The 5th Wave novel has a 4.09 score on Goodreads and has been read by other 300 thousand people. It was New York Times bestseller and won international praise. Same goes for all the other books from those adaptations. The Vampire Academy novels are a staple of YA rated by almost 500 thousand people on Goodreads. Same goes for The Mortal Instruments and all of Cassandra Clare’s books which are international sensations and that there is hardly a YA fan that hasn’t read at least one of her books.

So, how do great books translate into bad movies?

Well, that’s because I personally think that Hollywood pays little mind to the reading community.


Young adults, aged 12-24 make up around 18% of the population, and yet, made up 29% of all movie ticket sales in the U.S.A. in 2017 according to THIS site. So, when you add that to the popularity and demand of YA novels and their adaptation, Hollywood sees us a ready market, willing to pay anything to see our favorite stories put up on the big screen. It also means that they don’t hold those movies to the same standards as other because they already come with a built-in audience. Whatever happens, however much they suck, many of us will go and watch it, if only out of loyalty to the original content.

Once Hollywood saw how we flocked to the theatres to see out favorite adaptations they knew they had hit the jackpot, and what happened was that they started cranking out formulaic, poorly written adaptations. They saw what worked and they copied it without any consideration to the author’s hard work, or to the reader’s dedication.


A thing I’ve noticed in YA film adaptation is that they are all pretty much the same. And yes, many could argue that about the books upon which they are based, but there is something terribly worse about the films. While many novels carry the same themes, they each bring a new voice to the table. They all speak to us in different ways. These movies though…not so much. They are bland, and often times they are boring because no one takes the time to develop them the way the author did their novel.

Another thing, these movies are rushed. They don’t display the complexities of the characters and the plot tends to be oversimplified to the point that they lose any originality and depth that the novels had. We don’t see the development of the world. We don’t know the intricacies of the relations and themes, usually because they try to explain it all in 5 minutes, or they don’t explain it at all.

Also, the actors. Many times these actors have terrible chemistry and their relationship isn’t believable. Ok, so it’s true that a lot of YA has romance. But movies tend to put this at an even forefront than the novels, for example, The 5th Wave, in which romance is very minor and takes most of the book to develop yet is rushed and turned into a cringy love story in the film. To make matters worse, the actors just didn’t have the intensity that the characters did. Truth is, few actors seem to actually know the characters they portray. Still, this is the least of my concerns in the reasons why a lot of YA movies fail.


A thing to keep in mind here is that films and novels are different mediums. Therefore, the stories are bound to be different. For starters, novels can be as long as they like, while movies have a very small timeframe in which to display their story. So no, I do not ask that every detail in an adaptation remain the same. I do not even ask that films remain 100% loyal, as things are bound to be moved around to adapt to the new format. And heck,

What I do ask for is that filmmakers take the time to read the novels and see what the reader community is saying so we don’t end up with the disaster that was the Percy Jackson movie. On its own, it’s not too bad of a movie, I have to admit that. It’s not great, but it didn’t suck as much as City of Bones, so there is that. As an adaptation of one of the most successful and well-loved modern children’s books of all time, it was so bad that I wonder if the filmmakers had even read a summary of the book before they began.

What I ask is for Hollywood to respect the author. What I ask is for Hollywood to respect the readers. What I ask is for Hollywood to make quality adaptations!


So, where are we now? In this decline of YA there is nowhere to go but up. Is 2018 going to change the terrible reputation YA movies get? Will adaptations like The Hate U Give, The Darkest MindsTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and all the others that are to come out bring YA back on top? Already we have films like Love, Simon, and Ready Player One that are making way and succeeding tremendously. If they are any indication then there is hope for us yet! If only they can keep that up.

Now, what do you guys think about YA movie adaptations? Do you agree with me? If not, that’s fair too. Do think there is hope for YA? What YA film are you most excited for?

Let’s discuss down in the comments! I love to hear your thoughts!

And check out my previous post: The Cruel Prince – A Book Whose Sequel I Seriously Need Like Right Now (A Review)

And check out some of my other discussions!

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~ Angelica



18 thoughts on “Discussion Time – Where Have All the Good YA Movie Adaptations Gone? And Why Hollywood Needs to Respect the Readers!

  1. Such a great discussion piece, Angela! I definitely agree that one of the main reasons YA films aren’t very appealing is because Hollywood makes them feel the same. There isn’t anything very unique or original with these films, and they’re unable to capture some of the essences of their respective books. While it is difficult to translate a book into a movie format, that isn’t an excuse for rushing characters’ developments. Yes, they can’t be as slow burning and gradual as they are in the books, but the two MC’s don’t have to make out, two minutes after meeting one another. You bring up so many fantastic points here! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I loved this post.
    Even though I don’t fall into YA category by age, I enjoy many fantasy YA novels. I saw a few of those movies you mentioned that have poor scores on rotten tomatoes (uhm, because I did enjoy some of those books) but have decided to do my research from now on as they really fell flat for me.
    Those characters were all so predictable and boring, most of it was romance focused and I even had to stop watching one of them as it was not for me.
    It could be that Hollywood just follows a formulate of: a few hotties that look reasonably young meet, and they continuously obsess over each other and then something rushed happens to remind audience about the book this movie is actually based on. Yawn.
    We need screenwriters understanding the original books and honouring them with their movie adaptation. Or / and excited producers / directors that very about those books as well.
    There are so many fantastic adaptations out there so it can definitely be done. Fingers crossed anyway. 😊🤞🍀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you like it! And I totally agree! I used try to watch every YA book to movie adaption that came out but lately I’ve been very selective because a lot of them have been very bad. And I think the main issue is the characters and the fact that their development is rushed and their arcs are way too focused on romance. And yes there are a lot of good ones out there, too bad that there are also a lot of bad ones. Here’s hoping the new up coming movies are better!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great post! I feel like I can just save a few movies but most of them are pretty much the same, mostly because it’s what’s “supposed” to work and that’s always hollywood strategies!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting discussion! I honestly don’t think that all YA adaptations are bad these days–personally I didn’t like The Fifth Wave or Allegiant books lol, and they’re the only ones I’ve read from your first paragraph–and there are great ones like Love, Simon and Ready Player One coming out like you said! I definitely agree that the time constraint on movies is hard though–even Harry Potter, which I consider perfection, had to cut out a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I totally agree that not all are bad. In fact there are some really good ones out there. Sadly, for every good one that manages to succeed in the box office there are a bunch of bad ones that totally fail. And I don’t mind them cutting the material or even altering it so long as they remain loyal to the overall story, which most don’t do. Harry Potter is definitely a miracle considering all that could have possibly gone wrong. It could gave ended up like the Percy Jackson movies and that would have been so bad! Hopefully they keep up this new trend of good YA movies that are coming out!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved this post so much! A few days ago, I was talking about how much I love Six of Crows, but don’t want it adapted because I fear the characters will be oversimplified, stripped of nuances and complexities. I’m also fearful of miscasting, whitewashing, and Kaz and Inej relationship not being treated with delicacy and Hollywood over-romanticizing it. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And I love Six of Crows but I totally agree that I’m nervous of how they might adapt it! It’s such a complex novel with such complex main characters and I feel like Hollywood would completely ruin it! I hope that if it ever does get adapted that it gets done by people who love the story as much as the fans!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! Another reason I think YA adaptations aren’t doing as well is that they are now changing SO much of the book for the movie. Yes, the Twilight, Harry Potter, and Hunger Games movies changed and left things out, but for the most part, they were faithful adaptations. If you look at some of the adaptations now, some are so different from the book that if they didn’t have the same names, you wouldn’t realize they were the same movies. For example, I, personally, thought Divergent was a good movie, and it did the best out of the franchise. That’s because it was the one that was most faithful to the book. I didn’t even watch Allegiant, because I heard it didn’t even have the same story line anymore.

    That being said, I really have high hopes for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Netflix has created some great shows and movies, and right now, there are times they seem to know what they’re doing better than some other big movie productions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m glad you liked the post! And you’re so right! While I don’t mind them changing some details and cutting off certain things, they still have to remain loyal to the plot and the characters that the author intended but sadly a lot of movies don’t do that. And yeah, I have no idea what the heck Allegiant was doing or where it was going so honestly it was probably for the best that it was canceled.
      And I am no excited for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before! Hopefully, Netflix doesn’t let us down!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not a big fan of YA movie adaptations because Hollywood tends to treat the stories disrespectfully, oversimplifying them. Adults think that teens don’t have any kind of criteria and will watch anything. They think they just need a crappy romance and some shitty CGI to make teens happy, but the thing is teens have become more and more demanding, especially in the most recent years. It’s much easier to have access to info about film-making nowadays than it was 10 years ago, and not only that, but teens want different themes. They want more diversity, more originality, more realism. But until Hollywood doesn’t realise this and stops undermining teenagers, they’ll just keep making shitty movies for teens (of course, there are exceptions, but I feel that this is the general case).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your comment! You are so right! Hollywood seems to think that we have very low standards so when they make subpar movies they think we’ll flock to them and that’s just not how it goes. Hopefully they figure it out sooner rather than later. There are some really good YA adaptations out there so I know that they are capable of making good movies, it’s just too bad that most of them are so bad.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah yes, sometimes my mum says that the best books make the worst movies- and I do agree that a lot of movies based on YA are not as good as the books right now. And yeah I really see that Hollywood is taking advantage of the fact they know fans of the books will turn up either way. Hopefully that trend will come to an end though! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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