Pensacola, Florida
Sunday August 19th 2018

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Young Adult Takeover

by Lilia Del Bosque Oakey Whitehouse

It started with “Harry Potter,” hit a new level with “Twilight,” and continues on with “The Hunger Games.” I’m not just talking about books, either. Young Adult (YA) novel adaptations are flooding the big screen and the movies do more than pack a theater full of vampire loving tweens—believe it or not, these movies are helping a technology-heavy generation fall in love with books.

With some of this year’s most anticipated films being adaptations, a seasoned children’s librarian and local YA book lovers weigh in on which movies they think will hit “Twilight” levels of fandom and which will quickly be forgotten—remember “Beastly”? Didn’t think so.

Lois MacMillan has been a children’s librarian with the West Florida Public Library system for 24 years and she wants to make one thing clear:  Just because the books are in the children’s section, it doesn’t mean they are for children. Clearly, the authors understand this and MacMillan believes it is the basis of their success.

“Some adults think teens don’t understand big issues and tough problems, but they do,” said MacMillan. “These books don’t talk down to teens and that’s why they are so successful. These books speak to young adults and teens today. They aren’t reading just old classics that, although they are good, don’t really relate to what teens and young adults are going through.”

But these movies do more than draw readers—they create them.

“Many young people think, ‘The movie isn’t out, I know it’s coming out and I want to know what’s happening,’” said MacMillan. “They see the movie and think ‘Hey, I can read these too!’ It’s interesting, it’s fun, it’s an escape. Teens and young adults who would not normally be readers pick up these books.”

And since these movies are creating readers, these fans are fiercely loyal to the series and come to the theater with high hopes and even higher expectations.

MacMillan is more lenient when it comes to a movie’s loyalty to the book. “For me, if the book is a good solid read and if it’s well written then a good adaptation should try to follow the story as well as it can,” said MacMillan. But she does understand that certain scenes do not translate to the screen and enjoys seeing where filmmakers stray from the book but enhance the story. “A good adaptation follows the books as close as possible but still has leeway to fill in gaps that need to be filled in.”

It’s impossible for every adaptation to be a hit or even just a good film but MacMillan believes that each adaptation, even the bad ones, create readers.

“Not all of these books are my taste but if kids are reading it, I am fine with it,” said MacMillan. “Some aren’t as good as others but it still helps build readers. Even if the movie is not completely true to the novel, or if it doesn’t do it complete justice, I still think they can be a positive way to getting young adults to read.”

What’s Next?

Which adaptations will you line up for at midnight and which will you wait to catch on cable? Here are eight of the most highly anticipated adaptations coming out soon or currently in development.

‘Enders Game’
Release Date: November 1, 2013
What’s the gist? The International Military seek out a leader who can save the human race from an alien attack. Ender Wiggin, a brilliant young mind, is recruited and trained to lead his fellow soldiers into a battle that will determine the future of Earth. The movie is an adaptation from the classic book published in 1985 and stars Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff.

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