Rad Reads

A non-definitive ranking of book-to-movie adaptations

One thing we know for certain? Book-to-movie adaptations are *always* a controversial point of conversation. Some people can't get enough of them, while others would rather forget they exist. Some readers can't stand when adaptations of their fave books aren't faithful, while others may discover their fave books through their film adaptations. Whatever applies to you, we've compiled a ranking of ten book-to-movie adaptions ranging from ones we didn't quite heart to our absolute faves.

10. The Giver


The Giver is a classic novel by Lois Lowry. It fits within the dystopian genre and tells a unique story that has stuck with multiple generations (and has even been brought into English curriculums in many schools). Reading the book, you may think a film adaptation would be brilliant; after all, bringing the world onscreen would give new life to the story and could make for an interesting perspective. That's why the 2014 movie adaptation seemed promising at first, especially with a star-studded cast including Taylor Swift and Meryl Streep. However, when the movie was released, many were critical of its portrayal of the story, citing that it was not accurate to the novel and that it was not a good depiction of the story they love. This book-to-film adaptation falls last on our ranking solely due to its unreached potential, but the novel remains one of our all-time favorites. 

9. The Lightning Thief


Rick Riordan's novel Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief has spawned four fab sequels, a spin-off series, merchandise and more. However, many fans weren't pleased with the early 2010s film adaptions of the first two novels. Starring Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson, the films did stray from the OG books quite a bit, much to the chagrin of longtime fans. If you're like us and love the series, keep in mind that a Disney+ adaptation is coming next year, so this isn't the last time you'll see Percy, Annabeth and Grover on your screen. 

8. Divergent


The movie adaptation of Divergent was released during a time when YA dystopian stories were everywhere. It was during this peak that Divergent grew popular and spawned a film series of three movies. Many readers enjoyed how the movies brought Tris and Four to life, while others felt the films weren't quite what they had in mind. The first two films of the series did pretty well and gained a lot of new fans for the series; the final installment, however, fell short of the success of the previous films and resulted in the series being cut short. The fourth film was never released and the series ended abruptly, far different than the way the book series concludes. 

7.  Everything, Everything


Everything, Everything follows the story of Maddy Whitaker (played by the amaze Amandla Stenberg), a young girl who suffers from a chronic illness that keeps her from leaving her house. She's been stuck inside for most of her life and dreams of the places that lie outside of her walls. This changes when she meets her neighbor, Olly (Nick Robinson), who introduces her to a whole new world. This story seems like a predictable romance where both partners are seperated by an impossibly large obstacle, but there are a lot of twists and suspenseful moments within the story. The book is formatted in a unique and interesting way, which is why it worked so well on the big screen. 

6. Love, Simon


Love, Simon (based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by author Becky Albertalli), follows closeted teenager Simon Spier as he navigates his final year of high school, comes to terms with who he is and begins to fall in love with an anonymous pen pal who goes by "Blue." The movie was one of the biggest rom-coms of the past decade and, because of its success, spawned spin-off series such as Love, Victor and other novels set within the Simonverse.

5. Dumplin'


The daughter of an ex-beauty queen, 17-year-old Willowdean Dickson has had *enough* of the pageant world. As a plus-size young woman, she has always felt excluded from the scene and sees it as something that is unattainable for many young girls. After finding out her Aunt Lucy never got the chance to participate in a beauty pageant before her unfortunate passing, Willowdean decides to sign up herself in an act of protest, alongside her bestie Elle. What follows is a story of self-love, empowerment and confidence (*and* the age-old message to never judge a book by its cover, even when it comes to beauty queens). While Dumplin' is a standalone film, the book has spawned two sequels written by author Julie Murphy.

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is now referred to as the quintessential teen coming-of-age story in modern years. The book was written by Stephen Chbosky, the screenwriter behind films like Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Rent, who also wrote *and* directed this film adaptation. One thing that's a common thread in well-received book-to-movie adaptations? The authors of the book are often highly involved in the production of the films. This close connection gives more room for authenticity, and who knows the book better than the author does? This book-to-movie adaptation is so seamlessly connected to the book that it's literally as if you're watching the book come to life. The way this film does this so beautifully is why so many responded to it in such a positive way

3. The Harry Potter series


Ah, who could forget the entire Harry Potter series? The books are widely loved by readers of all ages, the first novel an instant hit that was no doubt going to become something far greater. A movie adaptation was no question after the 2001 release of Hary Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and, in terms of accuracy to the source material, the movies are pretty great. The movies launched the book series into even further success, opening the universe to multiple spin-offs, a whole play and, not to mention, a theme park. It's clear fans of the books *loved* the films. 

2. To All The Boys I've Loved Before


While a more recent addition to the list of book-to-movie adaptations, To All The Boys I've Loved Before is an essential watch if you loved the book series by Jenny Han. It's a feel-good, wholesome story that gives us *everything* we could ask for: a fake-dating trope, a messy love triangle (or two), lovable characters and all the suspenseful moments that leave us wanting more. Luckily, the novel is one of three books and, even better, all three novels have their own cinematic counterpart. If you can't get enough of Jenny Han's work, her book series The Summer I Turned Pretty has also been adapted into a limited TV series on Amazon. If there's one thing we know for certain, it's that Jenny Han knows what she's doing when it comes to creating the perfect rom-com.

1. The Hunger Games trilogy


The Hunger Games trilogy dominated the world of literature *and* film during its time of release, which is no small feat. The films were each released a year after each other, starting in 2012 and ending in 2015. Many people grew to appreciate the cinematic adaptations of this series, and the Hunger Games Cinematic Universe sparked a new trend in young adult fiction where readers became hungry for even more dystopian stories.

Which of your fave reads do you hope gets taken to the big screen one day? Let us know on Twitter @girlslifemag!

Slider image @victoriacastora


by Mina Rahmat | 2/21/2023