The 5 Best YA Book-to-Movie Adaptations (and the 5 Worst)

Book-to-movie adaptations are extremely common for popular books. While some of them are extremely successful, others were a complete disaster!

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Book-to-movie adaptations are extremely common for popular books, everything ranging from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. While some of them were extremely successful and basically shaped a generation, others were a complete disaster.



Although some of these stories are not categorically YA, they are all generally family-friendly and can be enjoyed by a young adult audience. With that in mind, let’s begin!


10. Best: The Twilight series



Already, we are starting off with a controversial one, because while the movie series is extremely accurate to the book, it is definitely not that great of a series on film. The acting was… not the best. (I much preferred Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory to him as Edward Cullen!) That did not stop me from reading the entire series (multiple times, I am both ashamed and proud to admit), and watching the all of the movies, too.

Question of the day: does book-to-movie accuracy determine how good a movie was? Maybe not.


9. Worst: The Percy Jackson movies



Do not get me started on how Percy and Annabeth were cast as 16-year-olds when they were supposed to be twelve! Or how Annabeth (in the first film) was a brunette when her curly blonde hair and stormy gray eyes are staple characteristics of Annabeth Chase. Worse than that, Riptide became the cursed blade? A DISASTER was born.

Thank goodness the upcoming Disney+ series is looks promising, and promises to be much more accurate to the books. Even Rick Riordan himself is enthusiastic about the reboot!


8. Best: The Fault in Our Stars


This was definitely a tear-jerking movie that had me bawling. Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters are two of YA’s most popular and recent Romeo and Juliet pairings; The Fault in Our Stars is the original Five Feet Apart, another recent movie about two teenagers in love who are torn apart by illness.

The only weird thing: the star-crossed lovers were played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, who play siblings in another movie series that we are about to dissect next.


7. Worst: I Am Number Four



Another complaint about appearances. Six was supposed to have raven-black hair and olive skin and Teresa Palmer, the actress who played Six, is blonde-haired and blue-eyed. Maybe the casting directors deliberately worked with those of the Percy Jackson series and decided to cast the complete opposite appearances in their leading ladies….

Not to mention the complete power-reversals of the characters! There was a reason that the author chose the powers he had for John and Six. So frustrating.


6. Best: The Hunger Games series


9780545670319: The Hunger Games Trilogy: The Hunger Games / Catching Fire / Mockingjay - AbeBooks - Collins, Suzanne: 0545670314

To be fair, I’m still not sure if I prefer The Hunger Games series to The Harry Potter series. If I could give them the same ranking, I would. I think that The Hunger Games had more consistently good movies and I still bawl at Rue’s death scene in The Hunger Games and the suicide bombing of the dam in Mockingjay – Part One. They knew they were going to die and they chose to sacrifice their lives for their loved ones anyway. The scene was so sad and beautiful and touching. In all four movies, the actors nailed the acting, everyone from Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) to Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) to Donald Sutherland (President Snow). Serious chef’s kiss to all four movies. And unlike Breaking Dawn and The Hobbit, which split into two and three movies respectively and had were long, lagging and felt like an attempt to rake in more money for the box offices, Mockingjay being split into two parts worked really well – like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.


5. Worst: City of Bones movie



Okay, to be fair, it wasn’t the worst movie in my opinion. I actually thought that it was pretty accurate to the book. However, it wasn’t memorable and I didn’t miss it when The City of Ashes movie didn’t come into fruition.

The Shadowhunters television series was MUCH better, although I prefer Jamie Campbell Bower over Dominic Sherwood.


4. Best: The Harry Potter series


Harry Potter book set- Harry Potter Complete Collection Special Collectors set.jpg

How could this list be made without including Harry Potter? I love this series; everyone was cast fantastically and watching all the kids grow up on the show was amazing! I even watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part Two three times in the cinema before I could buy it as a DVD.

However, there are some movies that I thought lagged more than others and were less accurate than others. And don’t get me started on how the movie series didn’t make Ginny as badass as she really is. I miss book-Ginny! Also, Stupefy is not the only spell that wizards and witches can use!


3. Worst: The Divergent series



This series features the aforementioned Shailene Woodley and Theo James as Tris and Four, respectively. I loved the first movie, but the second one was… questionably good. The third one was a disaster, which is why it is ranked higher than some of the other series that were also questionably good. It wasn’t the acting that got me, but the writing of the movies? Grr….


2. Worst: The Hobbit series



Similar to how The Divergent series got progressively bad, The Hobbit series also regressed as it continued. One book was made into three movies and the third movie basically became a war movie with dragons and dwarves and elves and humans. The Battle of the Five Armies killed the dragon in what felt like the first ten minutes of the movie! So much for Five Armies….

And seriously, do elves ever fall in love with other elves? Because they seem to fall in love with everyone but their own species…. In The Lord of the Rings, it was original, but when Tauriel was created for the sake of the Hobbit movies, well, her romance with Kili was very peculiar to say the least. I had the most sympathy for Legolas!


1. Best: The Lord of the Rings series



Ironically, the top spot goes to The Lord of The Rings series, which was amazing! There was fantastic character development for all the characters, appropriate screen time for all of them, character flaws that humanize the characters and so many tear-jerking moments that made me bawl buckets.

Sam is the unsung hero, Legolas and Gimli’s rivalry is so heart-warming, and the lines are also just wonderful. Gandalf’s “You shall not pass!”, Aragorn’s “My friends, you bow to no one” and Sam’s “I can’t carry if for you, but I can carry you” are iconic to this day. If you’ve never watched them, you are missing out!