Books That Deserve Another Shot On TV: Young Adult Literature Edition

Spoilers

Whether we love them wholeheartedly or as guilty pleasures, Young Adult books make for great reading and TV material.

Unfortunately, TV is prone to making the same adaptational mistakes with YA books as they are with any other type of literature.

Fortunately, TV is always searching for it next teen hit, so there’s plenty of opportunities to finally give these YA books a proper TV adaptation.

Let start with Pretty Little Liars because even though it aired for seven seasons, there’s quite a demand for a redo.

Compared to the TV version, the Pretty Little Liars books, written by Sara Shepard, had far more substance.

For one thing, the books were much better plotted whereas the TV series was nonsensical.

The books were much better in how it depicted mental health. 

Despite its great casting, the TV series did a huge disservice to the characters. The TV show radically changed the characterization to the point where the characters were only in-name versions of themselves. 

The book versions of the characters were way more likable and so were the romantic relationships. The books were also more committed to diversity.

How the character of Wren was adapted is a great example of the TV series’ flaws.  

The books had a character named Wren Kim. He was of Korean and British descent. The TV series featured a character named Wren Kingston, who was British.

Wren Kim was Spencer’s main love interest. The book series ended with Wren Kim alive and with Spencer.

On the TV series, Toby became Spencer’s main love interest. Alex revealed she killed Wren Kingston on Pretty Little Liars Season 7 Episode 20.

Besides a better adaptation of Wren, a new Pretty Little Liars TV series could delve into Emily’s bisexuality/pansexuality, Hanna’s Judaism, and finally sink the Aria and Erza ship.

The Liars aren’t the only characters Shepard created who deserve a fresh start on TV.

Shepard’s The Perfectionists was not a Pretty Little Liars book or a sequel series. The Perfectionists and its sequel, The Good Girls, formed a separate series.

Since the TV Pretty Little Liars ended its run, and spin-off opportunities are irresistible, Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists was born.   

On paper, there was some logic to merging The Perfectionists with the Pretty Little Liars verse. Like the movie industry, TV is hungry for franchises.

Secondly, the window for a TV series to find its audience keeps getting smaller and smaller. Getting fans of Pretty Little Liars hooked on PLL: The Perfectionists would have gone a long way to establishing a strong fanbase. 

Instead, PLL: The Perfectionists alienated both fandoms.

PLL: The Perfectionists had Alison and Mona move to Beacon Heights and take jobs at a university. To make the premise work, PLL: The Perfectionists split up the fan-favorite couple of Alison and Emily.

To say this was an unpopular decision would be an understatement.

Including Pretty Little Liars characters wasn’t the only divergence from the source material. The plot of PLL: The Perfectionists barely resembled the plot of The Perfectionists. 

It begs the question of why didn’t the show create a wholly original sequel series instead of trying to adapt a book series it had no real interest in.  

A more true to the text TV adaptation of The Perfectionists could do a better job of reeling in book fans.

As hard as it is to make a sequel series a success, it can be an even harder task for a prequel series like The Carrie Diaries.

Sex and the City author Candance Bushnell wrote the prequels The Carrie Diaries and Summer and the City, which focused on Carrie Bradshaw’s senior year of high school and the summer after.

Like Sex and the City before it, Bushnell’s prequels were adapted to TV — as The Carrie Diaries. 

Only instead airing on HBO, The Carrie Diaries was a CW series, which may have doomed it from the get-go.

It was canceled after only 26 episodes, which was a shame. The Carrie Diaries was a fun, likable, and underrated (in more ways than one) TV show that needed more time to find its audience.

What it was able to accomplish in those 26 episodes was pretty remarkable. It was easy to track teenage Carrie’s development into the woman she would be on Sex and the City.  Characters like Walt, Mouse, and Donna were compelling.  

It deserved a longer life span.  

If The Carrie Diaries were to become a cable show or find a home on a streaming network, it would have a greater chance of success.  As a cable or streaming show, The Carrie Diaries could be more mature and risque.

This would better connect The Carrie Diaries to Sex and the City and fit the trend of teen shows being more brutally honest about sex.   

The Secret Circle was another Young Adult book series adapted into a TV show for The CW, and it should have been a bigger success than it was.

The Secret Circle books were written by L.J. Smith who also authored The Vampire Diaries. Kevin Williamson was the executive producer for both TV adaptations. They aired on the same night.

Yet The Secret Circle Season 1 was its only season.

Some people were turned off because it differed from the books. Others couldn’t get past the first few episodes. However, the TV series was getting better as it progressed and had an active audience.

If it had received a second season renewal (like it should have), it could have been huge. 

The Secret Circle books remain a source of untapped TV potential. It needs to make a comeback. 

Over to you, TV Fanatics!

What other Young Adult books deserve another TV adaptation?

Hit the comments below. 

Becca Newton is a staff writer for TV Fanatic.

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