Want more Dittos and book suggestions? You can find our Recommendations page here.
Want more Dittos and book suggestions? You can find our Recommendations page here.
Movie: The Hate U Give
When it comes out: October 5
What the book is about: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
Movie: The Old Man & the Gun
When it comes out: October 5
What the book is about: Each of the dozen stories in this collection reveals a hidden and often dangerous world and, like Into Thin Air and The Orchid Thief, pivots around the gravitational pull of obsession and the captivating personalities of those caught in its grip. There is the world’s foremost expert on Sherlock Holmes who is found dead in mysterious circumstances; an arson sleuth trying to prove that a man about to be executed is innocent, and sandhogs racing to complete the brutally dangerous job of building New York City’s water tunnels before the old system collapses. Throughout, Grann’s hypnotic accounts display the power-and often the willful perversity-of the human spirit.
Movie: Loving Pablo
When it comes out: October 5
What the book is about: At 33, Virginia Vallejo was media elite. A renowned anchorwoman and socialite, and a model who appeared on magazine covers worldwide, Vallejo was the darling of Colombia’s most powerful politicians and billionaires. Meeting Pablo Escobar in 1983, and becoming his mistress for many years, she witnessed the rise of a drug empire that was characterized by Escobar’s far-reaching political corruption, his extraordinary wealth, and a network of violent crime that lasted until his death in 1993. In this highly personal and insightful story, Vallejo characterizes the duality of Escobar’s charm and charisma as a benefactor to the people of Colombia, and the repulsion of his criminal actions as a tyrannical terrorist and enemy of many world leaders.
Movie: First Man
When it comes out: October 12
What the book is about: On July 20, 1969, the world stood still to watch thirty-eight-year-old American astronaut Neil A. Armstrong become the first person to step on the surface of another heavenly body. Perhaps no words in human history became better known than those few he uttered at that historic moment. In a penetrating exploration of American hero worship, Hansen addresses the complex legacy of the First Man, as an astronaut and an individual.
Movie: I Still See You
When it comes out: October 12
What the book is about: Living in the aftermath of the Event means that seeing the dead is now a part of life, but Veronica wishes that the ghosts would just move on. Instead, the ghosts aren’t disappearing-they’re gaining power. When Veronica and her friend, Kirk, decide to investigate why, they stumble upon a more sinister plot than they ever could have imagined.
Movie: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
When it comes out: October 19
What the book is about: Before turning to her life of crime—running a one-woman forgery business out of a phone booth in a Greenwich Village bar and even dodging the FBI—Lee Israel had a legitimate career as an author of biographies. Her first book on Tallulah Bankhead was a New York Times bestseller, and her second, on the late journalist and reporter Dorothy Kilgallen, made a splash in the headlines. But by 1990, almost broke and desperate to hang onto her Upper West Side studio, Lee made a bold and irreversible career change: inspired by a letter she’d received once from Katharine Hepburn, and armed with her considerable skills as a researcher and celebrity biographer, she began to forge letters in the voices of literary greats.
Movie: Hunter Killer
When it comes out: October 26
What the book is about: Below the polar ice cap, an American nuclear submarine moves quietly in the freezing water, tailing a new Russian sub. But the usual, unspoken game of hide-and-seek between opposing captains is ended when the Americans hear sounds of disaster and flooding, and the Russian sub sinks in a thousand feet of water. The American sub rushes to help, only to join its former quarry in the deep. The situation ignites tensions around the world. As both Washington and Moscow prepare for what may be the beginnings of World War III, the USS Toledo—led by young, untested Captain Joe Glass—heads to the location to give aid. He soon discovers that the incident was no accident. And the men behind it have yet to make their final move.
When it comes out: October 26
What the book is about: With the same deadpan mania and genius for dislocation that he brought to his internationally acclaimed novels A Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami makes this collection of stories a determined assault on the normal. A man sees his favorite elephant vanish into thin air; a newlywed couple suffers attacks of hunger that drive them to hold up a McDonald’s in the middle of the night; and a young woman discovers that she has become irresistible to a little green monster who burrows up through her backyard.
Netflix and chill with these certified fresh (according to Rotten Tomatoes) book-to-film adaptations.
Based On: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
Starring: Lily James, Matthew Goode, Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Courtenay, Michael Huisman, Glen Powell, Katherine Parkinson, Penelope Wilton
Based On: Secretariat by William Nack
Starring: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Dylan Walsh, Margo Martindale, Nelson Ellis
A woman who has been held captive in a tiny garden shed for seven years raises her five-year-old son, Jack, who was born in captivity.
Based On: Room by Emma Donoghue
Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Temblay
In 1958 Germany, a teenage boy named Michael Berg has an affair with an older woman named Hanna Schmitz, who then mysteriously disappears. Decades later, Michael, now a lawyer, encounters Hanna in court. She is on trial for war crimes committed when she was a guard at a Nazi concentration camp.
Based On: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, translated by Carol Brown Janeway
Starring: Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross
April and Frank Wheeler’s troubled marriage crumbles under the social constraints of their mid-1950s suburban existence.
Based On: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Starring: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates, Kathryn Hahn, David Harbour
After graduating from Emory University in the early 1990s, ace student and athlete Christopher McCandless gives everything he owns to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness.
Based On: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, Zach Galifianakis
Father, widower, and small-town lawyer Atticus Finch defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in 1932 Alabama. Meanwhile, his two children, Jem and Scout, become intrigued by their mysterious shut-in neighbor, Boo Radley.
Based On: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Starring: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Ruth White, Paul Fix, Brock Peters, Frank Overton, Robert Duvall
During the Nazi occupation of France, romance blossoms between a Lucile Angellier, a French woman, and Bruno von Falk, the German officer billeting in her home.
Based On: Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky, translated by Sandra Smith
Starring: Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Riley, Margot Robbie, Ruth Wilson
British mathematical genius Alan Turing and a team of gifted mathematicians try to crack the German Enigma code to turn the tide of World War II. But when Alan is outed as a gay man, he is faced with imprisonment or chemical castration.
Based On: Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Allen Leech, Rory Kinnear
A retired writer named Ben takes a six-week course to become a caregiver, then takes a job caring for Trevor, an eighteen-year-old with muscular dystrophy. Ben takes Trevor on a road trip to see the world’s deepest pit. Along the way, Trevor meets Dot, a kind girl he develops a crush on.
Based On: The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison
Starring: Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts, Selena Gomez, Alex Huff, Donna Biscoe, Julia Denton, Jennifer Ehle
Phiona Mutesi, a ten-year-old Ugandan girl growing up in the slums of Katwe, learns to play chess and soon becomes a top player, competing in international competitions.
Based On: The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers
Starring: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o
Thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis irrevocably changes the trajectory of multiple lives when she falsely accuses her sister’s lover of raping a fifteen-year-old girl.
Based On: Atonement by Ian McEwan
Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juno Temple
Trapped in a loveless marriage to a cold, cruel man, Georgiana throws herself into hosting extravagant parties and has a torrid affair with Parliament member Charles Grey.
Based On: Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman
Starring: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Hayley Atwell, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper
Two families—one white, one black—battle racism and struggle to adjust to farm life in rural Mississippi after World War II.
Based On: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Garret Hedlund, Mary J. Blige
An amateur fighter and former whale trainer who lost both her legs in an on-the-job accident form a deep bond and begin to fall in love.
Based On: Rust and Bone by Craig Davidson
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts
Longtime neighbors Addie Moore and Louis Waters have hardly spoken to each other the whole time they’ve lived side-by-side. But that changes when Addie reaches out and tries to make a connection, sparking a beautiful late-life romance.
Based On: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Starring: Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Matthias Schoenaerts
A shopgirl and older woman whose marriage is falling apart have a forbidden affair that leaves both of them changed forever.
Based On: The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Kyle Chandler
When tradition thwarts her plans to marry the man she loves, a young woman discovers that she has hidden culinary talents.
Based On: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Starring: Marco Leonardi, Lumi Cavazos, Regina Torné, Mario Iván Martínez
During the final days of the Civil War, Inman, a wounded Confederate soldier, embarks on a dangerous journey back to Cold Mountain, North Carolina to reunite with his love, Ada. Meanwhile, Ada struggles to survive after her father dies, leaving her destitute.
Based On: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Charlie Hunnam, Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Donald Sutherland
Career bank robber Jack Foley and U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco share a steamy moment of mutual attraction while stowed away in a trunk during Foley’s escape from a Florida prison. After the getaway, Sisco chases Foley and his pals to Detroit where they plan to steal a cache of uncut diamonds.
Based On: Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard
Starring: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, Ving Rhames
An uncommonly bright sixteen-year-old girl is seduced by a charming con man and receives an education in life, love, and sex.
Based On: An Education by Lynn Barber
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper, Olivia Williams, Emma Thompson
Jessie Burlingame faces her demons and fights to survive when her husband dies suddenly during a sex game gone wrong, leaving her securely handcuffed to the bed in their remote lake house.
Based On: Gerald’s Game by Stephen King
Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Carel Struycken
A high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse ensues when espionage master George Smiley is forced out of semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet mole operating within MI6.
Based On: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciarán Hinds
English teacher John Keating flouts the conventions of the conservative upper-crust Vermont boarding school where he teaches to inspire his students to read poetry with fresh eyes and hearts.
Based On: Dead Poets Society by N.H. Kleinbaum
Starring: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen
Will Graham, a retired FBI agent with a gift for understanding disturbed minds, tracks down a brutal serial killer known as “The Tooth Fairy” with the help of imprisoned forensic psychiatrist—and world’s greatest human flesh cook—Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
Based On: Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Oskar Schindler, a Sudeten German businessman and card-carrying member of the Nazi Party, risks everything to save the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.
Based On: Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Embeth Davidtz
Billionaire philanthropist John Hammond and a team of genetic scientists have created a wildlife park full of cloned dinosaurs. When a power failure knocks out the park’s security system, a small group of visitors there to preview the exhibits before opening day are faced with a hoard of toothy reptiles and one very pissed-off t-rex.
Based On: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Ariana Richards, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, BD Wong, Samuel L. Jackson
The aging Don of a New York crime family transfers power to his reluctant son with disastrous results.
Based On: The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard S. Castellano, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton
A hodgepodge fellowship comprised of four hobbits, two humans, a dwarf, an elf, and a wizard embark on an epic quest to destroy the Ring of Power in the fires of Mount Doom in order to stop the Dark Lord Sauron from taking over Middle-earth with his force of evil orcs.
Based On: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis, Sala Baker
A little girl whose mother has a strict plan for her life that includes no time for leisure befriends her elderly retired aviator neighbor who tells her the story of a little prince he once met from a faraway planet.
Based On: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Paul Giamatti
A shallow and self-centered prince is cursed by a witch to transform into a beast for the rest of his life unless he can make a woman love him before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose. Belle, a bookish girl ahead of her time, saves her father from the clutches of the beast by offering to remain a prisoner in his stead.
Based On: The Story of Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve
Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, Hattie Morahan
A young anthropomorphic bear with an unusual affinity for marmalade migrates from the wild Peruvian jungle to modern-day London. Lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the Brown family, who kindly offer to let him stay with them.
Based On: Paddington by Michael Bond, illustrated by R. W. Alley
Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song Covey keeps love letters she’s written to all the boys she’s ever loved in a hatbox gifted to her by her late mother. One day, Lara finds her hatbox missing and it quickly becomes apparent that someone has mailed the letters to their not-so-intended recipients.
Based On: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Starring: Lana Condor, Janel Parrish, Noah Centineo, Israel Broussard, John Corbett
A group of investigative reporters for The Boston Globe uncover a massive decades-long scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese.
Based On: Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church by The Investigative Staff of the Boston Globe
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci
A deceptively clever village priest solves crimes that baffle the local police in rural mid-century Britain. (I’m binge-watching this series right now and it’s absolutely fabulous.)
Based On: The Complete Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton
Starring: Mark Williams, Sorcha Cusack, Nancy Carroll, Alex Price
Grace Marks is a convicted murderess, having participated in the gruesome slaying of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. Fifteen years into serving a life sentence in Kingston Penitentiary, an alienist named Simon Jordan takes an interest in Grace’s case and begins a series of interviews intended to suss out the motivation behind her crime. But Dr. Jordan’s interest soon grows beyond the detached professional persona he tries so desperately to maintain and it becomes clear that the facts of the case may not align with what truly happened.
Based On: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Starring: Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft, Kerr Logan, Anna Paquin, Paul Gross
Anne Shirley, an eleven-year-old orphan girl, is adopted by brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert and goes to live with them on picturesque Prince Edward Island. There she meets an eclectic cast of characters, including the rambunctious Gilbert Blythe, busybody neighbor Mrs. Rachel Lynde, and kindred spirit Diana Barry. Facing prejudice because of her parentless status, Anne struggles to be accepted and chases her dreams.
Based On: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Starring: Amybeth McNulty, Geraldine James, R. H. Thomson, Dalila Bela, Lucas Jade Zumann
In 1977, two FBI agents and a psychologist pioneer the science of criminal psychology and found the agency’s Behavioral Science Unit.
Based On: Mindhunter by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker
Starring: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv
Three orphaned siblings use their considerable talents to outsmart the evil Count Olaf, who wants to steal the fortune their parents left behind.
Based On: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, Presley Smith, K. Todd Freeman
Middle-class WASP Piper Kerman is sentenced to eighteen months in Litchfield Penitentiary after being convicted of smuggling drugs for her ex-girlfriend, Alex Vause. There she copes with the daily hardships and injustices of prison life and meets an eclectic cast of fellow inmates. Things take an interesting turn when Alex is also sent to Litchfield.
Based On: Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Starring: Taylor Schilling, Kate Mulgrew, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Dascha Polanco, Selenis Leyva, Nick Sandow, Yael Stone, Taryn Manning, Adrienne C. Moore, Jackie Cruz, Laura Prepon, Natasha Lyonne, Jessica Pimentel, Laverne Cox
Sheriff Walt Longmire, Deputy Vic Moretti, and the rest of the team at the Absaroka County Sheriff’s Department fight crime and solve mysteries across the wild Wyoming landscape.
Based On: The Longmire Mystery Series by Craig Johnson
Starring: Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, Cassidy Freeman, Adam Barley, Louanne Stephens, Bailey Chase, A Martinez, Zahn McClarnon
Norma Bates and her teenage son, Norman, buy a motel after Norman’s father dies. Shortly thereafter, the former owner of the motel breaks in and sexually assaults Norma. Norman knocks him unconscious and Norma stabs him to death. From this point, the series traces Norman’s complicated relationship with his mother and the unraveling of his fragile psyche.
Based On: Psycho by Robert Bloch
Starring: Freddie Highmore, Vera Farmiga, Max Thieriot, Olivia Cooke, Nestor Carbonell
A group of midwives serves the poor and outcast in the poverty-stricken Poplar district of London’s East End in the 1950s.
Based On: The Complete Call the Midwife Stories by Jennifer Worth
Starring: Jenny Agutter, Laura Main, Venessa Redgrave, Stephen McGann, Judy Parfitt, Helen George, Cliff Parisi
A young middle-class southerner named Margaret Hale comes face-to-face with the brutality of poverty and the industrial revolution when her family moves to the Northern cotton mill town of Milton in the mid-18th century. There she meets John Thornton, a brusque mill owner whose manners and seeming indifference to his worker’s suffering offends her finer sensibilities.
Based On: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Starring: Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage, Tim Pigott-Smith, Sinéad Cusack, Brendan Coyle
The recent announcement that Amazon has acquired rights to create streaming series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s works has the internet buzzing – not just with speculation on what Amazon might have in the works, but also whether it’s too soon after Peter Jackson’s live-action trilogy to work on another adaptation.
Fantasy TV series are having an absolute heyday right now, from the ongoing popularity of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead to the relative newcomer Stranger Things, so it’s understandable why Amazon’s looking for the next streaming hit – but for studios looking to create a new hit rather than just riding along on an existing franchise’s steam, here are a few fantasy novels to pick up that would make excellent series.
Rebel of the Sands
Those who checked out the Dark Tower adaptation this summer and didn’t quite satisfy their desire for genre-blending gunslinger action would love an adaptation of Alwyn Hamilton’s young adult Rebel of the Sands, which follows a teenager escaping her abusive family and dead-end town. Like Dark Tower, Rebel is set in a magical universe with a gun-slinging protagonist, and Amani’s journey takes her to dangerous new places beyond her wildest dreams.
Currently, there aren’t any fantasy series that combine the Western genre with speculative elements, and Rebel is a great candidate to change that. The trilogy was optioned by Willow Smith’s production company, MSFTS Production, earlier this year, though no further announcements have been made about the adaptation so far.
The Fifth Season
N. K. JEMISIN
There are no zombies, but there are plenty of reasons that fans of The Walking Dead would also be into a TV version of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy: an apocalyptic setting, human treachery, and a protagonist’s struggle to survive in a world that wants them dead. Because in the world Jemisin has crafted, humanity’s greatest crisis is that the earth itself is trying to kill them.
The Broken Earth trilogy begins with the award-winning The Fifth Season and concludes with The Stone Sky, released earlier this year. Like Rebel of the Sands, the Broken Earth trilogy has already been optioned: the series is currently in early development at TNT.
The City of Brass
S. A. CHAKRABORTY
This gorgeous debut novel that begins in eighteenth century Cairo before taking its protagonist into a magical realm is a great title to adapt for fans of the historical fantasy series Outlander. Nahri is a con artist who doesn’t believe in the supernatural – until she accidentally summons a djinn who brings her into the world of magic. Chakraborty’s worldbuilding is gorgeous, and Nahri – an aspiring physician – is the sort of clever and skeptical protagonist that makes for fun storytelling.
The most recently-published title on this list, The City of Brass is the first in a planned trilogy, though the first novel is rich with potential source material for a gorgeous historical series.
MARJORIE LIU & SANA TAKEDA
While series adapted from comics tend to be restricted to DC and Marvel’s sprawling franchises, there are notable exceptions (like The Walking Dead, as mentioned above). Another fantasy comic that would make an excellent limited series adaptation is Monstress, an atmospheric ongoing series published by Image.
A battle against tyrannical forces, a lavish art deco-inspired style, and a protagonist wrestling with a literal inner demon – what more could viewers want?
Monstress has quite a bit more gore than other series on this list, which may be plus or minus points depending on the studio and the viewer. But this comic is visually unlike anything currently airing – and it would make for an incredible streaming series.
TV shows and movies about rebellion are timely for a lot of audiences, which makes Fran Wilde’s Updraft ripe for adaptation. Updraft‘s rebellion takes place in a city of bone spires where the term “upper class” is extremely literal: the wealthy and powerful live in the more comfortable higher strata of the spires, while the poor scratch out lives in the increasingly crowded lower strata.
This series hasn’t yet been optioned for film (so if you’re in charge of that sort of thing, feel free to get on it), but the Bone Universe series is complete after the publication of Horizon earlier this year.
The Young Elites
Anyone looking for something like Game of Thrones with less torture should pick up Marie Lu’s sophomore trilogy. The Young Elites tells the story of a group of young people marked by disease and gifted with strange abilities who’re fighting to be treated as regular citizens – and of Adelina, whose power puts her on a path to becoming the greatest villain her world has seen.
Told across a multitude of lands and featuring characters from a broad variety of backgrounds, The Young Elitesdefinitely shares some of the visual appeals of Game of Thrones while omitting some of the aspects that can make Game of Thrones gut-wrenching to watch.
This standalone fantasy-horror novel has nearly all the elements that viewers love about Stranger Things: a group of plucky youths (though they’ve grown into their 20s as the story begins), a sense of nostalgia for decades past, and creepy tentacle monsters.
(Does the creature in Stranger Things count as a creepy tentacle monster?) [Editor’s note: absolutely.]
Meddling Kids is a delightful marriage of spunky child detective mysteries (see its referential title) and eldritch horrors far worse than whatever a kid might imagine lurks in their closet or under their bed. Adapting the novel for a streaming series would make for a great Halloween weekend binge – and possibly reignite your childhood love of mystery-solving gangs.
Evoking one artistic discipline while using an entirely different one is no easy task. Yet for as long as moving pictures have captivated audiences, they’ve also captivated a certain group of writers, who’ve viewed the existence of cinema as an implicit challenge. Namely, how does one capture the essence of a film using only words on a page?
Some writers have opted to make the process of filmmaking their subject. Others have borrowed aspects of cinematic language and conveyed them onto the page, while others have incorporated the parallel structure of screenplays within their prose. When done well, this evocation creates a work that tells a compelling story and creates a kind of phantom film along the way. Here is a look at several books that blend fiction and film in unexpected ways.
A Short Film About Disappointment
Joshua Mattson’s novel A Short Film About Disappointment is absolutely saturated with the cinematic. It’s told through a series of movie reviews, but it also chronicles its narrator’s attempt to make a film himself. Throw in some glimpses of a harsh near-future society and a title that alludes to the works of Krzysztof Kieślowski, and the result is a singular blend of the literary and the filmic.
In Haruki Murakami’s fiction, nearly anything can happen: characters vanish, the borders between worlds dissolve, realism abruptly becomes anything but. In telling the surreal narrative in his short novel After Dark, Murakami utilizes an abundance of cinematic language, heightening the sense of voyeurism and mysterious presences that abounds in the book.
House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski
Among the many things that Mark Z. Danielewski’s cult novel House of Leaves can be said to be about is the act of storytelling – and much of the book focuses on a nonexistent documentary about a house whose properties defy all known laws of physics. It’s from that contrast between the knowable and the deeply unknown that narrative tension arises – along with a growing sense of horror that’s sustained throughout the book.
Sergio de la Pava
Sergio de la Pava’s sprawling novel Lost Empress occasionally shifts into a format that echoes the style of a screenplay. It’s a knowing nod to another medium in a book whose plot combines two tried-and-true cinematic storylines – a heist narrative and an underdog sports story – en route to reaching deeper conclusions about the criminal justice system, incarceration, and class in America.
At the heart of Gemma Files’s novel Experimental Film is, well, an experimental film with roots in the early days of the medium. But for all that this novel abounds with lived-in details of the indie film world, that’s only one facet of its greater focus on storytelling – and the nightmarish effects that certain stories can have on those who hear them.
The Making of Zombie Wars
The way that a film can evolve from its inception to its final cut is frequently fascinating – and in his novel The Making of Zombie Wars, Aleksandar Hemon turns the creative process into a running theme. The frustrated screenwriter hero of the novel is constantly coming up with ideas and revising them; the way that this dovetails with his life in Chicago makes for a host of uneasy parallels throughout the book.
Madness Is Better Than Defeat
Ned Beauman’s Madness is Better Than Defeat is a novel about journeys into the mysterious, unlikely adventurers, and long-lost secrets coming to light. It’s the stuff of pulp adventure, which helps explain why part of the novel is centered around an ill-fated filmmaking expedition lost in the jungle for years. Structurally, Beauman uses film as a kind of meta-narrative device, leading towards a resonant conclusion.
Catherynne M. Valente
In telling the story of an alternate history wherein the solar system was colonized a century ago and the development of certain filmmaking techniques occured on a very different scale, Catherynne M. Valente evokes a golden age of cinema that never was. Valente also uses the presence of filmmaking to create numerous layers to her narrative, making for a boldly plotted work of fiction.
The Dead Fish Museum
The stories in Charles D’Ambrosio’s fantastic collection The Dead Fish Museum abound with allusions to the cinematic, from the frustrations of a screenwriter to the most mundane of tasks on an adult film set. In telling these stories, D’Ambrosio rarely goes to the places one would expect when blending film and prose; the results are often revelatory.
I know the book doesn’t have anything to do with school, but it is still timely in a broader sense.