This day and age you would be hard pressed to find a young person who would rather read a book than watch a movie. The irony is that most of the movies they watch are based on books, especially as originality-dry Hollywood increasingly relies on adaptations (as well as sequels, remakes, reboots, and the like).
I'm not here to convince you that a book is always better than its film adaptation. That's a scientific fact. I will however, provide you with a summer reading list that consists entirely of books that will be adapted into films that will be released in the next upcoming years. This is a very important list because anyone who fails to read the book before seeing the movie is nincompoop! It's cool to be the friend that spreads the word on good books before they become blockbuster films.
Enjoy your summer!
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This award-winning adventure novel from 2001 tells the story of a young Indian boy named Pi who is the only survivor of a sinking freighter in the Pacific Ocean. It should be noted that he's the only human survivor, as Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger. You could assume what might happend but you would probably be wrong. Martel's spiritual and philosophical tale is a warmly written allegory that Barack Obama described as "an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling". It's a classic tale for the spiritually inclined, but you don't need to be devoutly religious to relate to the protagonist- a 14-year-old who explores his own personal swirl of Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.
The film adaptation is scheduled for release on November 21, 2012. It's directed by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon & Brokeback Mountain) and stars Tobey McGuire as Yann Martel. Pi will be played by newcomer Suraj Sharma, who was picked from 3,000 candidates.
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
This New York Times best selling science fiction book, written by a young robotics engineer, has pace like an old Michael Crichton novel. As it stands, Robopocalypse is the most contemporary and relevant telling of a war between robots and humans. A powerful artificial intelligence called Archos infiltrates and destroys everything on earth that relies on technology (which is everything), and only a few survivors remain. Wilson tells the tale of these resistant survivors, before and after Archos' attack, in a smart, page-turning fashion that you might assume would rely on his deep understanding of robots. However, it's Wilson's master-grasp of human emotions that makes this book an instant sci-fi classic.
The film adaptation is scheduled for release on April 25, 2014. Steven Spielberg will direct.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Part Willy Wonka, part The Matrix, Ready Player One is a genre-busting novel that takes place in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed. To explain how all of these elements gel together may just ruin the discovery process, but trust me… it works. There is so much for fans of genre entertainment to latch onto here: classic videogames, comics, sci-fi, anime – even a healthy dose of ’80s pop culture (from TV shows like Family Ties to cult classic movies like WarGames). But at its core is a very real story about friendship and first love that any reader – regardless of geek street cred – can connect with. Give this one a go!
The book was optioned by Warner Bros. in 2010 for a feature film adaptation. Release date is unknown.
If you like fantasy, or if you were once a child, I sincerely pity you if you haven't read this book, which takes place before Tolkien's trilogy The Lord of the Rings. I don't need to explain why you should read this- the adventures of Frodo's uncle Bilbo Baggins- so I'm gonna cut to the chase.
The book has been split into two films, the first of which comes out on December 14, 2012. Animated versions have been made before, but this live-action adaptation of The Hobbit has been highly anticipated ever since the success of Peter Jackson's LOTR trilogy . The Hobbit was originally supposed to be directed by Guillermo del Toro, but Peter Jackson has returned. He brought millions of dollars worth of 3-D cameras with him, much to the delight of LOTR fans everywhere. The trailer itself is a masterpiece. Everyone you know will be seeing this film come December, so read it!
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Like The Hobbit, I hope that you've already read this book. Card's classic is considered by many to be the best science fiction book of all time. It won both the Nebula and Hugo awards, the genres highest honors, but remains controversial to some folks for the title character's violent actions (which should make it all the more intriguing for any reader!). Protagnoist Ender Wiggin is taken to Battle School at a young age, as earth prepares for a third war against the alien "Buggers", and his tactical genius emerges in what is frankly one of the coolest stories ever told. Considering this book was published in 1985, it's unbelievable that it has not been made into a film until now.
The film adaptation is scheduled for release on November 1, 2013, with Asa Butterfield (Hugo) as Ender and Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) directing.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
The sequel to Cashore's debut novel Graceling has been listed as Penguin's number one summer book for teens in 2012.  Fans of the original eagerly awaited its release a month ago, and the buzz has garnered even more young fans who are certain to crush the first book (and it's companion novel, Fire) in order to finish Bitterblue by summer's end. The story takes place 8 years after Graceling ended, and the young Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea, but her kingdom needs her help recovering from the traumatizing 35 year reign of her psychopath father. Makes you want to read the first book, right?
Okay, I admit that I have mislead you a bit as there is currently no film adaptation in the works for Bitterblue, but c'mon, teenage girls are going crazy for these books. That's practically a guarantee that it's going to Hollywood.
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
The first installment of The Blood of Eden series features Allison Sekemoto, a young woman living in an environment where humans are a mere food source for the vampires who dominate the world. To survive, she must become one of them, but she continues to befriend humans and help them search for a cure to the disease that killed off most of the mortals. Basically, we are dealing with a protagonist who must embrace that which she despises. It's quite a fresh take on the genre if you ask me.
Rights to the film have been acquired by Palomar Pictures, but the release date is still unknown.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
It may be labeled as a children's fantasy novel, but if you know anything about the illustrious career of Neil Gaiman (Stardust, Coraline, American Gods), you know that this book is certain to enthrall people of all ages. The Graveyard Book, which has won countless awards (including Gaiman's second Hugo, like Ender's Game), is the story of a toddler in modern day England whose parents are killed by the mysterious "Jack". The orphan boy wanders into a graveyard, where he is raised and educated by the resident ghosts. They name him Nobody and he cannot leave the graveyard for fear of being attacked by Jack.
Academy-Award winning filmmaker Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) began writing the adaptation in 2010, but Disney acquired the rights to the film in April of this year. It's probable that the film will be stop-motion animated, as Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline) has signed on to direct. The release date is unknown.
This one's another no-brainer. I'm sure many of you reading this have already read this book, but some people only decided to jump on the Hunger Games express after the massively popular film came out earlier this year. Many of those same people have been waiting for a beach vacation to tackle the books. Because Catching Fire is the second book, and picks up where the first book/film left off at the conclusion of "the games", it's our pick for this summer, but obviously you will be inclined to read Mockingjay immediately after, and you would be stupid not to read The Hunger Games first.
The film is set for release on November 22nd, 2013. The same cast will appear, but a new director, Francis Lawrence (Water for Elephants, I Am Legend), will direct.
Although I might recommend that you read Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist before reading anything on this list, The Alchemyst might do well for lighter and more exciting summer reading. It's the first book in a series of six about a pair of teenage twins and their relationship with the historical character Nicholas Flamel, an immortal French alchemist and manuscript-seller known for his search for the philosopher's stone, as well as other characters they come to meet (Hint: the next books in the series are titled The Magician, The Sorceress, The Necromancer, The Warlcok, and The Enchantress).
The film rights to The Alchemyst were bought in 2009 by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the man responsible for bringing Harry Potter to Warner Bros. Not much else is known, but Irish author Michael Scott will be included as an executive producer.
Which books have you read? Which ones do you plan to read? Should any other books be on this list? Which films are you excited for?