There’s nothing quite as exciting as seeing the young adult novel you absolutely love turn into a film that fully captures the same feelings you had while reading the book. Lucky for us, Netflix keeps adapting more and more young adult novels into movies or series. We’ve pulled together our list of the best YA adaptations so you can read and watch to your heart’s content!
This comedic series is based on the black-and-white illustrated graphic novel by Charles Forsman about a teenage girl navigating high school while dealing with the complexities of her family, her budding sexuality, and newly discovered telekinetic superpowers that keep popping up at the most inopportune times. This series was created by the teams behind The End of the F***ing World and Stranger Things, so if you liked either of those, this might be right up your alley.
This series is pretty heavy and not to be taken lightly, but it started a lot of necessary conversations when it first hit Netflix in 2017. The series is based on the book by Jay Asher, which follows teenager Clay as he returns home from school to find a box on his porch with his name on it. Inside he finds several cassette tapes recorded by his classmate and crush, Hannah, who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. Each tape is part of Hannah’s emotional audio diary as she details the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. This intricate and heartbreaking adaptation is deeply affecting, perhaps more so than the book because you’re watching everything unfold on screen.
This emotional love story adapted from the novel by Jennifer Niven tells how two teens, Violet (played by Elle Fanning) and Theodore (played by Justice Smith), find each other while standing on the edge and change each other’s lives forever. Theodore is searching for reasons to keep on living. Violet is counting the days until graduation so she can escape her small town. As they struggle with the scars of their past, they find that even the small moments can mean something.
In this cult classic based on Stephen Chbosky’s debut novel, we follow the introverted high school freshman Charlie (played by Logan Lerman) as two seniors (played by Emma Watson and Ezra Miller) take him under their wings and welcome him to the real world. This coming-of-age story has it all—first dates, family drama, new friendships, sex, drugs, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, devastating loss, and young love.
The CW is still churning out new seasons of this show, but if it completely passed you by, now is your chance to get caught up by watching previous seasons on Netflix. The TV series is loosely based on the book series The 100 by Kass Morgan. The story begins ninety-seven years after a nuclear war destroyed civilization when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends one hundred juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of repopulating the planet. The future of humanity is in their hands, but nothing can prepare the 100 for what they find on this strange and savage planet.
Fun fact: the book that inspired this Netflix original was written by British seventeen-year-old Beth Reekles, so you know this teen romcom is going to be incredibly relatable. The film follows Elle, a pretty and popular high schooler who’s never been kissed. When she decides to run a kissing booth at her school’s Spring Carnival, she is forced to confront her secret crush—the ultimate bad boy, Noah. There’s just one little problem: Noah is the brother of Elle’s best friend, Lee, and is absolutely off limits according to the rules of their friendship pact. The sequel, The Kissing Booth 2, arrives on July 24th.
Celebrate Christmas in July with this feel-good romantic holiday movie based on the young adult novel written by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. The story takes place in a small town on Christmas Eve when a snowstorm brings a group of teens together. Three interconnected stories link these characters in tales of love, romance, and kisses in a snowy small town.
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them all at once? That’s what happens to sixteen-year-old Lara Jean in this romantic comedy based on the book by Jenny Han. Lara Jean has written secret love letters to each of her crushes since childhood and kept those letters in a box, for her eyes only. But when the letters are suddenly mailed off to every boy she’s ever had a crush on, her love life goes from imaginary to complicated as each of the boys confront her about the letters. The sequel film, To All the Boys P.S. I Still Love You, is also on Netflix, based on the second book in Jenny Han’s series, P.S. I Still Love You.
If you’re looking for a feel-good YA rom-com, this is it! This film is based on the novel by Julie Murphy, and it follows the story of Willowdean, aka Dumplin’ (played by Danielle Macdonald), the plus-size teen daughter of a former beauty queen (played by Jennifer Anniston). When Willowdean signs up for her mom’s Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant as a protest, she soon realizes she started a revolution as other contestants follow in her footsteps to change the pageant and their small Texas town. Along the way, Willowdean will fall for Bo, a hot former jock and her co-worker at the local fast-food joint, while the strength of her friendship with her best friend, Ellen, will be tested.
What other YA adaptations have you discovered on Netflix? Tell us in the comments!
Megan Barlog loves great stories, be they books, movies, TV shows, or anything in between! She has studied both creative writing and screenwriting, and worked for both a library and a major NYC publisher. When she’s not writing a novel or screenplay, she’s probably out for a run or binge-watching something on Netflix.
If you enjoyed this piece, check out: 12 of the Best Book-to-Film Adaptations in 2020