YA Book Battles and Sad Holiday Movies

It’s pretty clear that all of us here on Biblio-therapy are big YA fans–we may read and review other things, but we always come back to YA. Which is why we were so excited when Friend of the Blog Hannah pointed out Entertainment Weekly’s “What is the Best Young Novel of All Time” bracket game! You can see the complete bracket here. (And boy, do I love a good bracket–the bracket episode of How I Met Your Mother is one of my favorites. “I was there! Trust me! It’s Dead Baby!”) Voting started Monday so we’ve missed Round 1, which is probably all for the best because there were a few choices that seemed impossible. Anne of Green Gables or The Hobbit? I Capture the Castle or The Catcher in the Rye? Harry Potter or Holes? The Fault in Our Stars or Code Name Verity? I’m not sure what I would have done! (Okay, actually, most of those decisions are pretty easy: Anne, Castle, and Harry. But I am torn on the last one. Verity, I think, but I might have to read them both again before I felt truly comfortable with that decision.)

I’m going to keep an eye on the EW website for a while now, because I am looking forward to voting in the next rounds. But I do have one complaint (aside from the whole how-can-one-possibly-vote-on-art thing): some of these books are not YA. I understand that the lines can be a bit blurry, but in some cases, there is no blur involved. Dune is not and never was a young adult book. The Princess Bride? The House on Mango Street? Not young adult. And Prep? Just because a book is about teenagers does not mean it was written for teenagers. Plus it goes the other way, too–The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a straight-up kids book, and seems overmatched in this field.

EW did get it right by including The Book Thief, though, which is one of my favorite YA books ever. And last week I actually had the opportunity to see the new Book Thief movie (officially opening tomorrow). There are so many good things about the movie–all of the actors are just wonderful, especially Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson as the main characters adoptive parents. And the whole thing has a beautiful look. But I wish they had been able to use those same people and sets and costumes and make a six-hour miniseries instead of a two-hour movie. The Book Thief is a long, complicated story, and so many things that had so much meaning in the book were brushed by in the movie because there simply wasn’t time. I am not one to get huffy about film adaptations of books–I tend to like seeing how the shift in format is made–but for me the movie had much less impact than the book. But then, the friend I was with who didn’t know the story, and who is not an overly emotional sort, started sobbing about halfway through the movie and never stopped, so maybe I’m a bad judge. There are a lot of lovely things about the movie, so I hope it does well in theaters. And I hope it inspires more people to go read the book, which is truly stunning.

One comment on “YA Book Battles and Sad Holiday Movies

  1. Anna says:

    I concur with all of your choices on the bracket examples you gave; when you were listing them, those were exactly the ones I was thinking, too. The other good thing about EW’s bracket battle is that it is a good reminder of how many good YA Books there are out there for me to read.

    Also, I’m already starting to think ahead about trying to watch all 2014 Oscar Best Picture picks, and I am positive “The Book Thief” will be one of them (also “12 Years a Slave”).

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