The Worst YA Book to Movie Adaptions

In this post we feature books we love that were unfortunately turned into crappy movies. The writers and producers of these movies fell short in understanding these amazing stories! YA authors, be careful who you sell your film rights to! Our problem with a majority of these picks is that we expect movies to at least follow major plot points. This seems to be too much to ask. 

1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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We’ve read every Cassandra Clare book, so to say we were disappointed when we saw this movie is an understatement. The casting was not on point (though, we did enjoy a few choices, like Simon and Izzy). The writers tried too hard to make the movie appealing to teen audiences, failing to explain important plot points in favor of playing up cheesy relationships. Our biggest issue was with the ending, which was absurd and entirely too dramatic (and we’re YA enthusiasts who love the flare for dramatics…but yikes!). We’ll give you a hint: white feathers falling from the sky. 

We know there is some insta-love in the books as well, but the movie took it to an entirely different level. None of the relationships were believable, and the acting was beyond cringe-worthy. Do yourself a favor and pass on this movie if you are Mortal Instruments fan— it doesn’t do the books justice! 

2. Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia

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No, you can’t just decide that you’ll take bits and pieces of different books in the series to piece together a plot that doesn’t make sense. The movie made up some scenes, used some scenes from the first book and combined them with the ending of the second book. 

This is a really great series about Ethan Wate, a guy from a small town in South Carolina who desperately wants excitement. Then one day Lena Duchanes shows up at school and there’s something different about the new girl in town. Ethan realizes he dreamed about her before and wonders how it’s possible. Ethan is determined to solve the mystery surrounding Lena and her family. Go out and buy the four books in this series and please skip the movie!

3. Vampire Academy by Richelle Meade

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This is going to sound bizarre, but this movie adaption was good…but also entirely horrible. First of all, we can’t even call this an adaption because it barely followed the events of the first book. Sure, the characters were based on all of our fan faves, but their character development was way off. The plot also touched loosely on the books, including the more mythical vampire elements, but that’s about where the similarities end. 

Where the adaption went completely off the tracks was with the writers’ decision to make this movie Mean Girls but with vampires. If you’re cringing just reading that sentence, you are correct. 

It was a train wreck, but also super entertaining, if that even makes sense?! If you go into this movie as a hardcore YA fan looking for all of your YA dreams to come true, then you will be disappointed. But if you go into it looking for a quick escape from the world, then you’ll be satisfied. Just don’t set your expectations high….like at all. A+ soundtrack, though.

4. Divergent by Veronica Roth

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Book 1: 5 stars. Book 2: 4 stars. Book 3. 1 star. So we had mixed feelings toward the book series in general, but the movie flopped. We do not have specific criticism as we do with other movie adaptions. We just don’t think the movie captured Tris and Four they way we had hoped.

The series starts out strong in this dystopian society that divides people based on personality traits. Unfortunately, the series takes an unexpected turn in the last book that became a controversial ending for fans. If you want to give this series a try, the first two books are amazing. Just be prepared to be annoyed while reading the last one. Watching the movies is unnecessary. 

5. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger 

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The Designated Ugly Fat Friend discusses self-image issues. Bianca Piper gets called her friend group’s DUFF by the hot and arrogant Wesley Rush. The book is about Bianca and Wesley’s growing relationship and that the line between love and hate is thinner than they thought. Bianca becomes a lot more self-confident and realizes that everyone has felt like the DUFF in their friend group before. Also, Wesley realized what a jerk he was and had major character development. 

The movie ignored these lessons and made this book into a stereotypical teen movie focusing on a mean girl. This book does not have a mean girl! Also, Wesley’s character was completely different. It bothered us that Bianca believes she needs a makeover to attract guys, when the book heavily stresses that everyone is a DUFF to someone. Wesley and Bianca do not have the same relationship in the movie and its a shame. 

31 thoughts on “The Worst YA Book to Movie Adaptions

  1. I think I had problems getting into the Divergent series in general. I found it hard to relate to Tris and that made rallying for the success of hers and Four’s relationship hard. It seemed like it became a prominent a few years ago by riding on the coattails of the popularizing YA dystopian genre.

    I do agree with you guys on your list overall tho. City of Bones was especially a disappointment for me cause I loved the series so much, from its depth of worldbuilding to pace of plot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great stuff here! Completely agree about the Divergent series (which is why I didn’t end up seeing the movies…why would I want to experience that end again?). I didn’t know they made DUFF into a movie, and I’m sad to hear it wasn’t good! Such a shame since it’s a great book. I’ll probably end up reading all the books on this list and NOT seeing the movies. Thanks!

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  3. I don’t read a lot of YA, but I’ll sometimes give the movies a chance, and Divergent was definitely one that didn’t seem to translate well, despite its intriguing premise. Sometimes the filmmakers just don’t get it.

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  4. I have to admit I’ve only read a few books from this list but seen all the movie adaptations, I thought that the City of Bones movie could have been so much better for sure as well as the Vampire Academy movie – I tried watching but I just couldn’t get into it. I feel like some books just don’t translate well to screen and some can be hard to translate too, as books have more room for certain things. I quite enjoyed the Duff movie but this is probably because I didn’t read the book first so I didn’t have any expectations. Hopefully we’ll get some better book to movie adaptations in the future! Thanks for sharing xx

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  5. Percy Jackson…that’s the one I always think of. I never saw the TMI movie because I didn’t like the books. I did see the show and loved the show however. (I know it’s different than the books, but I liked a lot of it better than those.)

    Vampire Academy perpetually makes me laugh. I think it would make a fabulous TV series though. A LOT of these YA’s would make great TV series to be honest.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Honestly, I hardly read YA, but I did try to watch Beautiful Creatures once, and it was…not for me.
    Also, someone gave me a Cassandra Clare book, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. Maybe I’ll bump that one up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Do not get me started on beautiful creatures, the books are amazing and the film was easily the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It was terrible, especially the magic effects.

    I also think the Percy Jackson film could get a mention here because it was awful too!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So I agree with you on Beautiful Creatures and Vampire Academy but not the rest. I really loved the duff and city of bones movies even tho I haven’t read the books. I did read Divergent and I thought the first movie matched pretty well. The others not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. YA books really get the worst adaptions of them all! I actually have never read the Vampire Academy but weirdly enjoyed the film even though it was still a little cringeworthy. Also the Percy Jackson films *have* to be added to this list!

    Like

  10. This list is so accurate! I was so disappointed at the movie adaptation of Vampire Academy. It’s one of my favorite book series so was not impressed by the movie. The actor they picked for Dimitri was nothing like I pictured him!

    Liked by 1 person

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