10 Amazing Young Adult Versions of Classic Books
Spring Break is right around the corner, and with it we welcome the break from homework, classes and seriously boring assigned reading. (Ugh, Herman Melville, again?)
But whether you're taking this time to lounge on a sandy beach or plan to stay anchored to your comfy living room sofa, there are a ton of great young adult adaptations of classic literary works that can help you pass the time — you know, all of the substance and drama without the boring old-timey speak.
From the steamy forbidden romances of Jane Austen to everyone's favorite The Great Gatsby, we've rounded up the best YA reimaginings to help you see the classics (and maybe even your English teacher) in a whole new light!
Check out our picks below.
This Hamlet retelling just came out on March 3. The mysterious Rosaura Douglas is a placeholder for the Denmark Prince. The death of her father causes her to see his ghost, who doesn't emulate the friendly man she remembers. Her mother Dahlia's quick remarriage to her dad's boss Claude makes matters worse, plus her new step-brother/love interest Alex makes things even more confusing for Rosie. Salom's narrative is a dark, mysterious and gripping page-turner with a main character that's a bit more understandable, but just as unstable as Shakespeare's Hamlet.
This great YA came out last spring and is still a perfect beach read for any Spring Breakers out there. Instead of Gatsby's narrator Nick, there's Naomi, whose summer trip to see her mother in East Hampton results in her crossing paths with mysterious Jacinta, whose hopelessly obsessed with the beautiful Delilah. Sound familiar? This deeply interesting adaptation is a MUST for all the Fitzgerald-heads who flocked to see Baz Luhrmann's 2013 Leo DiCaprio-starring movie.
Anyone who hasn't had their high school English teacher deem October the month of Gothic king Edgar Allen Poe is sorely missing out. The Fall is based on one of Poe's most famous pieces, The Fall of the House of Usher. The story follows one of the Usher family's descendants, Madeline, who inherits the Usher curse and must destroy the house that has trapped her and her brother. Perhaps this one's a little dark for a hopefully sunny spring, but as far as adaptations go, this one is spot on.
April Lindner's 2010 version of Jane Eyre tells the story of Jane Moore, who takes a job as a nanny at a famous rock star's estate after dropping out of college. Lindner really brings Bronte's forbidden romances and mysterious charm to this dark, contemporary story. If this book really tickles your fancy, check out Catherine next; it's Lindner's 2013 adaptation of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.
This 2011 book, by the author of the popular The Lonely Hearts Club series, takes the Jane Austen classic and gives it a spin that tugs at the heartstrings. Eulberg uses the same character names so it's even easier to point out the parallels. Prom tells the story of middle-class Lizzie Bennet a concert pianist at an elite all-girls boarding school. She struggles with all the problems a young woman faces at that time in her life, including prom. Naturally, there's a Darcy, with whom Lizzie shares an electric chemistry and love-hate relationship, giving this YA fixture a very special spark.
I know, two Hamlets in one list? But really, this is one so drastically different from The Cake House and also so good. In fact, in this version, Hamlet isn't the lead. Instead, we follow Ophelia, the blond and beautiful senior who dates the famous Prince of Denmark. As Hamlet loses his mind after his father's death, Ophelia hits up the television circuit, giving her opinion to anyone who'll lend an ear. We get her story through three converging parts: an Oprah-like talk show, an investigative interview and, of course, her true account. It's safe to say Ophelia's fate takes a different turn.
Railsea seriously raises the bar as far as classic remakes go. This one takes on Melville's complicated whale tale and brings it into the realm of science fiction in the most unique way possible. It follows a boy named Sham, aboard the moletrain Medes where everyone but him is thirsty with the idea of harpooning moldywarpes. Especially obsessed is his captain, who lost her arm to one particular ivory moldywarpe years ago. When the crew comes across a wrecked train, things get weird.
Paired with The Invention of Huge Cabret illustrator Brian Selznick, the popular Every Day author takes the classic Dickensian ghost story and switches holidays. Instead of Christmas, the story takes place at the holiday that almost no one would ever want to revisit: Valentine's Day. When Ben's girlfriend Marly dies, he's taken through his past, present and future February 14ths. Notable mention: Levithan went through Dickens' play part by part for this translation, to remain as true to the original as possible.
The first in Oppel's The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series is technically a prequel to Shelley's classic. In this book, we're introduced to 15-year-old Victor, who has a gravely sick twin brother, Konrad. Victor turns toward the mysteries of alchemy to help save his sibling by attempting to create the Elixir of Life. This, of course, ignites his dark obsession with life and death. The book is set in Shelley's original Geneva, and features new imaginings of book favorites cousin Elizabeth Lavenza and best friend Henry Clerval.
This 2013 novel is a spinoff inspired by the events of H.G. Wells' disturbing sci-fi masterpiece about vivisection, the creation of humanlike creatures from animals. Instead of the original's main character Montgomery (who we still get some of in Shepherd's retelling!), we're given Juliet, Dr. Moreau's 16-year-old daughter. Juliet thinks she's an orphan until she hears of her father re-creating his dangerous experiments on a deserted island. Keeping it's 19th century roots, as well as the horror of a hybrid-filled island that'll make you shiver, you must check out this very interesting take on an already nontraditional classic.