It is currently an exciting time for those who read Young Adult (YA) Literature in the past decade and a half. In recent months, it has been announced that three separate though beloved long-running series of novels were adapted for television audiences.
Reading a book is a unique experience that cannot be compared to other forms of entertainment. While most of the work is done by the writer, the ability and power of their words allows the reader to actively participate in the world that has been created.
Firstly, we will look at Alex Rider. For those unfamiliar with the story: Alex, a fourteen year old, is pulled into the world of espionage when his uncle/legal guardian is assassinated and his secret life as a spy is revealed.
Unlike the other two series that will be discussed, this one has fully come into fruition with casting, shooting and overall production complete, ready for release.
Of course, most will remember that the Alex Rider novels have been adapted once before – the 2006 film Stormbreaker was based on the first book and starred Alex Pettyfer, Mickey Rourke, Ewan McGregor, Robbie Coltrane, Alicia Silverstone and Bill Nighy.
The film was not a success and the possibility of seeing Alex Rider on-screen again was dead. This changed in 2018 with the series being announced.
It will tell the story of Point Blanc – the second book. Later, there was the revelation of Otto Farrant as the new Alex Rider. He will be supported by Brenock O’Connor (Tom Harris), Vicky McClure (Mrs Jones), Andrew Buchan (Ian Rider) and Stephen Dillane (Alan Blunt).
I am personally very excited to see this new iteration of Alex Rider. While the first outing was not as successful as some hoped, this new show has thirteen years worth of momentum on its side in order to do the books justice.
Author Anthony Horowitz serves as an Executive Producer.
Another prominent Young Adult series on the cusp of television is GONE, written by Michael Grant, which began in 2008 and ended its first cycle in 2013, with spin-offs being released between 2017 and 2019.
GONE depicts the small, fictictious town of Perdido Beach, which falls victim to a strange anomaly when kids start developing superhuman powers and everyone over the age of fifteen mysteriously disappears in plain sight.
A great appeal of the books is its vast, far reaching landscape as well as its widely diverse characters, many of whom we spend a significant amount of time. Although there is a definitive main character (Sam Temple), the stories are not exclusively from his perspective.
In 2013, it was announced that Sony Pictures TV had acquired the rights to make a potential GONE TV series. Sadly, nothing ever developed.
More recently, author Michael Grant has been collaborating with UK production company Engage Productions, led by AJ Riach, after an unbelievable series of events which led to Engage gaining the rights for GONE.
Currently, Grant and Riach are casting for a teaser scene, one that should be very familiar to anyone who has read the opening of book number two — Hunger.
Should the series be made for television, Michael Grant will be penning the scripts.
Finally, we have CHERUB.
Written by Londoner Robert Muchamore, it is well known at this point that he originally wrote the first book (which was published in 2004) for his nephew, who was a reluctant reader.
Since then, there has been a total of sixteen additional books across two series focusing on separate protagonists, as well as a set of prequel books (Henderson’s Boys) that take place during the Second World War.
This series depicts orphaned children working as spies for a secret branch of MI5 – Charles Henderson Espionage Research Unit B.
Although the primary characters are minors under the age of seventeen, the series is very graphic and does not shy away from what someone in this age range would realistically do in the dangerous or personal situations that these characters find themselves in.
The announcement of a Sony Pictures TV-Komixx Entertainment collaboration to make this series came in April 2018, although no major news has been released since then.
Overall, bookworms like myself on both sides of the Atlantic will be rejoicing. These novels were relatively close in publication time and as such, it is exciting that now, having entered adulthood, we get to experience the stories and characters once again in a whole new medium.