This past weekend, the adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s “The Host” failed to capture a rapt audience, despite its built-in “Twilight” fanbase.
The movie had an underwhelming debut in 6th place and averaged a dismal 11% on Rotten Tomatoes! But that doesn’t mean that the young adult genre has stopped being relevant. If “The Host’s” disappointing bow has left you wanting more, make way for an even better YA book coming to the big screen — and another alien invasion story, at that — called “The 5th Wave.”
Written by sci-fi author and memoirist Rick Yancey, “The 5th Wave” (on sale May 7) is the kind of un-put-downable sci-fi thriller that readers want to race through without interruption. Producers Graham King (“World War Z,” “Argo,” “Hugo”) and Tobey Maguire (“Spider-Man) liked the premise so much they snatched up the option while it was only a book proposal. If they can find a director and a cast to do the story justice, “The 5th Wave” could be both a critical and commercial success on par with “The Hunger Games.”
Here are five reasons to prepare for “The 5th Wave.”
1. Apocalypse Stories Now: Whether it’s zombies or nuclear war or unstoppable contagions, apocalyptic stories of survival — especially ones where humans are the underdogs — are irresistibly compelling. There needs to be an element of danger — to know the aliens aren’t wide-eyed, Reese’s Pieces-loving vegetarians. So when we start to follow the story of 16-year-old Cassie, who is journaling about how the aliens destroyed all but 3% of the population, we know this is a world even more perilous than the Hunger Games Arena, this is an alien war bleaker than “Independence Day.” And who could be more absorbing a protagonist than a 16-year-old who just wants to live one more day and find her 5-year-old baby brother?
2. A Kick-Butt Heroine: Although the book is written from multiple points of view, the main protagonist is Cassie (for Cassiopeia, not something pedestrian like Cassidy or Cassandra). She’s lost her parents, her best friends, everything that ever made her feel safe. Her only mission is to find her little brother, Sam, who was taken by mysterious soldiers on a yellow school bus to an Air Force Base. For what, Cassie has no idea. She’s alone, save for her backpack, her two guns, and Sam’s favorite teddy bear. But when her decisions come down to “Stay=Die, Run=Die,” she does the unthinkable and faces her enemy. She’s petite but fierce, sarcastic and scared — not for herself but for all of what’s left of humanity.
3. The Waves of Destruction: The title — not to be confused with “The Fifth Element” — refers to the four catastrophic waves, or plagues or horrors or whatever you want to call them, unleashed by the aliens: 1st Wave: Light’s Out (no more electricity), 2nd Wave: Surf’s Up (massive waves that crushed the coasts), 3rd Wave: Pestilence (a worldwide supervirus) and the 4th Wave: Sliencers (think sleeper cells of terrorists, but deadlier and more precise). What’s left to wipe out the rest of dwindling humanity is unknown 5th Wave.
4. High-Stakes Action: This is a book full of close calls, game-changing twists, and life-or-death moments. It’s like watching “The Walking Dead” or “Battlestar Galactica” or “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy” — you think you know what side someone is on, but you don’t. You think all the aliens are evil and all the humans are worth saving, but it doesn’t work that way. There’s a lot of violence and death and grieving in “The 5th Wave.” It makes you think about what it means to be human, what it means to love someone unconditionally, what it costs to survive. If the book can make you chew your nails down to the quick, the movie could be just as awesome.
5. Love Is a Battlefield: When the 1st Wave hits, Cassie’s best friend encourages her to take the opportunity to tell her adolescent-long crush, Ben Parish, that she’s been in love with him for years, and then offer herself to him. Why die a virgin, right? But Cassie doesn’t do any such thing, and eventually she thinks that love cannot and will not bloom in such a state of constant despair. But when she’s saved from freezing to death by the mysterious and unbelievably handsome Evan Walker, Cassie’s traitorous heart begins to beat faster, causing her to wonder if it’s possible to trust someone other than herself.
Related: 5 Things Every Parent Should Know About “The Host”
<strong>Written By: </strong>Isaac Marion, a Seattle-based writer and musician who captured the zombie zeitgeist with his critically acclaimed 2011 novel for teens. <strong>On the Page: </strong>R is an unconventional zombie. He’s conflicted about his lot in life and finds himself attracted to Julie, the girlfriend of his last victim. He curbs his New Hunger for her brains and shuttles her off to his zombie loft in an airplane and starts to woo her. In the process, he reignites his humanity while opening Julie’s mind to the possibility that zombies aren’t all walking corpses. <strong>On the Screen:</strong> Writer-director Jonathan Levine has transformed R’s poetic and hilarious story into a cute and clever post-apocalyptic comedy Variety called a “broadly appealing date movie about a zombified Romeo and his lively Juliet.”
<strong>Written By: </strong>Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, friends and writing partners who wrote the first book for their teenagers only to have it published, optioned and expanded into a four-part series. <strong>On the Page:</strong> Welcome to the small Southern town of Gatlin, South Carolina, where the pie and gossip are equally as plentiful. Nothing seems to change for Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) until he meets the beautiful but enigmatic Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert). The good news is that Lena’s the girl of Ethan’s dreams (literally), but the bad news is she isn’t “just” a girl, she’s a witch who may or may not be claimed for the evil forces of darkness on her 16th birthday. <strong>On the Screen: </strong>Writer-director Richard LaGravenese (“Erin Brockovich,” “The Fisher King”) fell in love with the Southern Gothic epic and wooed the authors to let him adapt it. Now the film, which opens Feb. 14, features three award-winning actors (Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis), a sweet romance and a fantastic setting.
“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”
<strong> Written By: </strong>Cassandra Clare, whose supernatural-romance books have a massive following that spans tweens to adults. <strong>On the Page: </strong>Clary Fray (played by Lily Collins) is a New York City teen with a peculiar power — she can see supernatural beings, like the cocky young demon hunter Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower) and other strange creatures that appear out of nowhere. When her mother gets kidnapped, Clary discovers she’s not quite the regular city girl she imagined. <strong>On the Screen: </strong>Directed by Norwegian filmmaker Harald Zwart (2010’s “The Karate Kid”), the adaptation boasts an attractive young cast (including an actor the author calls the “hottest man in the world,” Godfrey Gao, as sexy warlock Magnus Bane), appeals to a built-in fan base and hits theaters this summer, Aug. 23, 2013.
“The Last Apprentice”
<strong>Written By:</strong> Joseph Delaney, a British high-school teacher turned writer. <strong>On the Page:</strong> Delaney’s 11-book series (the 12th comes out this June) is more of a middle-grade children’s book than a teen book, but there’s definitely crossover appeal. Set in a fictional centuries-old England, the story follow Thomas Ward (Ben Barnes), a seventh son of a seventh son who is the 30th and final apprentice to the county Spook (Jeffrey Bridges) — the man responsible for warding off evil. <strong>On the Screen:</strong> The film adaptation is called “The Seventh Son” and is only “loosely” based on the books (in other words, the filmmakers took a lot of liberties). Besides Barnes and Bridges, the cast includes Julianne Moore as the most villainous witch in the county, “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harington and Djimon Hounsou. It’s in theaters Oct. 18, 2013.
<strong>Written By: </strong>Orson Scott Card, one of the most prolific writers in YA (he’s written 61 books!). The winner of the 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in Young Adult literature, Card’s books have influenced an entire generation of young sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian authors. <strong>On the Page: </strong>”Ender’s Game” takes place in a future Earth that has survived two all-out wars with Buggers, an insect-like alien race. Seventy years after the Earth is ravaged by the Buggers, a brilliant young boy named Ender (“Hugo” star Asa Butterfield) is sent to Battle School under the leadership of military mastermind Col. Graff (Harrison Ford). <strong>On the Screen:</strong> Gavin Hood (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) directs a star-studded cast including Ford, Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld and Viola Davis. “Ender’s” arrives three weeks before “Catching Fire,” on Nov. 1, 2013
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
<strong>Written By: </strong>Suzanne Collins, who wowed audiences and critics with her dark, sociopolitical trilogy that captured an audience that’s nearly as diverse in age and gender as “Harry Potter” <strong>On the Page:</strong> Having emerged from their televised Hunger Games as District 12’s two champions, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) return to their hometown, where the consequences of their fateful stunt to stay alive leads back to the Arena once more — this time fighting fellow Hunger Games victors, like the gorgeous Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin). <strong>On the Screen: </strong>The love triangle hinted at in the first “Hunger Games” heats up as Katniss deals with her confusing feelings for Peeta and her hunky best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth). There’s more action, more intrigue, more romance – not to mention an entirely new cast of Hunger Games competitors and a new director (Francis Lawrence) at the helm. “Catching Fire” hits screens this Thanksgiving, Nov. 22, 2013.
<strong>Written By:</strong> Veronica Roth, a debut author who wrote the manuscript for “Divergent” during her senior year at Northwestern University. <strong> On the Page:</strong> In a distant future, society is divided into five co-existing “factions”: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the kind), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave) and Erudite (the intelligent). When 16-year-old Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) chooses to live in Dauntless over her native Abnegation, she’s initiated into her fearless new community by a mysterious blue-eyed instructor named Four, who reveals a secret that changes their lives. <strong>On the Screen:</strong> Although “The Descendants” star Woodley has signed on to play the protagonist, casting is still underway for her swoon-worthy love interest, Four. Director Neil Burger (“Limitless,” “The Illusionist”) Rumor has it that Kate Winslet is also in talks to star in the adaptation, which is slated for a March 21, 2014 release.
“If I Stay”
<strong>Written By:</strong> Gayle Forman, a Brooklyn-based YA author who specializes in two-part romances. <strong>On the Page:</strong> Mia Hall has it all. She’s a Juilliard-bound cello prodigy from Portland with cool hipster parents, an adoring little brother and possibly the best boyfriend in all of YA literature, singer-songwriter Adam. When Mia’s family is in a horrific car accident, she has an out-of-body experience. Now an orphan on the brink of death, her soul must choose whether to pass on or fight to live. <strong>On the Screen: </strong>”Nashville” producer R.J. Cutler, who’s best known for his documentaries (“The September Issue,” “American High”), is attached to direct, and Chloe Moretz, a prodigy herself, was recently cast as Mia. Now to find the perfect Adam.
“Shadow and Bone”
<strong>Written By:</strong> Leigh Bardugo, a first-time author who was formerly a Hollywood make-up artist — which explains her incredible flair for describing elaborate costumes and lush locales. <strong>On the Page: </strong>Bardugo’s fascinating and unputdownable novel is a vivid fantasy set in the fictional Ravka — which bears a striking resemblance to Tsarist Russia, only with supernatural figures. The story’s compelling heroine is Alina Starkov, who goes from mousy, quiet orphan to a force as bright and powerful as the sun. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a fascinating (and sexy) antagonist called the Darkling and a loving hottie of a best friend, Mal. <strong>On the Screen: </strong>Any book worthy of a “Harry Potter” producer to option is worth reading. The Boy Who Lived’s producer David Heyman optioned the book and will bring Alina, Mal and the Darkling to the big screen.
“Legend” and “Prodigy”
<strong>Written By: </strong>Marie Lu, a former art director for a video-game company, has created a dystopian trilogy that USA Today called “Les Misérables meets Blade Runner” <strong>On the Page:</strong> In the future, the West Coast has turned into the Republic, a sovereign nation that’s constantly at war. Fifteen-year old June is a military prodigy born to one of the Republic’s elite families, while 15-year-old Day is a petty criminal from one of its poorest areas. When Day is suspected of murdering June’s brother, their high-stakes game of cat and mouse turns into the uncovering of the controlling government’s most sinister secrets. <strong>On the Screen: </strong>CBS Films acquired rights to the cinematic trilogy. “Warm Bodies” helmer Jonathan Levine will direct, and casting should be underway soon.
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<a href=”http://www.us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780525478812,00.html” target=”_hplink”>”The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green</a> YA rock star Green’s tale of two cancer-stricken teenagers who meet-cute in group therapy is one of 2012’s most acclaimed books. A heartbreaking love story with larger than life characters (the casting for Hazel Grace and Augustus will be closely monitored by Green’s millions of fans), the movie is being written by “500 Days of Summer” duo Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.
5 More Optioned YA Books
<a href=”http://www.us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780399162411,00.html ” target=”_hplink”>”The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey</a> Booklist described Yancey’s series starter (available May 13) as “part ‘War of the Worlds,’ part ‘Starship Troopers,’ part ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers,’ and part ‘The Stand.'” That’s good enough for us, but if you want to know more, the “waves” refer to five “plagues” that wipe out billions of humans after an alien mother ship appears. Tobey Maguire and Oscar winner Graham King (“The Departed”) are producing the doomsday thriller.
5 More Optioned YA Books
<a href=”http://store.scholastic.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay_The+Scorpio+Races_50642_-1_10052_10051″ target=”_hplink”>”The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater </a> Despite the title, this doesn’t have to do with giant scorpions, but with the Zodiac sign associated with the month of November. Stiefvater’s award-winning tale introduces audiences to the Celtic myth of man-eating water horses and the tiny island where brave inhabitants — including orphans Puck and Sean — race them each fall. Producers David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith are developing it for Warner Bros.
5 More Optioned YA Books
<a href=”http://quirkbooks.com/book/miss-peregrines-home-peculiar-children” target=”_hplink”>”Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs</a> Director Tim Burton has teamed up with “X-Men: First Class” scribe Jane Goldman to adapt the creeptastic fantasy — a fitting combo since “Entertainment Weekly” applauded the book’s “X-Men: First Class-meets-time-travel story line, David Lynchian imagery, and rich, eerie detail.” Featuring mysterious orphans with special abilities, this adaptation sounds like a perfect Burton project.
5 More Optioned YA Books
<a href=”http://www.us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780399161728,00.html” target=”_hplink”>”Slated” by Teri Terry </a> This compelling debut novel takes place in a scary future where criminals’ memories and personalities are “Slated” (erased). After young Kyla is Slated for purportedly being a terrorist, she has no idea whom she can trust or more important, who she is and what she did. Film rights have been acquired by the producers of “The King’s Speech”
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