Even before Twilight — or Harry Potter — Hollywood had made a habit of turning beloved books into movie hits. You can thank the vampire craze for the booming genre of young adult fiction in publishing, though, and its success (along with Potter's and The Hunger Games') has paved the way for a booming, previously untapped market.
The latest book-to-movie adaptation, Beautiful Creatures about a 15-year-old witch, her mortal boyfriend, and their ill-fated romance, hits theaters on Thursday, Feb. 14. It's just the first in a string of post-Twilight, post-Hunger Games movies based on popular YA book series to hit the theaters (or the small screen) in 2013. Instead of catching up on dozens of novels, why not peruse Hollywood.com's YA primer for a taste of each before you decide which books are worthy of your time?
RELATED: 'Beautiful Creatures': Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich On Their Fiery Kiss
Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
What Happens:Lena comes from a long line of casters (witches), who, upon their 16th birthday, are claimed for the light or the dark. She moves in with her shut-in uncle in a small Southern town and becomes increasingly worried that she'll go dark as her fateful claiming day approaches. Complicating matters further is that she falls in love with mortal Ethan, her new classmate.
Love Triangle? Not here. These two fall in love almost immediately, but Lena's claiming is what comes between them.
Development: This movie comes out on Valentine's Day. You should probably pay better attention to the billboards and commercials (and the second paragraph of this story).
Who's Attached: Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert play the mortal and caster who fall in love, while a pedigreed cast of veterans, including Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons, and Emma Thompson, add their support.
Should You Read? Like many series, the first book's engaging, while the subsequent volumes run off the rails. Stick with Beautiful Creatures and you won't be disappointed.
RELATED: Why 'Beautiful Creatures'' Lineup Of Thespians Separates It From The YA Pack
Divergent, Veronica Roth
What Happens:In a dystopian future, civilization has split up into personality-based factions. Once children reach high-school age, they're tested to find out the tribe for which they're most suited. Abegnation (Selfless) teen Beatrice learns that she has qualities of her native faction, along with Erudite (Intelligent) and Dauntless (Brave) — she's divergent, a very dangerous quality. Beatrice decides to join the Dauntless, renames herself Tris, and learns how brave she actually is.
Love Triangle? Nope. But Tris does fall for her sexy, older instructor, Four, also a former Abignation.
Development: Production should start any day now, and the project is actively casting. Neil Burger will direct the film, which is being produced by Summit Entertainment (the company behind Twilight).
Who's Attached: Oscar nominee Shailene Woodley will star, but her love interest is proving harder to cast. Kate Winslet is circling the project, though it's unknown what character she'd potentially play.
Should You Read? Heck yes. Plus, the sequel, Insurgent, is just as good — a rarity in the YA book world.
NEXT: Forbidden Love, Demon-Fighters, and Hunger Games Bachelor-Style
Delirium, Lauren Oliver
What Happens:In a dystopian near-future, love has been banned. All teenagers undergo a surgery that eliminates the emotion from their brains after their 18th birthday, when they are matched with their spouse. Lena is all set to live her assigned life, but things get complicated when she meets a boy from the Wilds — the forest outside her walled-in society — and, naturally, falls in love before her operation.
Love Triangle? It's a little hard to have a triangle when love is outlawed, but Lena has her share of illicit affairs. In both the first and the second books of the trilogy she manages to develop real, passionate feelings.
Development: Fox is currently producing a pilot for the 2013-2014 broadcast season.
Who's Attached: Emma Roberts will star as our rebellious heroine Lena, but her potential boyfriend/s has/have not yet been cast.
Should You Read? Definitely. Delirium is fascinating, and the sequel, Pandemonium, is unique in that the setting and most of the characters are completely different from the first book — usually there's not such a drastic change.
RELATED: Kevin Zegers Stares Us Down in 'Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones' — EXCLUSIVE PIC
The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare
What Happens:Ordinary teenager Clary finds out that she's a member of a secret race of Shadowhunters, or demon-fighters, and is taken in by bad boy Jace and shadowhunter siblings Alec and Isabelle when her mother is kidnapped by the Voldemort-like evil villain Valentine. Clary and her new friends must find the Mortal Cup to save her mother — and prevent Valentine from rising to power again.
Love Triangle? Clary's mortal BFF Simon is hopelessly in love with her, but she's too busy crushing on buff, badass demon hunter Jace to notice.
Development: This one's already been made — The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was filmed in Toronto in 2012 and is scheduled to hit theaters on August 23, 2013.
Who's Attached: Lily Collins stars as Clary, while former Twilight vampire Jamie Campbell Bower plays Jace, Kevin Zegers is Alec, and Jemima West is Isabelle. Robert Sheehan, of the British teen superhero series Misfits, plays Simon.
Should You Read? The first book's an engrossing introduction to the shadowhunter world, but you don't need to read more than that. Plus, there's a weird incesty storyline that we just can't get behind even though it's easy to predict the eventual, non-gross outcome.
The Selection, Kiera Cass
What Happens: In a dystopian future (sense a theme?), low-caste teenager America Singer is chosen, Hunger Games-style, to compete in a Bachelor-esque contest to win the prince's hand in marriage. Unfortunately, the rebel forces who oppose the prince's father's rule decide to disrupt the competition as a way to win back the kingdom.
Love Triangle? Although America's dedicated to her secret fiance, a lower-class soldier assigned to protect the castle where she's now living, she strikes up a very real friendship with the prince that has the potential to blossom into something more.
Development: The CW developed (and rejected) a pilot for the 2012 season, but has completely revamped the script and story — deviating from the book's framework in very key ways — for a second go-around.
Who's Attached: Aimee Teegarden and Ethan Peck played America and Prince Maxon in the first version, but both actors have moved on since then and the project is actively casting round two.
Should You Read? In a word, no. If the show makes it to series, a quick plot summary is more than enough to catch you up on the book series' goings-on. Besides, most TV shows adapted from books deviate from the original plot within episodes.
RELATED: Wes Anderson on the Young Adult Fiction Books That Inspired 'Moonrise Kingdom'
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
What Happens:Just because a book is YA doesn't mean it needs supernatural romance or a dystopian bent. This very modern, very real novel follows teenage cancer patient Hazel as she meets and falls in love with fellow cancer victim Augustus. Other stuff happens too, but you'll be too busy crying — tears of sorrow, tears of happiness, tears of joy, tears of grief – to articulate the plot too.
Love Triangle? Only disease gets in the way of Hazel and Augustus' love.
Development: The movie, written by (500) Days of Summer scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, is set to film over the summer.
Who's Attached: TFIOS hasn't been cast yet, but add Hollywood.com to the list of many who believe Mae Whitman would be the perfect Hazel.
Should You Read? You mean you haven't yet? TFIOS was No. 1 on Time's best books of 2012 list — not best YA books, best of all books. Get to a bookstore/library/ebook purveyor immediately, and don't forget the tissues. You'll need them.
Vampire Academy, Richelle Mead
What Happens: Rose Hathaway is headstrong, independent Dhampir (half-human/half-vampire) bodyguard in training to protect her best friend, Moroi (vampire) princess Lissa Dragomir, the last in her royal bloodline following a tragic car accident. The Strigoi – the fiercest and most dangerous undead vampires who kill humans, Moroi, and Dhampirs —have made it their mission to end Royal bloodlines, so Lissa is their prime target. Rose and Lissa have been on the run from St. Vladimir's Academy because of the dangers the Strigoi present, but they're dragged back to the school where they become enmeshed in government politics, the school's social scene and Rose's forbidden romance with her much older instructor, Dimitri Belikov, who is known as a god among the Guardians.
Love Triangle? Not really. Rose and Dimitri’s romance is filled with enough obstacles without another person complicating things, but another Dhampir student, Mason, tries to throw his hat in the ring with deadly consequences. Later in the series, a royal Moroi complicates the romance a bit, though.
Development: Optioned by Preger Entertainment way back in the summer of 2010, the movie adaptation is finally moving forward with a cast and everything. Heathers’ Dan Waters wrote the script, and Don Murphy will produce. The name of the first movie has changed from Vampire Academy to Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, the name of the first book in the German version of the series.
Who’s Attached: Zoey Deutch, who has a supporting part in Beautiful Creatures, will star as Rose, Aussie actress Lucy Fry will play Lissa, and Russian superstar (but unknown in the U.S.) Danila Kozlovsky will play Dimitri.
Should You Read? Sure — the series is pretty engrossing; there's a reason author Richelle Mead wrote a spinoff series, Bloodlines, with characters from the VA world. If you’re into the supernatural but want a more mature series to get into, this is for you.
Follow Jean on Twitter @hijean
[PHOTO CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures; Penguin Group; Margaret K. McElderry; Harper Teen; Katherine Tegen Books; Harper Collins Publishing; Dutton Books: Little, Brown and Co.; Dutton Books]
The Amazing Spider-Man would prefer if you didn't call it the fourth Spider-Man movie. See this ain't the Spider-Man your older brother knew from ten years ago — it's a reboot. The latest adventure to feature the comic book webslinger throws three movies worth of established mythology straight out the window swapping the original cast with an ensemble of fresh faces and resetting the franchise with a spiffy new origin story. "New" in the loosest sense of the word — the highlights of ASM mainly a sleek new design and spunky reinterpretation of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and gal pal Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) are weighed down by overpowering sense of familiarity. Nearly a beat for beat replica of the 2002 original with some irksome twists of mystery thrown in Amazing Spider-Man fails to evolve its hero or his quarrels. The film has a great sense of cinematic power but little responsibility in making it interesting.
We're first introduced to Peter Parker as a young boy watching as his parents rush out of the house in response to a hidden danger. Mr. and Mrs. Parker leave their son in the care of his Aunt May (Sally Fields) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) who raise him into Andrew Garfield's geeky cool spin on the character. Parker's a science whiz but faces the challenges of every day life — passing classes talking to girls the occasional jock with aggression issues — but all of life's woes are put on hold when the teen discovers a new clue in the mystery behind his parents' disappearance. The discovery of his dad's old briefcase and notes leads Peter to Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) a scientist working for mega-conglomerate Oscorp and his Dad's old partner. When they cross paths Connors instantly takes a liking to the wunderkind and loops him into the work he started with his father: replicating the regeneration abilities of lizards in amputee humans (Connors is driven to reform his own missing arm). But when Parker wanders into Oscorp's room full of spiders (a sloppily explained this-needs-to-be-here-for-this-to-happen device) he receives his legendary spider bite that transforms him into the hero we know.
Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) desperately wants Amazing Spider-Man to work as a high school relationship movie but with the burden of massive amounts of plot and mythology to introduce the movie sags under the sheer volume of stuff. Stone turns Parker's object of affection Gwen Stacey into a three-dimensional character. Whenever they happen upon each other an awkward exchange in the hallway a flirtatious back-and-forth in the Oscorp lab (where Stacey is head…intern) or when the two finally begin a romantic relationship the two stars shine. They're vivid characters chopped to bits in the editing room diluted by boring franchise-building plot threads and routine action sequences. Seriously Amazing Spider-Man another mad scientist villain who uses himself as a test subject only to become a monster? And another bridge rescue scene? Amazing Spider-Man desperately wants to disconnect from the original trilogy but it's trapped in an inescapable shadow and does nothing radical to shake things up. Instead it settles for the same old same old while preparing for inevitable sequels instead of investing in its dynamic duo.
There's a sweet spot where the film really hits his stride. After discovering his spider-abilities Peter hits the streets for the first time. He's superhuman but still a headstrong teen full of obnoxious quips and close calls with shiv-wielding thugs. The action is slick small and playful Webb showing us something new by melding his indie sensibilities with big scale action. If only it lasted — the introduction of Ifans reptilian half The Lizard implodes Amazing Spider-Man into incomprehensible blockbuster chaos. A gargantuan beast wreaking havoc around New York City promises King Kong-like escapades for the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man but the lizard man has other plans: to rule the world! Or something. Whatever it takes to get Lizard and Spider-Man fighting on the top of a skyscraper over a doomsday machine — logic be damned.
Amazing Spider-Man peppers its banal foundation with great talent from Denis Leary as Gwen's wickedly funny dad and the police captain hunting down Spider-Man to Fields and Sheen as two loving adults in Peter's life to Garfield and Stone whose chemistry demands a follow-up for the sake of seeing them reunited. But it's all at the cost of putting on the most expensive recreation of all time with new demands imposed by the success Marvel's other properties (except that franchise teasing worked). Amazing Spider-Man introduces too many ideas that go nowhere undermining the actual threat at hand. No one wants to be unfulfilled but that's the overriding difference between the original movie and the update. You need to pay for the sequel to know what the heck is going on in this one.
Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.