There used to be a time when book lovers could go to the movies and complain about that lack of films being adapted from books. But if there’s one thing I learned since I started tracking the book-to-film and book-to-TV adaptations of science fiction, fantasy and horror...it’s that those days of whining are over. You can’t go to the movies these days without seeing some film version of a book on the box office marquee. And, if you’re an avid reader like me, you jump at the opportunity to read the book before you see how Hollywood might have ruined the film or television show. So join me now in another roundup of books that are on their way to being adapted.
The Martian by Andy Weir
This science fiction novel—like all of the novels on this list—is still warm from it’s recent publication date and already it’s been optioned for film. Though still in the early stages (and thus vulnerable to a whole host of production snafus that might prevent it from seeing the light of day—so reader/viewer beware), what is known about this project is that Drew Goddard (writer of Cloverfield and director of The Cabin in the Woods) is in talks to do a film adaptation of Andy Weir’s new book The Martian.
What’s that? You’ve never heard of The Martian? You must have missed that it was one of my best picks as recently as February. The Martian is a thoroughly engrossing novel about an astronaut named Mark Watney who, through a freak accident, is left stranded alone on the surface of Mars. His diary-like entries, interspersed with the efforts of NASA to rescue him, is a captivating read. It’s also inspiring, given the dire nature of Watney’s circumstances. The book makes frequent use of science to solve problems, but don’t worry, Watney’s straightforward explanations make it easy to follow. This one is well worth a read even if it weren’t being made into a film.
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Another best pick from February that’s headed to film is Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation. This is the first book in his Southern Reach trilogy, being released in its entirety this year, so impatient readers need not wait the usual 12 months between books. The books revolve around a strange area of land known as Area X because not much is known about it. Some unspecified event that occurred there decades previously turned the area into a danger zone; all expeditions into the area have met with disaster. This first book of the trilogy is about a new expedition into Area X, sponsored by secret agency known as the Southern Reach. That expedition is undertaken by four women, one of whom is looking for answers about her husband’s tragic disappearance.
Film rights to Annihilation were sold last year to Paramount Pictures—months before the book was released in February of this year. That purchase included rights to all three novels. Not much more is known about the adaptation(s), but Hollywood saw something worthwhile in the novel, even back then. It might pay off—the reception to the novel’s release has been quite good.
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Adapting dystopian young adult novels is not quite a new trick. (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games, The Giver and Divergent!) What is new is choosing a dystopian young adult novel that revolves around teenagers coming to terms with their emerging sexuality. That’s the theme of Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle, though it might be hard to tell since the premise is so out there that it might throw you off. In a bizarre tale of science gone wrong, two boys accidentally unleash a deadly genetically engineered plague meant to create an unstoppable army of six-foot-tall praying mantises with insatiable appetites for food and sex. This is not quite your average small-town America, but is a brutally honest portrayal of teenage years.
Smith’s novel is certainly unconventional. Perhaps that why filmmakers took notice. Grasshopper Jungle was just recently optioned for film by Sony Pictures. This one is also still in early stages of development, but it is known that Smith’s story is being adapted for film by Scott Rosenberg, the screenwriter for such films as Con Air, Beautiful Girls and High Fidelity.
Influx by David Suarez
February 2014 is a hot month for books! Another one of my best picks for that month, Influx by David Suarez, has also been optioned for film, this time by Twentieth Century Fox. No names are attached to the project as of yet, but you can bet that the film, like the book, will be a techno-thriller. All of Suarez’s books to date, in fact, have been technology focused. Makes sense...he’s a former American information technology consultant.
Influx is the story of a man with a world-changing invention which catches the attention of a shadowy organization. Jon Grady is the man who invents a device that can reflect gravity. Instead of receiving the accolades he deserves from a society stuck with cellphone-era technology, he is pursued by the mysterious Bureau of Technology Control whose aim is to control the advance of technology. Worse, advanced technology isn’t shared, it’s reserved for the elite who get to live in a technological society that the population at large can only imagine.