Watch for Kirkus’ in-depth columns on a feature-film version of Larry Watson’s 2013 novel Let Him Go (in theaters, Nov. 6) and a TV special based on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2015 memoir, Between the World and Me, winner of the Kirkus Prize and the National Book Award (HBO, Nov. 21). In the meantime, here are four other book-to-screen adaptations to check out during the month of November:
Nov. 10: Dash and Lily (Series Premiere, Netflix)
In 2006, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan published the Kirkus-starred YA novel Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which told the story of a burgeoning relationship between two teens, alternating first-person chapters between them as they go on a New York City adventure. (It was made into a 2008 film starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings.) Cohn and Levithan’s 2010 book, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, follows a very similar template: Burgeoning teen relationship? Check. Alternating first-person chapters? Check. New York City? Check, check, and check. This time around, though, the teen characters don’t meet up immediately; instead, Dash finds Lily’s red notebook at the legendary Strand Book Store during the holiday season, and its pages include clues for a sort of scavenger hunt. Then Dash writes in clues of his own, which Lily follows, leading to a series of quirky, back-and-forth urban escapades.
This new TV-series adaptation features up-and-coming actor Midori Francis, who co-starred in last year’s Facebook Watch horror series The Birch, and Austin Abrams, who delivered a thoughtful performance in the Amazon Prime Video film Chemical Hearts this past August. If nothing else, the new series promises to be a gorgeous love letter to New York—at a time when its residents could really use one.
Nov. 13: Alex Rider (Series Premiere, IMDb TV)
English author Anthony Horowitz has penned 12 YA novels and a short-story collection featuring his teenage spy Alex Rider. The books are well-known for their fast-paced action; about 2017’s Never Say Die, our reviewer wrote, “In his usual breakneck fashion, Horowitz whisks Alex from one improbable situation to another, all of which Alex survives by using his wits and whatever else happens to be at hand.” This TV-series adaptation doesn’t appear to slow the action down; it premiered last year in the United Kingdom and is just now making its way stateside. Its setup draws on the plot of the first Alex Rider novel, 2001’s Stormbreaker, in which the young man looks into his uncle’s suspicious demise and ends up joining British Intelligence. The show, starring Otto Farrant, should appeal to spy-thriller fans awaiting the much-delayed James Bond film No Time to Die; after all, Horowitz has written a couple of Bond books himself, including 2018’s Forever and a Day.
Nov. 15: A Timeless Christmas (Film Premiere, The Hallmark Channel)
Time-travel romances are certainly nothing new—Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, for example, began way back in 1991—but they remain wildly popular. This Hallmark Channel movie is based on Hallmark Publishing’s 2018 novel by Alexis Stanton; she also writes romances under the names Zoë Archer and Eva Leigh (such as the Kirkus-starred Temptations of a Wallflower). A Timeless Christmas focuses on a modern-day tour guide, Megan Turner, who works at a historic mansion. During the Christmas season, she unexpectedly meets Charles Whitley, the mansion’s former owner, who was sent through time from the early 1900s while repairing a strange clock. Readers won’t be surprised to learn that as he tries to find a way to get back, he and Megan share a romantic spark.
General Hospital’s Ryan Paevey plays Charles in the movie version, and Erin Cahill plays Megan; both are reliable Hallmark-movie veterans, and Cahill’s breezy charm is always enjoyable. It’s lightweight, escapist fare, to be sure—and for many viewers in this anxious era, it couldn’t come at a better time.
Nov. 26: The Flight Attendant (Miniseries Premiere, HBO Max)
Kaley Cuoco is best known for playing Penny on 12 seasons of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, but this new miniseries version of Chris Bohjalian’s 2018 mystery finds her tackling much darker material. In the novel, flight attendant Cassandra Bowden spends a drunken night in Dubai with a passenger, hedge-fund manager Alex Sokoloff, but when she wakes up next to him the following morning, she finds him dead with his throat cut—and she has almost no memory of the previous night. She unwisely decides to hide the crime, at least until she’s back in the United States, but this only leads her into more trouble. Meanwhile, the real killer, a Russian assassin, is still at large—and Cassandra may be her next victim. The miniseries’ trailer intriguingly combines thriller elements with a grimly humorous tone, but it’s the stellar cast, which includes Oscar nominee Rosie Perez and Girls’ Zosia Mamet, that truly makes this worth a watch.
David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.