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COLUMN: Ranking fantasy book-to-movie adaptations

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In the early 2010s, converting popular dystopian book series into movies was a major trend. If you’re a young adult that was an avid fantasy reader in your youth, there’s a high likelihood that you stumbled upon at least one of these series. Let’s rank their film counterparts, from worst to best.  

6. “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” 

Only two of the five novels in the popular Greek mythology series were converted into films, and there’s no question why. “Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief” and “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” were blatantly bad adaptations that fans had no problem calling out, with Rotten Tomatoes scores of under 50% each. Although entertaining and visually intriguing movies, the plots strayed very far from the original course of the books. Fans also weren’t happy with the characters being portrayed as high schoolers when the books start out with a 12-year-old protagonist. The films were so bad that Rick Riordan, the author of the series, even tweeted that it’s his “life’s work going through a meat grinder.” 

5. “Divergent”  

The Divergent movies were pushed out very quickly after the success of the first, with all three films being released in the span of three years. Like every other adaptation on this list, these are entertaining movies. However, the Divergent films altered the plot of the novels and reduced the amount of action that book fans were expecting. A lot of the edgy, dangerous content that the novels originally featured was excluded, leaving a lot of readers wanting more after the films had been completed. 

4. “The Maze Runner” 

The Maze Runner book trilogy was transformed into three respective films, each of which was action-packed and enthralling. Especially in comparison to the previous movies in this list, the casting for these films was spectacular. However, fans did have some issues with distinct plot points being completely skipped or altered in the films. Specifically, a major point in the book trilogy was that the main characters could speak to each other telepathically; this wasn’t mentioned in the films. Additionally, the death of a fan-favorite character was altered, which brought on a lot of discourse. 

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3. “Twilight”  

This might be controversial due to its reputation of being a cheesy romance with bad writing, but the Twilight movies are coming in at number three on this list. There is a particular scene in the fifth and final movie, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” where the plot strays farthest from the books. But otherwise, the film series stays relatively true to the original storyline. Overall, they are entertaining films despite their reputation. They are very nostalgic with blue-tinged filters and 2000s style clothing, making it the perfect series to binge-watch if you grew up on them or the books. 

2. “Harry Potter”  

With such a huge and adoring fan base, it’s no surprise that the eight-film series made its way to the upper half of this ranking. The Harry Potter movies bring a sense of whimsy with their magic and mayhem. These films successfully grew up with the child actors and the generation of adults who grew up reading “Harry Potter,” cementing their place in the minds of young people everywhere.  

1. “The Hunger Games” 

There are a total of four movies in The Hunger Games series with the third novel, “Mockingjay,” being split into two. These films are well known throughout fan communities as being one of, if not the best, adaptations in this specific genre of young adult sci-fi/fantasy novels. The casting was phenomenal, the acting magnificent, visuals stunning and they stayed true to the books with very few changes.

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