21 Iconic Young Adult Book Series Adaptations, Ranked

There’s nothing more addictive than a super good (or super cheesy) young-adult book series. Whether you were a Harry Potter fan, or you were more into guilty pleasure YA books like Gossip Girl and The Clique, we all had those series that were pivotal to our teenage years.

Plus, nothing topped the excitement of finding out your fave books were being turned into a movie or TV show. While there are some we’re still waiting on (WHERE is “Uglies” or “Looking for Alaska”?!), there’s no denying that movie studios and TV execs love a good book adaptation. Some measured up to their source material, some surpassed it, and others definitely didn’t do the books justice – but if you’re wondering how they all stack up (movies AND TV shows!), look no further:

21. The Vampire Academy

Just a warning: this is not the first vampire series you will see on this list. The Vampire Academy was a huge success among teen romance fans across the country. This YA book series was primarily a story of romance, drama, action, and of course — vampires. The story covers a lot of the struggles that typical teens face, but in a totally surreal and paranormal setting. While the books were a huge success (with over eight million copies sold), the movie was a total disaster. It performed really poorly at the box office and received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics. It has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 12%. Yikes.

20. The Clique

There was no YA book series more wild than The Clique. Massie Block and her cohort of mean girls were absurdly rich, mean, and pretty. Their behavior was completely unrealistic and over-the-top, but we couldn’t get enough of it. The Clique movie was a lot like the books: cheesy and ridiculous, and we loved every second of it. The outfits alone were enough to make you cringe, but it was still unbelievably entertaining. One of those movies so bad it’s good, we still had to rank it pretty low.

19. Baby-Sitters Club (TV Show)

Talk about a classic YA book series. The Baby-Sitters Club were the go-to series for pretty much every young girl in America who grew up in the ’90s and early 2000s. There were over 40 of these books published, and each one followed a nearly-identical plotline. Naturally, they made a TV show and movie based on the wildly-successful series. The TV version didn’t find nearly the same success as the book series and was honestly kind of a flop. It was never renewed for a second season, although some die-hard fans did continue to watch the show when reruns were played on Disney and Nickelodeon.

18. Shadowhunters

Shadowhunters, based on The Mortal Instruments books by Cassandra Clare might have a huge fan base, but at one point or another, we’re all going to have to admit that the show is pretty awful. Not only was it slammed for having a pretty blatant example of rape culture portrayed as a sweet relationship moment, but its almost-incest storyline is just… a lot. Then there was the whole Dominic Sherwood calling co-star Matthew Daddario an anti-gay slur during a livestream thing. Ultimately, we can’t give this book-to-TV adaptation too high a rating considering the facts.

17. The Mortal Instruments

Before there was Shadowhunters, there was this book-to-movie adaptation of Cassie Clare’s books – and while the one movie released was definitely better than all 35+ episodes of the TV show we’ve recieved – it still wasn’t good enough to be a full-fledged movie franchise. It’s got a 13% on Rotten Tomatoes, and The Telegraph said of the film, “This gothic teen fantasy is one of the most disastrous page-to-screen adaptations in memory.” Not exactly a rave review…

16. Baby-Sitter’s Club (Film)

Luckily for fans of the Baby-Sitter’s Club, the series found a bit of redemption in the release of a 1995 film. Although the TV show set the bar pretty low, the movie was a favorite among loyal fans and new teen viewers across the nation. Like the show, it didn’t do that well financially or critically, but it definitely satisfied audiences. Don’t get us wrong, the movie is unbelievably cheesy, but it’s just so nostalgic that we’ll always love it. Everything from the horrifying outfits and the dated pop culture references to the cheesy dialogue make this movie a wholesome classic.

15. Divergent

The Divergent series was a super exciting, action-packed ride from start to finish. The whole idea of a world where people are divided based on their traits was super unique. Plus, Tris was a total badass, and a super cool role model for teen girls. The movies, unfortunately, were kind of lackluster. While fans of the book were still excited to see it, Divergent, the movie series got such bad critical responses and theater turnout that they ended production on the series before it finished. It was pretty corny and dragged on for too long, but considering Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Twilight got an extra movie for their franchises – it’s a bit surprising this one couldn’t even make a third film happen.

14. A Series of Unfortunate Events (Film)

While you could argue that A Series of Unfortunate Events was more of children’s book than a YA book series, these books are definitely better the older you get. The only problem was that the witty and bizarre writing style of Lemony Snicket was pretty hard to recreate. The film adaptation starring Jim Carrey as Count Olaf proved this, and the movie was pretty bad despite having a huge Hollywood actor at the helm. It just kind of seemed like the movie was more goofy and kid-friendly than the books, which were pretty dark as far as Children’s/YA series go.

13. The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson & The Olympians was one of the most well-loved, well-written, and unique YA book series of our generation. Kids almost immediately became obsessed with Percy and all of his adventures, so naturally, they adapted the first book, The Lightning Thief into a movie. The movie was good, but it wasn’t very well-received by critics. Plus, many fans felt that it just wasn’t true enough to the original books. The movie studio released a sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters in 2013, though by 2014, star Logan Lerman confirmed there would not be a third. Though there’s been a bit of back and forth since, the actors are getting a bit too old to play their characters either way.

12. Twilight

While the Twilight franchise was ridiculously successful, we can all agree that its quality was questionable at best. The books were pretty cheesy (and, let’s not forget, based on a dream Stephanie Meyer had), and the movies were straight-up bad in that so-bad-they’re-good way. Kristen Stewart’s delivery was… bizarre, to say the least, which is strange considering her other work has proven her to be a pretty decent actress. Robert Pattinson slams the whole franchise at every chance he can. Let’s not forget that totally terrifying CGI baby in the last film. But, did all that stop us from going to every midnight premiere and completely obsessing over either Team Edward or Jacob? Of course not. At this point we should all admit that both Edward AND Jacob were the wrong choice.

11. A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix Series)

Thankfully for A Series of Unfortunate Events fans everywhere, the Netflix adaptation proved to be a lot more true to the book and a hell of a lot better. First of all, the format just made a lot more sense since it is a “series” of books, after all. This made it easier for them to stick closer to the text, rather than trying to squeeze in as much as possible. The Netflix series was so well-received, in fact, that there’s a second season planned for release this March. Both critics and fans were much happier with the overall tone of the Netflix adaptation because it was definitely truer to how dark the original books were.

10. The Chronicles of Narnia

As a YA book series, it’s pretty hard to imagine just howThe Chronicles of Narnia could be turned into a movie. The series is seriously beautiful, and follows the Pevensie siblings as they travel through a magical world that exists within their wardrobe. However, the movies totally lived up to the books. They were visually stunning, and all of the characters and environments really came to life. We’re still waiting on The Silver Chiar!

9. Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries was another iconic YA book series that became a crazy successful TV show. As teens, we were totally obsessed with this show, because what’s not to love? There’s romance, action, drama, and super hot vampires running around. While the book series was also incredibly popular, the TV show really took off and made it a household name. In fact, many staunch TVD fans insist the TV show is actually better than the books. The books’ author L.J. Smith was fired from the small screen version, so it just might be true. During its time, it was the most-watched series on The CW and to this day has many dedicated fans.

8. The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner is the first novel in the Maze Runner series, and it was a huge hit among sci-fi fans everywhere. This YA book series is totally surreal and suspenseful, as it takes place in a dystopian, post-apocolyptic place called “The Glade.” The idea of transforming such an unusual and complex world into a movie is no small task, but it definitely delivered. The 2014 film was a huge box office success, and was pretty well received by critics. The third and final installment in The Maze Runner film franchise recently premiered and though it wasn’t as strong as the first two, it still had Dylan O’Brien in it, so it’s good in our book.

7. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

No series made us laugh, cry, and happy-cry more than The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. This series dealt with some pretty heavy subjects, such as death and depression, which made them all the more important in our confused, teen lives. As if the YA book series wasn’t excellent enough, the film franchise honestly lived up to the hype. Yes, they were corny teen movies, but they were exactly what we wanted. The casting was excellent (Blake Lively! Alexis Bledel! America Ferrera! Amber Tamblyn!), and we all really felt like Tibby, Lena, Bridget, and Carmen were our BFFs too.

6. Pretty Little Liars

Another one of the most iconic YA book series-turned TV shows. Pretty Little Liars truly took on a life of its own as a TV show. It was great because even those of us who religiously read the entire series had no idea what kind of ridiculous plot twist was going to happen next. Even though it could be super ridiculous from time to time, it was also unbelievably creepy and 100% addictive. Overall, we think they definitely did the original Sara Shepard series justice.

5. Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging

Was there any YA book series funnier than Angus, Thongs & Full-Frontal Snogging? Granted, they decided to the change the name of this YA book for the film adaption, but it didn’t change the fact that Georgia Nicholson is one of our fave fictional characters of all time. She’s unbelievably awkward, sometimes mean, but generally lovable. The film adaptation did a great job capturing her wild spirit, even if it was totally underrated when it premiered. Plus, she looked exactly how we pictured her while reading the books.

4. The Hunger Games

No one can deny that The Hunger Games is one of the best YA book series of all time. They were seriously intense, and there’s a good chance you probably read all of them in about two days. Luckily for us, the movie series was a hit. The recreation was super believable and true to the book, and Jennifer Lawrence stole everyone’s hearts with her portrayal of Katniss. Plus, we were all definitely at least a little in love with Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson.

3. The Princess Diaries

The Princess Diaries is hands-down one of the most popular and well-done remake of any YA book series ever (in our totally unbiased opinion). First of all, Anne Hathaway made the perfect princess Mia, and don’t even get us started on Michael Moskovitz. He was the perfect combination of shy, musical, kind, and weird — our middle school selves pretty much fell in love. Plus, Julie Andrews playing Mia’s Grandmother was an incredible casting choice. The movie was great on its own, but also was a totally accurate remake of the book. We just wish there were more of them!

2. Gossip Girl

Because the TV show is so popular, it can be hard to remember that Gossip Girl was originally a YA book series. The books were a wild ride, especially if you read them when you were thirteen. But it has nothing on the TV show. Not only did the cast members of the show do an amazing job playing the truly evil characters of the Upper East side, they became full-fledged stars in their own right by the time the show wrapped. Although we definitely hated most of the characters, part of us wanted to ride in their limos and party with them anyways.

1. Harry Potter

It’s pretty obvious that Harry Potter has got to be our # 1 choice. Not only was the YA book series one of the most popular books of all time, and has sold over 400 million copies worldwide. Not only that, but the movie franchise was just as successful. In fact, it’s the second highest-grossing film series of all time. The fictional world that J.K. Rowling created seemed impossible to duplicate, but somehow the films managed to capture the same magic. HP will forever be in the hearts of multiple generations of people. Truly iconic.

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