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7 Books to Read Before They're Movies in 2015
Does someone in your home know the difference between a Divergent faction and a Hunger Games district? Did your kids watch the Harry Potter movies and discuss all the changes (for better or worse) between the books and the eight films? Does a thrilling adaptation -- such as this week's release of Insurgent -- get them excited about a book? Maybe you insist they read the book before seeing the movie. Whatever the case in your home, you both have a lot to look forward to: 2015 promises a blockbuster lineup of page-to-screen adaptations of children's and young adult books.
Here are seven books kids and teens (and you!) should read before you see the movie versions. And if you're really into checking out books first, we've even included 10 titles with 2016 release dates or upcoming productions.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth (in theaters March 20; targeted to teens)
Why read the book? Mild spoilers ahead if you haven't read Divergent. If you've started Roth's trilogy with Divergent, you'll likely be unable to stop, and Insurgent picks up right after the game-changing events at the end of the first book. After surviving a horrific assassination attempt, Tris and Four know the Erudite and Dauntless leaders betrayed their members as well as the unsuspecting citizens of Abnegation. Together, they seek refuge and help from the neutral Faction, Amity. Another page-turner, Insurgent is ideal to read immediately after Divergent.
Why see the movie? Naturally, if you saw Shailene Woodley and Theo James as Tris and Four in Divergent, you'll want to see the second installment. With Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) in charge of the Factions, the "Divergents" are hunted, while Tris and Four make unlikely alliances and unthinkable sacrifices.
Paper Towns by John Green (in theaters June 5; targeted to teens)
Why read the book? John Green isn't only a hugely influential young adult author; he and his brother are popular Internet personalities. After The Fault in Our Stars made more than $125 million domestically -- 10 times its budget! -- it's no wonder the studio agreed to fast-track the next Green adaptation. Part road trip, part mystery, Paper Towns follows high school senior Quentin as he embarks on a massive journey to find his missing neighbor, the eccentric and beautiful Margo.
Why see the movie? Nat Wolff, who played Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars, returns for another Green film as Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, and model-actress Cara Delevingne plays the gorgeous and brilliant Margo Roth Spiegelman. Green fans should be thrilled that the same duo that adapted TFIOS also wrote Paper Towns.
Pan by J.M. Barrie (in theaters July 24; targeted to kids and families)
Why read the book? J.M. Barrie's classic stories about the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up have been entertaining children and adults since their publication more than a century ago. A wonderful read-aloud for both boys and girls, Peter Pan is familiar to many kids who've seen one or more of the many adaptations. The book is filled with magic, fairy dust (Tinker Bell!), adventure, wonder, and of course kids who defeat their arch-nemesis (the evil Captain Hook). Make your kids' first time to Neverland a special one, and read this with and to your children -- even if they're old enough to read on their own.
Why see the movie? A trio of fabulous actors stars in the film -- Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard, Garrett Hedlund as a young Hook, and Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily -- and director Joe Wright is no stranger to adapting beloved literature (Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina, Atonement).
Goosebumps by R.L. Stine (in theaters Aug. 7; targeted to kids and tweens)
Why read the book? If you ask any adult who grew up in the '90s what they read as a kid, odds are that Goosebumps makes the list. Scholastic published more than 60 Goosebumps chapter books from 1992 to 1997, and the best-selling franchise, which has sold more than 350 million books worldwide, even spawned a TV series. What's the appeal? Stine blends suspense and horror with humor and puts his protagonists in scary -- but not too scary -- situations they invariably overcome.
Why see the movie? Kid favorite Jack Black (School of Rock, Kung Fu Panda) stars as Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine, who requires help from his teen niece and her friends to rid a town of his fictional horror monsters, who've come to life.
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (in theaters Sept. 18; targeted to teens)
Why read the book? The second book in Dashner's dystopian trilogy is the gripping continuation of The Maze Runner, in which a group of boys -- and one girl -- escape a mysterious caged society called the Glade. But just as the Gladers have escaped the prison of the Maze, they must survive another perilous game in a new, even deadlier, environment. The Gladers have two weeks to cross the "Scorch," the most burned-out section of the postapocalyptic world. This time, however, the Gladers aren't alone, and their enemies want them dead.
Why see the movie? The Maze Runner, which made a whopping $341 million worldwide on a $34 million budget, ended with a cliffhanger that posed more questions than it answered. So it's pretty necessary to see The Scorch Trials to find out what happens to Thomas, Teresa, and their surviving Glader friends.
Victor Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (in theaters Oct. 2; targeted to teens and older)
Why read the book? Frankenstein is a perfect classic for teens interested in horror. That nearly 200 years later the book is still inspiring adaptations is reason enough to check out (or reread) the novel. The story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein's many tragedies, primarily his obsession with creating life, is unforgettably freaky, and it's amazing how well the philosophical questions of morality in science hold up two centuries later.
Why see the movie? When Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and the young Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) make a movie together as Igor and a young Dr. Frankenstein, respectively, who wouldn't want to see it? With its unique spin on the origin story -- told from Igor's perspective -- Victor Frankenstein should be a no-brainer for families who love horror films.
Mockingay Part 2 by Suzanne Collins (in theaters Nov. 20; targeted to teens)
Why read the book? We'll admit that Mockingjay is a controversial book. Author Suzanne Collins didn't shy away from the horrors (and casualties) of war, from sociopolitical commentary, or from plot twists that may leave you crying big, fat angry tears. As the unputdownable story of Katniss Everdeen's subversive battle against the oppressive Capitol finally comes to its conclusion, expect to be shocked and amazed at what she goes through as the poster girl for a bloody revolution.
Why see the movie? Because it's the final installment in the Hunger Games franchise, audiences will finally discover the end game for Katniss, who must once again figure out how to survive the all-out war between the District rebels and President Snow and everything the Capitol represents. She may be an Oscar winner, but Jennifer Lawrence will always be the Girl on Fire.
Coming to a Theater Near You (Soon or Someday)
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (in theaters Jan. 29, 2016)
Chloe Grace Moretz will star as Cassie, the brave young heroine of this spellbinding sci-fi thriller (and romance!) about an alien invasion that kills more than 97 percent of humanity.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (in theaters March 4, 2016)
Tim Burton directs and Eva Green and Samuel L. Jackson star in this dark tale (retitled Peregrine's Home for Peculiars) following a teenager who's transported to a secret island where he encounters a frightening old orphanage, kids with special powers, time loops, and creatures.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (in theaters Oct. 14, 2016)
Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) plays the gravely ill mother, and Liam Neeson is the titular monster in this intense mother-son tale about a tree that haunts a 13-year-old boy as his mom is dying.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling (in theaters Nov. 18, 2016)
David Yates, the director of the last four Harry Potter films, returns to the Wizarding World to adapt Rowling's story about famed Magizoologist Newt Scamander's adventures in New York City's magical society.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Don't worry, parents: This has nothing to do with that other book about shades of gray. With the working title of Ashes in the Snow, this film is a historical drama about Lina, a young Lithuanian teen, who is sent to a Soviet forced-labor camp in Siberia during WWII.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Karou, a worldly blue-haired teen, works for her mysterious guardian -- a chimera who grants wishes in exchange for teeth -- until Akiva, an even more mysterious angel, makes her question everything in Taylor's fantasy trilogy.
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) knows how to tackle offbeat stories, so he's just the filmmaker to adapt Andrew Smith's award-winning book about an Iowa teen who unintentionally unleashes an apocalypse of giant, procreating insects.
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
The producers of If I Stay have optioned Nelson's poignant Michael Printz Award-winning novel about artistic twins Jude and Noah who at 13 were the best of friends and who applied to the same prestigious arts high school. Three years later, they barely speak to each other.
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
It's the end of the world as they knew it: On their way to school one morning, 14 Colorado school kids (age 5 to 17) end up locked inside a superstore as natural and man-made disasters wreak havoc outside.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
World War Z director Marc Forster is attached to Brown's high-concept fantasy that's equal parts Ender's Game, Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones (and every bit as compelling). In a distant future segregated by color caste, young Darrow is a lowly "Red" of Mars who ends up battling the oppressive "Gold" rule.