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From Shelf to Screen: Best Book Series Adaptations

Book adaptations can be a real hit or miss, depending on how faithful they are to their inspiration. Here are a few tried-and-tested series-to-screen adaptations that are true to the source material and easy to enjoy.

There’s nothing like finding out your favorite book series has been turned into a TV show. However, not all adaptations are created equal, and it can be a huge letdown when you’re disappointed by how a director has recreated something that defined your childhood. Here is a list of eight shows that live up to the book series they were inspired by. While not all of these strictly follow the trajectory of the original material, all of them are worth a watch for their unique interpretation.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Inspired by Greek mythology, the fifth book in this series was released fifteen years ago, with a movie adaptation and a sequel movie following in the years after. However, this fandom made a comeback with the recent release of the Disney Plus adaptation. The show follows Percy Jackson, a down-on-his-luck protagonist who finds out that his father is a Greek god. “Percy Jackson” has been renewed for a second season already, likely due to the rave reviews and large following the show has gained for its fantastical worldbuilding, striking special effects, and dramatic score. I enjoyed this show because each of the actors gives a performance that makes me feel like I’m looking at the characters I read about years ago. The scenes strike a strong balance between poignant and funny, making this a perfect show to watch and rewatch with your family for years to come.

Harry Potter
The “Harry Potter” adaptations span a collection of eight movies, each based on a book in the series besides the final book, which is split into two movies. These movies hold a lot of nostalgia for many and are well-known around the world for their interpretation of what a magical world would look like. The young actors give impressively expressive performances, and the friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione is at the core of what makes this series so timeless. Though some hardcore fans are disappointed at the exclusion of a few moments from the book series, the movies do a good job of encapsulating the over one million words that make up the books. I personally feel like the movies can stand alone as their own work of entertainment, and I would recommend them to anyone who loves magic. The imaginative quality of these films will bring you to a world that you’ll remember for years to come.

The Hunger Games
Whether you’re team Gale or team Peeta, this thrilling dystopian series will have you engulfed from the first chapter. After releasing the first three books from 2008 to 2010, Suzanne Collins took a 10-year Hunger Games break before releasing the prequel in 2020. The movies were released from 2012 to 2015, with the prequel’s film adaptation released in 2023. The series, spanning over 60 years in the realm of Panem, explores the concept of “The Hunger Games,” a contest in which two children from each of the 12 districts in Panem are selected to fight to the death in a televised arena. Emotionally challenging and frighteningly topical, The Hunger Games takes a look at what would happen if the government had too much power.

Shadow and Bone
“Shadow and Bone” is unique in that it combines two different series penned by the same author in one incredible adaptation. The “Shadow and Bone” trilogy and the “Six of Crows” duology are set in the same universe, and the show weaves these trajectories together, letting them shine in different storylines that eventually come to meet. One side focuses on Alina Starkov, your typical “chosen one,” who is plunged into a world of royalty and magic after discovering she has powers. The other side showcases a crew of morally gray alignment and dubious origins on the hunt for fortune and freedom. While the events of the series take place in a fantasy world envisioned entirely by the author, the show seamlessly integrates the audience into the historically inspired societies. The conceptualization of magic in this canon is intriguing and inventive, and I’d recommend this adaptation to anyone who enjoys action-packed, high-stakes fantasy. “Shadow and Bone” answers the question of what to do when your world isn’t what you thought it was and what to do when you aren’t who you thought you were.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
In 2014, readers experienced a romance for the ages through the eyes of Lara Jean, a girl whose habit of writing letters to her crushes backfired after they were sent to their unwitting recipients. The “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” franchise consists of three feature films (and a spin-off television series) inspired by the trilogy of the same name. The author, Jenny Han, is well-known for her romance writing, landing another hit television series with “The Summer I Turned Pretty”. She helped shape the vision of these films, which were appreciated for their realistic depiction of high school through excellent casting and complex relationships. Each of these movies lets the main and side characters shine while simultaneously exploring family dynamics and life situations with heartwarming earnestness. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance, realistic fiction, and coming-of-age stories. These movies provide a surprisingly innovative take on modern love, the culmination of creative acting and directing.

The Mysterious Benedict Society
The book series was originally released in 2007, and this TV adaptation did a great job of reintroducing younger audiences to this world more than a decade later. With talented actors, clever plot twists, and riddles galore, it’s the perfect show for anyone who wants to entertain and exercise their brain. It highlights a group of four gifted orphans who are brought together on a spy mission to expose a world-threatening scheme hidden from society under the guise of a boarding school. The characters are likable and engaging, and the writing pulls together a narrative with an ending that feels both unexpected and perfectly set up. For fans of lighter entertainment, this series offers an experience of action and adventure that will make viewers feel as intelligent as the undercover genius kids, satisfying the collective thirst for stretching your mind and feeling like you can find somewhere you fit in.

Lord of the Rings
“The Lord of the Rings” defined what fantasy is today, and the movies did a good job of respecting the source material and paying homage to that legacy. This trilogy succeeded “The Hobbit,” which was similarly adapted into three films. This set of films is well known for its stunning cinematography, bringing the book descriptions to life with superb costume and makeup, beautiful scenery, and a moving score. Based on the trilogy of the same name penned by J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1950s, this adaptation made the stories of Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Legolas, Aragorn and many others more accessible to a larger audience, including those who may have been intimidated by the sheer volume of the original book series. This series can be enjoyed by anyone interested in high fantasy and epic quests, as evidenced by the third film’s 11 Academy Awards. These movies will shape your experience of fiction and challenge your expectations for what fantasy worlds can be.

Lockwood & Co.
“Lockwood & Co.” centers around a trio of teenage ghost-hunters living in the heart of London. Despite their age, they are far from amateurs. Lucy Carlyle, Anthony Lockwood, and George Karim live in a world where psychic ability dims with age, and London society depends on a network of ghost-hunting agencies—managed by adults but operated by adolescents—to keep their streets safe. This supernatural show became one of my go-to’s for its relatable protagonists, thrilling action scenes, and suspenseful storyline. It combines a few books but does so masterfully, and there is not a single thing I would change from any of its eight episodes. I would highly recommend this adaptation for middle-grade and up audiences, especially if they are fans of the paranormal or detective shows. The mysteries keep you guessing, and the character dynamics keep you coming back again and again.

Sometimes you just need a return to something comfortable, with the right amount of change to keep things interesting without the absence of familiarity. These book series adaptations provide a way to look at your childhood through new eyes, offering a blast to the past and bringing joy to your afternoons. Bringing written words to life is no easy feat, but these movies and series do it with ease, creating an entertainment experience like no other.

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About the Contributors
Leila Bank
Leila Bank, Journalist
Leila Bank (she/her) is a senior at CHS in her first year on staff. She adores all kinds of writing, but especially poetry. Aside from writing, you'll find her rummaging through magazines for collage materials, smearing oil pastels on paper and admiring her curly hair in the mirror. Leila is so grateful to be working with the Communicator and can't wait to see what comes next.
Kaylee Gadepalli
Kaylee Gadepalli, Journalist
Kaylee Gadepalli is currently a sophomore at Community High School. In her free time, she can be found practicing violin, listening to show tunes, and playing with her dog. She also is also an avid reader, Netflix binge-watcher, and frequent doodler. This is her first year on staff, and she is looking forward to working on The Communicator.

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