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With nearly 24 million copies in print and the movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson opening Friday, The Hunger Games is the hottest young-adult literary franchise around, eclipsing Twilight and Harry Potter.
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Set in a postapocalyptic future where the primary entertainment is an annual televised death match among 24 teens, Hunger Games mixes action, thrills, romance and teenage rebellion. The three-book series has garnered fans far beyond the usual YA audience.
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It’s not the only YA book worth reading — or the only one headed to the big screen. Here are four YA best-sellers, all with movies in development, that The Hollywood Reporter recommends for Hunger Games fans of all ages. Tell us your favorites in the comments section.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic, 416 pages, movie rights to Warner Bros.)
The story is set on the small island of Thisby, where every November young riders compete in a race in which they ride man-eating water horses called capall uisce.
Two orphans, Puck and Sean, are determined to win this year’s race, which comes with a monetary prize and fame. Both of Puck’s parents were eaten by a horse; Sean’s father was trampled by one. Sean is the returning champion; Puck is the challenger and the first girl to ever enter the race. A romance ensues even though the two are competitors.
Scorpio Races alternates between Puck’s and Sean’s stories. She is stubborn and headstrong; he’s stoic and reserved. The characters are well developed and fully realized. The romance is engaging and builds in a slow, realistic way.
The novel soars on Stiefvater’s descriptions of Thisby, the water horses and the race itself. The island is at once barren and beautiful, the horses fierce and tender, the race frightening and thrilling.
David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, are developing the movie for Warner Bros.
Earthseed by Pamela Sargent (Tor, 288 pages, movie rights to Paramount)
This 1983 classic is about a group of teenagers — Earth’s last survivors — on a ship traveling through deep space in search of a habitable world.
As the ship approaches its destination, it traps the teens in a section that simulates the wilderness until they prove they can survive on their own. The teens quickly separate into two warring factions, one led by the main character, a 15-year-old girl named Zoheret. As the battle between the factions escalates, secrets emerge, war ensues and both sides endure losses before they arrive at the new planet.
When it first came out, Earthseed was named to numerous year-end best children’s book lists. Sargent wrote two sequels, Farseed (2007) and Seed Seeker (2010). The trilogy is now being adapted by Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight).
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Quirk Books, 352 pages, movie rights to 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment)
An abandoned orphanage on a remote island off the coast of Wales might be home to a group of lost children with fantastic powers. After his grandfather’s death, 16-year-old Jacob finds a box of strange photos among his possessions and travels to the island in search of answers. The book is littered with fantastic spooky antique photos, which amazingly are real. After finding the century-old photos at flea markets, author Riggs was inspired to tell a story around them — and what a story! Miss Peregrine combines elements of X-Men, Tim Burton (set to direct the movie) and Jules Verne into a fantastic story that is creepy, eerie and a little scary as well. Riggs is working on a sequel that is scheduled for spring 2013.
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (Margaret McElderry, movie rights to Columbia/Screen Gems)
This four-book series (with two more scheduled in 2012 and 2013) about a teenage girl named Clary Fray who gets drawn into a supernatural war between demons and their opponents called Shadowhunters evokes a grittier urban update on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the series, Clary teams up with vampires, werewolves and faeries, and as they hunt for the three magical mortal instruments given by angels to the original Shadowhunters, she learns surprising secrets from her past. Mirror Mirror star Lily Collins has just been cast in the long-gestating movie version of the first book, City of Bones.
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