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Top 10 TV Shows Based on YA Novels

VO: Lisa Yang
These at the best TV shows based on YA novels! For this list, we’re looking only at television series that have been adapted from novels considered by many to be of the young adult genre. This means that films are not included, nor are shows that have been adapted from non-YA books, like “The Magicians”.

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Top 10 TV Shows Based on YA Novels

They’re all about the angst, the heartbreak, and the fun of being a teen. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 TV Shows Based on YA Novels.

For this list, we’re looking only at television series that have been adapted from novels considered by many to be of the young adult genre. This means that films are not included, nor are shows that have been adapted from non-YA books, like “The Magicians”.

#10: “The Carrie Diaries” (2013-14)

The grown Carrie Bradshaw won our hearts in “Sex and the City”, so adapting the prequel novel that depicted her as a teen was a no-brainer. Seeing Carrie’s awkward teen years proved her to be as relatable as an adolescent as we know her to be as an adult, while also showing fans a ton of backstory that informed the character they had grown to love. There’s nothing quite like seeing the history of a character unfold before your eyes, and Carrie’s young adult life brought audiences into contact with a wide range of colourful people, as well as began to introduce the friends that she would have for life.

#9: “The Shannara Chronicles” (2016-17)

While Terry Brooks penned a great many books detailing the sprawling world of the Four Lands, this television series is mostly based on one. The second book of the original Shannara trilogy follows Wil, who upholds his father's legacy as bearer of the Elfstones. It is a time of impending strife, as the tree that holds evil demons at bay begins to die, slowly releasing them into the world once more. Will finds himself aiding the Elves whose magic was imprisoning the demons, making “The Shannara Chronicles” an epic show that not only draws on the conventions of the fantasy genre but also makes them its own.

#8: “The Secret Circle” (2011-12)

Life for a teen who just lost their mother is hard. But as Cassie finds out when she moves to Chance Harbor to live with her grandmother, sometimes secrets live even beyond the grave. It turns out she comes from a long line of witches, and is the key to unlocking the powers of several other teen witches. Despite their feelings for one another, these teens are bound in ways they couldn’t imagine. Based on a series of books that delved deep into this world of teen witchcraft, this show was short-lived and cancelled after only a season.

#7: “Roswell” (1999-2002)

Roswell, New Mexico is infamous as the suspected site of a UFO crash, so of course, this story is popular in fiction. Liz lives in Roswell and discovers, much to her surprise, that several of her classmates are aliens. This turns out to be a good thing for Liz, since her classmate Max, who had seemed just like any other teenager, comes to her rescue during a shootout when she is wounded at Liz’s parents’ cafe. While the fact that there are aliens is central to the plot of the entire show, some of the issues Liz faces with them are very, very human.

#6: “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments” (2016-)

Have you ever wondered if it was possible that there were non-human races living alongside us? Hidden in New York City is a cast of creatures known as Shadowhunters - human-angel hybrids that kill demons for a living. Not only that, but werewolves, vampires and a host of other supernatural creatures make appearances, making this one of the most richly populated shows on TV. Taking its inspiration from best-selling novels “The Mortal Instruments”, it’s no wonder that this series has become a must watch for people across all age groups.

#5: “The Vampire Diaries” (2009-17)

This show has the mother of all love triangles. Stuck between two vampire brothers, Elena constantly feels like she has to choose one over the other, all while her hometown, Mystic Falls, is under threat from various supernatural creatures. It’s a series that does well in its undertaking of world building, and has no qualms about putting sexy scenes right next to violent ones. With its brooding atmosphere and interesting take on an oversaturated genre, it is no wonder that “The Vampire Diaries” adaptation racked up award nomination after award nomination, and has spawned a spin-off show.

#4: "TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY” (2017-)

One of the most controversial shows to air in the mid-2010s, this Netflix title focused on many issues that other programs wouldn’t dare touch. Revolving around the suicide of a student who leaves behind a series of tapes explaining why she took her life, it begs the question of whether such a thing could be avoided if only people were more compassionate. Ironically, the author of the novel, Jay Asher, has been accused of sexual harassment, a theme that has a major influence on the events of the show.

#3: “Pretty Little Liars” (2010-17)

Four girls with a missing friend seems like the perfect recipe for a YA show, and “Pretty Little Liars” does not disappoint. With a mysterious stalker blackmailing the girls with their deepest secrets, the “Liars” live in the constant shadow of paranoia. As things escalate and “A” grows more malicious, they soon find themselves fighting for their lives. Occasionally drawing from film noir traditions as well as the experiences of teenagers fearing the upheaval the rumor mill can create, this show is the perfect combination of eerie and dramatic, making it a worthy adaptation of the novels.

#2: “Gossip Girl” (2007-12)

Portraying a culture that’s more than a little obsessed with observing the lives of the upper classes means that “Gossip Girl” perfectly captures the zeitgeist. A group of rich Upper East Side teens are the focus of a mysterious blogger who has no qualms about sharing their biggest secrets online. Naturally this blog has a massive following and it’s not long before Gossip Girl begins ruining the lives of the teens. While the books had a very different tone than the TV show, the show continues to set the bar for other teen dramas.

#1: “The 100” (2014-)

This show takes teen drama and turns it on its head. Sometime during the first season, it became apparent that viewers who might have started watching the series because of its young adult cast and sci-fi premise were getting a lot more than they bargained for. It ultimately became a program about survival and the ethics of doing the right thing in the face of death. While the show and the books share a name and some of the characters, they are vastly different entities that take the same basic idea and run with it - but in different directions.

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