It is not often that I find myself thinking “I’d like to see that on the screen!” Most of the books I have read fit into three categories: so good that the film would mess it up; so important that transforming into film would be unethical; or so terrible that no money, time, or effort should be wasted on this story. Occasionally, however, a story takes on a unique, colorful, and euphoric sort of life in my mind and I quickly fall into the belief that creating this visual experience in film would be a thing of cathartic beauty which would leave viewers breathless—and in this breathlessness, they would examine their own lives and improve upon them. That might be a bit idealistic, so, at the very least, I am talking about my own self-improvement. The following six books are the handful that I would watch as a television series in a heartbeat.
Cemetery Boys—Aiden Thomas. Cemetery Boys follows Yadriel, a young transgender boy born into a Latinx family of the brujx community in East Los Angeles. Brujx is the all-encompassing word for a community of brujos and brujas, which is a Spanish word generally translated as a sorcerer. When young brujos and brujas in the community come of age, they perform a ritual to gain their powers, which differentiate based upon gender. Yadriel, who was assigned the biological sex of female at birth, wants to prove that he is actually a young man by performing this ritual. After this, Yadriel goes to find the ghost that murdered his cousin, but in the process, he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, one of his classmates. As the novel unfolds, the characters work to solve a mystery, an adorable love story takes place, and we grapple with the question of what a family truly is.
This entire book is set to the backdrop of magic and colorful imagery, which I imagine people in the film industry would trip over to create. There are far too many neutral tones and darkness in television, but this book would take something that could be darkly lit and place pops of color and life everywhere. Besides that fact that it would be visually appealing, this book has LGBTQ+ representation written literally everywhere. It isn’t the kind of story that awkwardly sticks a gay best friend in the corner as an afterthought. The author of Cemetery Boys and all of the main characters are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, so the audience is made aware of real issues that far too many of them face, including homelessness and rejection by their family. What I especially love about this book, however, isn’t simply that the author raises these issues, but that they show a possible world where they find people who love them and those who were previously opposed grow to become accepting. This is the kind of sweet magic we should be putting on our screens.
Girls Save the World in This One—Ash Parsons. June has been obsessed with zombie films her whole life, especially a zombie apocalypse show called Human Wasteland and its dreamy lead character. When she and her two best friends head to ZombieCon to meet him and other prominent actors from zombie-themed films, she is ecstatic. When they arrive, however, some of the fans are acting a bit off. Before they know it, chaos breaks out and June discovers that it’s because real zombies are taking over ZombieCon. June must do everything she can to save her and her friends from the zombies, relying on the skills she has learned as such an avid fan. Along the way, she meets the star of Human Wasteland, and she learns what it means to be a leader in an unlikely situation.
This is exactly the kind of hilarious, light nonsense I would love to see as a limited series. None of that Marvel-women-coming-together-in-one-scene-as-a-forced-show-of-feminism nonsense. The prospect of this show is giving off the vibes of Netflix’s new show “The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window”. It’s the perfect satire of those popular zombie shows, while also being powerful, sweet, and relatable (at least in the sense that an avid fan has wished for something like this to actually happen).
Macbeth—William Shakespeare. This play follows the titular character Macbeth on his quest to amass more power and take over as Scotland’s ruler. Persuaded by his wife, Lady Macbeth—and his own ambition—he sets out to obtain this position by any means necessary. Interwoven into the story are themes of love, murder, prophecy, and paranoia, as well as questions about proper gender dynamics, what it takes to be a good leader, why we seek power, and how we should seek power.
Like many other Shakespeare plays, Macbeth has made it to the big screen many times, the most recent being at the end of 2021 with Denzel Washington playing Macbeth. Call me critical or filled with hubris, but I believe that we should give Macbeth more than a two hour movie. At the very least, it deserves to be a limited series so that we can properly explore the intricacies of this play. There is so much to unpack, and I haven’t seen a single rendition that fully encompasses this story. They’re either lacking the philosophical questions Shakespeare poses about how power corrupts and how a good ruler is made, or they play too far into modern notions of entertainment: blood, drama, sex, and violence (which is ironic because that is exactly what Macbeth covers in the play). Macbeth shouldn’t simply serve as entertainment. It should shock people so deeply that they begin to understand how malleable human nature is and undertake a strengthening of their own character.
Ash Princess—Laura Sebastian. Ash Princess, which is now a finished trilogy, follows Theodosia, a young woman whose country was taken over when she was a child. She is forced to live among her captors, enduring abuse and ridicule. That is, until a series of events forces her to choose between continuing this life and fighting to regain her and her country’s freedom. This story raises themes of imperialism, colonization, and slavery. In typical Young Adult Fantasy fashion, these characters have powers, Theodosia herself having her own unique force.
I thought the book series was excellent, but I did think there could have been more detailed storylines. In my vision of a television series adaptation, this story would not stay so much in the Young Adult genre. It would expand on the effects of colonization, and Theodosia would be less whiny. The books spend far too much time on her love triangle, and they don’t adequately show the strength that someone in her position and making those choices would require. In at least five seasons, I can see this story being the next Game of Thrones.
Second First Impressions—Sally Thorne. Ruthie Midona likes to play it safe. She has a stable job, and her appearance is an absolute paradox—she is a young woman, but she dresses as if she were an elderly lady. Moreover, she works at a retirement villa called Providence. When Teddy Prescott enters her life, he is everything she is not: a motorcycle-riding, tattooed young man who has trouble committing to much of anything. He is everything she wants, though. When Teddy’s father, the owner of Providence, has him live on site with Ruthie and the other residents, Ruthie tries her best to avoid falling in love with him. He’ll be gone soon enough anyway. However, Teddy’s charm and persistence makes her efforts impossible. Every single character, not just Ruthie and Teddy, has a unique and quirky personality that everyone is sure to enjoy.
When I imagine the setting of this novel, it brings me great peace. In my mind, the cottages of Providence are sporadically placed amid a giant garden-like plot of land. A staple of the novel is also the tiny, endangered turtles that wander around the grounds. This beautiful setting, as well as the eccentric characters that fill the novel, would create a fabulous limited series of absolute hilarity and romance.
We Were Liars—E. Lockhart. This book follows Cadence, a member of the wealthy Sinclair family who spends their summer vacations on a private island with large estates, one for each little family. When Cadence is fifteen, she suffers a head injury, but doesn’t quite know how this happened to her. Over the next few years, she receives little communication from her two cousins and friend, who she normally spends the summers with. When she finally returns to the island, everyone seems a bit off, and she is pushed to uncover what actually happened to her when she was fifteen. This novel is filled with mystery and frustration over unnecessary wealth and class differences. In a shocking twist at the end (one that had me screaming in my car because I was listening to the audiobook), we are forced to think about how our actions can have severe consequences, even when they begin from someplace righteous.
This would make an excellent limited series. It’s energetic, exciting, and traumatizing. The setting of a private island during summer would give us so many beautiful scenes. Most of all, I want to see this on the screen because it calls attention to wealth and class disparities, how money can corrupt our personalities, and how it can misguide even the best of our intentions. This is the kind of story humanity needs in order to see the true effect of our actions and become more conscious of our choices.