While I love a good movie adaptation, I have been living for all of the YA books turned into TV series — you get all of the book-to-screen magic, but with multiple episodes, fully developed storyline storylines, and exciting new spins! Plus, TV shows are (in my humble opinion) a much better format for longer book series or plot-driven books because you get more room to explore and play with plot and character…even if they are at greater risk for not getting renewed. I mean, think about how much better the adaptations of Twilight or The Hunger Games could have been if they’d been given the space to be adapted into series rather than films. No messy breaking one book into two awkwardly paced films, or readers complaining about cutting out entire storylines.
TV series, if done right, allow you to really relish in the character development, and some of the better ones also allow TV producers to flesh out the book’s world in exciting and interesting ways, adding to a beloved story and making it something unique and rewarding that fans will appreciate. All I’m saying is that TV series are my jam, and I’d take one excellent season of TV over a movie any day.
If you’re eager to get immersed into a new TV show based on YA books, grab some popcorn and find a comfy spot and get ready to marathon any of these 12 TV shows, all of which you can stream right now!
Note: While there are plenty of amazing diverse YA books out there, there tends to be a lack of adaptations of said novels. I would really love to see more YA books by authors of color adapted to TV shows.
Shadow and Bone
This Netflix series might have made fans of the book hesitate at first with its initial premise — adding the characters from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows to the plot of her Shadow and Bone — but the show pulled it off really well. Set in a fantasy world called Ravka where dark magic has unleashed the Shadow Fold, a swath of darkness where monsters lurk, one young woman named Alina discovers she is a mythic Sun Summoner. But multiple people want to use her and harness her power, and she’s soon taken in by the Darkling, even as a team of con artists from Ketterdam are tasked with hunting her down. Season 1 covers the first book in the Shadow and Bone series, and the backstories of most of the characters in Six of Crows, while also managing to be its own unique story! Season 2 is in the works.
One of Us is Lying
Set to premiere on Peacock later this year, this show is adapted from One of Us is Lying, the bestselling debut novel by Karen M. McManus and first in the Bayview High series. It’s billed as The Breakfast Club with a murder mystery twist. When five students, all from very different backgrounds and social groups, get after school detention, their lives get a shake-up when one of them suffers a fatal allergic reaction. No one else was in the room, so the killer has to be one of them. And when it comes out that the remaining four all had reasons to dislike the student that died, things get a bit heated.
Adapted from Lauren Oliver’s high-stakes novel Panic, this TV show is set in the small town of Carp, Texas. It’s an economically depressed place whose young people don’t ever seem to be able to break free, but a very lucky select few have the chance to do just that with Panic, a game that high school graduating seniors play. The prize is enough cash to get the heck out of town, and the game tests competitors’ courage and their mettle. Heather never imagined she’d be competing when she graduated, but a drastic change in circumstances has her putting her hat in the ring. Sadly, Amazon canceled it after only one season, but all episodes are available to stream.
Tiny Pretty Things
Based on Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra, this Netflix shows combines the high pressure of professional dance with an intriguing mystery. It’s set an elite ballet school in Chicago, where a dancer was pushed off a roof by a hooded figure and falls into a coma. She’s replaced by Neveah, a dancer with immense talent who finds herself in a powder keg of a situation where envy, suspicion, and dark motivations slowly come to light. Only one season is available to stream, and so far the fate of the show in limbo as Netflix hasn’t canceled it yet — nor have they officially ordered a season 2.
Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments has received both the movie and TV show treatment! Shadowhunters is an adaptation of Clary’s story, an award-winning series about her discovery upon her 18th birthday that a shadowy underworld exists beneath our own, and she is destined to become a Shadowhunter. The series ran for three seasons on Freeform before being canceled abruptly, but a two-part special concluded the entire series so viewers get a nice wrap up for their favorite characters.
Dash & Lily
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn is a sweet holiday romance that got a fresh update and a fun award-winning series adaptation on Netflix! Set in New York City during the holiday season, Lily is a Christmas-loving teen and Dash is a bit of a Scrooge. They connect over a shared notebook placed in The Strand when both are left alone by their families for the holidays, and direct each other to complete a series of dares that brings them almost but not quite together multiple times throughout the series. While the first season does have a nice ending, there are two more books in Levithan and Cohn’s series, and fans are hopeful for a renewal. So far it hasn’t come yet, but the series hasn’t been canceled either!
The Summer I Turned Pretty
Jenny Han made waves when her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and sequels were adapted into Netflix films, and now her YA debut novel The Summer I Turned Pretty is being made into an Amazon series. It’s still in production with no set release date, but the story is a multigenerational tale that centers on Belly Conklin, a teenage girl who has spent every summer with her family at a beautiful beach house owned by her mom’s best friend, along with her two teenage sons. This summer is different because Belly is suddenly very pretty, and this affects how she is perceived. The relationship between the longtime friends is also destined to change when big secrets are revealed. There are two sequels to the book, which means there should be (hopefully!) plenty of material should the show extend past the first season.
The Vampire Diaries
One of the longest running TV show adaptations of a YA book series, this CW show is based off of the very different The Vampire Diaries series by L.J. Smith, who was well known for her paranormal YA fiction in the 1990s. Originally airing in 2009 on The CW, the eight season show is about Mystic Falls, Virginia, where vampires, doppelgängers, witches, and other supernatural happenings plague the small town. It stars Elena Gilbert, an orphaned teenage girl who finds her heart town between two vampire brothers: Stefan and Damon Salvatore. The TV show was so popular that it inspired a spin-off series called The Originals. Bonus: Smith is also the author of The Secret Circle, which was the inspiration for a lesser-known TV show of the same title, which was canceled after one season.
Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar is one of the first YA books to be picked up for a TV series, and the original series ran for six seasons on The CW, from 2007 to 2012. It followed a group of wealthy New York City teens and their various misadventures, complicated by an anonymous Gossip Girl blog. It’s a true testament to the enduring power of the original series and its fanbase that HBO Max rebooted the show in 2021, existing as a standalone sequel to the original series. Fun fact: Kristen Bell narrates both shows as the anonymous, all-seeing Gossip Girl.
Pretty Little Liars
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard was another popular YA series that debuted in 2006, and combined the society drama and cliques of Gossip Girl with a mystery. The TV show is loosely based on the books, but has the same essential premise: Four friends find themselves drifting apart when their queen bee disappears, but reluctantly reunite when they begin to receive anonymous threatening texts from someone who calls herself “A” and knows an awful lot of their secrets. The show ran for seven seasons on the network now known as Freeform.
Looking for Alaska
Looking for Alaska was John Green’s debut novel, and it was adapted into a limited run series by Hulu, with eight episodes covering the entire span of the book. It is about Miles, AKA Pudge, a teen who enrolls in Culver Creek Academy, a boarding school where his social circle expands in exciting new ways. Early on, he meets a girl named Alaska and becomes entranced by her. But when a tragedy turns Pudge’s life upside down, he struggles to find meaning after loss. It was received very favorably, with many great reviews.
Love, Victor is a TV series spin-off of Love, Simon, the popular movie adaptation of Simon vs. the Homo sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. It follows Victor, a new student at Creekwood High who is struggling to define his sexuality and come into his own. The series is narrated by Nick Robinson, who plays Simon Spier, and has two much-lauded seasons, with a third season on the way.
Want to discover more great book to screen adaptations? Check out our ultimate guide to YA movie adaptations!