The CW has a track record of adapting young adult books into compelling television shows. Series such as The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, The 100, Gossip Girl and the short-lived The Carrie Diaries all came from novels. I’ve put together a list of four other young adult book series I think The CW could adapt into fantastic shows, which would not only boost ratings, but give us a much needed reprieve from the many superhero shows clogging the network.
The Mediator Series By Meg Cabot
Most people recognize author Meg Cabot from her book series The Princess Diaries, and while they were great novels in their own right, many people missed out on another wonderful series penned by Cabot — the Mediator series. Unfortunately, the books never reached the acclaim and popularity as its predecessor series, but that doesn’t mean they were bad. In fact, they’re some of Cabot’s best work, containing all the great female characters, humor and heart she’s become known for.
The series is about a teenage girl named Susannah Simon who doubles as a mediator, or someone with the ability to communicate with ghosts. Her duty is to help spirits move on from the plane of the living to the great beyond, or “wherever it is they are destined to end up”. For Suze, ghosts are as real as anyone, and that’s what makes the series stand out from many other stories with similar concepts. Suze can fight ghosts, talk to them and even fall in love with them — something she discovers when the ghost of a Spanish man who died in the 1800s named Jesse de Silva is found haunting her bedroom.
The series consists of only seven books, but it is a fun, romantic story with mysteries, crime solving, and paranormal horror.
Casting Ideas: How about Nikita’s Lyndsy Fonseca as the edgy, badass, sometimes volatile Suze Simon? As for Jesse, Suze’s love interest and the ghost that haunts her bedroom (and maybe her dreams too) what about Diego Boneta? He’s no stranger to teen dramas, with stints on 90210 and Pretty Little Liars under his belt; both shows underused the charismatic actor so this could be a great chance for him to truly shine.
The It Girl Series By Cecily Von Ziegesar
Gossip Girl‘s ten year anniversary just passed and given the media attention the commemorative date got, it seems the nostalgia factor is still strong for the once-great teen drama. Now would be the perfect time to usher in a new generation with a spin-off series by the same author.
The It Girl series focuses on Jenny Humphrey (fondly known as Little J) after she leaves Constance Billiard in New York City to reinvent herself at the posh boarding school known as Waverly Academy.
It Girl shares similar themes to Gossip Girl, like the competition to be the next Queen Bee, the focus on the social stratosphere of the rich and even a “gossip girl” character of its own in the form of the Waverly Owl. But It Girl has a more intimate feeling to it. While Gossip Girl was set in the bustling hub of the big city, with New York essentially serving as a character of its own, It Girl‘s setting is really just the school Waverly. This allows the reader to get up close and personal with every relationship and character in the novel. It Girl trades sitting on the steps of the Met for painting sessions in the forest or horseback riding. Even though It Girl centers around Jenny Humphrey and her desire to reinvent herself, the story has more of an ensemble feel to it. It’s not like Gossip Girl’s laser focus on Blair and Serena, but on all the characters, secondary or not. The story may start with Jenny at the front and center, but as the series continues, it becomes more about the big picture and the whole cast.
Casting Ideas: I think the Descendant’s Sofia Carson would make a great Jenny: her soft appearance and doe eyes would make great tools to portray Jenny’s naivety, but she also has room to grow into her role the same way Jenny grows into Waverly. For her roommates: Southern belle Callie Vernon and Jersey-bred Brett Messerschmidt, I would say Holland Roden (fresh off a six-year arc on Teen Wolf) and Phoebe Tonkin (known for the CW’s The Originals and The Secret Circle).
I think Shadowhunters’ Emeraude Toubia would be a great pick for It Girl’s version of Serena van der Woodsen: Tinsley Carmichael, who has all the fashion sense and notoriety of Serena but all the bite of Blair Waldorf.
The Caster Chronicles By Kami Garcia And Margaret Stohl
When The Mortal Instruments movie underperformed both financially and critically, many fans of Cassandra Clare’s book series panicked, thinking they would never get a proper adaptation. Luckily for them, Freeform came through and ordered a Shadowhunters series, which has had far more success than the movie did. The CW could give the Caster Chronicles the same treatment.
You may have seen 2013’s fantasy film Beautiful Creatures, which was meant to be a franchise starter for the series, but like The Mortal Instruments, it never found its footing. However, like Clare’s series, the Caster Chronicles deserve a second chance by getting the television treatment. The series is unlike other shows on The CW with its more gothic take on the fantasy genre. It would be something unique on the network.
The story is about Ethan Wate, an average teenager who has lived in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina his entire life, but when Lena Duchannes moves to town, the foundation of everything he knows begins to change. The Duchannes family is full of casters (essentially witches but with their own mythology) and Lena is nearing her sixteenth birthday — the point at which she will be claimed by either the Light or the Dark. Ethan begins having strange dreams that connect him to Lena and is inexplicably drawn to her and her family. By getting to know Lena, he begins to find out things about himself and his deceased mother, along with unraveling the grim history of the town he thought he knew so well.
Casting Ideas: With her smokey eyes and natural mysterious aura, Odeya Rush (Goosebumps) would be perfectly cast in the role of Lena Duchannes. As the awkward but sincere Ethan Wates, I think Nat Wolff would be well-suited. It isn’t completely unlike the character he played in the film Paper Towns, and it would be a good way for him to bounce back after the poorly received Death Note adaptation.
The Private Series by Kate Brian
Even though the premise of Private is a little similar to It Girl (both take place at a boarding school in the Northeast and both feature a protagonist that feels like a fish out of water), the series is much darker and enigmatic in tone than the flashiness of It Girl. In fact, the first novel features the murder of a main character and the entire series is full of treachery, deceit, blackmail and even a little bit of a witchcraft.
The story follows Reed Brennan, who is accepted to the prestigious Easton Academy in Connecticut on a scholarship, and she’s eager to escape the doldrums of her everyday life, taking care of her sick mother in Pennsylvania. Her transition doesn’t go as smoothly as she’d like, though, and she immediately falls on the radar of the most popular girls in school: the Billings girls, lead by the glamorous Noelle Lange. Reed quickly discovers that the Billings dormitory is full of the wealthiest, brightest and most ambitious girls on campus. It’s an elite dormitory that promises an incredible future and amazing opportunities for all that are accepted, and Reed makes it her mission to do just that. Of course, it’s not an easy path — even if she does make it to the top at Easton, she has to watch her back.
The series is edgy and fast-paced, the plotting moves along at a near breakneck speed. The CW could pair it with a show like Riverdale or Dynasty and air it during midseason, keeping the seasons short and sweet to ensure the pacing stays fast. It definitely has the potential to be a breakout hit, one that fills the void left by Pretty Little Liars, another teen drama with murder and mystery at its core.
Casting Ideas: Willa Holland (Arrow) as the sharp and stubborn Reed Breenan and Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries) as her rival and idol, Noelle Lange. Perhaps the Descendant’s Dove Cameron could play Ariana Osgood, the icy blonde with a few dark secrets hidden up her sleeve. Rounding out the three main Billing’s girls, Jessica Sula (Skins) would be great as the dazzling, though slightly airheaded model, Kiran Hayes.
Note: The Private series was made into a short web series produced by Alloy Entertainment. You can check out the first episode here and see how great this story could be if given the full backing of a network.
These days, The CW has become more of a DC comics subsidiary than an ordinary network, but they could really spice up their roster by making room for a new paranormal romance, a boarding school drama, or a southern gothic fantasy. Plus, all of these book series already have built-in fanbases and given the amount of edits, graphics, and fancasts I’ve seen for each one listed above, there certainly would be no shortage of ratings.