Netflix has got it going. Just this year, #StrangerThings washed ashore and pulled a massive group of fans into its ocean, making it one of the fastest growing shows of 2016. Luke Cage followed suit, building onto the Marvel universe Daredevil and Jessica Jones created. Even the shows that started it all (like the dearly loved House of Cards) are still rolling strong. Skyrocketing popularity has led the Netflix Originals to expand, but by doing so, they've put too much space between their shows and formed some ugly gaps.
Where are the Netflix Originals for young adults?
The answer: In development. Lemony Snicket's #ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents will drop next January, making history as the first Netflix adaptation of a Young Adult book series. Depending on how it's received, the show could open a door to many more adaptations. Already, an adaptation of 13 Reasons Why is in the works. With TV shows gaining popularity as a storytelling platform and fans eager to see their favorite stories on the screen, the smartest move for Netflix would be to pick up a few books in the YA market and spin them into a series. Here are some of the most popular books that could revitalize the lineup.
The Raven Cycle
Fans are already hoping for it. On Tumblr, author Maggie Stiefvater was asked why her four-part urban fantasy series wasn't a Netflix Original.
After gathering nearly four-thousand notes, the firestorm spread to Twitter, where fans directed the question right at Netflix. The Raven Cycle shares the same paranormal vibe that made Stranger Things so popular, but also mixes in more traditional Young Adult elements that play out to their fullest potential. Magic, psychics, fast cars, possibly dead friends, and private schools. Who doesn't think it's a good idea? The Raven Cycle is high on drama and low on the need for massive special effects, making it a perfect show to fill the gap between the likes of Stranger Things and Jessica Jones.
The Six Of Crows Duology
Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo, are stories aren't just satisfied with pleasing the younger demographic. This duology is the kind of major-league story that has the strength to compete with bigger televised shows. In its collection of Originals, Netflix has slim pickings for fantasy lovers — most of it can be attributed to the high cost of production. But with the uniquely crafted world of Six of Crows, the exciting heist story, and the rich characters, Netflix could light a fire under #GameOfThrones.
Leigh Bardugo's fantasy world comes with an emotional benefit, too. Her stories reach across different cultures, belief systems, and orientations. Six of Crows brings diversity to a younger crowd, and paired with its morally ambiguous plot lines, it builds itself as one of the most challenging Young Adult books of the decade. Netflix needs a Swiss Army knife story like this in its arsenal.
The Curse Workers Trilogy
The Curse Workers Trilogy, comprised of White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart, is one of the most unique series in Young Adult literature. It pairs magic with the aesthetic and plot of a noir thriller. It's a burst of color drenched in something very, very dark.
The Curse Workers satisfies two basic needs in the Netflix Originals lineup. First, it brings the popular crime drama format to a wider audience. Secondly, the magic system of the story world — curse working, done with bare hands — is more interesting than the more traditional, visually based magical elements saturating the entertainment industry. Holly Black's cursing magic has a smart set of limitations that keeps it interesting and dangerous in the story world, and it would keep a production budget at a minimum, too. With so many different genres mixing together, there's no way The Curse Workers would fail.
Slasher Girls And Monster Boys
#Horror is hard to pull off. It's a genre that either grips you by the neck and shoves your skull into the pavement, or tickles your side with a weak hand and says, "Boo." Sometimes the most effective horror comes in small doses, which is exactly the kind Slasher Girls and Monster Boys brings to the table.
As an anthology of short stories, Slasher Girls and Monster Boys builds a unique menu of scares from all the best horror writers in YA. Creepy birds, blind children, historic ghosts, and limb-destroying punishments. It's all there. It's all scary as hell. With the success of anthology shows like #BlackMirror on the rise, adapting Slasher Girls and Monster Boys wouldn't just be a good option for Netflix, it'd be a good way to inject life back into the horror genre.
Netflix has got it going, but when you think about all those gaps in the lineup, you can't help but wish there was something more. There are a hundred ways Netflix could revitalize its programming, but adapting Young Adult books is the best move. A Series of Unfortunate Events and Thirteen Reasons Why are clear signs the YA literature trending is infecting the streaming platform. If others follow, book fans will be happy, the shows will broaden viewership, and the gaps will vanish.
Binge on that, Netflix.