The adaptation trend for Young Adult fiction continues apace, with news that Maggie Stiefvater’s popular and award-winning novel The Scorpio Races is under development for the big screen. Focus Features have tasked Jack Thorne (A Long Way Down) with writing the screenplay, with KatzSmith Productions putting their considerable weight behind the project – which has been in the works since the novel was first optioned in 2011, shortly after publication.
As with almost every Young Adult adaptation to grace our theatres in recent years, The Scorpio Races concerns a matter of life and death. Every November, on the fictional island of Thisby, the community stages a deadly race in which people compete on mystical and dangerous water horses. There can be only one winner, and the annual death toll is always high. The returning champion is 19 year old Sean Kendrick, who finds himself competing against Puck Connolly. She is a novice, never having participated before, and the circumstances of her involvement in the race are very mysterious.
So, we have another film heading our way about teenagers being pitted against each other in a strange, ritualistic game or activity – just as we were once inundated with teen vampires and zombies. Each new wave of Young Adult adaptations is a variation on a theme – the setting or circumstance changes periodically, but they are all about the concept of ‘coming of age.’
Once upon a time, these stories were framed within alien invasion, or the fight against government conspiracy. Now, they are about brutality and oppression. These trends – and, more specifically, their popularity – can tell us much about the views and experiences of the generations growing up to inherit the world.
The author, Maggie Stiefvater, has many novels to her name – at least two more of which have been optioned for screen adaptation – but The Scorpio Races is the first to come close to actual production. While a director and cast have yet to be announced, this premise creates the opportunity for filmmakers to generate the next Stewart/Pattinson (Twilight), Lawrence/Hutcherson (The Hunger Games), Woodley/James (Divergent) type of acting partnership that could launch careers into the stratosphere – such is the fascination with this genre among young audiences at the moment.