netflix ya adaptations

Netflix has found the sweet spot for its algorithm, and it’s YA. The teens are driving the streaming giant’s numbers, with feature film hits like The Kissing Booth and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and popular TV series like On My Block, and Netflix is focusing its efforts on that young demographic. The streaming service has just optioned the rights to three novels by bestselling YA novelist Sarah Dessen for the next Netflix YA adaptations.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Netflix has picked up three Sarah Dessen novels for feature adaptation, including Along for the Ride, This Lullaby, and Once and for All. The adaptations will be produced by Bright producers Bryan Unkeless and Eric Newman, who have a first-look deal at Netflix via their Screen Arcade banner. Alyssa Rodrigues will executive produce the films.

The first of the three to be adapted into a feature film is Along for the Ride, which won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best YA Fiction. The book follows the story of Auden, who moves into a charming beach town with her dad after her parents’ divorce. There she meets Eli, a loner and fellow insomniac “who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town.”

Here is the synopsis for Along for the Ride via Goodreads:

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

Following Along for the Ride are adaptations of The Lullaby, which tells the story about a guarded girl who dates a musician, and Once and For All, about a wedding planner with no time for romance.

I’ve never read Dessen’s books, but they do seem ripe for an adaptation by Netflix, which has honed its formula to a tee and churned out dozens of treacly romances that get thousands of views. While I’m all for the return of the rom-com, Netflix’s approach to the genre seems increasingly shallow and unfortunately Dessen’s novels seem to perpetuate that. But if fans of Dessen eagerly await these adaptations, far be it from me to get in the way.

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