It really seems like we’re living in the golden age of television at the moment. Gone are the days of only being able to watch a show live or recording it now with the abundance of streaming services. Now the only barrier to entry is the quality of your internet connection and the number of different subscriptions you can afford or put up with getting emails from.
This has led to a bunch of books being adapted into tv shows with the most recent being Shadow and Bones. Watching the show got me thinking about what other books I’d love to see on streaming services as a tv series. I ended up having way too many options before I trimmed the list down to five so let me know what books you want to see in the comments below.
5. The Rangers Apprentice Series – John Flanagan
There seem to be a whole lot of fantasy shows clogging up my Netflix suggestions and I have to say… I’m kind of getting sick of worlds full of magic and especially steampunk but that’s a story for another day. As I said above, I was thinking about other books to be made into shows and this was one of the first ideas that came to my head.
Straight away, you look at the maps and covers of the books in the series and spot all the similarities between this medieval historical fiction and the majority of fantasy works, and immediately leap to the comments section to spray accusations of hypocrisy my way.
Obviously, I would just tell you to actually read the book. There’s not a single wizard, hint of magic, or ancient big bad over the horizon. The books may begin with seemingly supernatural occurrences but Flanagan always takes great pains to explain the science behind the events.
The books are also chock full of great characters as you follow the main character Will on his journey from a lonely orphan with no idea on his station and what to do with his life to a renowned and respected member of the mysterious Ranger Corps.
To be honest, the character arcs and plot beats are pretty standard and have been done before but Flanagan uses them so well and puts a whole lot of love and effort into his books that I’m enraptured and can’t wait to read more.
It’s just a really fun series that I’d enjoy seeing on the small screen just so I can experience it in a different way to the books.
4. Revenger – Alastair Reynolds
You know what else Netflix has an abundance of? Original sci-fi tv shows and I personally can not get enough of lovely science fiction.
Revenger follows Arafura (Fura) Ness and her sister Adrana as they are employed as the new bone readers on the good ship Everything’s Fine helmed by the experienced captain Pol Rackmore. Now before you start to catch Firefly vibes, the infamous space pirate Bosa Sennan comes along to murder everyone and everything within sight except for Adrana because she needs a new bone reader.
Now Fura and the only surviving crew member have to somehow survive on the ship - which could now be renamed the good ship Everything’s Fucked - which was running out of water and power long enough to get the ship to a safe harbour and chase down Bosa to rescue Adrana.
I’ve read a couple of Alastair Reynold’s other works and this has to be my favourite of the bunch. The characters are engaging, for the most part, relatable and the world building is drip-fed throughout the story without sacrificing the pace or resorting to exposition dumps.
I think Reynold’s characters and world would make a great television show universe and would be a great jumping-off point for an extended universe or spinoff shows.
3. The Bourne Series – Robert Ludlum and various authors
The Jason Bourne series may have begun back in 1980 with Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity but has now sprawled out to include five movies, a short-lived television mini-series and roughly fifteen books without counting spinoffs.
Now, you may be asking yourself why we’d possibly need a Netflix show when we’ve already got four great Matt Damon led films and a debatably good Jeremy Renner led film?
The extensive back catalogue of Bourne books in the series would be the obvious answer as Jason Bourne’s story didn’t end with the fourth Matt Damon film and there’s ample additional material to cherry-pick from to create a really good 24 esque plot to develop into a television show.
The novels all have such a cracking pace filled with thrills and twists the entire way throughout the plot. I want this so much you could have every episode end with a cliffhanger and make them an hour and a half long and I’d still binge the entire season in one day.
The best part is each season could have it set in a different location with Bourne’s tendency to move around the globe every single book, keeping the show fresh and exciting.
2. The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
This out of all the entries so far seems the most likely as another of Adam’s works – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – was already made into a Netflix television show.
Of course, Hitchhikers is a cultural touchstone for a lot of people (myself included) and would be highly anticipated by fans of the books seeing that they’ve only gotten two sub-par adaptations to the big and small screen.
The source material’s brand of humour is utterly unique to Adams and I haven’t really seen anything like it outside of his other works. The absurdist humour Adams injects into the universe of his books works so well, in my view, because of the banal setting of rural England and the matching personality of the protagonist, Arthur Dent.
With four books to grab material from, the show would not be strapped for content to include and would definitely get a nice couple of seasons worth of episodes. Honestly, I’d just like to see Adams’ sense of humour and work given a fresh life outside of the original source material so that a larger audience can discover it and fall in love with it just like I have.
1. The Scarecrow/Jack West Jr series – Matthew Reilly
Australian author Matthew Reilly writes his books one way… fast. Every piece of work he puts out by his own admission is trimmed down and edited to a point where the story is as fast as possible without sacrificing any content for the plot.
Both his military thriller series (Scarecrow) and his adventure and action-packed series (Jack West Jr.) are both pulse-pounding from start to finish. The fast pace has led to his books being compared to Hollywood level blockbuster films (which is interesting considering he’s now working in Hollywood on his new film Interceptor).
I mean, this one is quite simple. The way Reilly writes is perfect for streaming service shows as there are very clear stopping points in the novels that would make them a natural episode endpoint. It’s pretty much perfect!
I’ve bundled both the Scarecrow and Jack West Jr series into one entry because I feel either one would be great to see on the small screen. Personally, I’d probably prefer to see the Jack West Jr. series get the Netflix treatment because the tone’s just a bit lighter and upbeat than Scarecrow and some of the stuff that happens in Scarecrow’s books probably shouldn’t be shown on television.
Also, there’s a more globetrotting feel to the Jack West Jr. series which would lend the series a more diverse range of locations.
What are your thoughts? What book series would you want to see adapted for Netflix? Let me know in the comments down below.
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