Hi Sandie, thanks so much for joining us! Tell us a little about yourself and what you guys do over at Teen Lit Rocks.
I’m a movie critic and entertainment journalist who writes mostly about movies and young adult books. Teen Lit Rocks is a blog my sister and I started for teens and adults to read books together in a monthly book club and then share our thoughts about the book. Like most book blogs, we also post reviews, participate in a monthly Diversity Book Club (that features books with #WeNeedDiverseBooks themes), do author Q&As, giveaways, and recommend books/authors/characters we love.
Sounds fantastic! How did you develop your passion for teen literature?
It all started with HARRY POTTER. I was sort of the typical obnoxious snob about young adult literature, until a few years ago when I mentioned to my editor at Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org) how sick I was of asking friends if the Harry Potter movies were true to the books. She suggested I read the series, and after that she recommended a few other books that were being adapted into films (like “The Hunger Games” and dare I say “Twilight”). When I was done with those, I was officially hooked and started reading YA more often than I read general fiction. I roped my sister into reading along with me and starting the blog, and the rest is history.
I love it! What do you like most about dream casting?
Being up on teen lit has helped me tremendously as a movie critic and entertainment writer, because so many YA books are optioned and turned into movie and TV projects. I love knowing which casting decisions are close to the canon description of a character and which are really off base. Dream casting helps book fans get excited about adaptations and encourages others to pick up the books before the movies hit theaters.
Of course, sometimes book fans have a hard time accepting a casting decision if they’re attached to their ideal dream cast, but I think most book lovers understand that it’s better to have a great actor who captures the character than someone who looks exactly as the author described but can’t act.
Those are amazing reasons and a big part of what we hope to inspire at The IF List! What book are we dream casting today?
RED RISING by Pierce Brown, one of the hottest up-and-coming writers in publishing right now. It’s the first in a crossover YA-and adult speculative fiction trilogy set in a distant future with a strict color-coded hierarchy: Golds at the top, Reds at the very bottom.
Darrow, the teen protagonist, is a hotshot young miner with a beautiful, brilliant wife. They live below the surface of Mars believing they are pioneers helping to terraform the planet — to make it inhabitable for the rest of humanity living elsewhere. When tragedy strikes, Darrow discovers that the Golds have been lying to the Reds for generations: above them the higher colors live in decadence, and the lower colors (the Reds worst of all) are nothing more than slaves to the Golds. Horrified, Darrow joins a secret group of revolutionaries to bring down the Golds.
A great choice! What makes you like the book and why would it make a good movie or tv show?
It’s one of those ‘unputdownable’ books where the main character is beautifully flawed, and you love and root for him to make better decisions, connect with the right people, find love again, and change the status quo. I love Darrow (even more now that I’m reading the sequel THE GOLDEN SON), and even when I hate his decisions, I’m still deeply invested in his story.
Critics have called it a mix of THE HUNGER GAMES and ENDER’S GAME — and that’s because Darrow is the perfect blend of Katniss’ fierceness, her hot-headedness, her ability to improvise, and Ender’s cool wunderkind talent at war. I would add that the book also reminds me of GAME OF THRONES (well, the show, because I haven’t read the books). RED RISING has already been optioned, with Brown having written an early adaptation and Mark Forster (WORLD WAR Z) attached to direct, so clearly it COULD become a movie if it gets out of development.
Fingers Crossed! It already has 44 supporters on The IF List, and we’re sure there are many more fans out there! Tell us your dream cast!
This is tough. He has to change so much throughout the story and show a staggering range of emotions but have the physical presence to be believable as both a Helldiver and a leader. I see Jack Reynor as someone who could do it, not because of the ridiculous Transformers movie, but because he’s got the intensity and is in an upcoming adaptation of Macbeth, a Jim Sheridan drama, and clearly can do the battle sequences.
Darrow’s everything; she’s supposed to be rail-thin (the Reds are starving), beautiful and wicked smart. I’m picking Eleanor Tomlinson, who’s quite lovely without looking like a supermodel.
Even when I was reading the book, I thought of Moises Arias, because he knows how to play short but deadly/intense guys who are used to being underestimated. Sevro might seem short and easy to dismiss, but he’s no joke, and he’s supremely loyal to Darrow.
She’s a beautiful Gold who also happens to be incredibly smart and with an innate sense of justice and kindness. I’m going with Lucy Fry, because she’s the kind of natural beauty you can imagine riding a horse and engaging in battle one moment and then debating Darrow the next.
One of my favorite characters and one of Darrow’s best mates: he’s loyal and wise and a warrior poet. I pictured Jamie Blackley, who was so great as tough but sensitive Adam in IF I STAY, in this role.
Cassius is highborn and arrogant and deadly at a duel, but he’s also Darrow’s best friend at the Academy. He’s too beautiful, too perfect, and lets his family pride get in the way of seeing the truth. I see someone distractingly pretty in the role, like Douglas Booth.
Not that he’s interested in acting or being typecast, but Jack Gleeson of course, because he played Joffrey so well on GAME OF THRONES.
Brown himself chimed in that he’d love to see an actor like Gary Oldman, Christoph Waltz or Johnny Depp play Mickey the Carver. Of those three, I think Oldman is closest to the way I pictured the character.
That’s a fantastic cast! Thanks so much Sandie!
Do you agree with Sandie’s dream cast? Tell us your own or browse the visions of other fans for Red Rising on The IF List!