6 Classic Books That Would Make for Killer Gender-Bent YA

Life and Death

While I count down the hours till all my questions about the gender-bent Twilight can be answered (How closely does it track to the original? How effectively will Meyer convince us the swap doesn’t change the heart of the story? Did parents really spell it “Edythe” 100 years ago?), I’m daydreaming of other books I’m dying to see get the same treatment. Here are six classics that deserve gender-bent YA updates.

Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie
Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily already showed us how breathtaking a Neverland story could be with a strong female protagonist (sorry, Wendy), and now I want to see what a female Pan could do. (This is not what I’m talking about.) Forget the cadre of Lost Boys looking for a mother to tell them stories and keep them from eating Captain (Janis) Hook’s overly rich murder cake: we want to see a feral gang of teen-girl survivalists, and what happens when Penelope Pan brings an uppity London schoolboy into their midst. There will be blood.

The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
I want a gritty, hopeless yet hopeful YA about small-town 1960s girl gangs, where teased bangs replace pompadours, but the leather jackets stay. Their boyfriends might get in the crossfire, but the story will be about the girls’ turf wars and toughness, and efforts to keep their noses clean when just surviving makes it impossible. The killer first line can even stay: “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.” Stay gold, Ponygirl.

The Portrait of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
What if the terrifying mean girl who made your mom’s life a living hell was the same one currently making your life suck? I want an ageless (non-vampire) hottie protag who has got an increasingly decrepit-looking Polaroid of herself tucked away somewhere.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
On the eve of the end of the world, a teen girl escapes with her eccentric, towel-carrying best friend (who, it turns out, is an alien on a research holiday) to travel the galaxy, seeking the meaning of everything, alien races that won’t kill them on sight, and intergalactic diners with really good pancakes. Oh, god, I want to read this book yesterday.

The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux
A disfigured girl with an amazing gift, who has become more urban legend than person. Her innocent protegé, who believes the girl is an angel sent to help him. I see this going down in a prestigious performing-arts boarding school, and being read multiple times by me.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
A gender-swapped Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t have to read like it was lifted straight from the diary of a men’s rights activist. In a world where men have become nothing but a means to a reproductive end, what would a teen boy’s upbringing look like? What form would rebellion take? These are the questions I want an amazing YA author to answer, in the form of a full-length novel to be hand-delivered to my bookshelf.

What books do you want to see made into gender-swapped YA?

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