Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Sheep in Wolfs clothing

is often very disappointing.

Victoria over at Speculative Book Reviews has written a great post on How Do You Judge a Book? For me style of prose, strength and depth of setting (world building) and characterisation are huge things, so is the level the author is writing for.

While I have no issue with Young Adult fiction, I am coming across more and more fantasy titles presented as Adult that are - when you get down to it - thinly veiled YA books. They might very well have grusome battle scenes and references to sex -if not sex itself - but the plot is nothing less than 'simple'. And I don't mean that negatively, I mean that literally.

I often come across this when the author presents figures of authority or power (political) - especially when a main character is involved or is that figure themselves. And here - for me - the world building that the author has done, which can be quite inventive just falls apart.

It's baffling to me that so much time and effort can be spent creating a world, honing ideas, and then so little attention gets paid to detail. That the author will present to us a character as a leader of a land, or an all powerful magic-user, and then forgets all the trappings of position they get or regulated to contemporary standards. Unfortunately at this point - unless the actual writing is really, really good, the entire thing becomes prosaic and bland - for me.

The author has created a world with Kings and Queens, paupers and Princes, Ambassador's and nobles - not to mention the history of kingdoms and all the wars and bloodshed that they can represent - but can't follow through on the setting. When we get down to the details the king/queen or prince/princess (or whatever this particular character might be) is on first name basis with all of his/her subjects, the guards play jokes on him or she sneaks out of the castle whenever she can to visit the markets. (I realise this is a specific example, but you get my point?)

If I wanted to read YA fine. And I am not being derogatory to YA fiction here. When I know that is what I have picked up then I have no issue, I don't expect more and often enjoy the story for its own sake. It's when I am expecting more only to get YA that I am irritated beyond measure.

One of the biggest draw cards to speculative fiction is exploring another world. I know that can sound strange given that a lot the infrastructure often used is built around our own past. But hey! I don't live in that world on a daily basis.

I don't understand what the problem is, and I think this is one of the reasons mainstream publishing looks down on genre fiction (and it does, believe me). They look at the books and box them up as 'for kids', and when I come across this sort of thing I understand why.

- End rant.

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