10 May 2015

What I Look For in a Novel

We all love reading, right?

Okay, just making sure.

But why? What makes a person love the books they love? Personally, I'm drawn toward a number of certain genres, character archetypes, and plotlines. (Aren't we all?)

Here are my thoughts on the matter. Remember to tell me yours in the comments!

Criteria . . . ? (More like preferences.)

Well, not to be overly picky, but I do have some. Let's go into detail, shall we? Bear in mind: list items are in no particular order.


Most of my favourite books are mixtures of genres: action, adventure, romance, mystery, etc. But, if I'd have to pick and choose, here are my most beloved:

1. historical fiction -- Admittedly, I don't read this as often as I should, but I do enjoy it. My favourite historical fiction books are set in the early-/mid-1900s, in Elizabethan Europe, or in the colonial United States. I very much love fictional books that are set during World War II.
2. YA fiction -- I read this genre very often (seeing as, suitably, I'm a young adult). Dystopia-themed novels are a popular trend right now in YA, and while I enjoy some of them, I feel as though authors need to be careful when writing them. It's not very hard for a dystopia novel to flop. . . . Not all of them are as solid and renowned as The Hunger Games and Divergent.
3. Bildungsroman -- I like this genre because: a) it's relatable, since I'm coming of age myself, and b) these books tend to be a combination of elements like action and mystery, or romance and whatever. Harry Potter, anybody?

Character Types

It's wrong to think that characters are unimportant to a story. (Really, who thinks that?) Sure, stories can be told without characters . . . but not well.

1. strong female characters -- Let's keep this short and sweet, because I doubt I'll have to convince many people why this kind of character is awesome: SFCs are badassery with pretty faces. It's the twenty-first century and the feminism movement is catching up with us, and I love it.
2. calm, cool, and collected -- Of course, these characters (who may be of either gender) are usually the last ones to lash out and get angry/upset/angsty, and this surprises everybody else when it happens. That's why I appreciate them . . . I love unexpected characters.
3. a lot of development -- Not just the bare minimum of character development, see. I like the character who develops so much in such a short amount of time that a) you're pretty shocked (in a positive way) at who that character has become by the end of the book, and b) they're undergoing so much constant change that you hardly know what they're like before the end of the story. It's pretty cool, if done right.

The Top 3 Books that Ruined My Life

(I mean that sarcastically, in case that isn't clear.) Today I'm going to reveal, not for the first time, which novels set an unattainable standard for books that I'll read in the future.

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • War! Family! Death! Innocence! I love this book. I love it so much. I want to buy about 70 more copies and build a fort out of them. If I wasn't horrified of ruining books, I would rip out all of the pages and make a quilt out of them. (That won't happen, though. I would never intentionally tear out book pages, especially from such a sacred novel.)

2. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
  • Let's play a game called "how many times did Kira mention this series in a single post." To be 400% honest, I don't know many people who dislike this series -- I know only people who haven't read it yet. These novels are just about everything that could ruin a reader's life.

3. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Seriously and wholeheartedly, I love all of the books I've read by Green -- just, some more than others. Looking for Alaska is my favourite. I love how Alaska's mysterious, edgy, independent personality pairs with her reckless, intense attitude. I don't know anybody like that in real life, and I wish I could say I would try to befriend them if I did, but if I truly did know a person like Alaska, I would most likely be too intimidated to talk to them, and would watch from afar with awe and curiosity.

What do you look for in prospective books? Which novels gave you unrealistically high expectations? Tell me about it!

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