Monday, May 16, 2011

a quick rant about worlds.

I see a lot of stuff out there about how a believable world makes the reader want to exist inside it. But is that really the case? Personally, I'm tempted to say, "no." A believable world is one that ties the story together, heck, maybe even makes the story possible. If a world is weak, the story will suffer, and vice versa. Thus, if the story is terrifying (due to the intrinsic nature of its location), I don't think that world--no matter how well-crafted--would offer much to my health and happiness. Here's a quick look into some books I've read recently that had rich, poignant worlds, in which I would never want to find myself.

Wither, by Lauren DeStefano. Oh, how I believed that world. I thought I wouldn't at first, but as the story went on, I really saw it take shape. Linden's mansion became one of the realest places I've ever read about. But would I want to live there? Not in a million years, at that cost.

White Cat and Red Glove by Holly Black. I mean, it's brilliant, right? You live in fear of everyone, always thinking, Are they? Is she? Which kind is he? Perfectly chilling and compelling for the books. But in real life? I would never want to live in that kind of uncertainty, or in a reality where a naked hand is not only a possible weapon, but also as private as an entire naked body. It makes me sad, which I think is part of the point.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Um, yeah. This book is super-fresh on my mind, having just burned through the last half of it yesterday, and here's what  have to say. New World is simply horrifying. No place is safe, no place is entirely all-there, and home isn't even an option. Again, perfect for the story, and very well-written, but, oh my gosh. In a few centuries, when people start leaving Earth for other plants, JUST DON'T GO, OKAY?

And, hello, because there's no way I could leave this one out: does anyone really want to live in the world of The Hunger Games? Um, no. If you do, I think you missed the point, there.

So, what really makes a believable world? I don't think it's just a map and a list of clever, comforting foods (although I do like both of those). A real, honest world, is a vehicle. If the story's not pretty, the reality in which it exists probably won't be much fun, either. Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, Narnia. We're supposed to want to live in Narnia. Narnia, ultimately, is a place of joy and honor and growth and becoming the best version of yourself. Narnia is nothing like Panem, which tears down and destroys and murders. So, I'm not saying there aren't any well-thought-out, strongly written worlds in which I would like to find myself. There certainly are. I'm just getting it out there that, although I want to live in Narnia, but would rather get the ever-loving heck away from Panem, doesn't mean that both aren't brilliantly executed. You know?

Getting down off the soap box, now. Everybody having a nice Monday?


  1. Same with Forest of Hands and Teeth. Yeesh. Good post, good post.

  2. Hi Julie! Hope you continue on the Patrick Ness journey. He is so gifted!

  3. PS. And so are you! Great post! :)

  4. Great post. Couldn't agree more. In my book, I think people will want to be in my world. It's fun! But that's only because, as a writer, if I'm going to visit a world daily for hours, I want it to be somewhere I like. But, no, that does not at all need to be a criteria for all books.

    Thanks for signing up for my blogfest. I'm excited to hear about your goals :)

  5. I agree. I think the best settings (with the exception of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) make me NOT want to live there. Maybe because how horrible they are, they stand out more than ordinary settings.


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