Fox on Books

Book reviews, opinions, musings and ramblings. General bookish excitement!

Let’s Talk: Genres


Originally hosted by Melissa from i swim for oceans, Smash & Kt took her original inspiration, and made it their own, expanding it to more than just books. Let’s get personal (but respectfully so) and learn more about one another! Each week, a different question will be posted along with a place to link up your posts and visit other people’s responses. This meme is definitely meant to bring out conversation and meet new people. So, Let’s Talk!

This week, we’re asking:

Do you rate a book differently based on the genre? Are there certain genres that you hold at a higher standard? Are there books that will gain an automatic “pass” or overlook of issues just because you love the genre/ type of world? If you don’t rate books, you can answer the questions based on your review criteria.

I definitely look for different elements in books of different genres. I think in a Fantasy novel, I’m always hoping for great characters – although that’s true of all genres, really – but in particular, characters that are a variation from the so-often-repeated staples. So, if you can give me someone who’s not the country lad born to be a hero, who knows not how powerful/talented he is, I’m automatically intrigued. Same goes for not having yet another wise old-man mentor/wizard figure.Or, more common lately, the young girl hero, ruthless and beautiful, reckless and underestimated.

It’s been done – and while I won’t stop reading or even let it affect my opinion of the book too much, I’ll be disappointed to see the same tropes used, with no build or extension. Give me more. Surprise me. Make me interested in your character for themselves, not just as a convenient plot prop who fills a role we’ve come to expect filled.

In YA, be it Fantasy or Dystopian or Contemporary, I expect a degree of sameness. But I think sameness can be okay in the YA genre: definitely more so than in “adult” Fantasy. My view is that YA books are looking to tell a similar story; one of growing up, at least a little. And I think one of the most powerful tools at a YA author’s disposal is the basic framework’s we’ve seen used in many stories before.

In this case, I feel like what an author builds within or beyond this frame is the important part. Yes, it’s a coming-of-age story. But how well do you connect me to it? How real are the challenges? How authentic are the characters and their reactions? So in that sense, I have a different standard.

The other things I look for in Fantasy, particularly as my taste skews toward high fantasy, are:

  • Formal/beautiful language. People like Patrick Rothfuss make me so happy, because his language is absolutely wonderful (and his story just brilliant).
  • World building! It’s got to be a place that isn’t a carbon copy of every generic fantasy novel! And it has to be somewhere I’m interested in, otherwise it’s hard to be concerned for the world’s wellbeing. Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, Garth Nix and Maria V Snyder all have mad world building skills.

I’ve definitely got higher standards in Fantasy, because it’s my preferred reading material, which means I read a lot of it, and consequently spend more time thinking about what I liked and what I didn’t and why – especially since I’ve started reviewing.

So, what do you think? Should I be more consistent in my demands of authors, whether they’re writing YA or adult work? I’d love to know where you stand – leave me a comment and/or link through to your own Let’s Talk!

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5 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Genres

  1. Pingback: Let’s Talk: Genres |

  2. I’m definitely not consistent in my demands, and favorite authors get a pass even when a particular book isn’t quite up to par.

    • It’s really tricky not to do that, isn’t it? I often only realise I’ve even done it with hindsight. Ah, well! Thanks so much for the comment ^_^

  3. Good points. I don’t mind a hint of familiarity that allows me to connect to the characters, but once it starts sounding formula you better ROCK my SOCKS OFF.

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