Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds or Settings in Books
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It’s awesome. Every Tuesday, the lovely folks over at The Broke and the Bookish post a top ten list topic so that book lovers like you and me can pour over our shelves and make our own lists. You can check out all the other Top Ten Tuesday‘s on their site!
WHEW. Guys, this isn’t necessarily hard exactly, so much as it is hard for me to think of anything other than fantasies when I hear the words “worlds” in reference to books I’ve read. I’m going to try to not be one-note here, but…well, we’ll see.
I WILL say that having a sucky, ill-conceived world that doesn’t make sense is a book ruiner for sure. None of these books have that, though.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) by Catherynne M. Valente. Have you guys read this book? Man. It’s pretty ace, almost entirely because of the way Fairyland is constructed here. It’s so odd and vibrant and imaginative. I couldn’t even sit here and try and describe it to you, except to say that it’s spectacularly different in the best way.
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss. I hope you guys can forgive me bringing this book up again. But for real? I can’t talk about superb worlds in books without mentioning this series. One of my FAVORITE things about truly extraordinary worlds is that they feel real to me, like I’m reading about people and events in the history of a real place, as opposed to a fictional one. It’s all about EMERSION, folks, and this series HAS IT.
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer. I love the world-building in CINDER. Not only does the idea of New Beijing fascinate me to no end, but I love the way Marissa Meyer made it science-fictiony without making me feel like I was reading Star Trek (no offense to Trekkies). And I’m completely fascinated with the idea of living on the moon. I would DIE if we ever got to visit the Lunars and see what it’s like living there. I DIE.
The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder. I know that some people read this book and didn’t really like Cam Cooper, the main character. I totally loved her, but one of the things that I still think about long after finishing THE PROBABILITY OF MIRACLES is the town of Promise, Maine. First of all, Maine. I’ve never been there, but I feel like I would LOVE IT. Beachy but not loud and cray. Promise had those qualities, but it also had it’s own subtle oddities: a field of purple dandelions, flamingoes, and an entrance that seems to disappear, or is beyond the obvious notice of people even though it shouldn’t be. I don’t know, it was the perfect place for Cam, I thought.
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. Seriously, WHEN IS JANDY WRITING MORE THINGS?? I can’t deal over here! Thankfully, we have a really clear, beautiful picture of Northern California in this book to go along with the basically perfect story. I love the way she talks about the redwoods and Gram’s garden. I swear, reading this book, I can feel the NoCal vibe wafting off the pages, all openness and acceptance and weirdness without shame. I’m Jersey til I die, but I’m a big fan of the setting here.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. One of the only books I’ve ever read that made me WISH the setting was real so that I could move there and live there and eat November cakes and ride horses (like, real ones. I’m kind of wuss when animals pose a legit threat to my life and limbs), and wear thick white sweaters and sit on cliffs overlooking the ocean. I loved that I could picture Thisby so clearly in my mind.
Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of this series. LEGEND was amazing, and PRODIGY was my #1 must-get at BEA this year. Guys? I can’t wait to tell you how awesome it was. But until then, I’ll sing the praises of dystopian Los Angeles, with its slums and ritzy neighborhoods. I don’t know LA, so I can’t say that I can see Marie Lu’s world in the LA that I know exists now, but it’s both grim and gripping. And I love the Republic and the Colonies, and how America is divided. It’s just so great, and so well-done.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor. Guys. Laini Taylor is one of the best world-builders around. BOOM. Because she manages to do this really awesome thing: She takes real places, like Prague and Marrakech, and gives them this really great mystery and energy, and she makes them POP. But then she also creates these super imaginative, gorgeous fantasy worlds, like Eretz. Seriously. My mind is blown with all of the incredible set pieces for Karou and Akiva and Brimstone, and the way she tells the story of warring angels and demons without feeling religious. It’s totally unique and beautiful.
Harry Potter by J.K Rowling. I can’t imagine that I need to explain this. HOGWARTS, guys. DIAGON ALLEY. THE BURROW. (Seriously, I wish the Weasley’s house was SO REAL.) But not just the settings. I feel like I keep taking the term “world” too literally here. Because the way the magic works in the Harry Potter books, and the way it molds itself around the human world without really being a part of it, is wonderful.
The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge. So this book. MIND BLOWER. It wasn’t an easy read for me, but I can’t even begin to tell you how much I felt the jungle steam and the completely fresh world here. I didn’t understand it all of the time, and I would have DIED FOREVER if I could have just had a map. I don’t care if it was a doodle on a napkin. But every aspect of THE LOST CONSPIRACY was fresh to me. The culture, the setting, the vaguely paranormal aspects. Legit.
And OBVIOUSLY, Game of Thrones. I feel like I shouldn’t even need to say it. But there you go. I did. Westeros is a fantasy-lovers DREAM. Because not only are there maps (mapS, plural. There are maps of Westeros and Essos ALL OVER THE PLACE), but there’s folklore, history going back centuries, religions, different languages, fleshed-out families and characters and personalities, all with this fantastic foundation. It’s really something, guys, to imagine all of the work and creativity that went into creating this world, let alone writing stories that take place there.