Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top 10 Books on my "World-Building 101" Syllabus!

Hey, y'all! So, for the third week in a row, I'll be participating in Top 10 Tuesday, hosted on The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is actually partially self chosen. The idea is to choose your top 10 books you would include on your _______ 101 syllabus. And you fill in the blank with a topic, which could be something general like "Fantasy" or more specific like "Magic Schools." Since I'm a huge stickler for world-building, I decided that I would make my class World-Building 101. This week, my list starts with the examples of good world-building, and then the last three are ones I'd use as not-so-great world-building. Also, HP is not on the list, because I'd just assume that everyone already is aware of its perfection.

1. The Merchant of Death (Pendragon #1)
by DJ MacHale

I've talked about this series quite a bit as far as world-building goes. The problem here is that I would want the class to read all 10 books just to understand how great all of the world-building in this series is. Especially since I think that some of the best world-building is in some of the later books. Either way, I just really love the world-building in the series and think it's a great example.

2. Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

I think that this one would be really interesting because I feel like this would bring some good discussion to the class. The vast majority of people seem to love this book, but the biggest dissension between people's opinions seems to come from their opinions on the world-building. Some people seem to think that it's a bit info-dump-y and some people really enjoy it. And since I think it's really great world-building, I would love to see debate on how it's set up and what makes it great or questionable. 

3. Across the Universe (Across The Universe #1)
by Beth Revis

I think I'd actually prefer for the class to read all three books, because I feel like the thing that makes this world-building so outstanding is that it's really spread out across all three books as the world changes and develops. Across the Universe is some of the best world-building I've come across in YA literature, and I think that this would be an outstanding example.

4. The Body Electric
by Beth Revis

Once again, a Beth Revis novel on the list! Can you tell that I really respect her world-building? It's amazing how quickly and subtly that Beth Revis can present a world to you. It's so well done, non-invasive, and un-complicatedly constructed. I can't imagine her ever being accused of info-dumping.

5. The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles #1)
by Patrick Rothfuss

THIS BOOK. The world-build is phenomenal. Everything from the magic system to the history of the world is incorporated into the story in a non-invasive way. It's just so well constructed and I give him mad props. 

6. The Bone Season (Bone Season #1)
by Samantha Shannon

I guess this is more of a magic-build than a world-build but when it comes to fantasy, I feel that the magic-build often is the way to go about the world-build. Once again, some people think this is info-dump-y and confusing, and some really love it so it would once again make for some really interesting discussion.

7. The Final Empire (Mistborn #1)
by Brandon Sanderson
I mean, honestly, how could I make this list and not give Brandon Sanderson at least one slot? The scene in this book where Vin learns about allomancy is one of the best scenes in the entire trilogy, and the world-build cannot be touched. 

OK, so now on to some that would be great for learning how NOT to world-build.

8. The Giver (Giver #1)
by Lois Lowry

Now, I'm not saying that this is a bad book by any means. I didn't love it, but I also didn't hate it. My problem with the world-build in this is that I just think it's an underdeveloped world. The reader doesn't really know much about the world outside of the immediate things facing the main character. I just feel like the world-build has tunnel vision, and I'd prefer to see the whole picture. 

9. Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury

My reasoning for this one is pretty much the same as with The Giver. The world-build is very tunnel vision. Books are burned because freedom of thought is not allowed. OK. Got it. But there needs to be more to the why. How did we get to this point? What else is incredibly restrictive about the world? I just need a broader view. 

10. Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1)
by Tahereh Mafi

Full disclosure, I really don't like this trilogy, especially this book. I would've gotten rid of my copies if not for the pretty covers. I do understand that the trilogy is a romance first and a dystopian second. However, I do still feel like this is a great example of how not to world-build. Because Tahereh Mafi was focusing almost solely upon the romance, the world-build is almost nonexistent. It's a generic dystopian society. How/why did the society get to this point? What is the society like outside of the very isolated settings in the novels? No idea, because it's not addressed. Yes, I think that Tahereh Mafi did exactly what she intended to do with the world, and I understand that (although I don't really respect it, per se). However, if you want to write a book with a fully developed, fleshed out world, Shatter Me is a great example of what not to do.

So, that's it for my post on the books that would be on my World-Building Syllabus! There were definitely several books that I had to cut (both good and not-so-great) so maybe I'll end up doing a part 2 to this list!

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  1. Love Rothfuss! Love Sanderson! Love this list! My TTT

  2. I grew up reading Pendragon throughout middle and high school, and you're right, it is a great example of world building. I don't remember much from the books, but the thing I remember most is the different worlds. I haven't read most of the other books on your list, but some of them look interesting, so I'll have to check them out!


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