Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam. You basically get a new topic every Wednesday, and you list your Top 5 books related to that topic. Head over to the Goodreads group, and add your name to the list of Wednesday-ers if you’re interested in participating!
Today’s topic is “Settings I Want to See More Of.” I think this is a brilliant topic, if only because I’ve never really thought about it. I know there are plenty of settings where I think, “oh this is really cool,” but I’ve never actually sat and thought about what settings I’d be more interested in. I haven’t fully thought this post through, but let’s see where I end up. Without further ado, let’s get started.
In descending order
5. 1920s America in YA
I recently read Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, which is the sequel to the Diviners. Both books are set in a paranormal 1920s USA, and while the world-building in the Diviners was brilliant, Bray took it up a notch in the sequel. The truth is: Americans tend to glorify the 1920’s. It was called the Roaring 20s where parties and glamor and Hollywood had taken over life after the war, but there was so much ugliness brewing beneath the superficial surface. Racism, prejudice, discrimination, bootlegging, the illusion of freedom. It was a messed up era where people tried their hardest to ignore the sufferings of those who did not fit the mould. I haven’t read a ton of 1920s in YA, and while I’m sure there are many books out there, I’d like to see even more.
4. The Pakistan-India Partition in 1947
The separation was such an important part of history, at least it is in my eyes. I know many people do not know about the close relationship between India and Pakistan, especially since it gets buried underneath modern enmity, but we are so alike. Our food is virtually identical, we wear the same clothes, speak variations of the same language, watch the same movies, listen to the same music, love the same sport, and share the same history (apart from the last 70 years).
And while I have never regretted or felt like separation from India was a bad idea, on both countries’ parts, I often think about the millions of lives lost to achieve the outcome. The partition itself was sloppy – families found themselves torn apart, one member in one country and another member in the other. Best friends could no longer just walk out of their house and see each other because there was now a border in between them. I have heard so many first-hand stories from older people because there are many people alive today who were alive then too, including both my grandmothers. There is so much potential to write beautiful, tragic stories that both commemorate the lives lost and remain respectful of the situation today, and I have yet to read a piece of fiction set in this era. Which is not to say it doesn’t exist – I know there are a few novels here and there, but I’d just like to see more.
3. Civil War Dystopians
I don’t want dystopians where the government is oppressing its citizens, where the citizens finally rise to power and fight back against oppressive regimes. That’s cool and all, but it’s so overdone at this point. You know what I want? I want dystopians where citizens rise up against fellow citizens and fight. Because civil war is messy; if a government is oppressive, we know we’re rooting for the people. But if the people are fighting against the people, the lines aren’t so clear. Both sides have valid points, there isn’t one villain and one hero. Much like The Chaos Walking trilogy where good, average people found themselves going up against other good, average people. With a certain few in the muddled area in between where they know nobody is going to win unless they lay down their arms and just talk.
2. Academic Settings in Fantasy
I’ve read a lot of fantasy, guys. Granted that most of it is YA, and there’s a whole world of fantasy if I wasn’t so hesitant about diving into the adult tome-filled genre, but I’ve still read a shit ton of fantasy. And I can count on one hand the number of fantasy books I’ve read that contain a school. And perhaps the reason the setting is largely overlooked is because authors don’t want to feel like they’re living under the shadow of legacies like Harry Potter, where a school was the primary setting. I know for a fact that the fantasies that do contain a school are immediately compared to Harry Potter.
I love Harry Potter as much as the next person, if not more but it’s incredibly unfair to hold authors to a certain standard. Rowling did something magical, but it’s time to let others do their own magic without constantly lumping the two authors together! School settings in fantasy are some of my favorite things to read, especially since school is such a huge part of my life and I enjoy reading books where the classes just sound so much cooler. Classes on potions and magic and weaponry- man, that is so cool, and I doubt authors don’t like writing such settings!
1. Alternate Universes
I don’t mean parallel universes in this, although those are awesome as well, but I mean universes where certain things in our history didn’t happen. I want to read a book about a time when the British were colonized instead of the colonizers, about a time where Adolf Hitler won the war and caused the end of the world, a time where Copernicus thought the Earth was the center of the universe and then nobody just figured it out after him. There are so many possibilities, no? History has so much raw material that you can work with, and fiction can do so much with history other than just setting novels in said history. If I were to ever write a non-fantasy novel, I’d probably do something like this: take a significant event in history, flip it on its head and start writing.