Hello, my name is Christina and I am FULL OF LIES. I said I’d have a review up for you today but that’s not going to happen. This is for a couple of reasons: 1) I have been productive AF this past week. Getting all my meal planning, yoga, house cleaning, and a major “stuff” purge done and reading has taken a back seat for a minute. 2) I’m leaving town today for a meeting so I’m short on time. HOWEVER, do not fear! I am alllllmost done with both Outlander and The Suspect and I hope to have these reviews up in the next couple of days. At least one by the end of the weekend, and one early next week. I’ve also started another book that *makes me feel nostalgic* (per the popsugar prompt) and I’m almost done with it too.
So I’ve talked about a lot of different book topics on Thursday’s, along with touching on kitchen essentials as well. As you all well know by now, my previous go-to genre, and one of my absolute favorites is Fantasy. Not all Fantasy novels are created equal though – some focus on strong character building or building worlds that are a little too contrived and artificial for me to get into. Obviously, none of these are realistic because that’s what Fantasy is – but I like my worlds grounded in thought, I like my “rules of magic” to have consistency and not feel arbitrary. So, in the spirit of getting back to my roots, I thought I’d do a post about my favorite novels, with the best world building!
Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
With over a million reviews on Goodreads and an average of 4.45, topping literally every list of the best books ever written, I don’t think I could start this with any other display of epic world building. Unless you just really hate fantasy (and if so, I think you’re in the end, selling yourself short of a lot of great novels) I can’t begin to understand why someone wouldn’t want to read this series. I understand that everyone has their own opinions, and that everything that’s super hyped has people who give it a shot and don’t like it. So if you’ve given it a shot and it isn’t your cup of tea – that’s a-ok. However, if you’re just refusing to read it because of the hype – you’re missing out. The intricacy of the world building, the character development and the long game that Martin has created here leaves me breathless. The sheer amount of detail and imagination is really incredible. Listening to the audio books is actually what got my husband back into books and he’s re-listening to them for the third time right now to prep FOR THE NEW SEASON THAT IS NOW LESS THAN TWO MONTHS AWAY NBDNBDNBD. However, don’t base the books on the show if you’ve seen it. It’s an incredibly well-cast, well-acted show that’s one of the best book to screen adaptations I’ve ever seen but it really can’t be compared to the incredible detail of the books.
Arc of a Scythe Series by Neal Shusterman
I’ll keep this short and sweet because I feel like I’ve beaten this with a dead horse and if I haven’t been able to convince you yet to read this series, I doubt I’ll be able to now. However, this is such a unique world that defies all of the traditional YA / Fantasy tropes that many novels fall into. I’ll admit to sometimes being a sucker for traditional Fantasy “otherworlds” and the vibrant beauty and ominous danger that always lurks within them. However, it always tickles me when I come across a world that I couldn’t have imagined in my own wildest dreams, one that I’ve seen nothing similar to in my reading of other worlds and Shusterman delivered just that! If you’re interested in my reviews of these novels Scythe and Thunderhead can be found by following those links! If you haven’t looked into this series, you’d be giving yourself a real treat by reading them! Again, it’s not just the world building here, but the writing and character development and attention to detail really blew me away with this one. This is another series, like GoT that has a whole lot of hype – but don’t let the hype deter you, it’s well deserved I promise! The third installment of this series is coming out sometime this year and I AM DYING FOR IT.
Air Awakens (Series) by Elise Kova
So I’ve mentioned it in passing here and there, and it’s kind of super nerdy but IDGAF – the greatest story ever told is found in the Nickelodeon TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The first season is definitely more family/kid oriented but the themes are incredibly heavy and the character arcs are the best I’ve seen or read anywhere. My friends, my husband and I are all die-hard fans of this show and if you haven’t watched it, in its entirety from start to finish I could go on for 17 million years about the lessons in that show and the reasons you should watch it. SO TICKLE ME PINK when I find a series that’s about the last “wind walker” Vhalla Yarl in Air Awakens by Elise Kova. I had to google multiple times if this was in any way related to the show (spoiler: it’s not). This is a completed series (thank ya jesus) so if you start it, you don’t have to wait for more books! I. Love. A. Strong. Female. MC. Especially one that over comes adversity, and a patriarchy to boot. Vhalla’s story is harrowing to say the absolute least and I’ve read this entire series two or three times because I find the world vibrant, gritty and beautifully written. The rules of magic are there, the character development is there, world building is killer and overall the story is incredibly compelling.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Four London’s: Red (flush with magic), Gray (no magic), White (dying magic) and Black (forgotten, destroyed, forbidden) and one man who can travel between them. If that isn’t enough to get you jazzed about this series I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve had a problem with starting and then leaving long breaks between first and second books in series this past year so I’ve only just gotten to the tip of the iceberg with this one but man is it compelling! The old adage: the devils in the details absolutely pertains to the entire Fantasy genre. If you’re only looking at the big picture, the smaller details are going to fall through the cracks and leave a reader wanting something they may not even be able to put their finger on. What Schwab does in this novel, is an incredible amount of finesse into the details and finer things of the magic at play between these four London’s. So not only is there a true intricacy here, but nothing else suffers for it either. You can find my review of this novel here!
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
I read this with two of my girlfriends when we were doing a long distance book club and it. is. FABULOUS. I wanted to feature at least one stand alone Fantasy novel here and I could think of no better place to start than Good Omens. While I do think Fantasy tends to go hand in hand with a series because more detail is expended on building the world around the characters that doesn’t necessarily have to be true. Good Omens is just a good time of a read and the humor and levity within the pages of this book is seriously top notch. I found myself reading excerpts out lout to my husband because there was just so many aspects that tickled me. Not only that, but the social commentary that’s woven into the story line is not only awe-inspiring but it creeps up on you in a way that isn’t loud and in your face. The questions of good versus evil, nature versus nurture, what constitutes good or evil, on our values as individuals and as a society. The prose here are incredibly clever, bright and vivid. If you’re a fan of humor, excellent stories and incredible writing – I’d definitely pick this one up!
Well, there you have it folks! Just a few of my favorite displays of epic world building. It does take a bit of *imagination* to get into these worlds but that’s part of the fun of reading (at least for me)! I try to never limit myself in any part of life (well, except for stuff like ice cream because…calories or whatever) because there’s so many amazing things to experience out there. So if you haven’t been a big fantasy reader in the past, it’s 2019 and a new year – try picking up something new and you might discover a whole new part of the reading world to love!
What are some books with great world building you’ve read and enjoyed? Have you read any of these, if so, what did you think? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!