30 Days of Genre – Day 30

(See the intro post for all the daily themes.)

Okay, so I’m a little behind schedule with this final installation of 30 Days of Genre, but better late than never, right?

Day 30 – Your favorite genre novel of all time.

Wait for it… Wait for it…

Oh, you were expecting something by Mercedes Lackey? Fooled you! While I do, of course, love her books, Monica Hughes’s Invitation to the Game easily takes top position as my favourite genre novel of all time. I long ago lost count of just how many times I’ve read this book. I stopped even trying to count how many ideas I have for stories of my own that were inspired by this one, or how many RP scenarios. I love reading it, it inspires me to be creative and to look at how to change my life in slightly more unconventional ways, and it’s just overall a fun read, very good for an afternoon where I want a good story without having to invest a lot of energy into something longer and/or heavier.

30 Days of Genre – Day 29

(See the intro post for all the daily themes.)

Day 29 – A genre novel you thought you wouldn’t like, but ended up loving.

Okay, so I’m kind of cheating here. It’s not so much that I didn’t think I’d like this one, or that I thought I wouldn’t like (because I try to avoid reading books that I actively think I’ll dislike), but I didn’t think I’d enjoy this one quite as much as I ended up doing. I figured it would be your average YA read, interesting premise but so-so follow-through, or too much of an emphasis on romance in inappropriate places. A good book, but probably nothing to write home about.

And then I read it, and was amazed by the realism, the character interactions, the way the plot hinted without giving away more than need be, the way the book revealed so many uncomfortable things about the nature of society and human behaviour patterns that books for younger folk tend to gloss over, or else relegate to nonhuman characters and so therefore can demonize not only the problem but the people doing it. It was a damn good book, and I was surprised at just how good.

30 Days of Genre – Day 28

(See the intro post for all the daily themes.)

Day 28 – Favorite publisher of genre novels.

I’d have to go with Tor, followed pretty closely by Orbit. Those aren’t the only publishers I pay attention to, though. Baen and Daw are pretty good, too, and HarperCollins puts out some pretty good YA stuff. I’ve got a fair bit of variety when it comes to publishers whose books I know enough about to trust most often.

30 Days of Genre – Day 27

(See the intro post for all te daily themes.)

Day 27 – Most epic scene ever.

The scene toward the end, where everyone’s decided that enough is enough and they’re going to protest against the unfair conditions they’re forced to work under so that other people can get one step further in a virtual world. Rioting in the streets. People getting killed, shot by the police, and this is before the real rioting starts. People getting shot trying to flee for their lives. People getting killed because they want justice.

What makes this scene so epic in For the Win is the fact that this happens. While the story does border on being speculative, there are entire factories of people in China, Indonesia, India, all over the world who are good at video games and are exploited for it. It’s epic because the book could be describing a scene in which very real people across the globe are fighting for their freedom, the right to work where they choose, fair hours, fair pay, and these real people are getting hurt and even killed for trying to get what so many of us take for granted. It’s a moving scene, very powerfully-written, and you get the sense of chaos and fear that the characters themselves are no doubt feeling.

It may not be a world-shaking event of good versus evil, but it’s no less epic and worthwhile for it.

30 Days of Genre – Day 26

(See the intro post for all the daily themes.)

Day 26 – Best hero.

This one’s another tough one, because of the way that heros come in all shapes, sizes, and definitions according to the situation that they face. The perfect hero in one situation could be utterly lost in the next one, and where some people find the ‘best’ hero to be one without flaw, others find a flawed and relatable hero to be better than all others.

I think, though, that in terms of versatility in a hero, I’m going to have to pick Katniss, from Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games

It may seem like an odd choice for best hero, but I find Katniss’s versatility in the face of overwhelming odds quite heroic. She knows she’s likely to die, and if she doesn’t die, for the sake of her family she knows she’ll have to put up a good fight and probably kill at least one person. She spends the entire book staring death in the face, and while it doesn’t leave her without fear, she ploughs on ahead, doing what she has to do in the best way she knows how.

And at the end of it all, she faces death down on final time, thinking that she would rather kill herself than give the cruel organizers of the game the chance to see a profoundly personal kill-or-be-killed showdown. Girl’s got balls, and there’s no denying that.

Katniss is the kind of hero borne out of desperation and necessity rather than some great destiny, but she’s no less a hero for that origin. She’s relatable, believable, and the kind of hero we could pass by on the street every day, whether we know it or not. She may not end up doing epic things in a battle of good versus evil, but I think she can hold her own against some of the best of them.

30 Days of Genre – Day 25

(See the intro post for all the daily themes.)

Day 25 – A genre novel you plan on reading soon.

Geez, where to even start answering this one? It would probably end up being a shorter list if I mentioned all the books that I don’t plan to read soon.

Though since I just ordered a copy the other day and hopefully it should be here within a week, I’ll mention…

Megan McCafferty’s Bumped. I’ve seen this one around the blogosphere, was disappointed that I couldn’t get a copy during the brief time that it was available on NetGalley, and took it upon myself to finally just buy a copy a few days ago. I’m not waiting for it to be shipped, so I can enjoy a nice blissful dystopian day of reading it.

There are, of course, plenty of others that I’ve got on the chopping block, most of them from NetGalley, but this one’s one that I want to put in the spotlight for a little while, even before I get it and review it.

30 Days of Genre – Day 24

(See the intro post for all the daily themes.)

Day 24 – Favorite classic genre novel.

I think this depends on your definition of ‘classic’. If your definition of classic is Lord of the Rings, then, erm, no, I haven’t read that

But if you define ‘classic’ as something more like well-known and that many people have tried to copy or received heavy inspiration from, and/or has that feel or something that will be around for ages (whether we all want it to or not), I’d have to say that the answer to this question would have to be Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World.

I picked this one not only because it’s the first book of a series so epic it manages to span beyond the death of the original author, but also because it’s got a lot of elements that are so classic as to be overdone. Only at the time this book came out, they might not have been quite so overdone as they are now. The struggle between man and the ultimate evil, the farmboy with a world-changing destiny, the society of magic-users with their fingers in every pie. Who hasn’t seen these elements and rolled their eyes even a little. But yet we still love them, for the most part, and books like The Eye of the World are great examples of how they can actually work.

Besides, I kind of have a soft spot for first books in a series, where you get to see the ordinary beginnings of characters who will one day reshape everything. Not because they give me hope that I can do it myself (I don’t want to change the world, thank you very much), but because it’s fun to see them in their innocence.

30 Days of Genre – Day 23

(See the intro post for all the daily themes.)

Day 23 – Genre novel you haven’t read, but wish you had.

I’m going to up the ante on this one and change it to “genre novels,” because that way, the full impact of this confession will make itself known.

Ready? Here goes!

Yup, I admit it. I have not read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I mean, I read the first book, years ago, and part of the second, but then put it down and just never picked it back up again. This amazing classic fantasy trilogy has not been read by these eyes!

I did actually have someone go so far as to tell me, once, that I don’t have any right to call myself a fantasy fan if I haven’t read these books. While I can see where he was coming from, ultimately I think that opinion’s BS. As I replied to him, it’s much the same as liking my pizza without sauce. Unusual, yes, and surprising, but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to say that like pizza. I do. I just like it in a particular way.

Thus not having read these books doesn’t mean I can’t call myself a fantasy fan. Especially because it’s not even like I dislike Tolkien’s style of fantasy. It’s just that I never got around to reading these ones from beginning to end. I want to. I have the books on my shelf, presents from cousins when I was 12 years old and before I even liked fantasy novels. But for now, Lord of the Rings is my shame, because I think just about every lover of fantasy but me has read them at some point, whether or not they ended up liking them.

30 Days of Genre – Day 22

(See the intro post for all the daily themes.)

Day 22 – A sequel which disappointed you.

Tempted, by PC and Kristin Cast. My review of it is here, but in a nutshell, it disappointed me because this was the point where it seemed like the authors stopped caring so much about telling a good story and instead starting seeing it as a cash cow. I felt bored through most of the book, the characters seemed like cardboard cutouts of their former selves, and the style was completely different from previous books. It felt like an experiment gone wrong, and even though it’s been almost a year since I read this, it’s still lingering in my mind as a good reason to not read the rest of the series.

I do here that the series picks up again, which is a point in its favour, and I’m sure someday I’ll take the plunge and actually finish the books. But Tempted soured me on it so much that that day isn’t going to be coming for quite a while, I imagine. Pretty sad, that, since I was actually enjoying it up to that point, and considering it’s mostly fluff reading, that really says something.

30 Days of Genre – Day 21

(See the intro post for all the daily themes.)

Day 21 – Genre novel with the most interesting character interactions.

I bet you expected another Valdemar novel, didn’t you?

Nope, for this one, I’d have to say that Michael Grant’s Gone takes the cake. The characterization and interactions in this book are amazing, because they’re so realistic. Painfully so, at times. When you’re dealing with a book where everyone over a certain age has just vanished and where kids and young teens are left to fend for themselves, it’s a hard situation for the characters to cope with. It’s an idea that every kid’s thought of at some point in their lives, and Grant runs with it, and makes it into a terrifying reality to deal with.

Bullies form their own gangs and try to take over by brute force, some of them with a sadistic bent, others just following the leader because it’s all they know how to do. Others try to fill in adult roles and care for children too young to care for themselves. Some try to manage the chaos as best they can. People abuse their powers, and others try to heal. It’s a violent and brutal world, and the characters behave so very realistically that it’s easy to imagine that all this is real somewhere.

Watch any group of kids on a playground long enough to understand their social dynamics and you’ll see just why the characterization in this novel is so real, and why, therefore, it’s got amazingly-done interactions.

I really ought to read the rest of the series. I hope they don’t let me down, because with Gone, Grant is off to an amazing start and has a lot to live up to.