Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I found this guest post very interesting to write, as settings in YA are something I've thought about but never fully articulated. Normally, I speak more about characters, but a setting brings a character to life. I’m enchanted by rich worldbuilding.
It also sparked some interesting Twitter discussions when I put out a call for what other people want to see more of in YA when I was stuck on the 10th setting.
- Asian-inspired fantasy. I recently read Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Mariott, which is a pseudo-medieval Japanese Cinderella and Count of Monte Cristo fantasy. Whew. But it was absolutely wonderful and one of my favourite reads of 2012. I also recently read Eon by Alison Goodman, which features dragons and a girl disguised as a boy, which I enjoyed. There’s Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff, and the Tales of the Otori books by Lian Hearne, which I haven’t read. But there’s not all that much, and I’d like to see more as there’s such rich mythology in that corner of the world.
- African-inspired fantasy. I realized… I haven't read any except for Frostfire by Zoe Mariott, and though that had a wonderful cast of (diverse!) characters, didn't feel super African-inspired, perhaps because for that book the reader is in the isolated setting of the hill guard. I can't believe there aren't more. In adult fantasy, I've read Anansi Boys and there's Zoo City. I put out a call on Twitter and had a couple of recommendations: Akata Witch and Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor. So there’s a gap in the market. Any others out there?
- There’s a similar lack of Middle Eastern fantasy (following a Twitter discussion with @_ElizabethMay). But be sure to check out The Oathbreaker’s Shadow by Amy McCulloch when it’s out next June, which is a wonderful desert fantasy.
- Latin-inspired fantasy and sci fi, such as The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, which is a great dystopia that investigates cloning. I’d also love to read a YA Mayan fantasy.
- The settings that result from genre blending. I think there’s plenty of genre-blending in YA because it falls under the umbrella term of teen fiction so it’ll all be in the same section of the bookstore anyway. We have historical fantasy worlds (like Pantomime’s! *cough, cough*) and steampunk settings, or grimy future cities where mysteries must be solved. But we can always use more.
- More hard-sci fi off-world settings. We’ve had plenty of dystopia, but recently there’s been discussion of sci fi in YA. There was a post about it on Strange Chemistry’s site here which gives a good overview. I enjoyed Earth Girl by Janet Edwards, which falls into this, and Katya's World by Jonathan Howard and Across the Universe by Beth Revis are on my list.
- The unfamiliar-familiar. Where authors take a place that they know and make it a little dangerous, a little weird, and a little magical. The City's Son by Tom Pollock twists London into a place of railwraiths and creatures with glass skin and veins of light, for example. I haven't read it yet but I will soon.
- Contemporary YA set outside the US and the UK. One thing I really liked about Anna and the French Kiss was that it was set in France, even if the protagonist was American. But what about great, contemporary stories set other places in the world?
- What about cyberpunk settings? A world of hacking and wires, megacorporations, and robots. So much to explore. I had recs of forthcoming Coda by Emma Trevayne and Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. Any others?
- Underwater worlds. A few years ago I wrote a short story set in an underwater observation station on an alien planet, and I loved exploring that setting. While the premise of Renegade by J.A. Souders doesn't seem like my cup of tea, I like the sound of the underwater world of Elysium so I might give it a try. Credit for this setting goes to Maria (@fantasysink).
If you’ve read a book you loved that features any of these settings, please feel free to shout out in the comments! Any other settings you’d like to see more of in YA?
About Laura Lam:
Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams.
She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn't. At times she misses the sunshine.Website ◊ Twitter ◊ Goodreads ◊ Facebook ◊ Pinterest