Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tired of Dystopia? Try These Fantasy Books Instead!

Last week I decided to separate Faerie books from the fantasy genre because I have a lot of books to recommend in the magical/fantasy genre. So this week in my Tired of Dystopia series we are talking about fantasy books. Fantasy has always been a genre I read because it allows you to get away from your world and suck you into another, much cooler one that often has dragons. I want a freaking dragon.

The Curse Workers Series By Holly Black

Tithe really opened me up to the world of Holly Black and it eventually led me to The Curse Workers series, which I think is my favorite book by her. When I first read it I got it out of the library, so I'm a little ashamed that I don't have a copy of it, because it might be one of my favorite books. The book is set it Cassel's perspective, a kid who comes from a family of con artists and curse workers. In this alternate reality, certain people have curses that if they touch someone they can use their curse on them--like making someone fall in love with whomever they want, or making someone lose their memory. Due to this everyone wears gloves and some have amulets to protect them from curses, so if someone tries to curse you it will break. The concept is so cool, and I almost felt like I was reading a modern Humphrey Bogart movie. It has this air of Noir that I couldn't get enough of. I recommend this one all the time, and without hesitation.

A Song of Ice and Fire Series By George R.R. Martin

Like this phenomenal epic fantasy series was not going to be on my list? Martin's epic story is what I like to refer to as a "political fantasy." While there are dragons and mystical characters like Lady Melisandre, this book is set in a fantasy world where it is all about political power struggles. It wasn't until after I finished the fifth book that I learned the plot is based off of the War of the Roses, which was when the Lancasters and the Yorks fought over the throne in pre-Tudor England. There are expected to be seven book in the series, and they are rather long so if you start now maybe Martin will finally put out The Winds of Winter when you are finished! I highly recommend this series if you are a strong reader looking for a challenge. This series was one of the hardest books I have read in a long time, so it definitely will test your strength as a reader.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy By Laini Taylor

I wrote a book review about the last book in this trilogy, so it really shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm recommending the whole series. Taylor's series is unlike anything I have ever read before, so it's hard to put into words what this series is really about. The easiest way is to describe it as a series about Angels VS. Demons, but even that does not give the series justice. One thing I really liked about this series was that it was set in Prague, and I don't think I have read too many books that are set in that side of the world, so I think it sets it apart from other books. Don't let the cover of the first book fool you, because this series is not what you first think.

Graceling Realm Trilogy By Kristin Cashore

Let me first say that this trilogy is not a traditional one in that the three books are not set in the same perspective or time frame. So really these are companion novels set in the same realm, and that's what sets in apart from other series. The concept of this series is really cool. It's about people in this fantasy kingdom that have certain graces. In the first novel of the series we are introduced to Katsa whom has a killing grace. The one thing that I think hurts this novel is that her name is too similar to Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games series. I think the books are on different spectrums, and I actually think that Katsa is a more independent character, and I kind of liked her better than Katniss.

The Inheritance Cycle Series By Chris Paolini

Dragons man, enough said. This book is interesting because it got really popular after the author decided to self publish it. It has been criticized for being too cliche and pulling from materials already out there, but I don't think there is an original thought any more, so who cares? If you just want a book about an epic adventure with dragons read this one!

His Dark Materials Series By Philip Pullman

You've probably seen The Golden Compass movie that came out a few years ago, and if you haven't, don't do it! Instead read the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. The first book The Golden Compass tells Lyra's story in a world where everyone has a animal familiar that goes with them everywhere called a daemon. The plot of the story is about how one evil woman wants to separate children from their daemon's but it gets even more interesting when it delves more into cutting into different dimensions and parallel worlds. So it's fantasy with a side of sci-fi. Did I also mention that there are armored polar bears that talk? Yup, don't miss out on this one.

Midnighters Series By Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld is probably more well know for his dystopian series Uglies or maybe even his Steampunk alternate reality Leviathan, but don't miss out on his cool fantasy series The Midnighters. I must say one of the reasons I go back to Westerfeld's work is because he has a firm grasp on the female voice. Like in Uglies, The Midnighters gives us a female perspective in Jessica. The first book The Secret Hour opens you up to a normal town that Jessica has moved to, or so she thinks. For when the clock strikes midnight, everyone but a select few people are frozen in time. "The Midnighters" even have their own special powers that they can only use during the extra hour, and you spend a good chunk of time trying to figure out what Jessica's power is. I think it was pretty obvious, but I don't think that takes anything away from the great fantasy trilogy Westerfeld builds here.

Harry Potter Series By J.K. Rowling

I almost posted this blog WITHOUT including Harry Potter! I guess because I think this is a given for most bookworms. But here's a secret about me: I did not read the series until I was in college, but I was in the fourth grade when the first novel came out. Why? My mother is crazy and didn't want me to read it because it was about witches. I shit you not. But even at 20, this book spoke to me on ways other books hadn't, and I actually re-read it earlier this year.

Honorable Mention: Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind. This fantasy series is heavy about magic so it's interesting, but they are very long novels. Goodkind initially wrote 13 novels, and he has started to write some more, but I feel like towards the end the series had lost its spark. I liked how the book wrapped up in the 13th novel, so I don't think I'm going to read any more follow up novels.

The fantasy genre is really big so if you have any recommendations feel free to leave them in the comments below.

EDIT: 7/28

Additional Recommendations:

Jinx By Meg Cabot

Jinx is my own suggestion, because I initially wanted to put this on my list, but I totally forgot about it when I wrote this blog. I liked Jinx because it is half about witchcraft and magic, and half a contemporary teen fiction. It's a girl meets boy love story, but with accidental witchcraft. I think it was a solid standalone piece from literary power house Meg Cabot.

Queen of the Tearling By Erika Johansen

Queen of the Tearling was a reader suggestion, but it is actually on my TBR list, so maybe eventually I would have added it. I've heard a lot of good things about it, but if you go look at the goodreads reviews it seems like a lot of readers weren't too happy with it. I think this might be because it's being marketing as "A girl version of Game of Thrones", which is a completely inaccurate statement about A Song of Ice and Fire, because there are multiple female characters that are strong in different ways in that series. This book is about Princess Kelsea whom comes out of hiding and tries to reclaim her rightful throne. I think the medieval-ish setting is what draws the comparison to ASOIAF, but just based on reviews I have read it seems like a different book entirely. I think this is one of those books you have to read for yourself, but it looks like a good fantasy epic.

Happy Reads Everyone!