What Constitutes a Good Fantasy Novel and Why Buy a Second Hand One
Let's start with the obvious: young adult (YA) literature is thriving. It's an unavoidable aspect of the book world. You find yourself waiting weeks for a copy of The Hunger Games from your library, getting lost in the sea of books crammed onto small shelves in bookstores, and publishers seem to only talk about YA in all its forms. For good reason, YA is the "it" group.
If you're over the age of 18 and reading this, don't be afraid to enter a bookstore or library's teen section. You're in the midst of some fantastic stories about self-discovery, overcoming adversity and discrimination, and everything else that every person goes through at some point in their lives. In YA, the protagonists' ages define the genre, not the readership. Take a look at the Harry Potter phenomenon! All ages were reading about the boy wizard, including children, teenagers, and adults.
In addition to wizards, fantasy is an enticing and popular genre. It's a genre that people either adore or despise. Every reader has a story about the first time they read a fantasy novel, even if it was just to try it out. Depending on the book, the reader either became addicted to the genre or avoided it like the plague.
But fantasy novels can be intimidating because there are so many alternate worlds, creatures, and pages to keep track of. It's exhausting!
And this is where the beauty of YA simplicity comes into play. YA is known for simpler writing with complex plots. This is ideal for those getting their feet wet in the fantasy genre. No one wants to read page after page of description and backstory about a bush on the side of the path (think Lord of the Rings) for their first book. While those can be nice and interesting, they are better suited for the seasoned fantasy fan. Instead, YA fantasy is like a huge pool with tiny steps that lead you ever so slowly deeper and deeper into the wide range of magical possibilities.
So, what exactly constitutes a good YA fantasy, you ask?
Constitutes of a Good Fantasy Novel
A Fantasy Novel Connecting Emotionally with the Reader
The primary factor that distinguishes a "bad" fantasy novel from a "good" fantasy novel is emotion.
Fantasy novels that are deemed "good" elicit strong emotions from the reader. Quality fantasy novels take you on an emotional roller coaster. There are ups and downs that play with the reader's emotions.
The reader's emotional investment demonstrates that they are invested in what happens in the story. If they were uninterested in the story, they would be unconcerned about whatever mayhem was thrown at them.
A protagonist with a human side in fantasy novels
Not "human protagonist" or "relatable protagonist," because there are some fantastic YA books (including Seraphina by Rachel Hartman) in which the main character is either (a) another creature or (b) discovers he/she is more than human. As a result, the protagonist's humanity is crucial. People can relate to others because we live similar lives: we need food, water, and shelter; we crave love; we seek independence; we have both talents and flaws; and we can feel the joy and sadness of others. Continue reading the fantasy novel if the main character demonstrates these characteristics that define the most basic of humanity.
Themes in Literature that Teach Life Lessons
Fantasy novel fans prefer a bit of complication in their reading. They enjoy a good challenge.
Readers of fantasy novels want to take something from the stories they read and apply it to their own lives.
The primary goal of a fantasy narrative should be entertainment and allure. However, it never hurts to have practical elements that translate well to the real world.
Most young adult fantasy novels, for example, incorporate a coming-of-age theme to better appeal to their target audience.
The coming of age theme alone can teach young adult readers a lot about themselves. The difficulties and trials that the young protagonist faces serve as a model for what to do (or not do) during the maturation process.
Such invaluable knowledge will stay with them for a long time, ultimately shaping who they want to be.
All of this is based on a single example of the coming-of-age theme. But can you imagine the impact that several of these themes could have on a reader? Through their literary themes, good fantasy novels teach valuable life lessons time and again.
Many people's lives are changed for the better as a result of these life lessons. This priceless knowledge deserves credit for raising the bar for good fantasy novels.
The gradual immersion into the fantasy novel world.
Most of the time, the main character is already a part of this alternate world. As a reader, you might find yourself in the aftermath of a burned village, fleeing with the main character (Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier). As the story progresses, you begin to learn what each creature, tree, and person is capable of doing through the protagonist's interactions with others and the environment. Alternatively, the protagonist is completely unaware of the alternate world, and his or her immersion into it is a step-by-step process that mirrors your own (City of Bones by Cassandra Clare).
A Fantasy Novel Storyline That Is Both Sophisticated and Easy to Follow
As we previously stated, a complex storyline is practically required for good fantasy novels. Although authors should, of course, strive for a complex storyline, this should not come at the expense of comprehension. The plot should not be overly complex.
Nothing good ever comes from an impossible-to-understand fantasy novel. If the reader does not understand what is going on, he or she will abandon the novel without hesitation.
Do not misunderstand us. A good fantasy novel will undoubtedly have many moving parts. Nonetheless, the web of plot developments should be organized and presented in such a way that as much confusion as possible is avoided.
It is unavoidable for there to be some confusion here and there. However, if it gets to the point where the reader has to backtrack every couple of pages, the writing quality will suffer significantly.
George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones is an excellent example of this balance.
Despite the fact that a lot is happening at once, Martin categorizes the action by dividing the chapters into first-person character perspectives. This way, you'll know exactly what kind of action is taking place and who is affected.
These plot developments may have gotten a little dicey from an omniscient standpoint. But, fortunately for us, Martin is well-versed in the characteristics of a good fantasy novel.
This fantasy world has to be plausible.
This fantasy land in a fantasy novel must have its own set of natural and governed laws, whether it is within our own world but invisible to ordinary people, or in a completely different time and setting (A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray). If a character can fly, their flying abilities must be limited. Even if an animal can talk and walk on its hind legs like humans, it should retain some animalistic characteristics, such as eating habits. If the creature is a dragon or sphinx, both of which do not exist in the real world, they must retain some, if not all, of the characteristics readers are familiar with from mythology and popular culture. There is no need to completely shock the reader. It will set off all of the Information Overload alarms in the brain, and the reader will abandon what could be a fantastic story.
Everything we’ve said so far is referred to as "world-building." Humanity, immersion, and natural law are essential components of a good fantasy novel. The characters, however, are what distinguishes YA from other genres.
Fantasy Novel Story Pacing is Consistent
Another factor to consider when determining the quality of a good fantasy novel is the narrative's pacing. The best fantasy books in the business masterfully pace their stories. The story is divided into slow and fast sections that have been meticulously calculated to provide the best reading experience possible.
When a story is excessively slow-paced, it is obvious.
Excessive tangents and meaningless content are common in these types of novels. This "fluff" adds extra content to the story but detracts from the reading experience.
We understand wanting to give the reader as much time with their favorite fantasy stories as possible, but not at the expense of hollow writing.
On the contrary, fast-paced fantasy stories overwhelm the reader with too much information at once.
This is just as bad as a novel that is placed too slowly.
Potential readers will be put off by fast-paced fantasy novels. A constant carousel of characters and an excessive turnover in the setting do not allow the reader to settle into the story.
A breakneck pace destroys any potential emotional connection a reader may have with the story, which brings us back to the first point on this list.
Almost everything in a fantasy story should be included for a reason. It is critical to maintain a steady pace that is neither too fast nor too slow when writing a fantasy story.
Teenagers should not be stereotyped in a good fantasy novel.
You understand what we mean. Whiny, conceited, and angsty. There are thousands of witty, intelligent, quiet, adventurous, and empathetic teenagers out there. Find a young adult protagonist who is scared but ambitious (Witchlanders by Lena Coakley). When a character faces both global and personal issues, you know you're in for a good story. That is what made Harry Potter so popular. Even though Lord Voldemort was constantly chasing him, Harry was still preoccupied with his homework and Quidditch practice.
If there are any romances in a good fantasy novel, they should be substantial.
A true love worth fighting for, just like in real life, should be one with substance. The genre of paranormal romance – which, yes, falls under the umbrella of fantasy novels – is frequently chastised for being superficial. There is usually a love story in fantasy, but the best romances are those that fly under the radar and do not overshadow the larger picture (Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor). The reader and the author both understand that Character One is in love with Character Two, but Plot Adventure is more important and must be addressed. When you think about it, that's usually how a significant romance works in real life: tend to the big issues alongside your love, and the love will grow on its own. There's no need to push it.
Whether you're a reader or a writer, diving into YA fantasy can be intimidating. With these fundamentals in mind (humanity, world-building, and substance), you'll be ready to tackle the first installment of a trilogy. YA is a fun place to explore, so why not include some dragons and fairies in your adventure?
Benefits of Buying Second Hand Novels
Buying second hand novels help you save a lot of money.
Buying second hand novels, like buying anything second hand, is a great way to save a lot of money. New books are frequently overpriced simply because they are new. What do you think? The words are the same whether the book is brand new or has been well-loved by previous readers! Second hand books online from a second hand store, such as Usedbooksfactory, can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of a new book. This is especially true for larger books, such as textbooks, which can quickly add to the cost of your purchases.
Second Hand Novels Make It Possible for You to Read More
A fully stocked bookshelf is never enough for true voracious readers. Buying second hand novels is the best way to keep yourself constantly flooded with new books to read. Not only can you get more books for your dollar, given how cheap they are compared to new books, but the sheer variety of books available second hand will also ensure you have a wide range of genres to read. Buying used books ensures that you never have to feel the agony of not having another book to read.
You Can Broaden Your Horizons With Second Hand Novels
Chain bookstores only stock the most recent books that every reader is going to buy. If you're tired of reading the same popular fantasy novels as everyone else, there's no better way to avoid it than by purchasing second hand novels. Given that second hand books can come from a variety of people from all walks of life, you never know what you might find hidden away in a used bookstore corner. Keeping an open mind is essential, especially when reading, and being open to stories or ideas you had never considered before can be extremely beneficial to your life.
Second Hand Novels are Already Broken In
Let's be honest: books are meant to be opened and read. When you buy second hand books, someone has already gone through the agonizing process of breaking the book in. You don't have to be concerned about cracking the spine, folding the page corners, or spilling your morning coffee on it because it's already had a few owners who have done those things. Anything that prevents you from reading, such as not wanting to sully the immaculate finish of a brand-new book, is not a useful quality in a book. You won't have to worry about putting them through their paces if you buy them used.
You Might Come Across Something Truly Extraordinary in a Second Hand Novel
Whether it's a limited-edition cover or an author introduction that was only available in one edition, buying second hand books online is your best chance to add something truly unique to your collection. Even books you've read before can be found in an edition you've never seen before. There is no better place to find hidden gems for the avid book collector than the used book section of your local second hand store.