Those over at The Broke and the Bookish have spoken, and our topic this week is settings. At first glance this topic feels a little wacky, but it’s true that a sense of place is one of the most important aspects of a good story. So without further ado, here are more I’d like to see:
Boarding Schools. I originally wanted to say “Hogwarts”, but alas, that’s just plain stupid. The Harry Potter series is complete after seven books, and I, like the rest of the Muggle world, must learn to deal with it. However! The non-magical world of teen fic set in boarding schools is still entertaining. Kaite reminded me of the laugh-out-loud hilarity found in the Spud series by John van de Ruit, so it’s only right that I should crave more.
Vancouver. British Columbia, Canada, that is. I hail from Vancouver, so it’s always cool when I find a book that places fictional characters in among where I live. This is probably true for anyone and their respective home. But back to me! There is no greater quirk than reading about someone else’s passing thoughts on the huge murder of crows that used to hang out at the McDonalds off Exit 29 of the Trans-Canada Highway. Oddly specific details make fiction feel like déjà vu, which makes it all the more thrilling. (FYI: The crow reference was found in Douglas Coupland’s The Gum Thief, reviewed here.)
Lifeboats. I recently watched the fantastic movie version of Life of Pi, so maybe that’s where this came from. But Pi was alone (mostly). And really, haven’t we read enough survival stories about people/kids trapped on deserted islands? Is there a single story about a group of people having to make it on a lifeboat? There should be.
A Modern-Day Amusement Park. Not the circus! And not set against the Depression Era, please. Those stories have their own sheen of mystery to them, but strip away the Romance of a different time, take out the insane crazy-eyes carnies, and you still have an interesting setting to begin with. How many story lines could come out of a place where roller coasters need regular maintenance and sullen-faced teenagers pick up garbage all day long? Fun!
Lazy Beach Towns. I will never get tired of the old fisherman, hippy artist, and vacationing teenagers archetypes. The ocean is moody, and that makes a good backdrop for complex characterizations. So whether it’s California, Hawaii, or the United Kingdom, I’m sold.
Any Historically Significant City That’s Still There. I’ve read – and loved – books set in modern and ancient-day Prague, Berlin, Rome, London, Shanghai, Sierra Leone, Cape Town, San Francisco, and the wild wild West. Not only is it a cool way to learn about history, it’s also a great way to anticipate future travels. There is a reason many readers love to travel, and vise versa!
Hotels. By now you’ll notice I have this thing for “behind the scenes” settings. I mostly just want to know what it’s like to do the thankless work of a hotel concierge or cleaning lady, without actually doing it. Plus, there’s a lot of intrigue in a place where faces are always changing, and are people moving in and out (Psycho, anyone?). Horror stories are just the tip of the iceberg. A lot of comedy could come out of this, too.
Future Earths. The main reason I like to read the occasional Sci-Fi or otherwise speculative novel is to envision the planet after X event. But it doesn’t have to be post-apocalypse or alien invasion – it could just be that new discoveries have changed things. I particularly enjoyed the imagined “fear” landscapes in Divergent (read our review), where people had to fight against the powers of their own mind. Eek!
Under the Sea. I’m sorry to keep relating everything to my love of the ocean! Now, I might have Ariel to thank for this, but I’ve always loved mer-people. I’ve watched practically all the movies about them, but really haven’t read any books. I’m pretty sure not every mermaid’s father is the king. So what do peasant mermaids do? Are they as pretty as princess mermaids? Are there ugly mermaids? Are they nice, or ferocious? Do mermaids have cliques? I think it’s becoming pretty obvious what I’m asking for here…Saved by the Shell: The High-school Mermaid Adventures.
Stables. I’m not a big “horse person”, but on the other hand I’ve never read of an ugly stable boy. Enough said?