Fantasizing: An Introduction
Hello. My name is Freezair, and I am addicted to YA fantasy literature.
Ever since I was little, it's been clear that the universe I reside in isn't always this one.
I'll be the first admit I'm somewhat escapist, or at the very least, I wouldn't mind a universe with a few more dragons in it. When I zoom past the literary fiction for the section draped in Franklin, Arthur, and Eloise, though, I at least have a passing excuse: I plan to make a career out of writing the stuff, so I have to do research! Research that you willingly and happily devote your time to is still research, after all.
This being the case, I consider myself a bit of a conessfrenchword of children's and young adults' fantasy. When you like fantasy of any kind, you have to be willing to accept certain things. Every genre has its own weak supports in the suspension bridge of disbelief, and fantasy is no exception. Chosen Ones? Kid Heroes? Elves and dwarves, sentient treasure, and that strange desperation which drives hero-collect-callers to look to other worlds besides
their own for suitable champions are all common contrivances.
My disbelief floats around on a futuristic hoverboard, and very little can bring it down. I can ride out a Cliché Storm
like a madman sitting on his porch with a camcorder in a tornado. No coincidence, no convenience, and contorted plot point will faze me. I happily indulge rip-offs, of everything from Tolkein to Rowling, in my hunger for more.
Or at least, I used to. Recently, I hit a bit of a... stumbling block.
As all regular readers know, some books are sentient, evil, and actively trying to break you. No—don't bother denying it; you know it in your heart of hearts yourself. The funny thing is, this is not always the same book to the same people. This particular book, for example, was obviously not as such to the people who published it, although it is for me.
This book is called Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold,
with the subtitle implying that this is merely the first in a series. Oh my. The plot concerns a teenaged boy who is hired by an "adventuring company" to go to a mystic land and help a merry band of adventurers slay a dragon. While it sounds cliche, it does not immediately sound terrible. After all, a Cliché Storm
can still be fun, provided it is not as deficient of style as it is of creativity. It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars
—or Hugos, I suppose, as the case may be—it's supposed to be a fantasy romp. Nothin' inherently wrong with books-by-the-book.
But to pull of cliche well, you need other things besides
the cliches to fall back upon. Stylish, syrupy prose that vanishes beneath you eyes like potato chips do in your mouth. Characters who stand out against a sea of cardboard cut-outs. A unique world. A fun concept. Just one of these can elevate your book above the level of yet another Extruded Book Product
to a genuinely fun read.Tangent This
book, however, not only stuffs as many fantasy tropes as it can into its pages—the very first chapter
reads like our own section on Fantasy imploded and was reassembled by a rudimentary AI—it couples them with some astoundingly doughy prose and dialogue. Add in a main character so milquetoast, you want to stuff him in a toaster over to crisp him up a little, and you have yourself what is commonly described in vernacular as a "hot mess."
Luckily, there is one surefire way to stave off the pain brought by these evil books: Sharing it. And that's precisely what I plan on doing.
Aren't you all lucky?