In case you haven’t noticed, I like to complain a lot.
That’s not a bad thing, per se, since my loud and boisterous complaining can help provide a voice to things that need it. But it also means that I don’t focus a lot on the things that make me enjoy books or stories I read. And while I enjoy pointing out the problematic things I find in books, I don’t want that to define me as a reader, regardless of being a pessimist at heart. Sometimes you just gotta remind yourself why you like books in the first place, you know?
One thing to remember regarding complaints or praise is that everything is all about personal interest and preference. As I always say when I complain about something, just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean others can’t or shouldn’t, and vice versa. But I did want to point out the things I find in books that actually make me happy, that I find very little room to complain about, and spread a little wave of positivity.
Whether it’s a plot element, character type, or even a design element, I can never truly bring myself to complain about these next five things.
Fairytale Retellings — I love me a good fairytale retelling. I know that majority of readers are probably tired of retellings, especially seeing the same ones retold over and over again, like Beauty and the Beast, but I gobble them up. It probably ties into my love for all things Disney and fairytales in general but most retelling books are instant slam dunks for me. Well, unless the author absolutely misses the mark and fails to make the retelling their own. Then the retelling is bad. But more often than not, if I come across a fairytale retelling it’s almost automatically in my cart. Favourites include: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross, Sea Witch by Sarah Henning, and Lost Boy by Christina Henry.
Fantasy World Maps — I’ve said it so many times before, but if you’re writing a fantasy novel you NEED an accompanying map. I love being able to see exactly what the author’s working with in regards to world building and being able to look back at it for points of reference. Now, this doesn’t mean that every map is good, since they range from very simple to overwhelming, but I still think it’s important for your fantasy novel to have. And I personally believe that if your story has a good map it, in turn, means you have good world building. It’s not a completely proven theory, but it’s a good one nonetheless.
Opposites Attract Dynamics — Is this a hot take? I’m not sure. What I mean by this is things like the “cool kid” and the “nerd,” the good girl and the bad boy, or even the introvert and the extrovert. I enjoy reading romance books where the two characters are complete opposites in some kind of way but it’s those differences that create a balance and make the relationship work. The way you can find someone you’d never expect to be attracted to and they really help to change your life. It truly warms my heart.
Dual POVs — Especially with books written in first person, I absolutely adore dual POVs. I’d say this is most prominent in romance books, but have seen it in a few YA fantasies, and the reason I love it is because you’re really able to gage both protagonists and figure out who they are and how they fit into the story. If I’m reading a romance, I want to see how both characters feel about the other person rather than getting all my information from one character. And if it’s a fantasy, the dual POVs allow you to see the whole picture rather than just from the main character’s eyes. I found that Sabaa Tahir did the best with this concept in An Ember in the Ashes and that was the first book that really showed me how much a book can benefit from that type of writing.
ALL THE FOIL — I get why publishers can’t cover every single book in foil but I still believe that they should. Foil is my favourite design element. It makes your book feel that much more special and unique. I always love when I find a book that’s absolutely covered in foil, whether it’s the dust jacket or the book boards, and that means that the author made actual bank for the publisher and they can afford said foil. It’s just so pretty and shiny and beautiful. If you own King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo I highly suggest taking that gorgeous dust jacket off and looking at the book boards underneath. That’s what real beauty is.