The Compulsive Reader: Reading Rants: Spectacular Settings II

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reading Rants: Spectacular Settings II

About six months ago, I talked about settings in books that I LOVED. I am big on setting--they can make or break a book, and I think a good setting goes a long way in making a story memorable. So, here's another group of books I love with awesome, memorable settings.

StarCrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce

This one is set in a fantasy world where magic is forbidden, and the kingdom is ruled by religious oppression. But the majority of the action takes place in a tiny corner of this world, high up in the mountains. It's the middle of the winter at an old keep, and the characters are snowed in with each other in an ancient castle. The nooks and crannies of the place, and the sense of entrapment, heighten the tension of the plot wonderfully--this is such a good book!

The Leviathan books by Scott Westerfelt

This series is driven by its steampunk setting, and it rocks. The time is alternate 1910's, where war has broken out in Europe. The two forces are the Clankers and the Darwinists, and the two main characters lie of opposite sides, brought together by some unusual circumstance. One of the best parts about these books is the amazing world-building going on. We start out in Britain and western Europe, move East toward Constantinople, breeze through Siberia, and take a tour through North America. This is to say nothing of the ship Leviathan where much of the action takes place--Westerfeld does some amazing things with setting here!

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

The premise of this one is a bit chilling--a stalker kidnaps a teenager in a Bangkok airport and whisks her away to the Australian Outback to live. It's an amazing story, written in the form of a letter from the girl to her kidnapper. I don't know a ton about Australian geography, but the descriptions of the landscape and desert here are just amazing. This is a tremendous book.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I love, love, love this book. The writers take a setting that is both chaotic and a bit magical--New York City at Christmastime--and turn it inside out. This book is a scavenger hunt throughout the city, and it is described so well with wit and heart. This is not only one of my favorite Christmas books, but one of my favorite New York books.

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

This retelling of Hansel and Gretal has the magic and intrigue of the original tale. The witch's cottage is a candy shop hidden in the woods of the South in this modern story, and the perfect refuge for homeless teens Gretchen and Ansel. The peacefulness and comfort of the candy shop is juxtaposed nicely with the danger of the witch preying on young girls in a local town. This was a great escape.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

One of the best parts of this book was the amazing Spanish-influenced setting. The arid landscape and the rough terrain that heroine Elisa is forced to travel across are described perfectly, and fit right into her coming-of-age story. I just loved how this setting was really unique to most fantasy books out there now.

What are some of your favorite settings?


Midnyte Reader said...

Terrific feature. I really want to read Sweetly!

Ali B said...

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and Stolen both intrigue me. For different reasons, of course, but I'm adding both of them to my queue. Thank you for the suggestions!

Anonymous said...

You made me want to read Leviathan and I actually don't like steampunk all that much - other than un Anime - but it sounds so good!
Thanks for sharing this post!