Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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Right now I'm reading a book that obviously took a lot of research. How do I know? Because the author keeps showing me. Rather than losing myself in the characters and their struggles, I feel like I'm in a classroom, learning facts that are loosely strung together by narrative threads. Needless to say, this is not the best feeling for a reader to have.

But it doesn't have to be this way. There are so many good books that required the author to do their homework -- and yet reading them didn't make me feel like I was doing mine! CODE NAME VERITY is about two young women involved in military efforts during World War II. CAMINAR tells the story of a young boy whose village gets caught in the middle during the Guatemalan revolution. STEEL isn't based on a real-world event, but it does involve swashbuckling pirates in the Caribbean, which I'm pretty sure the author doesn't have firsthand experience with.

Code Name Verity Caminar Steel

I guess the thing about research is, you can't have too much or too little. Like Goldilocks, you're looking for the amount that's just right. And that applies to all genres.

What books have you read that clearly involved a lot of research, yet still managed to suck you into the story? Give me your recommendations, please! Because I love learning, I just don't want to feel I'm in school again.

3 comments:

Becca Lostinbooks said...

Great discussion post! Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz was full of research on Holocaust internment camps but I never felt like Gratz wrote out a laundry list of the historical pieces. It was weaved into the story, AS IT SHOULD BE. Same with The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle, historical yet written in poetry. It never reads like nonfiction.

Sara said...

I just read a book with research seamlessly interwoven but of course I can't think of it now. That's the balance I'm trying to achieve in my current manuscript. A lot of mythology is central to the plot but I'm trying to avoid the dreaded info dump.

Stephanie Jones said...

I can think of several that clearly took a lot of work and research, but use it just right (to enhance the character's stories, not overtake them).
19th century Pennsylvania and necromancy: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
19th century London with demons, warlocks, vampires: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
WW1 steampunk: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
1970s Hong Kong, the LDS church in China: Letters in the Jade Dragon Box by Gale Sears

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.


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The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
Transparent
Froi of the Exiles
Days of Blood & Starlight
Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
Bitterblue
The Fault in Our Stars
Pretties


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