Book Genre Breakdown

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Jillian DeMaio, Staff Writer

Trying to find the characteristics within books that you enjoy can be difficult to pinpoint. A way to combat this common problem is identifying the genre the book in question falls into. Typically books of the same genre possess similar structure and tropes which can be useful in deciding if a book is worth the hours it takes to read. Genres include fantasy, romance, sci-fi, and many more. 

Fantasy is typically a novel that is set without the limits of non magical properties. Common elements presented within fantasy literature are mythical creatures such as witches, dragons, and fairies, magic systems, new landscapes, and adventure. Fantasy novels are normally slightly longer in length in order to fully construct the magic system and new land or cast of characters to the reader; however, their pages may be filled with more than just bland information on a page. Popular titles that are considered fantasy consist of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass, and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

Additionally, there are five major subgenres embedded within the broad term “fantasy”, these include high fantasy, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, and contemporary fantasy. High fantasy is a novel in which the setting is a land that doesn’t exist, resulting in there being a new government system, laws, and setting landscape that is not easy to imagine (it is for this reason that most high fantasy novels will include maps at the start of the book). Epic fantasy is a novel that includes a plot or theme that is considered “epic” such as a battle between good and evil or a quest. Dark fantasy is when the novel includes horror elements along with the fantasy ones. Finally, contemporary fantasy is a novel set in the modern day even if it has a fantastical setting. Identifying the subgenre can filter out even more books that may not appeal to someone’s palate. 

Romance is regarded as a novel where the plot revolves around the relationship between two characters. Romance can be considered a subgenre if the book falls into the broad term for another genre. However, it can also be a genre on its own. Romance normally has a happy ending and has close ties to all other genres. Some examples of romance books include The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Tally and The Selection by Kiera Cass.

The subgenres of romance consist of contemporary romance, historical romance, and romantic suspense. Contemporary romance is a romance set in the dates from WWII to the present, meaning that the characters will have access to current technology and locations to forward the plot. Historical romance is a novel set before 1945, resulting in the characters not having phones or other modern technology and they may also be limited by the society they take place in. Romantic suspense is a novel that includes thriller or horror elements, for example, the characters may have to solve a crime together. Romance novels rely on well written settings and characters to keep readers invested in the plot without the elements of adventure or danger that other genres offer.

Sci-fi is a genre that includes the effects of advanced science technology on the characters and the world around them. Sci-fi is normally set in the future and includes features such as space, teleportation, and many other means of futuristic technology. Science fiction also is a means of exploring the many possibilities of what authors may think certain advancements or actions can affect. Popular sci-fi titles include The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He and Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Major sub genres of the sci-fi genre are composed of steampunk, soft science fiction, and hard science fiction. Steampunk is a blend of technology in the future and the aesthetic of the 19th century. Soft science fiction takes place in which technology is not as important as the actions; therefore, it focuses on the aspects of society that were not caused by an advancement in technology. Finally, hard science fiction is a sub genre in which technology is one of the most important factors within the novel, at times these technological explanations will precede character development or plot. 

Genre is an important factor to consider when deciding which book to read but sub genres can be an additional tool to filter through potential reads. This method can also be used for movies and shows considering that these forms of entertainment often share similar features within genres. When wondering the reason that a movie, books, or show isn’t suited for you, maybe look into the genre of the book you are reading.