Investigated – How far from reality can books get without going too far?

Posted September 15, 2014 by Emily in Investigated / 7 Comments


We all know that books can get pretty far from reality. There are a ton of genres that specialize in this is fantasy and sci-fi. So today I want to talk about how far from reality can books get without going too far. Everything has a limit and I think there is one for realism in books too.

Fantasy is one of my favorite genres (YA fantasy, that is, of course). As part of the fantasy genre, fantasy books are usually what the name implies – fantasies. Fantasy books are almost always in a made up world, and when they are not, it is a modified version of our world, but with super powers or other special abilities. In fact, all this stuff that can only be found in fantasy and not the real world, is one of the reasons why fantasy is my favorite genre. But there are one type of fantasy books that I can’t stand. (And no, it isn’t the ones with love triangles, although those really bother me). I can’t stand books that I cannot make a connection to because there isn’t enough of reality incorporated in it.

Human Experiences

This one is the main one. If I can’t connect to any of the experiences of the characters go through, the book has taken fantasy to a whole new level. And believe it or not, it has happened to me before. And I’m not talking about a 16 year learning how to drive. I’m talking about things like feeling like a small fish in a big pond. Or being bullied or criticized because of a certain characteristic (or just no reason at all). I’m talking about feeling like you don’t belong. Or just having a bad day where everything just seems to go wrong. I’m talking about having a nice time hanging out with friends. Or when you succeed at doing something you worked hard to accomplish. Those generic things are the kinds of things I look forward to relate to in a book. And usually I can find at least something. Like I said before, it’s all about connections. If I can’t connect and relate to what the characters in the book are going through at all, then I feel as if I can’t connect to the book as a whole.

Human Characteristics and Qualities

No, I do not mean physical human characteristics like having two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Or arms and legs. I’m talking about human characteristics like human emotions and feelings. I’m talking about arrogance and kindness. Friendliness. Helpfulness. Jealously. Hatred. Love. Picking your nose. Caring about your well being. Caring about how you look… I don’t care if the book is science fiction, takes place in another universe, and is about aliens with that look totally different from us, humans. If the aliens can go through human like experiences and display human like characteristics then we’re find. But if the aliens act nothing like the average human does, then we have a problem, and I will probably end up DNFing the book.

I said this before, but I’m going to say it again. To me, in order for a book to be really good and not take fantasy to a whole new level, is if I am able to connect to anything. ANYTHING. If I can connect to one thing in the story, however small, then that’s a different story (pun intended).

What do you think?
How far can books get from real life without going too far?



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7 responses to “Investigated – How far from reality can books get without going too far?

  1. I’ve been flipping through your blog and I just wanted to say this before my comment- your blog is adorable and I love your signature/name Emz.

    I really like how you explained yourself. I definitely understand where you’re coming from and can think of a few series where the impossible happens that you wouldn’t be able to relate or empathize with. Reading fiction actually makes us more compassionate towards situations we wouldn’t encounter otherwise. Often our favorite books are the ones that we can empathize with the most.

    When I read fantasy pretty much anything goes with me. I will say that there is a fantasy series that I can’t stomach. Game of Thrones the TV show (which I have yet to really watch) makes the younger characters older. An example is that Sansa is apparently just around or past fourteen in the GOT books and on the show she’s portrayed as older than that when she’s promised to Joffrey. It’s just really hard for me to see children at thirteen and fourteen just having sex at all. I know it happens in the real world and all, but I just can’t stomach it. So that’s probably my only caveat when it comes to fantasy.

    Great post.

    Rebecca @ Vicariously!

    Rebecca recently posted: Stacking the Shelves
    • Aw, thank you so much! 🙂

      I totally get your GoT reference. I can’t stomach that kind of stuff either. Like you said, the best books are the ones that we can empathize with the most.

      Thanks so much for stopping by Rebecca! 🙂

  2. Great post today and an interesting topic. I can’t think of any books that I’ve read, off the top of my head, that have been too far removed from reality to make me not like them. I have read a few science fiction erotica books that pushed some limits, but I think that was more bad writing than anything else 😛

    Finley Jayne recently posted: Restructuring My Blog