What's Most Important?

You haven't forgotten to read this month's Book of the Month selection, have you? AMONG THE HIDDEN is a small book, but packs in a lot of dystopian oomph behind those pages! We'll be discussing the title the week of the 26th, so make sure you start reading ASAP!

When I finished reading last week, one thing I marveled at was how Margaret Peterson Haddix combined all the elements of story together in an elegant, seamless way. Setting merged with characters that merged with plot. Now, I'm not going to talk about AMONG THE HIDDEN yet--I'm saving that for the week of the 26th. But it did get me thinking about the elements of story.

For a book to work, you need the following:
  • Setting: physical location of story (i.e. place, time period, etc.)
  • Setting: laws of the world (i.e. magic, alternative history, etc.)
  • Characters: protagonist (heros of the story, what they look like, their personalities, what they believe)
  • Characters: antagonist (the villain or opposing character, what they look like, etc.)
  • Plot: main conflict and resolution
  • Subplot: minor conflicts and resolution
  • Voice: the tone, style, etc. of the narration
All of these things are essential to a story, but I've found in my own reading that some parts stick out more for me than others.

  • THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO: Setting. To me, this book IS setting--the new world, and the new magics and laws of the new world, is what I remember most.
  • A WRINKLE IN TIME: Protagonist characters. When I think of this book, I think of Meg and Calvin, of Mrs. Whatsit. 
  • THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH: Voice. The beautiful writing style of the narration is what I reflect on most when I read this book.
Think of your absolute favorite book of all time. What one thing do you remember the most about? Is it the world, or the characters? The beautiful language or the mind-boggling plot?


Bittersweet Fountain said...

For me its always the characters. A Wrinkle in Time and Ender's Game are my two favorite books of all time, because in both books I identify deeply with the main characters. Meg Murray and Ender Wiggin are a part of me, and that's what makes the books great.

Jemi Fraser said...

Really good question. In Anne of GG I think the character stands out most. In The Giver I think it's the setting. In LotR I think it's gotta be a combination of them all! :)

I love Among the Hidden - can't wait!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

So hard to pick a favorite, but if I were to choose, it would likely be Wuthering Heights--and for me, the characters are the most memorable. One of the few books that could make you love and root for repulsive characters. But the Among the Hidden series is just AMAZING! I look forward to the discussion.

Jen said...

I am going to the bookstore tonight to pick it up! I've been wanting to read it and now that I have buddies to discuss it with I think it's the push I needed!!!

Jeff Hirsch said...

Hmm. It is supper hard to pick a favorite. I keep going back to How I Live Now. In that one the story just swept me away I never for a second had any idea where it was going and where it was going was shocking.I appreciated the speed of it, the narrative fearlessness of it. The characters and the world. All amazing. For me good books excel in maybe one of those categories, wheregreat books are the ones that are hitting on most or all of them...

Elana Johnson said...

I love your list! When you break it down like that, it seems like I can actually write a book!

I just picked up The Knife of Never Letting Go, and I can't wait to start it!