I personally find world building to be the key essential of a good book.
Especially when reading the first book in a series, I look for a deeply crafted world with dimension and a unique style. I should feel like I am actually in that world and want to live there.
Today I’m going to be discussing the main things I look for in good world building, as well as give y’all some examples of books I believe fit those standards.
Let’s get to it!
1. A Deep History
When I look for a deep history in a book, I want a descriptive background of the world itself. I want to hear about the founding, events that shaped the world and it’s connection to the characters. This is especially important in fictional worlds, because it shouldn’t be exactly like the real-life world.
An example of good deep history would be in The Hunger Games. Throughout the series it describes how Panem was founded, and how the development of the Hunger Games affected its citizens. It also showed how destroyed and weakened the world had become as a result of the founding of Panem and the consequences for past retaliation.
2. Thoroughly designed or researched culture.
The culture in a world is what essentially makes it unique. This can be described by holidays, food, traditions, style, and more, it’s all in the creativity of it. When I read a book, I want to read about a culture that is unique and extraordinary. Whether the culture is restricted and controlled or free and unrestrained, it should be recognizable and should stand out from other cultures.
For example, in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, the world is very restrained and controlled. The factions themselves are all very diverse and have different cultures, which makes the world very differed and unique. The Dauntless faction is very militarily advanced and focuses more on physical advancement than cultural advancement. The Erudite faction is very focused on education and knowledge. The Abnegation faction is focused on caring for others and neglects self-vanity. The Candor faction is focused on honor and honesty and the Amity faction focuses on kindness and growth.
As you can see from the above example, the world’s focus and drive is what directs its culture.
3. Easy to understand
Simply, nobody wants to read a book that’s world is built like a riddle. Sometimes a simple world makes the best story.
For example The Mysterious Benedict Society is based in a modern world. There’s no complicated world building and the series is based more on story-line and problem solving.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a book with a good weaving of world building, but sometimes the simplest world sets the scene for a great story.
4. Has significant landmarks
A world should always have a significant landmark for readers to remember it by. Just the the U.S. has the Statue of Liberty, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, and Egypt has the pyramids, they all remind us of those places.
For example in the Harry Potter series Hogwarts is a significant landmark. If you have read the series, the mention of this name will immediately remind you of the books.
3 Example Books
The five books I felt meet these standards are as follows:
The Keeper of the Lost Cities Series
I honestly mention this series in every bookish post I do, but there’s an unending amount of great things I can say about it! I feel like Shannon Messenger has met all of the standards that I look for in world building. The Lost Cities have a deep history that not only connects to the characters, but is also explained throughout the series. Throughout the series the main character, Sophie, discovers all of the new cultural aspects of the elvish world such as the different holidays, food, and agriculture. Although the series has an unending amount of entertaining twists, the world building is easy to understand! Lastly, the Lost Cities have many significant land marks such as Everglen, Foxfire Academy, and Havenfield.
The Hunger Games Series
As mentioned above I felt like The Hunger Games series had a unique and deep historical background. I loved how each District had different styles which brought together a colorful culture to Panem, yet each District had their own struggles and rebellions. The world building was easy to understand and wasn’t over-complicated as well as had significant landmarks such as District 12, The Capitol, and Panem itself.
Harry Potter Series
How can I not mention Harry Potter, the mother to all world building? I don’t feel like I need to explain why I think the world building is fantastic because if you’ve read the series, you’ll know. 😉
I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me in the comments what you look for in world building and what books/book series you feel has amazing world building! Also comment down below a few books you feel don’t have great world building. I’d love to chat and hear all of your opinions!
Until next time!