I’m going to be mentioning The Hunger Games in this post, so the quote (which those of you who have read Mockingjay will recognise) seemed suitable.
In one of my university seminars today, we began to discuss the idea of whether contemporary books have started to become less ‘real’. Obviously, many books were mentioned, such as The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones and Twilight, to name a view. Fantasy, paranormal and dystopia have become huge genres in recent years, and in many respects it seems like we as a culture are moving further and further away from reality.
Let’s look at some aspects of the aforementioned books. An arena where children fight to the death? A place where winter can last years with dragons? Vampires? None of these things are exactly real. They all look at an exaggerated reality, one which can look very distorted from ours.
But to me, these books are still ‘real’. One of the most important things for me when I’m reading is whether I can relate to the characters. The setting might be wildly different from anything I know, and the society they live in might seem like another world, but there will always be aspects I can relate to and things I feel are ‘real’ to me.
Everything we write has aspects of our reality. I don’t think we can ever really separate ourselves from the world we know, as much as we may try to distance ourselves from it in fiction. We don’t know any different than our own reality, after all. So whilst we might not be reading as many books about Average Joe anymore, I don’t think this makes what we are reading any less ‘real’. Books will always be ‘real’ in some respect, even when they may not seem very real at all.
What do you think? Do you think we are distancing ourselves from realism in fiction?