Hi everyone! I've been thinking a lot about why I like certain books and not others. My favorite book, currently, is Sabriel, by Garth Nix. It's the first of three novels and a short story (there's another book slated to come out in 2013, and I CAN'T WAIT!!!) I love those books so much that I read them over and over (I first read Sabriel a little over 3 years ago, and I've probably read it at least 4 times since), but I never stopped to think about why until a few days ago. I'll have to go back and read it again before I can come up with a detailed analysis of why I like it so much, but for now, here's my first impression:
Sabriel is the first fantasy book I've read since Lord of the Rings that I felt was written by an intelligent, well-educated person for intelligent, well-educated people. Most fantasy books I've read fall into one of two categories: those that feel like they were written by an emotionally stunted adolescent, and those that feel like the author is talking down to me, mocking my intelligence. By far, the most fall in to the first category; most science fiction and fantasy books I read strike me as too cliche, too fanciful, or both.
Sabriel, however, is written in a way that feels both intelligent and believable. Nix's diction and syntax are more sophisticated than a lot of authors'. For the first time since middle school, I came across words I didn't know (outside of a text book, that is); but at the same time, I didn't feel stupid for not knowing them. Furthermore, Nix writes clearly and accurately, whether writing description, explanation, action, or dialogue. In my opinion, the language of a book should be transparent, a vehicle for the story, and not an obstacle.
Now, apart from Nix's technical ability, his world-building and plot-development skills are masterful. Nix somehow manages to present his ideas in a way that makes them easy to believe, even when discussing magic and fantastic creatures. This is a secret I must discover! The hardest thing for me, when writing sci-fi or fantasy, is writing so that the unrealistic elements feel plausible or even real.
Anyway, like I said, I'll have to go back and read it again before I can give you a more credible analysis. So, what is it about your favorite book that makes you love it so much?