What makes a good story?

Last night, Tami, of What Tami Said, Dan, Paul (sparky) and I gathered to do our weekly urban fantasy chat.

As per usual, Tami reneged on her responsibility to watch the teen angsty show The Vampire Diaries.  She has also yet to suffer the horror of LA Banks.  Sparky (Paul) was in good form for a change, because he actually agreed that I was right, and Dan bounced around his allegiances.

This week, we discussed Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments Series, as well Pale Demon, Kim Harrison’s latest novel.  Be forewarned that the conversation does include spoilers.  We take a critical look at urban fantasy each week not because we dislike the genre, but because we love it in spite of the  repeated fails.  It is simply impossible to consume any form of media without isms interjecting themselves, and this is why it is important to acknowledge the messages that the media is sending us.

This week, we will be reading River Marked, the sixth book in the Mercy Thompson series, by Patricia Briggs, as well as Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy. In terms of River Marked, I must admit that I am fully expecting an extravaganza of fail, because the book appears to focus around Native American folklore, and the male love interest in the series, is constantly engaged in that stalkerish, over protective dominant nonsense that often passes for romance in the genre.  I am going into Vampire Academy with a blank slate, because this will be the first of Mead’s books that I have read.

Last week I spent some time thinking about what makes a good urban fantasy book.  I must admit that this is inspired by Kim Harrison, because I do believe that she is one of the best writers in the genre.  For me to really enjoy a book, I need a rich world, with various super natural characters that avoid falling repeatedly into tired tropes. Even though the genre is very popular, it is rife with nonsense that often makes me ask why someone thought that a tree should lose its life to publish this drek. On that note, I thought I would open up the comment thread to talk about what makes a good book.  What does a story need to draw you in and what is the best fiction that you have read recently?  Please don’t feel pressured to limit yourself to urban fantasy.

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