This past week’s lecture made me think more about genres. The question “are genres created?” was posed to the class. It got me thinking about my process of categorizing books into genres.
I have always been the type of reader who would rather classify something under a specific sub-genre than use the broad main genre terms. I barely ever refer to a book as a fantasy novel. I stress whether that book is urban fantasy or high fantasy because both sub-genres are such different and distinct reading experiences. Another case that comes up for me is actually putting certain books into a genre was so difficult I started calling them an amalgamation of two vastly different genres.
I called them historical dystopias.
The books above (The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, and The Young Elites by Marie Lu) all definitely take place in the future, but there is something about the world that feels as if it is one of our past. A true dystopia for me needs to feel futuristic in technology and development. All of these novels are not of advanced societies, the rulers are tyrants, the world’s weapons are no more complex than a sword. They are not like the most popular young adult dystopias like The Hunger Games and Divergent. These books are different and need a distinct genre.
I am also the type of person to attach multiple genres to a book. I keep track of what I am reading through a spreadsheet and within it, I document the genres of all the books I am reading. I have books labelled: Historical Fantasy Romance, and Historical Fantasy LGBTQ+. I read a lot of contemporary but it is never labeled just that. Going through the sheet I see Contemporary Romance, Dark Contemporary, LGBTQ+ Contemporary.
Yes, genres can be created. I create them every time I finish another book and are not satisfied with the main genres people have used to categorize books for decades.