Paige Stegina | Contributing Writer
Many people will choose to read realistic fiction, historical fiction, and other genres based on reality over the worlds that are created through imagination in fantasy, dystopian and fantasy. Which, for many people, is perfectly legitimate. All books have a clear message, and the genres more based in reality can give the reader a great insight into the world. Some people prefer this message to be clearer and more direct, which reality based genres do very well, since they happen in our own world. In this way, they can be easier for the reader to understand and process. However, I believe that fantasy can often teach these lessons just as well, if not better than most reality based genres.
For me, reading starts as an escape from reality. If I am stressed about a test, or I need a step away from the internet, or from just from my life as a whole, fantasy is my outlet. Reading, if only for a few minutes, has the power to recenter my mind and bring me back to the present. It can transport me to a world where, even if I know there will be trials and obstacles, there will be an ending that I will at least be content with. The strings in our own life never quite wrap up as nicely as those in books.
In this escape from reality, the reader is rewarded with so much more. The underlying messages, the small interactions, the delicate details that the author sprinkles will stay with the reader longer than those from reality based genres. Through the author’s creation of an entirely new world, a blank slate, the author builds their own playground for an entirely new plane of existence and pathway to the messages that the author wants to present.
This does not apply to fantasy books where you can see the author's meaning of the book from the very first page. This can be even worse than books that are based in reality. Forcing a message on a story, especially one on an entire world, disrupts the process of the reader, and they will never quite be able to connect with the characters and story.
When fantasy is done well, and we as readers are able to connect to this world in our own way, that’s where the magic truly begins. For the characters in the books may be battle-ready heroes, powerful witches and warlocks, or fae royalty, but they are not too far from us that we cannot understand. We see our own hopes, dreams, and desires reflected in them. We can see a world in turmoil and destruction with no hope of a future, only to be rebuilt from the ashes into something even better. We need to believe that we can overcome the trials in our lives, that we will emerge victorious. Fantasy may offer a dream world, but when our own world becomes a nightmare, fantasy offers a vision of hope that we need more of in our lives.