This weekâ€™s musing asksâ€¦
Do you care if the bookâ€™s storyline is unrealistic? Will you keep reading, or will you set the book aside?
My answer to this question is it depends. No modern reader can read [amazon_link id=”0743477111″ target=”_blank” ]Romeo and Juliet[/amazon_link] without wondering how Juliet’s family bought the notion that Juliet was “dead” after she took Friar Lawrence’s sleeping potion. My students always have trouble believing that Juliet didn’t breathe or have a pulse that her family could detect. And I try to explain that medicine has advanced a great deal; perhaps Juliet’s family didn’t know to look for certain things. But my students don’t buy it, and I am with them, if I’m honest. However, as a plot device, Shakespeare needs Juliet to fake her death so she can be buried in the Capulets’ monument. The fact that I can’t buy that one event in the story does not diminish my enjoyment of the rest of the play.
Also, fantasy and science fiction often have elements that stretch credulity, including characters and events that exist nowhere except in the minds of the author. Tolkien’s hobbits and Rowling’s dragons aren’t real, but I enjoy their books very much.
However, one thing that does bother me is a Mary Sue type of character who is just too perfect. I find those types of characters more unrealistic than wizards and elves. Flights of fancy and events that can’t really happen don’t distress me much, but the characters should have enough humanity that I can recognize them.