Back in January, I wrote about the worst YA worlds to live in. Now, I’m back to look at the other side of the coin and examine some settings that might just be tame enough to give you a rollicking good time without throwing you in the path of bloodsucking monsters or tyrannical regimes.
“But wait,” you say, “Don’t most YA books that aren’t in our reality take place in awful societies where everything sucks? Isn’t that the whole point of YA?”
Fear not, I can sense your skepticism. That’s why the title of this post isn’t “best YA settings to live in.” Oh no, as cool as it’d be to visit some of these places for a day, I’m too much of a survivor to stay an extended period of time. Because come on, most of us would tuck tail and run when the shit hits the fan.
That said, I wouldn’t object to day trips to any of the destinations below, which I’d love to visit because they’re novel and exciting thanks to futuristic/magical qualities, or, in the rare case, because they really do have utopian living standards (gasp!). Provided, of course, that I could instantly transport myself back to the real world at will.
5. Weep by Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer
Why I’d visit: From the legends, Weep was a magical place once, with an equally magical, now stolen, name. That Weep would be at least a couple places higher on the list, but as it is, Weep has yet to be restored to its former glory. It’s a long few months to go until October…
Risk assessment: As of the end of Strange the Dreamer, Weep isn’t exactly the safest place to be, with looming war between humans and a really, really vicious six-year-old child. If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, well, go read it now. Either way, I think I’ll be safe if I limit myself to a day trip.
4. Central by Ryan Graudin, Invictus
Why I’d visit: In the year 2371, Central is the world’s nexus. Built around the ruins of Ancient Rome, it boasts hovercrafts, skyscrapers a hundred stories high, and of course actual time traveling machines. If I were allowed to take a ride through history, even better–but as a futuristic megacity, Central is excitement enough alone.
Risk assessment: Very safe. As an actual global political capital, Central is the best that 24th-century Earth has to offer.
3. Velaris by Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Mist and Fury
Why I’d visit: Velaris is basically utopia in the mind of Sarah J. Maas. Think of Lyon, France–relatively warm yet with stunning views of snow-capped mountains–but with magic and happy people everywhere. I bet they have free healthcare with no waiting times too.
Risk assessment: Pre-ACOMAF Velaris is basically as safe as it gets, its existence kept secret to all outsiders and the city itself shielded with powerful magical wards. Eventually, Velaris opens up to the rest of Prythian and does wind up under attack, but it’s defended with minimal civilian casualties by the main characters, and well secured by the end of the series. Velaris should still be one of the least dangerous high fantasy cities to visit.
2. Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Caraval
Why I’d visit: I’m not sure I’d have the guts to actually play, but who wouldn’t want to witness the allure of Caraval, even just as a spectator? For those in the dark, Caraval is a fully immersive magic show/treasure hunt where hearts can be broken and dreams can come true. Experiencing the mystery is reason enough to visit.
Risk assessment: Moderately safe. Most of the danger is in the mind. Of course, if you buy into the rumours, bad things–deadly things–have happened at Caraval. But how much of it is only harmless gossip, and how much of it is true? Remember, it’s only a game…
1. Earth by Marie Lu, Warcross
Why I’d visit: The ultimate VR video game/simulation, Warcross is a global phenomenon in Marie Lu’s latest series. Sure, you can have as much fun as you like throwing grenades and running people over in cars
and bush camping in PUBG, but none of that beats an OASIS-like game that literally almost everyone in the world uses in some capacity.
Risk assessment: A detailed assessment would spoil the novel, but suffice it to say that Warcross isn’t all that it seems. This one will most likely be a day trip (or a couple days’ holiday) for me.
The Hinterland by Melissa Albert, The Hazel Wood
Antica by Sarah J. Maas, Tower of Dawn
The hundred kingdoms by Alexandra Christo, To Kill a Kingdom