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Happy Wednesday, Strangers! It’s time for our favorite weekly tag! This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is your top five books that aren’t set in or inspired by the Western World. The Western World is typically defined as North America and Europe. If it’s SFF, your choices can’t be in a medieval setting. I’ve got some great books to talk about for this topic, so let’s quit dilly-dallying and start the tag!
- The Star-Touched series by Roshani Chokshi- This series (no word yet on whether it’s a duology or if there are more books to come) is a fantasy series based heavily on India. Characters from Indian theology and words from one of India’s languages (I can’t say for sure if it’s Hindi or not) are used in the stories. The names are also traditional Indian names. The books are companion novels, the first following Maya as she discovers secrets about her new husband and home and the second following Gauri and Vikram as they compete in a magical contest in which the prize is a wish. I love these characters so much and I ship Vikram and Gauri so hard. Hate-to-love done right.
- The Wrath & the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh- Based on the folk tale “Arabian Nights,” this duology is influenced heavily by the Middle East, likely around Ancient Saudi Arabia. If you’ve been living under a rock, this story follows Shahrzad as she volunteers to be the murderous boy king Khalid’s wife in order to exact revenge and kill him. However, she soon begins to uncover secrets and develop feelings for the boy she thought was a monster. It’s so angsty and devastating and I love it to bits.
- Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh- Clearly Renee is a goldmine for stories outside of the Western World. This story takes place in a feudal Japan-based world. It follows Mariko as she disguises herself as a boy in order to infiltrate the mysterious group responsible for attacking her caravan. While not a Mulan retelling, it’s perfect for fans of the movie. I love these characters and the main ship was so great. I can’t wait to learn more about the magic system and see that bitch of a cliffhanger resolved.
- Cinder and parts of the rest of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer- This YA science fiction monster spends a lot of time in New Beijing, the capital of the Eastern Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is a new, united country made up of many East Asian countries. It’s a futuristic society, the story following the titular Cinder, a cyborg who uncovers a lot more than she bargained for, all starting when the Crown Prince Kai shows up at her mechanic station. You’ll never read a better fairy tale retelling than these. I love these characters so much and all the ships are excellent. The world-building is great and the plot is action-packed. This is honestly one of my all-time favorite series.
- Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova- Although the characters live in America, most of the plot takes place in Los Lagos, an in-between world reminiscent of Wonderland. It mixes Mexican and Ecuadorean culture (the author is from Ecuador, but the Deathday celebration comes from Mexico), the cultures of our main family. It follows Alex, a bruja who doesn’t want to be a bruja. When she casts a spell to get rid of her powers, she accidentally sends her family to Los Lagos. Alex travels to Los Lagos with her friends to try and get her family back. While I felt it fell more towards the younger end of YA (not a problem, just below my reading level), it was still a cute story and I can see why so many people love it. I’m definitely continuing on with the series and can’t wait to see my bisexual daughter Alex again.
What are some books outside of Western influence you enjoy? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time, Strangers!