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Defining Genre


It starts with a quest (a purpose search from something) of epic proportions--long or unknown. It's obvious why this type of book -- the hero setting out into the unknown -- would be deemed an adventure.  Actually, the quest is such a common literary device, the books that fall into this genre can often easily fit into another.  Take for example, The Hobbit, by J.R. Tolkien in which the plot is driven by the quest on which Bilbo Baggins in sent. This hefty tome is, indeed, an epic adventure, but most often it is categorized as a high fantasy novel. 

The books you'll find here, in our collection, often 

  • occur in a contemporary setting. 
  • feature outdoor settings in which nature, itself, is the challenge.
  • reveal man's ability learn from trying.

Whether on a road trip to parts unknown or making an attempt to scale the highest peaks, the characters open themselves (rather than being forced into) to learning new things in a bigger world. The events could happen and in many faces, did happen

Often, but not always. Many piece of literature, particularly historical novels, are driven by events that require the character to move between settings.  That movement is not the point nor what drives the plot. When an element of travel is incidental to the plot it is not an epic adventure.  

The Classics:

  • Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
  • Moby Dick, or the Whale by Herman Melville
  • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
  • Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  • The Odyssey by Homer
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Modern Literary Examples: 

  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
  • Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  • Congo by Michael Crichton
  • The Geography of Bliss by Erick Weiner

12 Epic Travels of YA

  1. American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott
  2. Dog Song by Gary Paulson
  3. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
  4. Wanderlost by Jen Malone
  5. Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
  6. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
  7. Girl Off the Grid by Camille Caldwell
  8. Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim
  9. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
  10. Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
  11. Peak by Roland Smith
  12. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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