Should Fantasy Novels be Realistic or Idealistic?

The advent of Kindle was preceded by ebooks which necessitated the development of an ebook reader. The digitalization of books created a huge market for authors, where anyone who knew how to write could end up putting their book up for download whether they wrote in a realistic or idealistic style. An overwhelming number of ebooks available today belong to the fantasy, adventure and romance genre.
Among the different genres of literature available today fantasy is one of the most widespread. The relevance of the fantasy genre is enhanced by the recurring fads of fantasy novels that grip large populations of people after a lapse of a few years. If recent trends are reliable indicators, then the appetite for fantasy will only increase manifold in the future.
Fantasy Fiction and its Various Genres
Fantasy is a broad categorization for a diverse set of areas within fantasy literature, and hence all works in the genre are not reducible to a single monolithic form without much deviance. Popular forms of fantasy literature that currently flood the market are fantasy romance, fantasy epic, sword and sorcery, high fantasy and portal fantasy among many others. Many a time, works of fantasy fiction will incorporate different styles from its fraternal sub genres and hence become hard to box into a single type.

Fantasy Literature and their Readership
With the ever increasing rise in the level of popularity enjoyed by fantasy fiction, it begs the question, why does such a large number of people indulge in reading fantasy literature?
The obvious answer seems to be very convincing, people need an entertaining escape, a safe enjoyable haven where they know that they will be protected from the harsh realistic scathing life, which is so often unforgiving. Fantasy fiction, aside from offering a pleasant break from the realistic world, is also a realm where all the reader’s deepest and most whimsical musings can breathe and have a corporeal existence.
The Real Fantasy Ending
In this context, there is a polarizing question, which has hovered over fantasy readers since the inception of the genre as a distinct literary form. Should works of fantasy be a mirror of the realistic world that we live in, which is cruel and unjust, or a farfetched utopia where eventually all that is good prevails over evil?
This impasse is one that transcends any genre and in reality plagues most forms of literature, however nowhere else does it have such crucial relevance than in young adult literature, which is concentrated within fantasy, adventure and romance sub-genres.
Some would argue that the essence of great pieces of work in fantasy is clear aloofness from the realistic world, so that the world that the author creates can be contrasted with the existing one in a precise manner. Others would claim that an original work in fantasy should retain all the elements of phenomena that distinguishes it from fiction grounded in realism. A story abounding in grit and bleakness cannot make for a very engaging read, but that does not mean that any semblance of these themes are to be treated as a pariah. An advocate of the view that fantasy should not foster overly conventional build ups and endings, in which it becomes as clear as day that the protagonist will overcome all odds and emerge victorious.
There is, however, a growing distaste for clichéd and much worn endings, which fill the pages of many books.  People earn for the rare misdirection, the elusive sleight of words, which can be so refreshing to encounter. It is hardly difficult to fathom that a premise which so clearly articulates its impending unoriginal ending can hardly be gripping. Recent evidence in the form of popular books of the past decade show us that a break from highly conventional could be extremely rewarding for budding fantasy writers and delightful for their readers.
Groundbreaking works of Fantasy
Famous examples of the fantasy genre that strayed from the norm include the incredibly popular young adult fantasy series, Harry Potter. Arguably, the Harry Potter series amassed an unprecedented number of readers, both during and after its run. One may wonder about the secret behind the immense popularity and widespread appeal of the series that endeared itself to so many. A close look at the themes and the structure of the Potter books reveals that books had layers that cushioned the reader from the grimness of the real world. The first book had a typical fantasy structure which exposed the reader to the ever charming world of magic, which seemed to be infinitely better than the plain old world that we live in. However, as the books progressed from one to seven, the story shed its respective layers, becoming more and more like our world that is desolate and grim. It was not just an increase in the maturity of the characters but a testament to the fact that all worlds, whether real or fantastic are populated by people, who give it its properties.
Another aspect of the Potter series is that how it, builds up the possibility that the ending of the series may not be pleasant after all. Book five introduced a prophecy that, neither Voldemort or Harry can live while the other survives and it seems that very nearly Voldemort may win after all, but an incredible twist keeps the readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.
In a similar vein, after the slowing down of Pottermania, a new phenomenon appeared on the scene, called the Hunger Games. This work combined elements of dystopia and satire, which built up an ending that was breaking the conventional mold, in which the male protagonist nearly dies, and even after surviving is a broken version of his previous self.
On the romantic fiction front, the very well received book The Fault in Our Stars, is credited with injecting a dose of reality into fiction. The books is a reminder of how life can be like and strikes all the right chords.
In words of Paul Bettany, as a personified figment of John Nash’s imagination in the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’, taste has no counting. So how do we expect to settle the matter of the right ending? What do you think?
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