So yesterday I finished reading the (as yet untitled) sequel to E.J. Patten’s excellent middle reader garbagepunk action epic horror, Return to Exile. Since I’ve been talking a bit about how novelists have to build a world that is in some way broken, in other words, a setting which forces the protagonist to take action to fix things, I want to point out Patten’s Exile (which is really a town) and the earth on which it’s located as an example.
Like Patrick Carman’s Land of Elyon books, the Hunter Chronicles have a deep backstory. I think Return to Exile is 2+ times longer than The Dark Hills Divide, and the backstory many times more complex. There are many species of original monster, with relationships among them and among their ancestor ur-monsters, various secret orders of monster hunters with tensions and rivalries among them, and individual hunters each with meaningful interlocked backstory and subplots. And — and this is key — it is all out of whack. There are a dark secret, an ancient hungry ambition, and the impending escape of an ancient evil that force the protagonist, Sky Weathers, to take action… because if he doesn’t, the world will be destroyed.