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Reading and books: What's 'Genre'?


 Adventure fiction is a genre of fiction in which an adventure, an exciting undertaking involving risk and physical danger, forms the main storyline. Adventure fiction often overlaps with other genres, notably war novels, crime novels, sea stories, spy stories, science fiction, fantasy and westerns. 

  • Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Anthony Horowitz
  • Jules Verne
  • Treasure Island
  • Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Peter Pan
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer



Dystopian or Dystopia, is a form of literature that explores social and political structures. It is a creation of a nightmare world – unlike its opposite, Utopia, which is an ideal world. Dystopia is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government. It often features different kind of repressive social control systems, a lack or total absence of individual freedoms and expressions, and a state of constant warfare or violence. 

  • Patrick Ness
  • Kerry Drewery
  • Neal Shusterman
  • The Sign of One
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go
  • Divergent
  • The Hunger Games
  • Uglies


Historical Fiction

Historical fiction presents a story set in the past, often during a significant time period. In historical fiction, the time period is an important part of the setting and often of the story itself. Historical fiction may include fictional characters, well known historical figures, or a mixture of the two. Authors of historical fiction usually pay close attention to the close details of their stories (settings, clothing, dialogue, etc.) to ensure they fit the time periods in which the narratives take place. 

  • Jackie French
  • Pamela Rushby
  • Winston Graham
  • Tom Appleby: Convict Boy
  • When the Hipchicks went to War
  • Ross Poldark: A novel of Cornwall, 1783 - 1787

Realistic Fiction

Realistic fiction seems like real life, with characters dealing with real life problems. The plot often takes place in the present time. The situations or true or could be, but the main characters are fictional. 

  • J.C. Burke
  • Jane Green
  • Ann M. Martin
  • James Roy
  • The Story of Tom Brennan
  • The Beach House
  • The Babysitters Club
  • Town

Steam Punk

Steampunk is a sub-genre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan, “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner”. It includes fiction with Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror themes. 

  • Philip Reeve
  • Scott Westerfeld
  • Darrell Pitt
  • Mortal Engines
  • Behemoth
  • The Firebird Mystery


A classic stands the test of time. The work is usually considered to be a representation of the period in which it was written; and the work merits lasting recognition. In other words, if the book was published in the recent past, the work is not a classic. 

  • Jules Verne
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Enid Blyton
  • L. Frank Baum
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Little Women



High Fantasy is defined as fantasy fiction set in an alternative, entirely fictional (Secondary) world, rather than the real “primary” world. The secondary world is usually internally consistent but its rules differ in some way(s) from those of the primary world. By contrast, low fantasy is characterized by being set in the primary, or “real” world, or a rational or familiar fictional world, with the inclusion of magical elements.

  • J.R.R. Tolkien
  • J.K. Rowling 
  • Eoin Colfer 
  • Rick Riordan 
  • Isabelle Carmody 
  • John Flanagan
  • Harry Potter and the Philosophers' Stone.
  • The Hobbit
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief



Horror fiction is fiction in any medium intended to scare, unsettle, or horrify the audience. Historically, the cause of the “Horror” experience has often been the intrusion of a supernatural element into everyday human experience. Since the 1960’s, any work of fiction with a morbid, gruesome, surreal or exceptionally suspenseful or frightening theme has come to be called “Horror”. Horror fiction often overlaps science fiction or fantasy, all three of which categories are sometimes placed under the umbrella classification “Speculative Fiction”.  

  • Stephen King
  • R.L. Stine
  • Anthony Horowitz
  • Christine
  • Goosebumps
  • Killer Camera


Romance fiction has several subgenres that include: Contemporary Romance, which is broadly described as the time period for romance set after World War Two, and is sometimes referred to as “Modern Romance”. Historical Romance is a category of novels in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. 

  • Nora Roberts
  • Jane Austen
  • John Green
  • Nicholas Sparks
  • Birthright
  • An Abundance of Katherines
  • The Fault in our Stars
  • The Notebook
  • The Last Song


The Supernatural genre is fiction about Witches, Vampires, Ghosts, Werewolves, Shape Shifters, Demons, Angels or anything else in the paranormal or otherworldy realm. A sub-category is “Supernatural Romance” in which the plot revolves around the main character and the romance storyline. 

  • Stephenie Meyer
  • Bram Stoker
  • Mary Shelley
  • Joan Lindsay
  • Richelle Mead
  • Twilight
  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock
  • Vampire Academy
  • Bloodlines


A comedy novel is usually a work of fiction in which the writer seeks to amuse the reader, sometimes with subtlety and as part of a carefully woven narrative, sometimes above all other considerations. It could indeed be said that comedy fiction is literary work that aims primarily to provoke laughter, but this isn’t always as obvious as it first may seem. 

  • Roald Dahl
  • Morris Gleitzman
  • Paul Jennings
  • Toad Heaven
  • Don't Look Now Volume 1
  • Fantastic Mr Fox


Graphic Novel

A graphic novel is a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader using sequential art in either an experimental design or in a traditional comics format. The term is employed in a broad manner, encompassing non-fiction works and thematically linked short stories as well as fictional stories across a number of genres. 

  • James Patterson
  • Herge
  • Charles M Schulz
  • Maximum Ride
  • Avengers: No More Bullying
  • The Bumper Book of Peanuts
  • The Shooting Star
  • The Adventures of Tintin



Mystery fiction is a loosely-defined term that is often used as a synonym of detective fiction – in other words, a novel or short story in which a detective (either professional or amateur) solves a crime. 

  • Agatha Christie
  • Dan Brown
  • Robert Muchamore
  • Death on the Nile
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • Grey Wolves

Science Fiction

Science Fiction (abbreviated SF or Sci-Fi with varying punctuation and capitalization) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology. Science fiction is found in books, art, television, films, games, theatre and other media. Although the two genres are often conflated as Science Fiction/Fantasy, Science Fiction differs from Fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within Scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). 

  • Brian Falkner
  • Pittacus Lore
  • James Phelan
  • Brainjack
  • I Am Number Four
  • The Last Thirteen


All genre definitions were sourced from Goodreads on the 8th of August, 2019.