So, I’m reading Those that Wake, by Jesse Karp, (which doesn’t hit shelves until March 21st, by the way), and it starts off with what seems perfectly normal days in characters’ lives. One of the characters, a high school student, wakes up late for an important interview for an internship. At this point, it seems the story world is normal. Then the author starts dropping hints of a 9/11-style disaster, the aftereffects of which have been contained by a dome, and you start figuring out that this is a future society where today’s smart phones would be the obsolete equivalent of rotary phones, and everything is recorded and digitalized to within an inch of its life. And then the character tries to call her parents and they have no memory of her whatsoever. Her school has no record of her. She has no idea what’s going on. I’m 150 pages into the book, and I…don’t really have a clue what’s going on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m intrigued, and I want to know. I just…don’t.
My question is, as a reader, do you prefer to have a solid grasp on what’s happening in the book you’re reading right up front? I don’t mean you know every little detail and there aren’t any surprises in store. I’m talking mainly about world-building and cultural/societal details. I didn’t know right up front this was some sort of dystopian futuristic story, and it didn’t exactly throw me off-balance, but I didn’t have a solid grip on setting.
And as a writer…what’s the best way to set the stage for your readers setting-wise, so to speak?