Welcome back to another Top 10 Tuesday, an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Everyone is welcome to join, so go check out their blog to see the upcoming topics!
This week’s topic is 10 Bookish Things I’d Like to Quit so I wrote about the 10 Tropes in YA that I Want to Stop Reading About.
Many of these tropes are just overdone, plain and simple. However, I don’t actually want to see them go away completely. I mean, a trope is a trope for a reason, right? Perhaps it’s because tropes are familiar that it makes characters easier to identify and relate to. With that being said though, what I would like to see is a little more imagination in the way that these tropes are approached.
1. “I’m not pretty.” But she actually, totally is.
This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. I get it. A lot of girls don’t think they are pretty. But this is just so overdone. Can’t we do this in a more subtle way? Instead of her outright saying, “I don’t like this about myself” or “I am plain compared to my best friend”, can her lack of self-confidence just be part of the narrative, can that just be weaved in artfully? No? *le sigh* Also, why should this be a thing that we promulgate!? (Low self-esteem) News flash! Girls, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, I don’t care that you don’t think so, I promise you, you absolutely 100% are.
2. “I’m a what?”
There are only so many ways that this trope can be written, only so many kinds of shocked, floored, stunned, or flabbergasted a character can be by the discovery of what they truly are or what they are destined to do. For this, Harry Potter is the first that comes to mind. Hagrid says, “You’re a wizard, Harry.” And Harry’s classic, stuttering response? “I’m a…I’m a, what?” I think of Clary from the Infernal Devices for this too and I know there are tons more, but these are the first that came to mind.
3. “I love you but….” I have to leave you to protect you/them/us all/save everyone/because I’m no good for you etc.
I’ll admit that I am a sucker for this one though, when it is DONE RIGHT. Keys words there my friends. Don’t you just hate it when the character’s motivations are just plain silly though? Don’t you find yourself asking the book/author/character why they couldn’t have thought of like a hundred other solutions like you just did in a span of the last three seconds? Yeah, that’s me too.
4. Love Triangles/Instalove/My Best friend is suddenly into me?
I wrapped all three into one because ultimately, what this one comes down to for me is realism. Is their connection realistic? Have the events that have happened to them brought them together and bonded them in this way to create this feeling of love? I am not a fan of the, “I see her and there is this instant connection” thing. Barf. That happens in real life, sort of, but there is always more, and that needs to be explored. This trope is also totally a guilty pleasure of mine though, because while it is overdone, I love rooting for my favorite and it keeps things interesting beyond just the main plot.
The best friend being suddenly into the MC, however, really bothers me. This is because if the guy is suddenly interested in the MC because she is involved or about to get involved with another guy and all of a sudden he realizes his “true feelings” for her…uh…I’m already nauseous. It’s a little late for that buddy, is what I’m thinking. And yes, I’m looking at you Mal! If, on the other hand, there is a standing best-friend relationship that turns into love then I’m cool with that.
5. Boys and girls can’t actually just be friends.
So this is a tragedy to me. Being a person that believes 100% in the plausibility of purely platonic relationships between guys and girls, I really do find this trope annoying and transparent. It is predictable and can be super annoying if it bridges the gap with the earlier point, where the guy is only noticing the girl because she is into another guy. Not cool, okay!?
6. The Mary Sue or Gary Stu
These characters are just so perfect, so pretty/handsome/so good at everything they do and everyone in the book just adores them. Also, if they are a girl, then she is probably clumsy. Ahem…when did being clumsy become an endearing trait? Or being miss goody-two-shoes for that matter? How are we supposed to connect to these characters that are just so squeaky clean they make anti-bacterial hand soap look dirty? They have zero flaws and are essentially limitless. Now, a character who is sort of a Mary Sue but has such and such thing and such and such problem, well those things automatically make her less of a Mary Sue and probably more relatable.
7. Missing parents/Dead Parents/Unreliable Adults
It is really sad that almost all the parents are dead in YA sci-fi/fantasy, and if they are not dead then they cannot be relied upon to either understand what the protagonist is going through or they are simply idiots. I wish there were more characters like Julien from Red Queen, he was probably the best adult character I’ve seen portrayed in a while.
8. The virginal female protagonist and the not-so-virginal male protagonist (but that’s okay) double-standard
The female protagonist is almost always virginal and the guy gets to be more experienced, either implicitly or explicitly stated, which we forgive because he’s a guy? Why? Why is this? Or he is just as inexperienced and he’s been holding out all this time for the protagonist. Realistic much? Why can’t it be the opposite?
Also, why suddenly is the female character “bad” or a “slut” if she kisses both dudes in the love triangle? For goodness sake, it was just a kiss, calm down.
9. The Bitchy Competition
Ahhhh….the fight between two girls for the main guy. This is also a sadness because why can’t we all just get along? This trope gives me major eye-rolls. Mostly because I don’t find it super realistic for two girls to duke it out over a guy in this way, but I guess that’s just me.
10. Villains are maniacal, insane, and power hungry.
No villain thinks they are super bad. They always think what they are doing is for the good of someone, even if everyone else thinks that they are crazy. I don’t like seeing one side being portrayed as wholly bad and one side as wholly good, neither of these things is realistic. There is always a balance and there is always a real explanation behind ideologies, no matter how jacked up they are.
And that my friends are the 10 Tropes in YA that I Want to Stop Reading About. What about you? What are your least favorite tropes? What about your favorite ones? Any guilty pleasure tropes that you kinda sorta want to hate but can’t help loving them? Tell me about them in the comments!
Did you do a Top Ten Tuesday this week? Post the link in the comments, I’d love to see the 10 Bookish Things you’d like to quit.