There are book tropes I think everyone’s tired of – i.e. the chosen one or the love triangle or the insta-love. These pet peeves I think are a little less talked about but they drive me nuts all the same.
1. Hot people doing stuff
It torments me to no end when you open a book expecting an actual plot and all you get is 500 hundred pages mentioning how attractive each character is as they do stuff. Don’t bullshit me with your thrilling backcover synopsis. This is just hot people doing stuff. (Looking at you Paper Princess). It also bothers me when everyone in a book is good-looking and it’s a common talking point. I felt like the ACOMAF series did that quite frequently. How dull. Honestly, aside from basic descriptions, I don’t really give a flying rat’s ass what your character looks like. If describing their appearance isn’t a vehicle for some backstory, world-building or character development, I don’t want it.
The solution? Either create characters that are physically distinctive from each other or forget appearances all together. A Daughter of Smoke and Bones is guilty of occasional gratuitous descriptions, but we also get really imaginatively vivid characters descriptions. I remember hearing the appalling description of Razgut and Izil and picturing the whole scene so clearly. It made it all the more revolting when Razgut licks Karou. Not to mention all the incredible creatures she describes throughout the book. That’s about the only time appearance matters to me.
2. Instant ramen fighters
You don’t get a week of fighting lessons and then go off to war. Hunting rabbits does not a warrior make. You take karate classes at your cool private high school? Nope, still not enough. I’ve been training for fights everyday for a year and a half now, which isn’t that long of a time. If it’s taught me anything, it’s that you don’t get to open a packet of seasoning, add hot water and pop a fighter out of the microwave. It takes years. Years. And even then, that may only give you the skills to hold your own against someone of your size and stature. Forget about fighting off monsters and men strong enough to have become esteemed warriors or evil villains.
The solution? Have characters out-smart or use their own personal strengths to get out of those situations. Example: Lila Bard from ADSOM. Constantly outpowered or outnumbered. She doesn’t always win, but when she does it’s because of her cleverness and willingness to bend the rules to her advantage.
3. Pseudo-intellectual teenagers
AHEMjohngreenAHEM. Really, please see any John Green love interest to see what I’m talking about. It’s lazy characterization to me. Rather than placing your character(s) in situations that reveal their intelligence or maturity, we get ridiculously cheesy descriptions and pages of bad dialogue. This often falls in step with the manic pixie dream girl and hipsters. They’re all an attempt to be different from the mainstream, but are done in such a way that they become their own cliche. Plus, when I’m reading YA, I kind of expect to see immaturity. These are coming of age stories – immaturity and believable age are important.
The solution? Stop trying so damn hard and let kids be kids. See More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, where his characters play tag and behave entirely like teens but still have real, powerful struggles with identity, acceptance and love.
Any of this stuff drive you bananas too? Or is it just me sipping on the haterade?