Disclaimer! I read mostly fantasy and sci-fi, so all of these tropes may not apply to other genres.
They're also not all exactly tropes, but I had to choose a word or I'd just be calling them "things that annoy me" which makes for a really long post title and really awkward sentence structure.
I've also included examples of book that either avoid the tropes or make good use of them to show they're not always bad!
Ok, fine, mostly I just wanted to spruce up my post with some pictures :-P
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week was a semi-freebie, so my topic is:
Top Ten Book Tropes that Have Become an Epidemic and Need to Stop
AKA Top Ten Book Tropes I Want to Quit Reading About
10. Alpha Males
I KNOW that alpha males are all the rage. And when they’re done right, they can be likeable. But most of the time they just end up being sexually, emotionally, and/or physically abusive.
A book that does it right: Steal the Light by Lexi Blake (Alpha males who ultimately turn out to be good people rather than abusive.)
9. BDSM (that’s Not Really BDSM)
I think people should do and read and enjoy whatever they want! This one only aggravates me because most books being labeled as BDSM are actually just sexual assault and dangerously close to rape, which then makes it seem like those things are sexy and acceptable.
A book that does it right: Don’t… by Jack L. Pyke (BDSM with actual consent, safe words, and respect.)
8. Putting Women on Lockdown
I feel like I have a theme going here. Seriously though, I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read in which the men decided the woman wasn’t safe, so they literally put her on lockdown, sicced guards on her, and didn’t let her leave the house or do anything without their permission. I get that it’s for her safety, but it’s too extreme.
A book that avoids this trope (there is no way to do this right): The Bane by Keary Taylor (Not only does the protag not get put on lockdown, she’s the first one called at the sign of trouble.)
No list of book tropes would be complete without it, right? On the one hand, I feel like, who am I to judge how fast two people can fall in love? But in order for me to be ok with it, I really need to feel that connection between them and understand why they fell so fast.
A book that does it right: Nocte by Courtney Cole (I can’t tell you why because spoilers, sorry.)
6. Too Stupid to Function
Another one no list of tropes would be complete without. When I reach the point of, “I don’t even care that she’s getting kidnapped right now because she deserves it for being such an idiot throughout the entire book,” it’s never a good thing.
A book that does it right: Drain Me by Lana Sky (The protag makes the worst decisions, but you can actually understand her perspective and why she’s making those decisions even though she knows they’re stupid, too.)
5. Stopping to Fool Around When Being Chased by Bad Guys
This is in a similar thread, but with the added urge to slap the characters. You have two minutes before the guards change positions, or you literally have bad guys running down the hall behind you, and now is when you think it’s a good time to fool around? Or have your first kiss? Or stare longingly at each other while you talk about your feelings? You really couldn’t wait an hour until your life was no longer on the line? Really? REALLY?
A book that does it right: What Kills Me by Wynne Channing (Having their first kiss when they were about to be attacked actually made it more powerful and made sense given the situation.)
4. Strong = Lack of Emotion
Never getting emotional is not what makes a character strong! It’s fighting for what’s right and continuing to try even when things are tough. I much prefer characters with emotion.
A book that avoids this trope (another one that there is no way to do right): The Key to Erebus by Emma V. Leech (The protag is emotional but one of my favorite female characters for her strength and determination.)
3. Over-descriptive Epilogues
I don’t want to know all the detailed steps that were taken to change society, what job everyone has now, what the character’s wedding was like, or what her kid’s names are.
A book that does it right: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (It was corny, but there was too much going on throughout the series to not tie off the loose ends and let us see how things turned out.)
2. Self Deprecation
This is a major issue in YA. The character is beautiful and amazing, but of course she spends half of every page going on and on about how ugly and plain and pathetic she is and how no one likes her. It just makes a character really unlikeable for me.
A book that does it right: The Girl in Between by Laeken Zea Kemp (The protag is not so much self-deprecating but rather realistic about her situation.)
1. Characters Who are Vague for No Reason
#$@*&!% Do you even KNOW how much this aggravates me?! If your entire plot hinges on a dying character using his last breath to say, “The moon is nigh. He who has killed will kill again. The girl with hair of the sun and stars is next. You must protect her. Look to the treasure of the dandelions for the answers,” when he could’ve just said, “It was Bob who killed me. Sarah is next,” then you have a problem. Or if you have to make every character vague in order to FORCE mystery so that your readers will want to keep reading… I. Can’t. Stand. It. This is the fastest way to make me hate a book.
A book that does it right: Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond (Some characters ARE vague, but it’s for legitimate reasons.)