December 6th – Bookish Things You’re a Grinch About: Since being a grinch is a funny thing, try not to make this serious topics that make you angry (like lack of diversity or abusive relationships in fiction, etc) as this is supposed to be more of a petty bookish things you hate. This can be stuff about covers, dumb tropes, etc. Have fun with it.
All right, a chance to rant! Reading everyone else’s posts has been super fun, by the way. Here we go!
1. Characters calling each other by name way too frequently. This is a super small thing but it irritates me SO MUCH. If two people are having a conversation in real life they are not going to be using each others’ name every other sentence because it’s very clear who they are talking to! Authors do this so much and it always jolts me out of the narrative because it makes the dialogue feel so…stiff and unnatural and performative. Imagine a lengthy conversation in a book and literally in every sentence the characters use each others’ names…it ‘s hell. Utter hell.
2. The Exceptional Woman, aka “I’m Not Like Other Girls.” This is a super irritating trope not only because it pits women against each other, but because it inevitably leads to the dreaded Mean Girl trope as well. So you’ll have your protagonist, who is special and perfect, and then all other girls are either silly and frivolous or complete jerks for no reason whatsoever. Thankfully it looks like we’re starting to see less of this and more of female friendships, but it is still shockingly prevalent in fiction, YA in particular, which is just so horribly insidious to pit teen girls against one another like that.
3. Everyone is Beautiful and You Need to Be Reminded Constantly. Character descriptions can be so damn irritating in YA fiction. I really hate it when the protagonist is thought of as ~gorgeous~ by everyone except herself. I hate it even more when the male love interest is super chiseled and perfect and the author is constantly describing his shiny abs and sharp jaw or whatever and our heroine is always going weak in the knees at the sight of him. It’s so boring and so heteronormative and wouldn’t it be so much more interesting if they looked like ordinary people? Or if they looked interesting/striking but not necessarily beautiful? Or if they were beautiful in ways that don’t adhere to traditional Western beauty standards? Or if they were beautiful but weren’t attracted to each other? Or at the very least, can authors stop harping on about how gorgeous their characters are?
4. Instalove/Soulmates. I really, really hate this. I mean, to be fair, I’m not a huge fan of romance in general, but that’s because most romance is done so badly! I actually really love well-done romances (Kell and Lila in Shades of Magic; Wanu and Hanani in the Dreamblood duology; Nahri and Dara in The City of Brass; Kaz and Inej in Six of Crows). I like slow-burn relationships, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, relationships that develop over time, realistic relationships, relationships with depth and hard work and payoff. I even don’t mind love triangles if they’re done well! But instalove is boring and doesn’t give the reader anything to wonder about or root for.
5. Tropes Played Straight. Let me explain this one, because it’s kind of vague, but I’ve encountered it a lot, particularly in YA. This is when an author introduces a very common trope and sets the story up in such a way to make it seem like the trope will be subverted…only the trope is played completely straight. The most prominent examples are Red Queen and the Mara Dyer trilogy. In Red Queen, I really thought the author was playing on our expectations and giving us an unexpected love interest…only she played the trope completely straight and gave us the boring predictable love interest. In Mara Dyer the book set itself up as a psychological thriller but then went the standard supernatural romance/soulmate route. There is so much to play around with in literature if authors took these tropes and flipped them on their heads; it’s a great way to shock readers’ expectations. One of the reasons I really love GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire is that so many cliched fantasy tropes are overturned and subverted.
This was surprisingly cathartic, haha!