I think this is something we all have. You start to read a book and you see a trope start to happen and the more you read, the more it starts falling into all the stereotypes. Sometimes, it’s great because it’s one you love, be it a guilty pleasure or not. Other times, you have to stop yourself rolling your eyes in annoyance of it. Most of the ones I like are with conditions and it has to be done well. Here are some of my favourites and least favourites!
Tropes I Like
Best Friends Falling in Love
I’m also all for best friends staying platonic (platonic friendships are important!) however, sometimes this is a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s much better than just an Instalove (a trope I dislike, but isn’t on this list) because they actually grow together and love each other in so many ways before realising their romantic feelings. My favourite examples are Ron and Hermione in Harry Potter and Aristotle and Dante in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
Strong Bonds of Friendship
If you know me, you know there is nothing I love more than a strong friendship. I mentioned it briefly in the last post but seriously; I LOVE friendships. The type where no one is unhealthily jealous and they support each other regardless. It’s so important to show these as well as romantic relationships which often YA can get too wrapped up in. It’s why I love the Golden Trio so much. One of my favourite books that features this is You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan.
The Chosen One
I feel like I cheated here because in some instances I actually hate this. HOWEVER, when it’s done well, it can be pretty brilliant. Harry Potter is my obvious example here but the best example of this is actually Percy Jackson and the Olympians. The best thing about this series (and the sequel series, Heroes of Olympus) is there is not just one Chosen One. It’s a Chosen Few really. The prophecies often contain one main Chosen One, but other specific characters are also essential and needed. The protagonist is not the most important or the strongest because they need the help of others. The Chosen One trope has a lot of potential, it’s just a shame it can often be done badly and in some ways can be problematic (nearly always the same identity of character: straight, white male or female).
This isn’t really a trope but I have read a lot more books recently which have more than just one point of view. I love it as it gives much more rounded views of the story world and other characters. Rather than just seeing characters and the world through the protagonist, we get different views and opinions. Heroes of Olympus features this, as well as The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. The latter is particularly brilliant because you get small chapters from such minor characters just to let you know what they were thinking or why they acted the way they did. It really is so different and wonderful.
Tropes I Dislike
I am so, so, so sick of love triangles. Yes, some of my favourite books feature them but no I don’t want any more! It feels like sometimes the love triangle is just thrown in there because there is a lack of plot for the protagonist. We all know the main books which feature this; The Hunger Games and Twilight. However, you could just pick up any YA novel and the likelihood of it featuring a Love Triangle is high.
Villain/Bad Boy falling for the Hero
I can’t explain why I hate this so much but I do. To be quite honest, it feels like more of a fandom trope than one specifically written in books. So many fandom ships consist of this and I’m just really not a fan. Mainly because it oversimplifies the villainous/problematic tendencies of the villain character. As though by loving a heroic character, the villainous one is redeemed and all is forgiven. It bothers me a lot and I think this is the main reason I don’t really want to read Carry On.
Nerdy Boy and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl
This happens in a lot of YA (mainly written by male authors) but the most obvious example is John Green. Most of his novels feature these same characters. I particular, Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns. Both the male protagonists are nerdy, inexperienced boys who develop an unhealthy obsession with a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I love Paper Towns but it truly is a narrative which is so overdone. The female characters seem really one dimensional and the male characters you just pity the whole way through; and that’s not because the don’t get the girl.
“Strong” Female Characters
Why is it, when a female character is strong she is so often emotionally detached and physically strong? Emotionally strong doesn’t necessarily mean you are cut off from your emotions and you don’t show affection. Strong can mean all sorts of things and it bothers me that if a character is sensitive, cries easily or is too ruled by their heart, they are seen as weak or a particular moment is seen as a weak moment. Emotional does not mean weak!
Protagonist Who Loves to Write
I just feel like this is overdone. It’s such a cliche. Author writes story about budding writer or character who just loves to write. There are certain generic interests I feel a lot of YA protagonists have and they are all often creative. I am a creatively minded person, so I do relate and love to sometimes read about characters who have a passion for things such as drawing, filmmaking, photography etc. However, it’s so refreshing when a main character loves something different. It’s also interesting because I don’t know lots about more “academic” passions interests. I’m currently reading The Sun is Also a Star (two mentions in one post, wow) and I love that Natasha is more technically minded and has a huge interest in science. It’s so different and wonderful to read!