Before I started blogging, I didn’t really read with a critical eye. And to be honest, I didn’t read a whole lot either. I basically liked everything I picked up, when I bothered to read a book. But now I read a LOT. Maybe not as much as a lot of book-internet-types, but much more than the average person, and much more than pre-internet Bekka.
Over the years I’ve been able to hone my critical eye – and I’ve been able to figure out what types of books work for me. And those that don’t. Today I want to talk about the things that do not work for me. I tend to stay away from this type of story not because there’s something inherently wrong with them, but just because I know it’s not my taste. Of course, there are exceptions, and I’ll go over those, too.
a list of dares
This is a very popular YA contemporary trope. Usually the main character is shy and/or introverted, and their best friend or family member is wild and free and wants the poor MC to break out of her lonesome, boring shell. These types of books can be great for character growth. You get to see the main character push her own boundaries and broaden her horizons. But for me, I find them unrealistic, cliche, and at worst, kind of mean. There’s nothing particularly or inherently wrong with being an introvert or a homebody. You’re not pathetic or boring or a loser if you embody those ideals.
Exceptions: Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno; this had me sobbing from about 5% in, and I really loved the aunt character who was the darer.
same story, new pov character
I don’t know about you, but I really hate the cash-grabby trend of writing the same exact story, but from the love interest’s perspective. I find it to be cheap and almost lazy, and a nice way to get your readers to fork over more cash. This is a huge trend in New Adult romances, and I’ve fallen for this exactly zero times. If this new character’s point of view was so important, why not include it in the first go-round?
Exceptions: I haven’t actually read it yet, but Richelle Mead’s newest YA trilogy, The Glittering Court, is a mystery told from three perspectives, with each new character getting their own book. I don’t know if I’ll buy them, but I do want to check them out.
one story, eight thousand different authors
This, I think, is a relatively new phenomenon, but not one that really works for me. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I mean books like Feral Youth or Violent Ends. These books are one single story, with each new chapter written by a different author. I tried a little bit of the latter, but the different voices didn’t work for me. I also tend to dislike short story collections, and these are very similar, so maybe this is why I just don’t like this style.
There aren’t any notable exceptions to this. At least not yet.
Time travel is something I just can’t wrap my head around. When I get into time travel type books, I tend to focus on the mathematics of it all, which can obviously bog down a fast-paced action narrative. Also, there are only a handful of ways a time travel story can end, and one of them is closing the loop with all the characters reverting back to their original state, thus taking away all of the character development we just read through. So with my brain working overtime to fix the author’s paradoxes, the sad and sometimes lackluster endings, and the lack of desire to read about all these different timelines through a modern lens, it’s just not for me at all.
Exceptions: The Girl With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke; this ripped my heart out and didn’t even have the decency to put it back together. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; obviously. The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood; this focuses so much on the math side of things which tickled my nerdy little brain.
I really don’t know what it is, but when magical powers are framed as Super Powers, I’m instantly bored. I don’t really know why this is, especially considering that I love superhero movies. I also love magic in fantasy settings. But when you put this into vigilante type stories, it’s not for me at all. I can’t actually think of any super hero type books I’ve liked except for a few comics.
Exceptions: Suicide Squad, Ms Marvel, DC Bombshells. I also want to read Renegades by Marissa Meyer because it’s very different from her other work, and I loved the Lunar Chronicles.
Wilderness camps are a big thing in contemporary YA. Kids are sent to these camps to live outdoors for a certain amount of days and reflect upon whatever Issue they’re dealing with at the time – and usually it’s some form of punishment after their parents have tried everything. I know they can do a lot for character development, but man, oh man, are these stories so boring. I do not care for survival stories anymore – even though I used to love them. There’s nothing more boring to me than reading an account of someone camping and building a fire. And I find the predictability of these stories to be too much anymore. You can pretty much tell within the first chapter how things are going to work out.
Did I accidentally disparage one of your favorite tropes? What are some tropes and styles you don’t particularly like?