Hey, readers! I’m back again – this time to bring you a list of book tropes that I love and hate. In case you’re unsure of what a book trope is, it can really be any trend that occurs repeatedly within multiple books. Some example tropes are love triangles, the “chosen one,” the female warrior, etc. I’ll break mine down by three categories: plot, romance, and characters. Now, shall we?
P L O T : F A V O R I T E S
- Royalty: I love fantasy, but I love fantasy that revolves around royalty and politics the most. I am all for the “young prince/king/princess” trope no matter how many books it appears in. It’s a trope that automatically catches my interest.
- Heists: Again, this is a common trope in fantasy novels, and I just adore it. I’ve been trying to read more and more heist books lately because they’re so action packed and intense. I love the fast-paced, insanity of this trope.
- Multiple POVs: This is one that I know a lot of people aren’t always into, but I love a good book with several points of view. Some of my all time favorite books (The Raven Boys, The Heroes of Olympus, All the Light We Cannot See, Salt to the Sea, and Six of Crows) are told from multiple POVs, and that was a big factor as to why I loved them so much. It helps build suspense, and we get to know the characters better.
P L O T : L E A S T F A V O R I T E S
- Flashbacks: I despise flashbacks in books, so if a book is told in half flashbacks and half present, then there’s a high chance I won’t like it. Something about flashbacks just bores me, and I always find myself wishing I could skip to the present. If there’s a couple flashback scenes that don’t last long, then I don’t mind, but having several in a book just annoys me.
- Re-tellings: Fairy tale re-tellings are all the rage right now, but I have zero interest in any of them. I only just picked up A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Beauty and the Beast re-telling) because I found out it’s a very loose re-telling. I also really wanted to get to the sequel which people have been absolutely raving about lately. Other than that exception, I never pick books up with this trope, no matter how popular they are.
- Time travel: Again, this is a huge trope right now that a lot of readers love, but I just refuse to give the time of day. This sort of relates back to my dislike of flashbacks, but I guess going back and forth through time just isn’t for me. No thanks.
R O M A N C E : F A V O R I T E
- Enemies to lovers: I know this trope can be dramatic and predictable if done badly, but if it’s done well, oh man do I love it! My number one OTP (James/Lily from HP) follows this trope. Annabth and Percy sort of follow this as well, as do so many other ships that I love, including David and Harper from Rebel Belle. When I used to read fanfiction, this was my favorite trope for that haha.
- Forced together through (mainly negative) circumstances: I wasn’t sure how to phrase this one, but I love when two characters can connect through shared circumstances. For example, I see this a lot in historical fiction when two characters who’d likely never meet end up meeting because of external forces like war or other unfortunate events. Once again, Salt to the Sea does this very well. And though their circumstances aren’t nearly as bad, the characters in The Scorpio Races follow this trope as well.
- The dark romance: I feel like this is a popular one, but I can’t not include it. I love when the female protagonist falls for the darker character and either a. discovers that they aren’t quite as dark as they seem or b. embraces her own darkness and decides not to care what other thinks about her choice. My favorite ships for this trope are Juliette and Warner from Shatter Me, Alina and the Darkling in the Grisha Trilogy, and Kaz and Inej from Six of Crows.
- The healthy relationship: Okay, this may seem like a really obvious one, but let me explain. In YA, there are a lot of couples who depend too much on each other, think the other will “save” them, couples who suck at communicating, etc. One ship that I just love because of their honesty and healthy approach is Aria and Perry from the Under the Never Sky trilogy (they also happen to fall in the “enemies to lovers” category). They are together for all three books, they never have a third party interference, they never have the awful miscommunication fights, and they are strong together.
- The character/character of authority trope: This was another hard one to categorize, but I love the ships where the protagonist gets with the prince/head leader/respected character/authority figure. An example of this would be Four and Tris from Divergent (at least in book one) and, again, Alina and the Darkling from the Grisha Trilogy. Maybe it’s because these leader characters are ones that I always like as love interests? I’m not sure. I just usually love this dynamic.
R O M A N C E : L E A S T F A V O R I T E
- The girl and the brooding warrior: This could honestly go under the character category as well, but I decided I hate it more when it involves ships. I hate when the female protagonist ends up with the brooding warrior/military character. In my experience, this tends to happen in a love triangle, and it will be between the military guy and a prince or person that is just generally less brooding. I find these ships soooo boring and predictable. This is the case with Alina/Mal in the Grisha Trilogy, Adam/Juliette in Shatter Me, Elisa and Hector in The Girl of Fire and Thorns (from what I can tell so far), Chaol and Celaena from Throne of Glass, etc. Get this trope away from me!
- The bad boy with a soft side: I am so over the trope where the bad boy of the book suddenly discovers his soft side once he meets a girl who he think is so “different from the rest.” Or, the bad boy who treats the girl badly but his supposed soft side is meant to make up for that. Nah. Nope. Bye.
- The “save me” romance: I briefly mentioned this already, but I hate tropes where either individual serves as the catalyst for “saving” the other character from their past, their mental illness, their negative ideology, etc. Just because someone comes into your life doesn’t mean everything will suddenly be better, and I especially see this with mental illness books which drives me craaaazy. This is why–among other reasons– I didn’t care for All the Bright Places.
*A note on love triangles: You might be wondering where I stand on these since they aren’t in either category, but that’s because it honestly varies by book. In general, I don’t hate love triangles if they’re done well. But if, throughout the books, one love interest becomes increasingly more annoying and out of character just so the protagonist will end up with the other love interest, then I get annoyed. I also get annoyed if the protagonist doesn’t end up with the person I favor. *sigh* But in general, I’m pretty neutral about love triangles.
C H A R A C T E R : F A V O R I T E
- The morally Gray: I’ve expressed multiple times that I love me a good dark character. Give me all the characters who are problematic yet still worthy of being routed for. Give me the Sirius Blacks, the Draco Malfoys, the Kaz Brekkers, the Ronan Lynchs, the Zoya Nazyalenskys, the Arya Starks, the Aaron Warners, and the Tris Priors. I don’t your Mary Sues or Gary Stus. This is probably my favorite character trope – the ones I have to defend, but will do so willingly.
- The notorious one: I like the character trope involving a protagonist who is notorious for something, whether they’re a notorious thief, a notorious political figure, or a notorious fighter, I just love character notoriety. I love when a character has myths or rumors about what they can do. It’s just such a fun trope.
- The intelligent character: And I don’t mean the protagonist who is suspicious of everyone and is constantly questioning people. I mean the characters who, every time they speak, have something intelligent to say. Or, even if they aren’t spewing information right and left, just the way they speak sounds smart. It’s even better if they aren’t big talkers, but then once they do talk, they command everyone’s attention because they know what they’re talking about. I live for those quiet yet commanding characters, especially if they’re leaders.
C H A R A C T E R : L E A S T F A V O R I T E
- The servant BFF: This is such a common YA Fantasy trope that I can’t stand simply because of how often it occurs. What I mean is when the protagonist is captured or forced to live in a new kingdom or something of the like and becomes BFF with her maid. I pretty much expect it every time. But I’m over it.
- The “strong” female warrior: Again, this is common in YA Fantasy. I just don’t understand why the female warriors are always considered to be so strong and badass. Why can’t the protagonist still be strong but not be a warrior or assassin? Why can’t we have more female protagonists who are strong for their magic or their words, or their decisions to not jump into something without thinking first? I’m so sick of the “strong” female protagonists who all somehow know how to use swords and freaking bows and refuse to wear dresses and only wear their hair in braids, etc. Like, every fantasy protagonist is the same. At least give them some emotions! I’m not saying female assassins aren’t cool, but my God, give us some variety…
- The character who can’t get over their past: Every character has a past. That’s fine. But what irritates me is when a character lingers on their past for the entire series and brings it up constantly. When their past is still interfering with their ability to be rational two books later, it just gets annoying. Or, when one character excuses another chraacter’s actions because of that character’s past? GAH. Or if a character uses their own past as an excuse for why they acted out? BYE.
– – –
Welp, this post turned out longer than I anticipated, but I guess I had a lot to say on tropes! Please let me know some of your favorite and least favorite tropes – do you agree or disagree with any of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!
Until next time,