More often than not, you’ll find yourselves noticing certain trends and tropes being used over and over again in your Young Adult reads. I, for one, have said several times, “Whoo, boy. I’ve seen this before.” It seems to me that most books follow a certain kind of formula that they think is popular with the intended audience, but for me, most of them are just lame and lazy attempts to escape/avoid certain parts/difficulties in the story. You’re probably thinking, “Escape?! Whadafaq, woman?! What the hell are you talking about?!”
I’ll explain that in a bit. For now, take a seat, grab some popcorn or a glass of soda, and allow me to entertain (or not… I’m not really a funny person) you with my top 3 common tropes in YA fiction featuring… POTATOES!
Trope #1: Absent/workaholic parents
Obsidian (Lux series) by Jennifer Armentrout
Twilight (Twilight Saga) by Stephanie Meyer
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
…and many others…
You’ve probably seen the following scenarios before amongst your Young Adult reads. One probably has workaholic parents who are almost always never home; the other probably has a parent or two out of town on a honeymoon or whatever affairs; and this other book probably has an alcoholic mom and an abusive, I-don’t-care dad. Whatever the situation may be, it only means one thing – FREEDOM FOR THE HEROINE! Convenience. The character can go wherever she wants, do whatever she wants, say whatever she wants, anytime, anywhere. I mean, there’s nothing stopping her, right?! Where’s mom and dad to question her actions, right?!
I’m not sure about you guys, but the absence of figures of authority seems to me a lame and lazy attempt to escape writing about children-parent relationships. I’ve seen it too often in Young Adult books that I just can’t help but think, “Why not write about it? Why not include it in the story? Why is it that they have to be out of the picture?” They’re not even in the background or by the sidelines, they completely have no influence or impact in the story whatsoever.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure not all YA books are this way. There are a couple out there where family plays a huge part, and I appreciated reading those (case-in-point: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch) since they were such a breath of fresh air. But… there are just too many books with such situations. It would be nice to see some elders also put into the picture.
Aside from that, has anyone noticed that most young adult heros/heroines are the only kid in their family? I’ve only read a handful of YA lit that include sibling love/bonding… it would be really interesting how it would work out, though. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly and the relationships between the heroine and her brother, Jeffrey. I need to find more books like this.
Trope #2: Insta-LOVE!
|It should be IRRESISTIBLE, moron! Male potato is stupid.|
…pretty much 75% of the YA books out there…
This is one of those tropes I am seriously tired of. I’ve read a lot of this kind of books, where the heroine/hero and the love interest pretty much go head-over-heels with each other the very moment their eyes have crossed each other (and honestly, the only valid instalove out there is the instalove between Marius and Cosette from Les Misérables. It’s still awfully cheesy, but hey, yay French Revolution!). There’s Twilight, there’s Obsidian, there’s Significance by Shelly Crane, and so many more to count, and trust me, there will be many more to come.
There’s really nothing wrong with it per se… it’s just that it’s so tiring and so… unnatural. I could be attracted to someone’s good looks the first moment I meet them, sure… that’s valid. What’s a little crush, right? All of us have gone through that at least once or twice. But love? How can I love someone after 2-3 days? It seems so superficial that way. You haven’t really gotten to know that person that much, haven’t seen the real him/her hidden within, so how can they actually be in love with each other already? I think this is my main problem with this trope. I feel that it degrades the meaning of love, something so deep, genuine, and meaningful, into something that can easily be thrown around and said to just anyone.
Some of you may be thinking that I’m making a big deal out of this, and maybe I am… but when it seems like there’s an air of monotony, predictability, and dullness in the genre you love so much, you just can’t help but desire a change or a book that provides something new or a novel that shows you how love really develops between two people and the significance it carries.
Books out there that have really good and well-developed romances are Unearthly, Earth Girl, Shadows on The Moon, Pushing The Limits, Easy, and Speechless. There are others out there, among the swarms of insta-love books, but I can’t remember them right now…
Trope #3: Heroine thinks she’s plain but she’s actually (gasp!) beautiful…
|Yes… he simply… glows…|
… also a lot…
The first one to guess what book the picture above is based on, you get a free cookie. As in a big chocolate chip cookie with caramel and oreos and… and… chocolate fondue. And I will not be responsible for the possible diabetes that you may likely acquire from it.
This is one of my most hated tropes out there, where the heroine keeps on whining about how plain she is compared to other girls, and how the love interest can’t possibly be attracted to an ugly, bland girl like her. Wow, fishing for compliments, much? They would then continue to describe their facial features, which actually spell G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S. And they become utterly surprised when someone praises their beauty! I just wish I could slit their throats whenever they say something like this:
But, but, but…! I am bland! I have wavy brown hair that looks just hideous when I wake up, and round, deep hazel eyes that could penetrate your soul and stab it with a dagger… and you know… I’m just not that pretty, so, why should you like me?!
This reminds me of those shoujo Japanese mangas where girls are portrayed as flat-chested and dull because the mangakas want these heroines to be more relatable to the common, average girls. And I understand that, I really do, and it kind of makes a bit of sense. But these YA novels really take it to the next level and really test my patience. Whenever I encounter something like this in a book, I immediately delete it from my Kindle and move on. I have no tolerance for such stupidity and obnoxiousness.
How about you? What do you think? Do you agree with my sentiments or do you disagree? What other annoying, common tropes found in YA literature that you can think of?
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