A commonly discussed topic in the young adult book community are “annoying tropes.” Anyone who has a book related blog/Instagram/youtube has thought about their list of most awful and overused clichés in young adult literature. It’s a negative topic so of course people flock to it. And it’s not like they DON’T have a lot of tropes to cover. YA lit is bursting with these themes and motifs that are used way too often or are just completely ridiculous to begin with. So today I thought I’d talks about 5 exceptions to some pretty awful tropes. These are books that used the trope well or with purpose. I also enjoyed these books partly because of their annoying little book devices. Gasp Let’s get started.
Let’s start by talking about the terrible Instalove. This is most people’s number one hated trope. First let me reiterate what a lovely booktuber I follow had to say on the subject. You can find her original video HERE. Instalove is when the characters get together and within pages are declaring their undying love for each other. It is NOT the characters looking at each and thinking, “Oh my goodness she is so pretty. I must be with her.” This is called attraction. And believe it or not the average person experiences this at least once in their life, if not every day during puberty. Instalove is also NOT the characters having a sexual relationship within a few chapters. This is two consenting people having a sexual relationship. Some might call it a one night stand or a friends with benefits. Either way its not instalove bc the intense feeling isn’t there. All this being said, I think Instalove has a purpose in certain stories. When a girl is spends exactly one night with the male lead and decides that he is everything in reality it is sign that something isn’t right in the girl’s brain. When the issues are addressed, I personally think instalove is used perfectly. The reader knew it wasn’t real love. And the protagonist can’t figure it out. A good example of this in my opinion is “When We Collided” by Emery lord. Jonah and Vivi “fall in love” awfully fast. But here’s the thing, he has major depression and she is bipolar. Part of being bipolar is that you go through mania. When you are manic you experience delusions about your abilities, your euphoric, and you can have a lack of control leading to not caring about boundaries or where to draw the line. Of course Vivi thinks she’s in love, she isn’t taking her medicine so she is swinging back and forth between two extreme moods. The instalove in this case just highlights the effects of Vivi’s Bipolar.
The next trope I want to talk about is another infamous one, that is the Love Triangle. I do agree that having the girl go back and forth between two guys, only to choose the guy she was with first that you knew all along was the better choice, is getting way over used. There are exceptions to the love triangle rule though. My pick is Snow Like Ashes. Meira has grown up with Mather as best friends. Throughout the first book she becomes close to another young man. And for the first time in my reading life, both males were well developed. Both were likeable. And it wasn’t insanely obvious which way she would lean. In fact, when the book ended she wasn’t with anyone. She was just herself, loving her country. I need to read books 2 and 3 but I’m hoping they follow suit.
Trope number three is one that I am just over. If I never read it again I’d be OK. I’m talking about the “bad boy with a heart of gold.” Why must every male love interest be a bad boy who is secretly a cinnamon muffin. Make your characters real and unique. Anyway, a book that uses this trope properly is one I read recently. “Ten Reason Sloane Hates Tru”. This was a slightly cheesy but fun to read rom com. Sloane is forced to move from NYC to Austin, Tx b/c of her recent jail time. Her mom warns her about the rebellious nature of the bad boy next door. So of course she doesn’t listen and falls in love. The reason it wasn’t the same trope was b/c the stories about him being rebellious and difficult were all lies from his abusive father. Tru was actually good in school, well liked, and gentlemanly. He didn’t need to or want to act bad. And his one bad boy habit of day drinking is addressed in a healthy and supportive matter. I highly enjoyed this book.
Now we are down to the last two. I’m here to say I chose the tropes/writing devices that really get my goozle. I’ve put down books and never picked them back up for using one of these tropes. I just can’t get past it. Bewarned. So the next writing device I’m gonna talk about is cheating. I cannot stand it when characters cheat together on other characters. BREAK UP with your significant other if you wanna be with someone else. USE YOUR Words!! And there are whole books where this is the plot: Girl likes boy, boy has a gf. Girl and boy spend so much time together they are in love. They are the true pair. So gf gets hurt. What a shoddy storyline. UGH. So, the book I’m recommending is going to come as shock. But let me explain myself. 99 Days by Katie Cotungo has a ton of cheating in it. You will NOT like the protagonist. You will think she is repeating her history. And you might even become disgusted with the whole situation. But I recommend it b/c for once the author wasn’t romanticizing cheating. She points out what happens when one cheats. You ruin families. You destroy friendships. And at the end of the day all you have is yourself, who you hate. Cotungo shows that it takes two people to home wreck, so don’t blame the girl. Slut shaming is never ok. As in NEVER EVER. We learn through Julia that you can’t be in a relationship just because it’s comfortable or because they are the one available/ the only one offering their affections. You can ruin the lives of other people by doing such things. I hope people push through the painful parts and continue reading 99 Days. This is cheating done correctly.
And finally. The last trope with an exception. My number one hated trope is using lack of communication and teen angst as a driver for the plot. Let me explain. I’ve read so many books where the lead characters have all these feelings but don’t talk to one another. In fact, the entire movement of the story-line is based on the two characters not being honest with each other. It’s so angsty yet if you removed the conflict the story would just stop. I realize teenagers aren’t the best at communication. But when this is your source of story movement it annoys the crap out of me. There is no logical reason why these people aren’t talking. They’re just both “scared”. I recently read Ruined by Amy Tintera. This was another one of those princess in disguise at the enemies castle books. The two protagonists reached a point where they had some lack of communication and angst happening. But here’s the thing, the story was still moving along because action was happening. There was external conflict to deal with. Also if Em were open with Casimir it would most likely lead to death. He was with his guard who also hated her. Her people had threatened his life in the last 24 hours so just pouring out some honest feelings would be a bad call. This is a great use of miscommunication because in life when experiencing a conflict you created, are you not hesitant to be open and say “That’s not exactly what I mean to happen.” I loved this book and eagerly await the next one.
Well that’s all for my exceptions to tropes discussion. Comment down below if you know any other books that use one or more of these tropes correctly. Or have another trope to discuss. I hope you’re having a great day!