“Kell wore a very peculiar coat.”First line in A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
In July, I did a post about some of my favorite book tropes, so now I figured it was time to share some of the tropes that I don’t enjoy. This doesn’t mean that I hate every book that has these tropes but I’ll be more wary of picking up the book.
Just to clarify: Tropes are certain elements or themes that appear in a wide range of books. Many tropes are even adherent to specific genres. A trope doesn’t equal something bad but some can feel like that because of overuse and unoriginality.
In this post, I’ll define some of my most disliked tropes and why I dislike them. If I’ve enjoyed a book despite one of these tropes, I’ll also let you know which ones.
Definition: A competition or a tournament takes place and lasts for the majority of the book.
Why I don’t like it: This might seem like a weird one but stay with me for a second. To me, a competition is there to define when the action can happen. Mainly in the way that the climactic point of the book can’t happen till the competition is close to ending or over completely. I want to be surprised. I’ll end up just waiting impatiently for the competition to come to a close so the exciting thing can happen. It hinders my enjoyment of the other elements in the book which I might have liked.
Here are some exceptions:
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling – Fun story: I really struggled with this book the first time I read it because of the tournament. I got through it and now it’s my favorite in the series.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I think this is an exception because the Games doesn’t have a defined ending. It could literally end at any moment and thereby it maintains the element of surprise for me.
The not-like-other-girls female characters
Definition: Female characters who go out of their way to appear the least feminine as possible because apparently, it’s cool to be masculine. This include hate towards other girls for being feminine and liking “typical” girl things. This is also that “strong” female character who’s mainly considered strong because she can hit people.
Why I don’t like it: I struggled a bit with the name for this trope but if it helps you, I was basically just trying to describe Lila Bard from A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. It’s that kind of character I don’t enjoy reading about. I don’t mind a masculine female character as along as the author makes me believe that’s actually who they are. That’s just rarely the case, and the façade implies that it’s wrong or weak to be feminine.
I have no exceptions for this trope.
School Setting in Fantasy
Definition: Our main character spends the majority of the book at a school in a fantasy world to learn magic, science, assassination etc.
Why I don’t like it: This seems like a very popular trope that many people like but I will actively avoid it if the entire book takes place at a school. I find it a bit boring to have that kind of fixed setting because I see it as restricting to the story. It’s also bit too much like real life. You often have the bully, the popular group and so on. I don’t want that kind of predictability when reading fantasy.
I have the one exception you’re all excepting me to have:
- Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling – Yeah, this is the perfect school setting because anything can happen at Hogwarts so it’s never boring.
Redemption Arc for the Villain
Definition: The villain ends up being one of the good guys. This can come about in different ways. The villain could turn out to have been misunderstood or realizes their mistakes and are reeled in by the hero.
Why I don’t like it: The villain needs to stay bad! Otherwise, what’s the point? Sometimes it can feel like all that was necessary was a conversation. And not that extravagant plot we just went through.
I won’t give exceptions for this one because that would be spoilers.
The Mentor Who Dies
Definition: Our main character has a mentor/father figure typically from the beginning of the book. He or she teaches our main character about life, magic etc. for then to die about half way through the book or by the end of the first book in a series. This is done so that our main character is able to test what they’ve learned and stand on their own.
Why I don’t like it: The predictability. In 10 out 10 books, the mentor character dies. We know it from the moment they are introduced that we shouldn’t get too attached to them. I know it’s necessary for the story progression but don’t make it that obvious.
I have exceptions but again, it will be quite a big spoiler to mention.
Those were the tropes that I don’t particularly enjoy finding in books. Do you agree with me on some of them? What is your most hated trope?