It’s been a while since I’ve done a Chatterbox discussion post so let’s chat. Also, I have to admit that this post came about because I was finding it hard to get through the book that I was supposed to be reviewing today… but that book shall not be named!
Let’s talk about five of my most disliked tropes in YA contemporaries. Contemporary is my most read genre but there are certain tropes that get on my nerves and make me want to throw the book across the room. These are listed in no particular order.
1. The absent parent narrative
This is something that I thought was becoming less common but I’ve seen a few books floating around this year with plots that revolve around parents disappearing off into thin air. Often this means that the main character needs to fend for themselves or a younger sibling, which leads to a ton of character development. (If you’ve read my review of This Raging Light, you’ll know how much I hate this trope). As much as I personally love it when my parents aren’t around and I get the whole house to myself, I’m a bit tired of the ‘flaky parent who disappears off on an adventure and doesn’t care about their kids’ narrative. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that and there are many different types of families out there, but I’d really like to see more stories where parents are present and supportive. These kinds of parents exist too.
2. Broken friendships for no reason
Okay this trope has been bothering me for a really long time and it’s essentially when the book starts off with a strong friendship between the main character and her best friend, but this friendship disintegrates because of something really minor… or for just absolutely no reason at all. It might be because one of them has acquired a new hobby, a new set of friends that the other is adamant about not being friends with, some small lie that one of them has taken offence with… etc. This happens in the majority of contemporary novels that I read and usually the only purpose of this broken friendship is so that the main character has more time to spend with her newfound love interest. I mean, if you don’t have to write about this friendship, you can spend more time writing about this swoony romance right?
3. Insta-love/Love cures all
This one is really self-explanatory and is probably on everybody’s list. There is honestly nothing that I hate more than insta-love and you’d be surprised by the number of books that I’ve read where the main character looks across the room/street and falls in love within the first 10 pages of the book (The Boundless Sublime comes to mind straightaway). Like please… spare me. And of course, lumped in with that is the love cures all trope, where anything can be made better with a strong dose of romance. Mental illness? Incurable cancer? Have no fear, here’s a boy!
4. That ‘pesky’ girlfriend
I don’t really have a problem with the ‘other’ girl trope because people have relationships and things happen, but when the other girl exists only to be the sole conflict in the book, it irks me a little. Or a lot. Because the book becomes all about the romance and essentially two-thirds of the book is full of angst and them pining for each other, and please just give me some actual plot?!
5. Love over hopes, dreams and opportunities
I’ve read a few books this year where the main character has given up on an opportunity or withdrawn from some prestigious competition that they would’ve won so that their love interest could win, and this is a trope that really bothers me. Maybe this is because I identify as an independent career woman, but I don’t think anyone should have to give up anything that’s important to them for somebody else. I know people make sacrifices on a regular basis but in a YA contemporary context, I don’t always understand why it’s necessary to give up some sort of scholarship or opportunity that you want just to make someone else happy.
So that’s it for my list of five disliked tropes in contemporary novels. The next time I post, I’ll be in Toronto, Canada!