Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bookish Trends That Need to Die/I Want More Of

AKA, Gillian is a Negative Nancy once again and doesn't give a damn

Abusive douchebucket love interests
I think this one pretty much speaks for itself, doesn't it? I love me some bad boys, but I don't like boys who are actually bad. There's a big difference. Or at least, books who portray bad guys as good guys. I like complex, not black and white characters. But most of the time, these negative characteristics (like being controlling, physically or emotionally abusive, sexist, cold, cruel, secretive, overly protective to the point of being coddling) are romanticized in YA lit. And me no likey.

Protagonists whose whole lives center around their love interests
Again, it speaks for itself. People are complex. They've got siblings, parents, school, friends, dreams, fears, worries. And yes, having a significant other is very important when you're a teen (and... well, any age, really), but it's not all.

Vanishing parents
This is a tricky one for me, since a lot of the time, having no parents in the picture really does help (see: The Hunger Games). But I always find it really refreshing when YA parents actually seem to 1) exist, 2) care about their children, 3) not Disapparate off the page whenever the main character really could use some parental intervention. It's one thing if the book focuses on a strained parent-kid relationship. It's another if the parents just HAPPEN to be WOEFULLY OBLIVIOUS to all the shenanigans afoot right beneath their mustachioed noses (poor Charlie Swan).

It's hard to avoid them completely, obviously--sometimes the plot really does require a mean girl-- but why not make the mean girl a geek instead of a cheerleader? Poor? Not blonde?

Unrealistic teenage sex
I think it's realistic for teenagers in to books to have sex. It's realistic for them not to. But it's NOT realistic for a teenager's first time to be mind-blowing and coordinated and awesome. No, most likely you'll be like Seth and Summer, and someone will get kneed in the leg or fall off the bed and afterward you'll both just stare at the ceiling, hoping it will fall down on you. 


I'm not a huge angel fan to begin with, and I think this trend has passed its high point. There are some (a few? one or two?) really good angel books, but the vast majority really don't do it for me.

I wrote a whole other long, rant-y, gif-tastic post on the subject of instalove. I like to root for romances I can believe in, that have some emotional foundation. I refuse to believe you're willing to give your life for someone who you only just made eye contact with. I don't care if angels sang and the sky became a rainbow  and every possible synonym for "fiery" was used to describe your body at the moment of said eye contact. You're not in love yet.

Greek mythology
 Let me be clear here: I LOVE Greek mythology. I read and memorized the D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths the summer after fifth grade when I went to Greece. The cover fell OFF because I read it so much. And there continue to be lots and lots of great Greek myth-inspired books out there (Everneath, Antigoddess, The Percy Jackson series, etc.). But there really is quite a lot of it out there. Let's go for Egyptian gods, or Norse, or Mayan, or Indian, or anywhere else for a little big. Zeus and Co. will always be there to return to.

The world is a diverse place. I love when books accurately reflect that.

The trends everyone expects to be on these type of lists but that I'm only going to sort of include:

Love triangles just for the sake of a love triangle

You may remember I wrote a post in defense of love triangles a little while ago, because I actually think when deployed correctly (key phrase), they can be awesome. They're good for personifying a conflict in a main character. Do I roll my eyes a bit every time I read a synopsis that hints at a love triangle? Yes, I do, but who knows-- it might be one of the good ones. So while I wish this weren't really a trend anymore, and didn't pop up in every single book I read, I still like love triangles. SUE ME.

Am I inclined to pick up vampire books nowadays? No sirree. Am I a huge vampire fan to begin with? NO. But I'm also obsessed with The Vampire Diaries TV show and I just started The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black and it's kind of crazy awesome. So I'm all for vampires as long as it's something new or done really well.

And now for the trends I want MORE of!

I never get sick of retellings. Retellings of fairy tales, classic novels, folk tales, you name it--I love seeing new spins on old stories.

New Adult
The more New Adult books that get written, the better and more clearer the category will become. As a New Adult myself who just read and LOVED Faking It by Cora Carmack, I think this can only be a good thing.

What trends are you sick of/can't get enough of?


  1. I just want to hug this post to my heart's content because I love your posts and I love seeing people poke at trends because I WANT THEM TO DIEEEEE. But I so agree with you on the ones that you want more of (who can ever have too many retellings? NOT I). People need to be more fresh!

  2. AHH. NO MORE DOUCHEBAG BOYS! THANK YOU! Seriously, what it attractive about some of these boys? There are so many guys about whom I think "There is no way I would let you treat me like that," so why is it so swoon-worthy in a book just because the girl puts up with it? It blows my mind. And I am so over it.

    Angels, yup, over it. Same with vampires except, as you said, in specific (exceptional) cases (looking forward to Coldest Girl, for example). Otherwise, I see those words in the synopsis and immediately move on.

    Instalove, ugh. Grow up, people. There's a difference between seeing a guy and thinking "Damn, he is fine and I would totally ravage him... I should get his number or something," and "Oh, hot guy... OMG he looked me in the eye I love him!" Please.

    I WANT MORE -GOOD- NORSE AND EGYPTIAN MYTHOLOGY! Yeah, the Greek is fun, but I love the stories of the Norse and Egyptian gods too, so gimmie! I am a mythology monster. I want it all.

    Basically what I'm trying to say is I feel ya on a lot of these points.

    1. HEAR HEAR about the douchebag boys!

      EXACTLY what you said about instalove/insta-attraction. THEY'RE DIFFERENT. One is okay and one is ugh.


  3. Great post! I like how the ranty bit is really long, and then you get to the part you want more of and it's so short. Haha. Anyways, I'm with you on practically all of these. Cut out the rude bastard boyfriends who are hot. Personality means more than looks. And cut out the stereotypes. Can't we have more authors who try to be original? Without relying on angels or vampires or some other mythical creature to make it different? Because that's no different. Those are overdone as well! I just want something fresh and original, in any kind of way. I'm not picky! :P

    1. I know, I'm trying to work on being more positive as opposed to negative, but it's a slow process! :)

  4. Every time I read about that mind blowing teenage sex, I think to myself that it better well be that good for me. Because, EXPECTATIONS.

    I have to agree on the absentee parents - that ship has long since sailed and I'm SO over the dysfunctional-family-just-to-be-dysfunctional trope. Please, some healthy family relationships!!

    1. Haha, mind blowing teenage sex is HARDLY realistic, sadly!

      I LOVE reading about healthy family relationships! There can be good drama in those, too!

  5. I just want to give you the biggest virtual high five (the kind that almost makes your cry, cause your hand stings so bad) because of this post! I think I have to agree all the way around. Though I might have to switch out angels for aliens myself. I love what you said about sex. Spot on. And I'm also a fan of a well worked love triangle! I think they are great plot tools, but when they are there for the sake of just being, I'm not such a fan. But I say do them!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I wrote an entire blog post about douchebags and their necessity. I actually think there's a lot of complexity to a douchebag when done right, regretfully they are usually the only reason a character is a douchebag is just to be a douchebag. That's four douchebags in one comment, that's got to be a record.

    I'd like to see something besides "issue" books. Can't reading be about an escape sometimes. It seems even the YA books that are what I would consider "escape" books are really issue books in disguise. Does there always need to be this heavy handed message?

    1. Oh, a douchebag done RIGHT can be a beautiful thing. I just have a problem when authors create douchebags and clearly have no idea they are douchebags, and treat them as if they are NOT douchebags, and romanticize them (lots and lots of douchebags in these comments!).

  8. LOVE your list and I totally agree with you on just about everything (including love triangles - they're great when they're done right!) Your comments on first-time sex had me laughing! I'm not so sure that I'd want to see awkward sex in every book I read, but I can totally see your point!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. That's true--perhaps not EVERY book should have comically awkward first time sex! But more often than not, it's not the beautiful, romantic, fade-to-black scenario we get in so many books!

  9. Re-tellings and new adult FTW! <3 I'm really hating heroines meant to kick some ass that go wimpy when a hot guy comes along. I'm discovering too much of this. if you're meant to kick some ass, kick some ass! Don't be a wimp! Kick the hot guys ass to! duh

    1. YES Re-tellings and NA!

      UGH YES. I HATE THAT TOO. THAT'S THE WORST. It's sooo disappointing.

  10. This was an awesome post. And I think douchebucket will be my word of the day!

  11. Basically I could have written this post, Gillian. ESPECIALLY the parents thing. Why aren't there more NORMAL families in YA? IE. ones that are AROUND but aren't checked out all the time? I recently read GOLDEN and I loved it BECAUSE (among many many reasons) the MC's mom was very much in the picture and they were working on their relationship. My pet peeve is definitely when parents aren't there EVER, or are but like you said, are basically Charlie. Book Charlie. Because movie!Charlie? TOTALLY different character at times IMO.

    UGH, vampires. I do love TVD but I don't want to read about them ever ever again I don't think.

    Douche-y love interests need to DIAF. Seriously. WHY do legions of people want to read about Joe McCreeper and Ed "Stalker" McInsulty? That drives me INSANE. Would we be in these relationships in real life? I sure as hell wouldn't. *barf*

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    1. SO WITH YOU ON BOOK CHARLIE VS MOVIE CHARLIE. Totally different. I prefer movie Charlie.

      I'm with you on vampires, but Coldest Girl seems to be reeeeally good. Once I'm farther in I'll let you know. But yeah, I'm mostly maxed out on vamps.

      YES OMG I just laughed so hard at Joe McCreeper and Ed "Stalker" McInsulty. I'm OVER them.

  12. Oh God, instalove. I hate it. It makes me roll my eyes. And it makes me angry.

    Also, about first time sex, I think that's why I loved Losing It so much. Bliss was just so overly awkward that I was like, thank youu for not having everything be absolutely perfect!

    1. Yeah, instalove is not my fave.

      YES! Totally agree on Bliss!

  13. I agree with so many things in this pot. Especially insta love and whitewashing. There are so many different kinds of people in the world and the lack of minorities in YA is so disappointing. And don't even get me started on the insta love, the instant "connection" and being "drawn" to someone for some unknown reason. Ugh, I am not a fan.

  14. Oh, you listed so many trends that I would love to see die! Hating on insta-love is my favorite pastime, but I just as equally can't stand those abusive, control freak "love interests". And though Angelfall was fantastic, I'm not a fan of angel books either.
    "The world is a diverse place. I love when books accurately reflect that." *nods*
    New adult tends to disappoint me, but I just picked up Addicted to You and wow it's really good/total guilty pleasure :P

    Awesome post!

  15. I love bad boys, but I agree with you, actual bad boys are no good and don't need to be swooned over. You also make an excellent point about the vanishing parents. It is frustrating and I don't know why sometimes the author leaves them out for no real reason.

    Great post!

  16. A big fat yes for ALL of those! Also, to add to the list, when female protagonists are meant to be physically awkward and feel unattractive....because they're thin. Can we get some pudgy, well-developed characters? Maybe bi-racial? Maybe with big noses, or boobs that came in too early and so everyone called them a heifer in middle school? Maybe with freakish tallness that scares all the boys away? Some kind of diverse "freakish" would be a nice break from the "supposedly attractive" that actually fit the normal definition of attractive at that age.

  17. I agree with this ENTIRE post! Definitely less white-washing and stereotypes, I mean, come on! Also, we need less of MCs who revolve around their love-interest. I don't know many (actually no one in real life)who does that so why do so many MCs in fiction do it?

  18. Amen! I actually agree with all your points! I mostly hate the love triangles and the bad bad boys. Some triangles are good, but now it's just in every book and the whole plot tends to be about deciding between the 2 love interests... boring! And bad boys have to have a soft side too, that's what makes them attractive, not their arrogant side. Some writers don't seem to understand that.


Note: comments on posts older than 90 days are automatically moderated, so they won't show up here immediately. Thanks for commenting! :)