Monday, September 30, 2013

Top Ten Book Turn-Offs
Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

So, some months ago I actually did this topic (Bookish Trends That Need to Die/I Want More Of), so when I saw this topic I was in a PANIC. "Oh no! What if I repeat myself? The world will end and puppies will starve and there will be no more laughter!" Well, whatever. I'm going to repeat myself. In fact, I am going to quote myself. The puppies will just have to deal.

 1. 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.

 2. 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.

3. 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).

4. Stereotypes

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?

5. 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.

6. Instalove

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.

7. Whitewashing/heteronormativity


The world is a diverse place. I love when books accurately reflect that. If there is not ONE gay person, or person of color, or person who isn't thin and conventially attractive, or even someone from a different socioeconomic background... well, I'm going to call shenanigans. Unless your novel takes place a purposefully homogenous society, but even then someone should MENTION the issue. I really took issues with books like The Selection and Matched, which feature rigid, codified romantic situations but never even discussed the possibility that characters could be gay. Like, how interesting would that have been, if one of the girls Selected girls liked other girls instead of the prince? Or if Cassia was being matched with a dude, but she totally doesn't swing that way? These possibilities weren't even floated. 

8. Inappropriate POV switches

I actually like when books have multiple points of view (provided this is well executed, of course). I dislike when the author seems to have no control over whose viewpoint he or she is utlizing, and the narrative, which for all of the book has been focused on one person's limited third person, will flitter through another character's brain for a sentence and then pop right back into our MC's. Nooooo. 

9. Poor grammar

See: Frozen. If the author doesn't even have a basic command of English, how can I expect them to have a basic command of storytelling? I lose faith when I see that the basics aren't covered. I wouldn't hire a chef who didn't know how to fry an egg or what mise en place means or how to grill.

10. Characters who turn into wimps when a love interest comes along

 I haaaaate this. I especially hate it, because it's usually female characters who lose all their fire and spirit and awesomeness because some hot guy made eye contact with them. BLEGH.

11. Bad author behavior


Unacceptable in any form and will make me never want to read the author's book. 

Honorable mentions: Adultery, an overly preachy message, animal violence, slut-shaming (and virgin-shaming), standalones that MORPH into series, when girl characters seemingly need boy characters to save them.


  1. Great List! lots of great points. here is mine

  2. You pretty much... actually no you definitely hit all of my book turnoffs. Actually I just read an NA book that combined 3 of your turn-offs and one honorable mention.Female protagonist fell into insta-love with a douche-y "bad boy" yet there's another guy who's on the cusp of being controlling and oh yeah the female character cheated on one with the other.

    1. I think I've read the one you're talking about. If I did, God that book sucked! I hate it when that happens. :)

  3. This is such a great list! I completely and wholeheartedly agree with your post. Esp. with the first three! And most definitely bad grammar! You're very spot on :)

    My TTT: my ttt
    Karla @ Silver Readings

  4. Yeah that was basically my entire list hahah...except with awesome gifs!

  5. YES YES YES to every single one of these. Love how ur gifs perfectly matched your topic. I can never find good ones....Love your list though :)

  6. Yes Yes Yes! Great list and awesome gifs! I definitely agree with the absentee parents, the instalove, and the life centering around the <3 interests!

    Here's My TTT

  7. Great list! I agree with a lot of your turn-offs. I hate weak female characters and insta-love!

  8. I so agree with all of these, especially unrealistic teen sex. It's usually like something hot and perfect. LOL. Yikes.

    My TTT

  9. Great list. Whitewashing/heteronormativity is horrible but I don't like the token chubby BFF or gay friend whose on hand to give out fashion advice etc either. Include the characters in a meaningful fashion. Lets not forget the furore caused when people discovered Rue and Cinna were being played by...non-white actors. Never mind the fact that it was expressly mentioned in the books. Bleh! Here's my TTT

  10. Unrealistic teen sex is such a true one that I forgot about. Its amazing how many there are! The jerk love interest is one of the very worst offenses to me. I don't want a perfectly good guy but the jerk to be a jerk bit? Over done and not attractive.

    My Friends Are Fiction's TTT

  11. Love how you set this list up and the items you put on it.

    My TTT List

  12. this list kicks butt. so so good and love the images!!

    #1-- yes yes yes-- all for a bad boy, but not a true douche....bucket. lol
    #3-- i love books that include parents. those relationships can add so much to character development and the plot in general.
    #5-- i haaate the mindblowing virgin sex. just like tv (most tv.. minus summer and seth.. haha) sex is displayed as easy and sexy and natural. LIARS!! haha
    #6-- booo instalove
    #7-- WHITEWASHING. i hate it. why all the white kids with the occasional token character of another race or sexuality. mix it up a bit shall we???

  13. >.>
    I secretly harbored the headcanon all through The Selection that Marlee had a beautiful lesbian crush on America.

  14. Love your list, and your gifs, thanks for sharing! I agree with all yours, and had a similar list myself. It was hard to stop at 10 :-)

  15. This is a super good list! Agree with all, especially the absent parents. I feel like YA writers avoid parents a lot of the time because they think absence of parents = the conflict is more intense, but this isn't even necessarily true. I love it when there's another layer of conflict in a book that comes from the MC potentially trying to hide their problems from their parents (which I feel like is something that happens a lot in real life) or parents who try, but really can't fix the problem.

  16. What an awesome list! I can't help but agree with pretty much all of them -- particularly whitewashing/heteronormativity, and stereotypes.

  17. Perfection! We didn't have many in common this time 'round, but that doesn't mean that I don't agree wholeheartedly with what you're saying. :) Snaps to Instalove and Bad Author Behavior, those are two of my favorites, but damn if I didn't start laughing out loud when I read your Heteronormativity one, too. Out of the numerous pile of plot devices that could have made The Selection better, I swear, that one's my favorite. :)

  18. I agree with you on pretty much all your points. Especially stereotypes. And often, I think a lot of peopledon't think of things being stereotypes. For example, how women or girl characters are treated. And I am so sick of the mean girl character. Ugh! Please.

  19. So many of these! Poor grammar/typos drive me insane. I know some people say if you're seeing the errors, you're not reading the story, but I call bs. Editing is part of what I do for a living. That means errors all but jump off the page for me and in the weirdest places (restaurant menus, for example). I can't NOT see them.

    Great list!

    My TTT.

  20. LOVE all your points! I love the one where the Main Character makes her Love Interest her entire world. I know having a boyfriend is great and everything but it doesn't make it your entire world.

    Giselle @ Book Nerd Canada
    Top Ten Tuesday

  21. Insta love makes me angry every single time. I want to believe in it and be invested in the relationship and I just can't if all of a sudden OMG I love yous ensue. Also, totally agree with #1! douchebuckets (hahaha) that are really douches are not attractive. And #10! I want the girls to retain their snark or personalities instead of being just a puddle of mush all of a sudden!

  22. Ugh your #1, yes! Abusive douchebags or parents or anything of the sort, just no. No abuse of douchebaggery whatsoever makes Lili a happy girl.

    But, hah, we live in the real world and most of the world is populated by douchebags. #sucks

  23. #! = HELL YES.

    #2 = Also hell yes, but that cat gif is the best thing about today. KITTIES.

    Actually, yes to absolutely everything you've listed. Bonus points to #7 because that's a really creepy image and #10 because it's Britney, bitch.

    I will be fine with #3 the minute a YA novel comes around where this trope gets played with and torn apart. It's probably already happened, but it wasn't quite memorable enough. I can just see the hero/heroine asking their parent, "WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN? While you disappeared to Wherever-the-Fuck, I nearly got killed by secret agents, a douchebag with power issues tried to seduce me, my best friends deserted me, and we magically gained three cats. YOU'RE A PARENT. YOU SHOULD BE HERE HELPING ME WHEN THIS SHIT IS HAPPENING. Now go to your room and think about what you've done, and if you disappear again, I WILL FIND YOU."

  24. Awesome list. <3 I agree with most about everything :) Ah, bad grammar KILLS me.

  25. Your memes were HILARIOUS! I agree with the characters who turn into wimps when love interests come along. Strong female characters are very important to me, and I hate it when they act differently to get the guy.
    Check out my TTT list:

  26. Great list! I wouldn't have thought about bad grammar as something that'd be an issue in a book that has been proofer and edited and all that, but apparently it can be an issue... *shudders*

  27. Um, YES, love all of these. I love the picture of #4 (oh, the old Disney Channel days) and the gif especially for #3. And bad author behavior, amen! I seriously wonder what authors are thinking when they add any of these and behave badly as well. I just don't understand.

    My TTT

  28. YES. This, 100%.
    Also, when authors are too enamored of a clever idea to execute it realistically/well/subtly enough to be believable.

  29. I completely agree with you. Most of these are simply awful and others are just unrealistic. I also love your picture with #2. Awhh!

    Did you know that when you type in your blog URL but forget the 's' in 'blogspot' you get a biblical site? :P I was totally confused until I noticed the missing letter!

  30. I love this list, Gillian. Obviously I am against bad author behavior and we should all be. You bring up an interesting point with #7 that I had not thought of before. I didn't read The Selection for REASONS, but I did read Matched and never thought about the fact there were no gay characters. That was really messed up! Possibly because the author is Mormon, eh?


    Douchenozzle love interests? NUMBER ONE PET PEEVE EVER AND ALWAYS. I LOVE that you point out the difference between bad boys, and boys who are ACTUALLY bad. I still need to write a long ranty discussion post about said difference because it needs to be drilled into readers and author's heads until they learn it.

    YES to absentee parents. Where are they? Were they all abducted by aliens?

    I love when authors switch up sterotypes and shake them up. When they play them up? nah, not so much.

  32. BAHAHAHA, "the only show where there's a smart blonde and a dumb asian." I'm dying.

    You know I agree with all of these because duh, but OMG UNREALISTIC TEENAGE SEX. Also, the photo. AHHHHH.

    Well, that pic for white washing means I am now terrified of white people. How did I never notice how many teeth we have before? AHHHHH.

  33. Nice pointers to consider. And very funny post, i love the way you write. Wish to see more of your posts.


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