Monday, 19 October 2015

YA Tropes I'm Sick of Reading

Hello readers!

So I'm back today with a post that I feel a lot of you may relate to.

So being a blogger and having a love of books means that I get to read a lot of books and, even better, talk about them with other people who love books!

Although I love reading, I can't help but notice a that there are few tropes that are repeated through out YA literature often. Sometimes, although a novel contains one or two of these tropes, it can still be enjoyable as the author may be taking a different spin on it.

 Unfortunately, and too often, novels that contain a lot of these tropes can put me off reading them as I find these recycled themes boring and sometimes frustrating.

Reading these tropes can sometimes leave me feeling like this:

So here is a few of my most loathed YA literature tropes: 

1)  The Love Triangle

The love triangle is an extremely common trope in YA fiction. This trope can sometimes be executed well but most of the time it goes something along the lines of  "Protagonist (usually female) has been described as incredibly plain looking then falls for super hot boy who all of a sudden lusts after her while her male best friend from her childhood has suddenly declared he is in love with her" or something similar. 
I honestly find this so incredibly boring and feel it is so unrealistic. How can the protagonist be so indecisive about who she loves? Why are the protagonists in the center of this love triangle always described as plain? Why is always women in the center of a love triangle and not a man? Why does every story need romance?

2) Unconscious Breath Holding: 

Some of you may not be aware of how insanely common this is in YA literature. 
Honestly, next time you are reading a YA book , count how many times you see the sentence; "I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding."

If some of these fictional protagonists were alive, half of them would have passed out from holding in their breath for that long!

3) Instalove 

Probably one of the biggest, most common and most ridiculous YA literature trope is "Instalove" . 

Instalove is where the protagonist meets this new guy who she falls for. They start an intense relationship and she declares she would die for him,,,and this happens in about two weeks of them meeting each other. 

Honestly so unrealistic and ridiculous. I much prefer books where the romance builds slowly, more like real life. 


4) Parents? What parents?!

For some reason, in YA novels, these teenagers can go out, save worlds, battle monsters and face incredible challenges while their mundane parents know nothing about this and remain oblivious to their child's "other life". Sometimes the parents don't even get mentioned in the novel at all. 

Teenage protagonist must go and fulfill a prophecy and lead an entire rebellion....because a 15 year old child would be much better equipped than a competent, experienced adult........

5) The Orphan 

As mentioned above with the absent parents trope, there is a common theme in YA novels that the protagonist is an orphan.  This is used as backstory and to strengthen the "I don't feel like I belong anywhere" story-line of the novel.  From Harry Potter to Oliver Twist to A Series Of Unfortunate Events, the Orphan trope has been over done. 

6) Prophecy Time! 

Oh the prophecy. The one where the protagonist discovers they are the "chosen one" and that they alone can fulfill an ancient prophecy. 

This theme has been used so many times I find it hard to think of a popular YA / MG series where it is not present! 

Although this plot device can be used in a well executed way and read as being fresh in some novels, when it is written sloppily - it is not good. 

7) Miscommunication 

This is a big one. You know how when you really like your boyfriend but feel like there's a problem that you both should discuss, so you both discuss it and the issue is clarified? Well, YA couples need to learn this. 

Seriously, how many of the problems YA couples run into is because of miscommunication?! 
They don't say what they mean or say things in a vague way that leave the other thinking "what did that mean??" . 

YA couples - please learn to communicate effectively! 

8) Character Descriptions 

Okay so this next one is one that I had not noticed until recently. 

When reading a novel, I've noticed that the characters are given different attributes depending on their position in the novel. 

The protagonist : usually red haired or brunette, described as pretty but plain, awkward and clumsy, short and petite, naive, virgin. 

The love interest : tall at 5'8 , dark haired, broody smoldering good looks, confident, popular.

The "mean girl / arch enemy / nemesis " : blonde, tall , popular, not intelligent, promiscuous , bully, blue eyes, thin . 

Why is the mean girl always blonde, why is the majority of protagonists described as clumsy and awkward? Why is the protagonist often a virgin? What does hers or anyone else's sexual history have to do with the plot of the novel? 

9) Close up! 

This one is sorta different from the others on this list. 

One of my pet peeves for books is the massive close up of a girl face (the protagonist) on the cover of the novel. I just look at the cover and think "Why? Of all the gorgeous covers you could have designed, why this??". I just feel that the massive photo of a models face on the cover both looks terrible and makes it awkward to read in public or on public transport! 

10) Clique 

In every school ever the entire student population is divided into cliques of people who can not ever mingle with others outside of the group and must dislike other groups of people. Or so YA novels would have me believe. 
This clique trope is honestly so annoying. In school, I never found it to be in any way "clique-y", people had friends who were in other groups of friends than they were but they were still friends. If your friends like every single thing you had it would be so boring! 
I also feel like the clique trope normalizes bullying and negative behavior in a secondary / high school environment. 

So those are just a few of my YA trope pet peeves. If you enjoyed this post, let me know. Also let me know on any you find annoying and which tropes in YA annoy you! 

Here is visual representation of my face when I read a book that does not have any of these tropes written poorly: 


  1. Have you tried Patrick Ness' new one, Everybody else just lives here? It may have one of those tropes (cliques) but it fits the story.

    It is pretty much the anti-fantasy/sff YA trope book :)

  2. YA couples really are the worst at communicating. I really hate when the main problem in the book is based on some simple misunderstanding that could (and should) be cleared up in one easy conversation. That's really frustrating and disappointing. I also don't understand why m/c's have to be plain and clumsy. I guess it's to make them more relatable?? Or the authors think that we all like to root for the underdog?? Either way, BLAH!! I especially hate when the plain girl has the HOTTEST guy in the world pining after her. I mean, how realistic is that? Especially in HS. I don't understand why the guy can't just be an interesting and cute boy without having to be sex on a stick. It's so unrealistic and annoying!

  3. Ha Shannon this is spot on! Especially the unconscious breath holding thing, once you spot it you see it everywhere !! Unnecessary love-triangles are my worst fear....

  4. Love this post! I did a video on YA clichés a while back on my YouTube channel because the same tropes keep popping up again and again. You featured such good ones!

  5. Mm there are so many YA tropes nowadays - sometimes, I just put down a book if I can see a trope too prominently! :/ But at the same time - some of these tropes can be done so beautifully, and it's super fun to read them again xD The love triangle one though...that one is definitely at the top of my list as well - I feel like 85-90% of the YA books I read nowadays have that?? :/