Top 5 Wednesdays was created by Lainey of Gingerreadslainey on book tube and goodreads.
I’ve never done Top 5 Wednesday before but this is an interesting topic because as much as I love to read, there are certain tropes that I hope will go away and never come back.
First, an honorary mention to Love Triangles. Love Triangles didn’t make the cut for me because I rarely read them. I read YA from time to time and that’s usually where love triangles are found. I don’t care that they’re unrealistic. What bothers me is that the person stringing two other people along always looks like a jerk, in my opinion.
My Top 5 in no particular order
This is the character that makes stupid decision after stupid decision and is presented by the author as if it is normal and/or a desired quality. Example: Celaena Sardothian from Throne of Glass (Book 1, specifically. She improved in the later books) – bag of candy. Need I say more?
The main reason I hate this trope is because the stupidity is rarely addressed and the character is actually presented as if their lack of common sense is not even an issue. It makes the character look flighty and silly. I think it could be a great story if a character made a lot of stupid decisions but realized that they’re making stupid decisions. It is far more interesting when someone is aware of their flaws and even if they don’t work to better themselves, at least they know what they’re doing. Another example: Rachel from The Girl on the Train. I get that she was an alcoholic so she made some mistakes but the issue I had was that she kept doing things that were humiliating. I wish the author gave her some dignity. Being an alcoholic doesn’t mean that someone is incapable of dignity.
I hated Madame Bovary for this reason.
Female vs Female. UGH. Now, I don’t believe that all women must love and support each other. I don’t like every female I’ve come across and I don’t expect my characters too either. The problem I have with this trope is because there is always one good female and one bad female. The good female is the protagonist that has to put up with the bad female’s bullish*t. The bad female rarely gets any character development and always end up feeling like a cardboard cut out. If she is a terrible person or a jealous person, I want to know about her. It is far more interesting when a feud is shown from both sides. Example: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The girl (forgot her name) is mean to Mara Dyer just because. The author failed to explore the mean girl so she just came off bland and inconsequential.
This character often takes the form of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl/Boy. The Special Snowflake is so different and cool and would never deem him/herself to be an average joe. The Special Snowflake is different just to be different, not because the character actually thinks in unique or interesting ways but because they don’t want to be like everyone else. Example: Mina from Mosquitoland. The first 50 pages are about Mina being smug about how different she is from everyone else. I mean, she buys her sneakers from a thrift store. Another example: Kevern and his girlfriend from J by Howard Jacobson. They were so unique and different, no one could possible understand them. And this was short listed for the Man Booker last year.
Lying for Nonsensical Reasons
Lying for Nonsensical Reasons or no apparent reason is irritating because the author often does this as a substitute for good storytelling. Lying can make sense and can add to a plot, but when it is used to tie the story together, then it ends up feeling sloppy and lazy. People lie to each other and it can be hurtful and damaging to relationships. If an author is making the characters lie to each other, I want it to be impactful, not insipid crap to create drama. Example: The Ice Twins by S K Tremayne. The parents lied to each other about their child and it was ridiculous because it created a situation where it endangered their child. The lies were so stupid that even parents that hate each other wouldn’t lie about it. The purpose of the lie was to propel the story forward. Fail.
Picture Perfect Endings
I don’t hate happy endings but I’m not a fan of the author tying everything together with a neat bow. Sometimes I wish that authors just let the endings be a natural progression of the story. Not everything can fit into a cookie cutter world.
My controversial example: The epilogue of Harry Potter. I hate that Rowling gave her magical series such a boring and domesticated ending. Why did everyone have to get married and have kids at the same time? Why did she marry off the teenaged pairings? It was boring and unnecessary. I think many fans of the series would have been happy with imagining where our favourite characters ended up, and who they ended up with, rather then being force fed. The rest of the series was so fun and imaginative but that ending was boring as can be.