ya literature tropes

concept: a ya novel where the good girl protagonist falls for the local bad boy, who seems like a complete asshole. he’s rude, aloof, makes snide comments at her constantly, and engages in destructive behavior. everyone tells the girl to stay away from him, that he’s bad news, but she’s sure he has a good heart underneath it all, and with enough love, he’ll become a more decent, more open person… 

and he doesn’t. because some people are just assholes. her love doesn’t “fix” him. he doesn’t treat her any differently than he treats anyone else, even after they start dating – or, if he does, it doesn’t last long. their relationship isn’t healthy. turns out all the people that warned her to keep away were right. he’s not tragically misunderstood or hiding a secret soft side. he’s just a dick and he has no intentions of changing. the girl realizes this and realizes it’s not her job to fix him and his shitty personality, and dumps his ass. she ends the novel happy, single, and wiser from the experience. she doesn’t get true love, but she gets a stronger sense of self, and learns that she can’t fix people, especially ones that don’t want to be helped.

because i, for one, am sick of books that promote the idea that every guy who seems like an asshole is secretly your One True Love who can be Redeemed With Love from an endlessly patient, long-suffering love interest who puts more time into solving his problems than taking care of herself. that’s not how a healthy relationship looks. and i’m sick of YA romances that try to play it off as romantic and “deep.” (and for fuck’s sake, stop sending the message that if a guy insults you, he secretly likes you!)

Bookish Repellents

Okay since I made a Bookish Weakness list that was my opinion but now I want to do the opposite! What are your Book Repellents? add them as you reblog this post :) Here are some of mine

  • Love Triangle (two guys like one girl but the girl just can’t seem to choose) 
  • Slow starters 
  • Main conflict-easily solvable misunderstanding that drags on for 5 chapters 
  • Pigheaded main character
  • Random book cover changes
  • Introverted characters turning into a extrovert after going to a club once
  • Best friend character’s solution for everything is either partying, drinking, or getting laid
  • one-sided petty hate to love (one character hates another for a petty reason and then they fall in love)(If it has good writing I’ll excuse it)

i wish there was more books about genuinely ugly girls who just don’t give a fuck and still have careers and boyfriends/girlfriends and don’t measure themselves based on how they look and no i’m not talking about ‘hollywood ugly’ girls i’m talking about actually ugly girls that don’t give a shit about the fact that they look the way they do

Jupiter Ascending, YA Novel: How a Space Opera Uses-and-Abuses the Ultimate YA Tropes

What is aTrope?

Tropes are devices used in all narrative forms that confirm conventions and realize the reader’s expectations of the narrative.

Why we love them?

Human beings have an innate desire to construct narrative out of experience –whether it is the latest gossip, a childhood story or our expectations of a date. Tropes offer us a sense of familiarity, which in turn gives us comfort. In other words, confirmation that we know how to read the world and know how to read people. Even if the world and the characters are laboring under an author’s pen, we still find familiarity in their actions through tropes.

Why do we hate them?

The expected is comforting, yes, but the unexpected is thrilling! Seeing the same narrative convention repeatedly is extremely boring. The creation of stories is an innate aspect of human nature – at least we think so. We are born to make up stories, to offer our own take on age-old tales! We delight in the unexpected, revel in the breaking of the mold.

Are tropes more common in young adult literature?

Lots of people (*ahem* adults/non-YA readers/annoying people *ahem*) believe that YA literature is particularly tropey. But is it really? Yes, we have our fair share of love triangles, and a lot of Mary-Sues-turned-Queens-of-mythic-lands but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the trope is bad. More than likely, it speaks to the universal aspect of the trope—it feels salient to many authors and many readers. The trope is only problematic when it’s executed poorly, or when overdone.  YA readers read widely and often, which means that they will start to subconsciously recognize tropes, and pick up the general structure of a narrative. It can be as easy as Beginning-Middle-End, or as specific as foreshadowing a twist.

So what are some of the tropes in Jupiter Ascending?

Well, we have a lot. A LOT. For starters, we have the aforementioned Mary Sue trope, only in this case it’s in its most undiluted form. Not only is Jupiter more than a cleaning lady, she is actually the Queen of the entire Universe—she literally owns planet Earth. Talk about a born hero, huh? Then, we have Cain (a dreadful-looking Channing Tatum with pointy ears and a blonde goatee), the forlorn love interest. Cain, like many Sci-fi-Fantasy heroes is half-something, in this case half-wolf hybrid; according to him, he is closer to a dog than Jupiter-Queen-of-the-Negaverse. (God bless this trope, because it offers us the now eternal line from Jupiter: “I love dogs.”) The star-crossed-lovers trope appears—the lone-wolf, the unassuming Queen.

Of course, there is insta-love. But this time, it is Jupiter pursuing the boy, trying—unsuccessfully, if you can’t tell from the above line—to seduce him. Then, there’s a slew of other common YA tropes: parents that don’t really understand the main character, fantastical racism/elitism, caricature-like villains with mommy issues (so so many mommy issues). And my personal favorite: the “You must marry me or else!” trope, which gives us Mila Kunis in a stunning wedding dress, a very cool-looking wedding ring/tattoo, and the unusual idea of a son marrying his mother’s reincarnation.

So aside from making Jupiter Ascending into the most wildly campy, delightful mess of a movie, what do these tropes do?

One of the joys of Jupiter Ascending is that it manages to heavily rely on these tropes all the while almost breaking them. The set up is obvious, but peppered with so many other shocking bits that you were still left stunned and half guessing. Being hit over the head with the narrative conventions—and such pure forms of them!—was disorienting to the point that you couldn’t pull them apart. Not one murderous villain, but two! And they’re brothers! Here we’re are shown two of the typical villains – one who wants to seduce you into the bonds of marriage, and one who will force your hand through coercion and murder. There’s even a half-love-triangle sort of thing embedded in there.

Why do we call these the Ultimate YA tropes?

Spend any time glancing at reviews on Goodreads and you’ll see readers bemoaning the ever-present love triangle and the ever-pervasive insta-love. Many readers are sick of it. No one wants to read a book they can predict from page one. Jupiter Ascending over-uses them, to the point of comedy. Tropes are best when one aspect is investigated and subtly RE-or-DE-constructed.

Consider the Lunar Chronicles. Marissa Meyer is always going to be working in tropes, as anyone adapting fairytales would be, but her writing always manages to surprise. Cinder the mechanic—much more useful in a modern world than Cinderella good with a broom and bucket. Scarlet, AKA Little Red Riding Hood, confronts the Big Bad Wolf with a gun in her hand. Cress trapped all alone in a tower (satellite) with only the internet as a companion—Rapunzel, the computer genius! All these stories, ones we’ve seen adapted time and time again, turned on their head and made new and richer for it.

The takeaway: The trope is not the enemy.

For more on tropes: