Hello, friends! I’m here with a bit negative, a bit complain-y (totally a word!!) post today, where I point out certain things I detest in books and think authors should abandon. Obviously, this is a super-subjective post which is not meant to undermine anyone’s opinion, and I’d love to hear your thoughts – especially if you are not in agreement with me.
emotionally abusive male characters portrayed as romantic
I doubt this requires a lot of explanation, and I do believe/hope (?) that literature has grown a lot in this regard in the past few years. Even so, this is a trope some still romanticize, which is devastating, especially when I see it in YA. Of course lots and lots of teens can and will understand the difference between a toxic vs. a healthy relationship, but I do think authors should not portray unhealthy relationships/love interests in a positive light.
At the same time, I do need to acknowledge that (1) the author’s intention matters, and (2) people can ship something while understanding it’s toxic. I have two examples in mind – the first I’m too scared to mention, because most people seem to love that ship, the second is the romance in Shadow and Bone, of which I’ve written a full post about.
forcing romance into a series that doesn’t need one
I love romance, I do, and I fully understand that a romantic subplot can add something extra to a novel; for instance, scenes with your favorite couple may feel like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise heavy plot. However, at this point I appreciate genuine friends, family, or even a simple hobby the main character has more than I appreciate a romantic subplot, especially when said subplot feels ill-fitting in a story. Obviously, it’s all very subjective if a romance “fits” into a story, but I do believe we’ve all had books where we were like, “cool, cool, but WHY do we need this romance here!?”
pairing off all the MCs
This is something that I’m pretty good at overlooking if I like the couples – I’m looking at you, Six of Crows – but I do find it generally annoying when everyone from the main cast is paired up with each other. It feels so lazy and, in some cases, forced to ‘neatly’ pair up everyone. The same way not every book needs a romance, not every character needs to be paired with someone, in my opinion.
writing a sequel that ruins the previous book(s)
Again, this is super-subjective and, obviously, the author doesn’t set out to ruin the previous book(s) with a sequel, but man, this is one of my least favorite things. In these cases – and I have two vivid example, just you wait – the new sequel isn’t simply bad, or unworthy of its predecessors; instead, it has elements that destroy parts of the previous books.
My favorite example is The Heir, a continuation/spin-off of The Selection series that was a less than satisfactory follow up to one of my beloved series. The Heir follows Eadlyn, the daughter of the main couple from the original trilogy and, frankly, she is one of the most condescending, selfish characters I’ve ever read about. Having her as a main character and seeing some of the supporting cast of the original as adults was terrible, even though it should have been a dream to see one of my favorite couples as parents. The fact that my favorites had a daughter like Eadlyn and let so much slide with her… yikes.
Another good example is The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid, which was one of my favorite standalones… until it received a sequel that, in my eyes, ruined all the character and relationship development of the first book. Disappointment, friends, disappointment.
What would you rather not see in books again? Do you agree with my choices? Do you have other, positive or negative, examples for my points? (e.g. a book that really didn’t need a sequel)