Hey, it’s Sabrina! Today I’m going to chat about some plot twists that I don’t like. I’m specifically talking about these situations when they are framed as surprises, not just a part of the book’s entire concept. I’m of course not going to talk about specific books in this post because I don’t want to spoil anyone. Another disclaimer is that I am not going to be discussing what I consider to be disrespectful twists (such as using mental illnesses for shock value). I also want to stress that just because a book uses one of these does not mean that I won’t like it, I’ve actually really enjoyed some books that use these twists. Without further rambling, let’s get into it 🙂
I apologise in advance but I use the word “twist” 22 times in this blog post. 23 if you count this sentence.
Twist #1: Someone has a secret sibling. Bonus dislike if it is an identical twin.
There was one strange year in my life which was filled with this twist. I don’t know how it happened, but so many books I read, tv shows I watched and movies I viewed had characters that ended up having a sibling or twin that no one was aware of. It was so prominent that it actually became a joke between my brother and me. Obviously by the end of that year I was so tired of this twist and I am still tired of it now. I especially hate the twist of a character having an identical twin because it always feels cheap. If a character is acting strangely, the last reasoning I want is that it wasn’t them all along – it was their evil twin. It’s as though the writers wrote themselves into a corner and a twin was the get-out-of-jail-free card.
Twist #2: The suspected murder turns out to have been an accident or suicide.
If I pick up a murder mystery novel, I’m usually hoping for an actual murder. When the death turns out to have been an accident or a suicide, the book turns from a thrilling mystery into something a lot more depressing. Sometimes, this is what I’m after from a book, but it needs to be clear from the tone in the beginning that this is the way the story is leaning (i.e. in a sad way) otherwise I end up feeling deceived. I’ve done all this work trying to figure out who the killer is, and it was all for nothing. Like with the twin twist, I feel like this can be seen as a cop-out, depending on the context.
Twist #3: The elder sister turns out to actually be the mother.
Unlike the previous twists, in my experience this tends to happen in genres outside of mystery/thrillers. The main character will have a much elder sister that they are either quite distant from or very close to (never in between), and in the end they find out that she was in fact the one who gave birth to them. My main problem with this twist is that I have seen it several times now, but after the first instance of it I have unfortunately learnt to see it coming. I’m sure there is a book out there that could put a spin on this twist to make it more unexpected, but I am yet to come across it.
Twist #4: The character you thought was dead is alive after all.
As with twist #3, I’d say this often occurs in other genres – particularly sci-fi and fantasy. I have a few problems with this one. The first, and probably the worst, is that I feel like I’ve been scammed into feeling sympathy for the main character or whoever it is that has been grieving the loss of this person for the majority of the book. Another is that sometimes the character comes back, but they are completely different to the person the main character remembers. Sometimes there’s a good reason for this (e.g. brainwashing), but sometimes it’s just that they’ve been faking their personality all along, and the main character, the person who was apparently closest to them, was fooled. Okay, maybe I’m getting a bit specific here and this doesn’t actually happen all that often, I don’t know – but it annoys me. I’ve also learnt to see this twist coming, so it doesn’t surprise me much anymore.
Twist #5: The person who thinks they are the murderer turns out not to be.
To explain this further, this twist is when one character feels guilty over thinking that they killed the victim, usually by accident or in the heat of the moment, and it turns out that all they did was grievously injure them – someone or something else came along and finished them off. I am always so frustrated when this happens, mostly because of one aspect: the guilty party usually ends up feeling absolved. But even if they didn’t kill the victim, they still really, really hurt them! That’s still bad! I’ve also read a version of this twist where only the reader ever discovered that the suspected murder was actually caused by an illness, not a person, and honestly I think that was even worse.
What do you think?
Are there any kinds of plot twists that you don’t like? Do you love any of the ones I’ve mentioned? Are you just totally unaffected by plot twists in general? Let me know!