August 20, 2019

Favorite Book Tropes

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is Favorite Tropes. A trope is a commonly used theme or plot device. For example, a trope in romance novels is the damsel in distress. I honestly don't have too many tropes I like. For example, the phrase "I let out a breath I didn't know I'd been holding" just makes me roll my eyes and take points off my rating. But there are a couple that I am trash for.

Love Shapes - Originally, this was just a love triangle, but the more people involved the more the shape changes. A love triangle is when one person can't decide between two other people who want to be in a relationship with him/her. Or the main character is in love with one person who is in love with someone else entirely. It's not that I love this, but it can liven up an otherwise boring story. Twilight is probably the most renowned example of this. Bella is infatuated with Edward who is a vampire. Jacob is a werewolf who is sworn to protect people from Vampires, but also is in love with Bella. Bella kind of loves Jacob, too, but not the same way.

Hate to Love - Now a friend of mine really hates this trope. She says it encourages people to begin relationships that have signs of becoming abusive. "Let me love someone who treats me like garbage!" And, yes, that's gross. But in a well-done hate to love story, the love doesn't happen until everyone is treating each other well and has apologized for their past behavior. Pride and Prejudice for example. Elizabeth doesn't fall for Mr. Darcy when he suddenly starts being "nice" and asks her to marry him. She tells him to go hang. She doesn't fall for him until he proves that her first opinion of him was wrong and that he was wrong about her and her family as well.

Voyage and Return - It is said there are only two plots: someone goes on an adventure and someone new comes to town. This trope is the first. But I especially like it when that person returns changed and has to deal with being back home where nothing is changed while they have become someone else. Bonus points if the character brings some new information or item back to improve the community.

Pseudo-European Midieval Setting - This trope is most often seen in fantasy books. Why does all fantasy apparently have to take place in a midieval setting? Is it more easy to believe in magic? I don't know. I do like it, though. I'm thinking of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. There are lots of capes with hoods and people shooting arrows. High city walls to climb and peasants in the city. Vere midieval.

Plain Jane Gets Her Man - Ok this gets complicated. It's great if the plain jane is really plain. Some books like to write the main character as thinking she's ugly, when in reality she's this beautiful goddess. If she has a huge nose, or acne, or a five-head (like a forehead, but bigger, so five.). Also, she has to have an actual personality. There has to be a reason to see past her plainness. In Twilight, I never could understand why all these guys were falling all over Bella. She thought she was average-looking, but all the boys stared at her all th time. Then, it turned out she was truly boring. I don't get it. So I'm all for a story where the guy falls in love with the average girl because of her smarts, witty banter, or genuine sweetness. She's gotta have something man!

Small Town Setting - I have a weird fascination with small towns. Like, we drove and extra hour on our long driving trip this weekend so we could drive through all the fly-speck towns on the way. I like to imagine what it would be like to live there. Most of the examples that I can think of right now are YA novels, because it's so easy to write angsty teens wanting out of their podunk town. But I did love Plainsong by Kent Haruf. It was about two brothers in a tiny town in Colorado, I think, who become the local gossip by taking in a pregnant teenager.

Memory Lapses - I just read a book where a girl was in a horrible car wreck that put her in a coma for 2 weeks. When she came out of it, she couldn't remember the last year. Just before the wreck she had down something horrible to her sister, but since she lost her memory, she didn't know and her sister didn't think she should tell her and perhaps mess up her recovery. There was awesome tension created about when she might remember what really happened and how she'll deal with it.

Surprise Sci-Fi - This might be my favorite. When a book is going along, and you realize something is off. You don't know what it is, but this just isn't right. You think it might be some evil person trying to manipulate a bunch of people, or some corporation that is out to make a profit by manipulating people. Then, it turns out there is a sci-fi element you didn't even think of. It's too weird to have seen it coming. I love that. I hate to spoil anything by mentioning names of books, but they are out there.

That's 8 tropes I like. Not too bad, really. What are some of your favorites?

Twilight Love Triangle