Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snarkfest: Character Tropes in YA

I'm already in a bad mood so I thought I'd put all my negativity towards something productive and trying out Summer's newest feature, Snarkfest. Right now it seems like the best way to channel my annoyance. Also in advance I'd actually like to say that I love some of these books and this is just my opinion so don't take it personally.

Today's topic is about just general overused character types in young adult. There are so many, more than I can count, so for the sake of not boring everyone I'll just include the first five that I can think of.

1. Mysterious Males

Fallen (Fallen, #1)Evermore (The Immortals, #1)Twilight (Twilight, #1)
Examples: Fallen (Daniel), Evermore (Damen), Twilight (Edward) etc.

The MM (mysterious male) is usually either new to town or the not-so-mysterious female (let's call her BellaLuceEver, BLE for short) is the newbie. Either way the girl has never seen MM before making him extra mysterious. There is often a lack of family members and no way to find out anything more about MM. Tall, dark haired with tortured (or piercing) eyes and often found brooding in the corner this MM knows exactly how to pull in BLE. When MM's tortured past is finally revealed it will be made clear that he suffers everyday for whatever happened and to make it even better worse BLE is in some random way a constant reminder of what happened.

2. The New Girl

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)Twilight (Twilight, #1)Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires, #1)
Examples: Twilight (Bella), Beautiful Creatures (Lena), Glass Houses (Claire) etc.

Out of all the character types I have just talked about I would have to say that this one occurs the most. I swear there was a period of time when every single book I picked up was about a new girl. This character type is just so overused, but also pretty unrealistic. Let me paint you a little picture. There's a new girl at your school. As she walks down the hall peoples heads do not turn to look at her because most students don't even realise that she's new. There are most likely more that a thousand other students at your school and the only people who will notice the new addition to that thousand are the people who are in her classes. Even then there will be the first initial curiosity, but then she'll be old news and everyone will go on with their life. The harsh reality is that yes, she will probably make a few friends (or not), but the whole school is not going to bow down at her feet. She will be shoved around by the seniors just like the rest of the juniors are. Get it into your head that new girls will NOT be the most sought after person in the school from the second the step through the gates!

3. Weak and Whiny Girls

Marked (House of Night, #1)Twilight (Twilight, #1)Evernight (Evernight, #1)
Examples: Marked (Zoey), Twilight (Bella), Evernight (Bianca) etc.

For some very strange reason there seems to be an influx of female characters in YA that are completely unable to protect themselves and always have to rely on a big strong man to swoop in and save them. I don't expect them to wrestle crocodiles or climb mount Everest. No, I just want them to be able to stand up for themselves. At the first sign of conflict this weak and whiny girls will either cry, faint or go running back to their significant other so they can hide behind them. Weak and whiny females are often paired with the dangerous "bad boys". In the eyes of this weak and whiny girl the "bad boy" is really the only thing important to her and spoiler alert, after a lot of complications they will live together happily ever after. Please authors, just write about some strong female characters who don't need a male to complete the plot.

4. The Quirky BFF

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)
Examples: Beautiful Creatures (Wesley "Link"), Hush Hush (Vee), City of Bones (Simon) etc.

I think that the idea of quirky characters actually has a lot of potential, but it's never the main character who has the weird quirks. No, we can't have the main characters fabulousness compromised by giving them a strange hobby so it's always gotta be the best friend. And it's always waaay overdone. A lot of the time there's actually no link between the quirkyness and the plot, it's just there so that the readers don't die of boredom. And although the quirky BFF's are often overdone and unrealistic, I am actually rather thankful towards these quirky BFF's. They are the comic relief in boring serious situations. Without them I know that I never would have even been able to finish certain books. *cough* beautiful creatures *cough*

5. Non-Existent Parents

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Let the Sky Fall (Let the Sky Fall, #1)Delirium (Delirium, #1)
Examples: The Harry Potter Series (Hermione's parents), Let the Sky Fall (Vane's parents), Delirium (Lena's parents) etc.

Having non-existent parents doesn't necessarily mean that the MC (main character) is an orphan (even though that is sometimes the case) it just means that the parents are there, but they are literally never mentioned. In books where the parents are never mentioned I just always think that the parents (since they never talk to their child) hav e absolutely zero interest in what's actually going on in their kids life. The MC could probably go join a nudist group and the parents would say nothing. Who knows, maybe there are actually no parents and for some strange reason the MC lives at home alone. That's the feeling I get sometimes when I read books where the parents never utter a word or make a single appearance. It's actually really strange now that I think about it. A caring parent would not let their child walk in and out of the house in the very early hours of the morning without some sort of excuse. Parents are such a normal part of everyday life that just not mentioning them and hoping nobody will notice is not going to work, please just think of a justifiable reason why the parents are never there.

I know I've missed some so what other overused character types annoy you? And apologies to Twilight and Beautiful Creatures for using them as an example more than once... that was completely unintentional.


  1. I could agree with everything you said. It's funny how Twilight fits into many of those categories haha! It's sad that many books suffer from all these things and if they didn't they would be so much better!

    1. Haha yea, I didn't even realise till afterwards when I looked back that I had put twilight so many times... and it probably could have been used for even more catagories o.0

  2. Great points!
    Oh yes. I especially hate the whole 'mystery boy' thing. So annoying! It just leads to insta love. :'( YA seems completely obsessed with all of these right now. Sometimes I can just push through all the cliches and actually enjoy the book, but a lot of times it just totally takes over the whole novel!

    1. That's true! Some of these clichés I can handle, but some of them just make me dread picking up a book again.

  3. The quirky BFF! Love it! Vee made me laugh!
    When you talked about the weak MC's I agree 100%! That is why I love Amy Plum's Die for me books. Kate has her weaknesses but, she also has her kick-butt side. She doesn't NEED Vincent to save her.
    And I agree 10,000% on the New Girl point!

    1. I've never read any of Amy Plum's books, but I may have to now! Thanks :)