Olivia O’Neil ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Many readers have been there: reading a book when they realize they have come across the same type of characters, and then the story becomes predictable. Overused character tropes are at fault. Here are some particularly familiar, and now boring, characters.
1. “And then he walked in”
This is the girl whose life gets turned upside down when a cute, and probably mysterious, guys walks in. The two of them have an irresistible chemistry and cannot manage to stay apart. Their relationship usually escalates quickly from borrowing a pencil to then confessing their undying love for one another. She is Bella Swan, Elena Gilbert, and Clary Frey. An ordinary-ish girl who meets a guy and either unlocks her hidden potential, or gets a life for once. Everyone’s looking at you, Bella. This girl is the main character of almost every YA paranormal love story, and most readers want this be a thing of the past. There has to be another way to write that story.
2. “Bad Boy”
This is the guy that is in all romance novels. He’s dark and dangerous and can’t be trusted, or so everyone thinks, but really he just has a dark past that has damaged him. He needs someone to give him a chance. “Bad boys” usually hate themselves and they are alone too. They also tend to be that guy who walks through the door and makes one of the girls mentioned above turn their head. The conflict in the relationship will usually be that he is just too dangerous for her to be near him, or his past is catching up with him. It is tired, overused, and boring. This guy should be replaced by someone that won’t accidentally get the main character killed or traumatized in anyway.
This character is usually only found in paranormal, fantasy, or science fiction books. They are the characters that introduce main character to this whole new world that they have just entered. Think: Ron Weasley, Jace Wayland, and Cal Blaire. They know all the rules and one of the purposes they serve is to inform the reader of what is going on, like telling them what a chocolate frog card is. However, despite their usefulness, it’s getting annoying to have to be the guy going around saying, “Wow you don’t know this totally common thing? Where have you been your whole life? How could you be so stupid?” On the spectrum of things Ron isn’t really that bad, but Jace is constantly telling Clary off for not knowing all the rules of the world that she just entered. They should explain these things in a nonjudgmental way because frankly they can sound kind of like a jerk.
4. “Don’t leave the car”
On the other side of the “insider” is this character. This is the character who thinks that they know best when really everything they do just makes things worse. Zoey Redbird, from the House of Night, is hugely guilty of this. She is constantly going around saying that she is so confused and doesn’t know what to do, and then when someone tells her what to do, she doesn’t listen because she thinks she knows better. Meanwhile she makes rash decisions that get both humans and vampires killed. Every time these books are brought up in conversation, people who have read the books often say that, in this infinitely long series they stopped reading because Zoey was just too obnoxious.
5. “The Jealous Boy”
This is what leads to all of those fun love triangles, and people being on the “team” of fictional characters: Edward v. Jacob, Peeta v. Gale, Loren v. Heath v. Erik. This is one of the most widely disliked tropes in YA books, two guys fighting for a girl’s affections, or the boyfriend being annoyed every time the girlfriend hangs out with a friend. It sets a bad example for young readers, and it shows women as something for a man to possess rather than a companion to trust and love. What is very dangerous about this trope is that the guy is usually shown as being sympathetic when he acts jealous, while the girl is shown as being a traitor when she talks to anyone else of the opposite sex. The communication between the two of them is always insufficient for the situation. It is probably realistic for how teenagers would actually act. But if a reader needed, or wanted to experience that story then they probably wouldn’t be reading so many books.
Looking back at these tropes it is clear that what is really wrong with books today is how writers talk down to young readers. Almost every bad character trope a person can think of is in most YA books, setting bad examples for young readers. This is not advocating censorship, but it would be nice to read something written for teens that doesn’t make a person throw the book out the window in frustration.