Let’s Talk Bookish: Cliches and Tropes

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. You can check out more about this meme here!

The topic for this Friday is about cliches and tropes included in books.


CLICHES VS TROPES

Tropes are recurring themes or patterns frequently used in literature. Every book and story has some kind of trope and that’s because they work. Those recurring themes and devices become tropes over time because it’s been shown that they’re popular and well received by readers. For instance, the (dreaded) love triangle trope. Love triangles showed up in YA books everywhere in the late 2000s/early 2010s, sparking many Team A vs. Team B discussions amongst readers. Whether you loved or hated that trope, it kept showing up in books because it was a part of the YA formula at the time that proved popular and generated sales.

Tropes also give books a small degree of predictability that can be helpful to the success of a book. When a synopsis hints at a well-loved trope, readers are given a sense of what to expect from a story and are more likely to pick up that book. Tropes are typically selling points for many readers. One of the best things about reading a book with a popular/well-loved trope is the uncertainty surrounding it. Tropes encompass an overall theme or plot device, but there are so many different ways for authors to incorporate those tropes into their story. The specific way in which tropes are written can lead them to be considered either successful or “overdone” within a book.

On the other hand, I would argue that cliches are “bad” tropes, or tropes that have proven to become unpopular, are overdone, or executed poorly. Cliches could also be certain phrases or characterizations that are used frequently. One of the best examples of a cliche is the phrase, “I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding.” This phrase is so over used, that it’s become a bit of a joke in bookish community. Another great example of cliche is the Mary Sue/Gary Stu characterization of a protagonist, in which they lack any flaws, are universally like by all other characters, and can easily and unrealistically overcome any and all obstacles thrown their way.

One important distinction that can be made between tropes and cliches, is that cliches are more subjective. Every reader’s tastes are different, and therefore what I may consider a cliche is not the same as what someone else might consider cliche.


FAVORITE TROPES

Enemies-to-Lovers Romance – This is the crème de la crème of tropes, in my opinion. Give me two characters that can’t stand each other guts slowly develop feelings over the course of a book (or series) and I will be in heaven.

There’s Only One Bed – My greatest delight is reading a book and the realization dawning on me of where the author is taking the next chapter. I’m not sure where or how this trope originated but I would like to thank each and every author who’s ever utilized it.

Heists – These are always such fun books! I honestly think a lot of my love for these tropes stems from my love of heist movies. Nothing beats a team of well-loved characters working together to pull off an amazing heist.

Morally Grey Characters – I’m a sucker for a good anti-hero/heroine. I love watching them either start out that way and slowly redeem themselves as the story goes on, or begin good and watch their descent as they begin to make questionable choices.

If you want to read about all my favorite romance tropes, you can check out this post!


CLICHES I COULD DO WITHOUT

The Chosen One – I don’t know why, but this trope has always bothered me. A lot of the chosen one characters seem to have a Mary Sue/Gary Stu characterization which may be why I have such an issue with it.

“Not Like Other Girls” – Nothing gets on my nerve more than seeing a character describe herself as ~unlike other girls~ or even worse, when the love interest says he likes the protagonist because she’s ~not like other girls~. Ew.

Love Triangles – Love triangles are the bane of my existence because they are wholly unnecessary to the plot of the book. There have been only a few instances where I think they were executed well, but usually I absolutely hate when I realize a love triangle is developing.

Alpha Male Love Interest – One day I’ll write an entire post on the issues with toxic relationships and romanticizing abuse within the YA genre, but for now I’ll stick with talking about how much I hate the overbearing, possessive love interests.


What are your favorite tropes? What tropes do you think have become cliche? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Favorite Romance Tropes

We all have those tropes that make picking up a certain book a no-brainer. In the honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided to talk about all the romance tropes that I absolutely love in a book. If I detect a hint of any of these in a synopsis, you can bet I’ll be adding that book to my TBR. I’m also really mad because as I was writing this post, I was drawing some serious blanks and could not recall any books that featured a lot of these tropes. I need to go back and reread every book I’ve ever had and take notes.


ENEMIES TO LOVERS

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: hate-to-love romances are my bread and butter. There are so many great aspects to this trope: the heated arguments, the palpable angst, the sexual tension, the mixed feelings. Honestly, just give me two characters that hate each other and hint at an attraction and I’ll be good to go.

Favorite Examples: Cardan + Jude from The Cruel Prince, Eelyn + Fiske from Sky in the Deep, Magnus + Cleo from Falling Kingdoms, Matthias + Nina from Six of Crows, Anthony + Kate from The Viscount Who Loved Me


CHILDHOOD FRIENDS TO LOVERS

The next best thing to hate-to-lovers, is having two people who have know each other for forever and then eventually develop feelings – or better yet, discover the feelings have been there all along. I love everything about it: the history between them, the inside jokes, the established friendship, the moments of jealousy before they realize their feelings. 

Favorite Examples: Malyen + Alina from Shadow and Bone, Eril-Fane + Azareen from Strange the Dreamer, Elliot + Macy from Love and Other Words, Jay + Violet from The Body Finder


THERE’S ONLY ONE BED

You know this trope. The protagonist and love interest encounter a situation where they need to stay in a room with only one bed which – to my great delight – they end up sharing. Every time this happens in a book, I turn into giddy, squealing schoolgirl. I don’t know how this trope originated, but I would like to personally thank each and every author that’s ever utilized it. Bonus points if they hate each other. Extra bonus points if they end up cuddling by morning or the male love interest wakes up with a bit of a situation, ya know what I’m saying 😉

Favorite Examples: All of them. (but no seriously, I’m drawing a huge blank and cannot think of a single book with this trope even though I’ve read it so many times. If anyone can think of any specific YA books in which this happens, please comment below and put me out of my misery 😭)


FAKE RELATIONSHIP

I love me a good fake relationship, especially when the characters need to make it believable and act in love: hold hands, snuggling up, kissing. I know it’s probably redundant at this point, but the trope is even better when they don’t even really like each other at the beginning.

Favorite Examples: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Rogue Not Taken, Roomies


KISSING TO HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT

Ah, the infamous “the bad guys are looking for us, let’s kiss so they look the other way!” Or when two characters are in disguise and have to kiss to keep up the ruse. Classic. I love this trope, particularly because it always happens before either of the characters admit to any feelings. And also because kissing, duh.

Favorite Examples: Angelfall, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact, The Devil’s Thief, Rebel of the Sands


HUDDLING TOGETHER FOR SURVIVAL

This is such a good trope, and one that sometimes allows for our beloved characters to strip down in a totally nonsexual way and then cuddle for warmth (or survival). I think I like it so much, because usually they end up falling asleep in each other’s arms, and then it becomes very reminiscent to the whole “there’s only bed” trope which we have all learned by now is one of my favorites.

Favorite Examples: Grave Mercy, The Hunger Games, The White Stag, 


SHARING A HORSE

I’m total and complete trash for this trope. Like, in every fantasy story where there is some kind of horse riding going on, I always pray that some kind of situation arises in which the main character and the love interest have to share a horse for the duration of the rest of the journey. Whether they end up riding in front or in back, doesn’t matter it makes me swoon so hard. 

Favorite Examples: Each and every time it happens.


Are any of these tropes you enjoy reading? What are some of your favorite romance tropes? Or what are some tropes in romance you cannot stand to read? Let me know in the comments and let’s chat!