Tropes – our very favorite thing to both love and hate in all the books. I mean, you can’t really write a book without a trope, because the human experience is universal. Love happens in all the stories. People die. Characters grow. Politics follow a cycle. So, yeah, all stories have some familiar elements.
And I love some great tropes! And hate a few. But today, I’m mostly chatting about those tropes I really enjoy. Especially when they’re subverted. Or when i absolutely love the story. Yes, tropes can make me fangirl a bit. No apologies.
Haters to Lovers
Yes, I am apparently a reading trope, because I love Haters to Lovers in ALL the books. Especially when it’s really truly antagonistic and sarcastic and hilariously mean hate. (am I talking about Baz and Simon? maybe???)
Some of my first favorite stories involved this trope. Who doesn’t love rooting on a rivalry, only to discover that the rivalry might actually be romance. Surprise!
And I suspect this is probably the most universally loved trope based on A) how many books use it and B) how much fan fiction includes it. I mean, just google Draco and Harry fanfic.
Did I just throw in two of my very favorite classics with a really new book? Yes, yes I did.
Because Anne didn’t speak to Gilbert for seven years and if that’s not big Baz energy, I don’t know what else it is.
Also, Darcy was as moody and tall, dark, and handsome as Baz. Maybe he was also a vampire. My new working Jane Austen theory. (i mean, think about it! Darcy lived in a very big, rich house, mostly all by himself. Was very broody. And drank lots of tea. and read books. Sounds like a vampire to me)
Friend Groups and Found Families
Oh, now for the sweetest trope! Haters to lovers relies on angst, while found families brings out the softie in all of us. It’s all about the universal need to belong.
Just look at all the alternate universe’s in fan fiction. All these found family tropes happening today, in university and coffee shops and long island bakeries. We all love to reimagine the found family and our favorite characters being all happy together. *cries softly*
Oh my goodness. Apparently epic fantasy isn’t complete without a found family. I mean, how else are we supposed to NOT get lost in the plot. We need those Kaz and Inej moments, and Harry and Co adventuring to keep us engaged with the characters.
Also, teenagers taking on a corrupt company and becoming the best of friends is the most fantastic trope, ever.
Stolen Crowns, Politics, and More Politics
Can I write a blog post without mentioning politics? probably not. (I guess that’s probably my official brand™? politics and strawberries)
Anyway, yes I love all the political books. Whether its fantasy, real world, sci-fi, give me all the politics.
And I think this is SUPER great for our current world. When we have issues that directly impact readers today and showing readers how to tackle oppressive, corrupt, messy political systems is AMAZING.
And fantasy politics? So messy. Full of backstabbing siblings, and high risk romance, and plot twists.
Yes, I’m a big fan of Fae politics, and The Cruel Prince is the gold standard. Wicked Saints has blood magic AND politics so double death. And Red, White and Royal Blue is my new OBSESSION.
Another spin on this trope? Current Events
I really like some fantasy politics. And some international politics involving romance. BUT some of the best books chatting about politics are inspired by current events.
These three books are just some of the amazing books in the YA community that are focused on current events and social justice issues. There’s such great books on a wide range of topics – LGBTQ rights, Islamophobia, working in politics, racial justice, and gender equality.
I’ve started a list on my Goodreads shelves that I’ve called YA Burn the House Down Books. (Please, i’m not advocating for actual arson. Don’t misquote me here folks, or I’ll sing This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things) Anyway, there’s a song with that exact title, so my shelf name is not that clever or original. But oh well.
All that to say, check out my shelf you’re interested in some book recs.
Quests, Quests, all the Quests
aka, the adventure novel. We love some quests!!! All the journeying and pans of New Zealand, ahem Middle Earth.
Anyway, we love fighting some dragons, literally and metaphorically. And is road tripping the contemporary version of a quest? I think so.
OKAY, so three VERY different Questing kind of books. But I LOVE THEM ALL. You can’t talk about Questing without Lord of the Rings. It’s against the law. That’s all.
And why don’t more people talk about Heart of Iron and how lovely it is??? a space opera quest with an Anastasia retelling PLUS a character named Robb. I am here for my Robb Stark vibes.
Oh, and of course my FAV questing adventure novel, Gentleman’s Guide. Always my fav.
All the Fairytales
I’m a sucker for fairytale retellings. *insert sucker meme*
Absolutely. Give them all to me. And while I love the standard fairy tale, I also REALLY REALLY like a twist on a fairytale. Like a different fairytale or something entirely unexpected. Please more twisty fairytales.
Talk about some twisted fairytales. Let’s tell all the very favs, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel… but set in space and with cyborgs. Also, it’s an entire planetary conflict involving evil queens and rebellions. Yes, Yes, Yes.
AND THEN an unusual tale to retell – Achilles and the Trojan War. Only, it’s all from Patroclus’ perspective. It will make you cry. And hate Apollo forever.
And the newest book on my rec list – Priory of the Orange Tree. An epic fantasy retelling of George and the Dragon. only completely reinvented and deeply compelling.
So, there’s some of my fav tropes! I love how so many books have been written in the entire world and authors are constantly reinventing tropes and working them out differently in their stories. Also, I love being a reader and getting to read all these books.
also applause that I finally sat down and wrote this post. It’s been sitting in my drafts since February. Success.
What are some of your favorite tropes and books that use them?
How do you like a trope to be subverted? What’s a trope you can’t stand? A trope you never get tired of?