For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (TTT), I will be discussing my book turn offs. In other words, they are elements/themes/techniques that annoy me and pull me out of the story. Actually, it is sometimes so bad that I put down the book and give up on it completely. Before I rant onward, let me explain what TTT is. Top Ten Tuesday is a feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. In it, book bloggers list their top tens based on topics suggested by the site.
Let’s begin with the turn offs.
Oh man, when books start to have massive paragraphs (or series of paragraphs) with unnecessary information in them, I get frustrated. World building and character descriptions tend to be the reasons behind this technique. It tends to happen a lot in fantasy novels.
9. Unnecessary Flashbacks
This happens when authors are trying to explain the relationships between characters, or the reasons for their behaviors. But, I find it distracting to be suddenly reading about younger versions of the characters for no reason. This is not David Copperfield.
8. Too Much Love Can Kill You
Characters who have lots of love interests are also frustrating. This is particularly annoying when the character is unsure of her choice (it’s always a girl).
Why is polyamory not an option, by the way?
7. Lack of Diversity
I am noticing this a lot in contemporary fiction. Why are there no queer characters in the cute contemporary stories? Where are the people of color in fantasy? How come nobody is disabled in any of the stories? It is never openly admitted, mostly suggested or implied.
Or, characters who fit into minority groups are given small roles in the stories.
6. Romanticized Mental Illness
All the books that simplify mental illness, and reduce it to one symptom, make me upset. The same narrow-minded approach to mental illness manifests in romanticized portrayal of it. The glorification of eating disorders, or self harm, or suicide, all of it just cause rage in me.
5. Hyper-Sexual Presentation of Characters
I’m all for positive portrayals of sexuality in stories, but the problem is the overemphasized value of sex. Like, surely a character dealing with the apocalypse has more important things to do in her life than think about how hot the zombie is. Or, how about characters who make out every other page? I am not a fan.
4. Disabled Life < Able-Bodied Life
The assumption that a life with a disability is somehow less worthy is infuriating. Some authors like to show supernatural events as a way to “cure” someone’s disability. And that is so damaging. We don’t need to be fixed, thanks.
This leads me to the following narrative.
3. White Savior Narratives
No, it’s not some white person’s narrative to realize their full potential through the suffering of people of color. How about you give your people of color characters some agency and have them be their own heroes?
2. Morality Tales
Rather common in classics are the moralistic approaches to sharing narratives. In it, anyone who deviates from the norm is presented as evil or doomed. And, I am not all about that life. Stop shaming people for not conforming or settling for some old-school notion. But, I also think it could be tempting to present this type of tales in young adult literature as well.
1. Time Travel
This is such a turn off for me. I like messy situations and having to cope with uncomfortable things to develop as a character. It’s not fun, and I know it’s much easier to turn back time to “fix” it. But, no. It’s not for me.