This week’s topic is one that I had a hard time coming up with ideas for. I am not necessarily up-to-date on the most recent releases, so I tend to be a bit behind on trends. However, there are still a few that get really irritating! I apologize in advance if this post is a bit all over the place. I’m having a lot of trouble organizing my thoughts on this one.
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and the official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) Prequels and “Between the Numbers” Books!
This was the one and only trend that immediately sprung to mind when I saw the topic for this week’s post. In general, I think authors have, or at least should have, a strong idea of where they want their stories to go, and write the books the way they intend so the additional material just doesn’t seem necessary. I don’t mind sequels so much, but I am so tired of seeing the many prequels and between-the-numbers books in series that really don’t contribute much to the story. It’s one thing if the book actually makes a meaningful difference to the plot or characters, but I have yet to find one that really does so effectively. For the most part, they tend to veer off on tangents or offer very minimally different perspectives on the events we’ve already read (Four, from Divergent, for example). In many cases, these additions seem to happen because of fan demand, and often seem like more of a cash cow than a way to really build on the story.
2) Harem Relationships
I’m not actually sure if this is what it is called in books, but I picked up the term “harem” from watching anime. Basically, what I mean by a harem is a situation where a character immediately has multiple characters, sometimes every character, in love with them. The most prominent example I can think of is Bella Swan in Twilight. Aside from the triangle involving Edward and Jacob, there were also other characters who immediately show interest in her — and that’s even with the whole “I’m nothing special” kind of lead character. These relationship dynamics are especially annoying when the lead character constantly wavers between all their potential options, but I actually find them just as frustrating when every character automatically falls for the protagonist for no apparent reason. Even if the main character was a really great person, it is very unrealistic for so many people to show interest in them immediately, especially without even knowing them. I get that there is more drama/suspense when we don’t know who the protagonist will pick, but it’s hard to relate to a character who has 4+ people openly in love with them right from the start.
3) “Unique” Names
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against giving your characters a unique name to try to set them apart from other books, especially in fantasy novels where these kinds of names seem to fit with the world they are building (ie. Harry Potter characters). However, I find it especially irritating when the book is set in the real world because it just seems so unrealistic. I know that there are real people in the world who have very unusually spelled names, but I’ve found in books it tends to go one of two ways. Either every character in the book has bizarre names, or it is a game of “identify the protagonist,” with only the main character having an unusual name or spelling. In the first case, it kind of messes with my immersion into the story. I find it hard to believe that not a single person in that character’s life has a common name (not a single Daniel, Michael, Sarah, etc?). In the second case, it ends up being another artificial way to try and set the protagonist apart without actually differentiating them from other characters by personality. And as a side note — what’s with so many characters being named Sloane lately?!
4) Unnecessary Vulgarity
I find this is especially a problem in YA books, where authors try to make their teens sound more authentic by constant swearing, sexual humour, etc. To be clear, I have no problem with profanity or graphic content in a book as long as it fits the story/characters, and actually serves a purpose. The most irritating example I read fairly recently was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, where nearly all of the dialogue between the two boys was extremely vulgar. I have no doubt that some teenagers really do speak and behave this way, but it really put me off the characters and took away from my enjoyment of the book as a whole. The vulgarity just seemed excessive, and it did not do much to really advance the plot or develop the characters. The same goes for gratuitous violence or sexual content. It’s not a problem for me if it is appropriate to the story, but I hate when it is used just for shock factor or to make a character seem more “real.”
5) Changing the Endings in Book-to-Movie Adaptations!
I have always had a bit of a problem with adaptations, since I tend to prefer whichever version of the story I encountered first. No matter which I try first, I always end up comparing. I remember sitting through the Harry Potter movies in theatres with my best friend, constantly signalling each other whenever the movie did something “wrong.” I get that not everything translates well from page to screen (or vice versa), and for the most part, I can enjoy the changes as long as they are handled well. What really bothers me, however, is when the movie version completely changes the ending! The same goes for when it makes significant changes to the plot, such as the recent Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children movie adaptation which changed major plot points and even switched around some of the characters’ abilities. I especially hate when the entire ending is changed, one of most obvious ones being My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. The story was written the way the author intended, so it’s always puzzled me that moviemakers would think they know better what people want to see. If they didn’t think it was a strong enough story, why would they make the movie?