7 On Sunday: Book Tropes I Love

It’s been a while since I did a 7 On Sunday prompt! To be honest, I intended to do one or two in July, but forgot about the list because of all the mid-year wrap-up posts. When I went back to the thread to check on this month’s prompts, I was initially put off. For some reason, I always find it very difficult to discuss specific tropes without defaulting to the same few that are already frequently mentioned. To make it even more complicated, I’d already covered my favourite tropes around this time last year, and that list hasn’t really changed. In general, I think the majority of tropes can be done really well or really poorly, depending on how the author chooses to handle them. More than anything, I tend to get irritated when a trope is overused, like instalove or love triangles. It’s not that I don’t necessarily like the trope itself, but I get bored of seeing the same thing over and over. It took me quite a while to think of some different tropes from the ones I’d already mentioned, but these are a few more that I tend to love.

7 on Sunday is a new weekly project that was started by Grace of G-Swizzel Books, with a weekly topic for videos and/or blog posts! The official Goodreads group with topics can be found here.

1) Stuck Together – I really like when characters, especially characters who don’t get along or don’t trust each other, are forced to spend time together because they are stuck somewhere. It could be a locked-door mystery where everyone suspects each other and knows that someone in the room must be the culprit. More commonly, and really more what I was initially thinking, was the two characters who had a big falling out, just met and had a bad first impression, or wrongfully make assumptions about each other, and are now forced to deal with each other. I guess the locked-door mystery is pretty different from the other version of this trope, but I find that this trope tends to lead to some really interesting conversations and often the characters coming to really understand each other better.

Some examples: The Escape Room, An Unwanted Guest, Starry Eyes, Quarantine: A Love Story, Illuminae

2) Mix and Match – This goes hand-in-hand with the band of misfits trope that I mentioned in my previous post on this topic (linked above), but I especially love it when the author splits up the group and shuffles them around so different people have the chance to interact with each other. Instead of having each character with their love interest or best friend the whole time, they are paired up with someone else and we get to see a whole new dynamic. I find it really helps to flesh out and develop the characters better and also feels much more realistic that they have to learn to work with other people.

Some examples: The later books in the Lunar Chronicles, Crooked Kingdom. I’m sure there are lots more, but I’m blanking on specific examples!

3) Creepy Children – Again, I’m using this one to encompass two different things, but it works in both senses. When I think of books involving creepy children, I think both in the sense of a child psychopath, and ghosts of children. Both of these are creepy enough as it is when it is an adult character, but there is a whole extra level of it being unnerving when it is a child. These often tend to be books that genuinely scare me and stay with me long after I’ve read them. The creepy child does not have to be the villain either. It’s sometimes disconcerting enough just to have a child in the book who has very unusual abilities or knowledge of things they probably shouldn’t know.

Some examples: We Need to Talk About Kevin, Defending Jacob, Little Girls, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

4) Unreliable Narrators – I know this one is often hated, but I read a lot of thrillers and my favourites tend to be those where it’s not immediately clear who is telling the truth. I love the puzzle aspect of trying to piece together what really happened and figuring out who was lying, and more importantly, why. I especially love this trope when it’s a very intelligent character who has somehow masterminded everything to fit their version of events, more than the typical kind of character who can’t remember what happened because of alcohol, drugs or amnesia. I also find it very interesting when the character genuinely believes what they are doing is right, like Joe in You or Humbert Humbert in Lolita, and seeing the levels of self-deception it takes for them to try and justify it.

Some examples: Lolita, Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, The Woman in the Window, The Silent Patient, Before I Go to Sleep

5) Hometown Secrets – This is another very common thriller trope, and one that I tend to gravitate toward. I really like books where the main character has to go back to their hometown for some reason, only to discover that there was a lot going on behind the scenes that they never really knew about, or a dark family secret that was hidden from them. I think part of why I like this one is because it’s interesting to see how the characters thought they’d somehow “escaped” their past, only for it to come back up again anyway. I find it interesting to see how the characters, now adults, come to realize that things weren’t always as they seemed.

Some examples: The Family Upstairs, The Good Daughter, The Hiding Place, The ShadowsHome Before Dark

6) Strong Friendships – I’m not really sure what to call this one, but I love to see books with characters who have long-standing, platonic friendships. There are so many books that I read where we are told that two characters are best friends, but it doesn’t really seem like it. I love when the friendship is obvious and seems genuine, and especially when it actually has a role in the story itself (apart from an excuse to have conflict for the main character). I was thinking specifically of platonic friends, of any gender, where romance is never a factor. They are characters who love and support each other, and I especially love when the characters have enough of a history to have inside jokes and things like that to make them feel especially real.

Some examples: Frank and Q in Frankly In Love, Full Disclosure, Summer of Salt, With the Fire On High

7) Enemies-Turned-Reluctant-Allies – To be honest, I was mostly thinking of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer for this one, but I’m sure it is something I’ve seen in books too. I just find it so much fun when a character who hates the heroes or doesn’t agree with their goal at all are stuck working with them or somehow forced to join up with them temporarily, and very grudgingly end up becoming allies. The “enemy” often ends up coming to realize they actually do care about the others, but in the process, go along with what they are doing only because they have to, and may even try to sabotage them along the way. They do their best not to help at all, and if they do have to, it’s usually with a lot of snark and sarcasm. Or, they keep trying to take control and force the rest of the team to do what they want instead.

Some examples: Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Carry On (kind of), The Shades of Magic trilogy, the Saga series


2 thoughts on “7 On Sunday: Book Tropes I Love

  1. Pingback: 2020 End of Year Book Survey | Abyssal Librarian
  2. Pingback: Top 5 Wednesdays: Favourite Tropes | Abyssal Librarian

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