Top Ten Turn-Offs in A Book


Hello and welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday, loves! This week’s theme happens to be a TTT rewind, which means that we get to choose whatever topic we want, just as long as it was a previous theme. For my part, I decided to go with top ten turn-offs you encounter while reading, the topic for October 1, 2013. Here we go! ❤

1) Girl hate.

913aa-giphyNothing grinds my gears more than when a girl character — protagonist, antagonist or otherwise — hates on another just because the other is also a girl interested in the love interest, or better yet, just a girl. Girl hate just strikes me as immature and doesn’t do anything for the character or the book.

→ Celine at YA Midnight Reads has a post that more eloquently discusses why girl hate is harmful.

2) Sexist remarks.

Sexist remarks are okay when the characters who are saying them get called out, but sexist remarks that go completely dismissed are personally just a huge missed opportunity. My opinion of the character (and the book) lowers pretty much immediately in these cases. :/

→ Not directly relevant to my point, but here’s a Bustle post on 5 romance tropes that are actually quite sexist.

3) Possessive, controlling love interests.

She Latitude | Edward CullenYou know those love interests who are like “I’ll break your fingers if you touch my girl again” to a rival when the rival has done nothing but approach the girl and try to talk to her? I feel like these actions are touted as rather attractive and ‘protective’ in many romance books, but to me, they just come off as possessive and controlling. And yeees, that completely unnecessary threat for violence definitely turns me on.

4) On/off romances caused by a lack of communication.

I notice this is something I’ve had less and less patience with as I get older. I used to love Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern, where the two leads basically go through a thousand missed chances to get together because they do not talk.

I thought it was romantic and sweet, how long their love lasted throughout the years — but now I’m just like, “Please talk! You’re wasting PRECIOUS TIME here.”

5) Mary Sues.

not impressedWhat are Mary Sues, you ask me? Well, I’m going to refer to TV Tropes here and say that Mary Sues are characters that “serve as an idealised version of the author mainly for the purpose of wish fulfilment”. Some common characteristics include:

  • She’s really beautiful and exotic in appearance — strange hair or eye colour, very attractive to everyone around her, the author dedicates several paragraphs to describing every little detail about how she looks.
  • She’s talented in pretty much everything she tries — she’s really smart, really badass, really strong, with no known weaknesses.
  • She lacks a realistic or story-relevant flaw — or her flaw is that she is ‘clumsy’, because that’s usually meant to be endearing.
  • She has a Dark, Dramatic, Tragic background — her family was violently murdered and she’s the lone survivor; she was raised by wolves and now discovers that she is the secret heir to an empire.
  • She’s REALLY special — no, really. REALLY special. Very unique. Much wow.

I dunno. Every time I feel like a character is a Mary Sue (or a Gary Stu, the male equivalent), my opinion of the book lowers considerably and I just stop taking the character seriously. :/

→ Here’s a Mary Sue litmus test you can use to decide whether a character fits the bill or not.

6) Too much angst.

angst angst angstThere’s angst, and then there’s angst. There comes a point in every book where, for me, angst becomes angst and permeates pretty much every line in the story.

This is where the character broods, and broods, and broods. They think about how bad their life is, how broken their heart is, and how all hope is lost. They think about all the things that have gone wrong, all the things that are going wrong, and all the things that will go wrong. It doesn’t matter that they have a roof over their head, a job that pays their bills, and food on their table — their life is made out of so much royal suckage, and they are desperate for the readers to know it.

7) Slow-paced, boring exposition.

I don’t mind exposition and believe that it’s necessary (more in some stories than others), but some authors have a tendency to go on and on and on introducing the story to us rather than actually, well, telling the story.

That being said, it’s definitely a matter of preference. Some people have DNFed two of my top reads this year (V. E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows and Kiersten White’s And I Darken) on the grounds that the pacing is too slow for them and the exposition reads like info-dumps, whereas for me, it was simply necessary and can even be (almost) as fun as the story itself. 😛

8) Cheating.

Also a personal preference, but I have very little to no tolerance of characters who cheat in a novel, especially when it’s a romance.

I don’t believe that cheating makes someone inherently bad as a person, but it is a bad action, and my opinion of the book in question lowers preeetty dramatically if it doesn’t get called out.

→ Lydia from 22 is Still Young Adult has an awesome, AWESOME post questioning why we reject cheating so much.

9) Body-shaming or slut-shaming.

Okay, okay, these two are not the same things, but the key tone is the same: you’re shaming someone else based on who they are, what they do, what they look like, etc., even when all those things don’t actually impact you in any way or form.

This article on BookRiot talks about combating fat phobia in YA lit, and I quote:

BookRiot Combating Fat Phobia

10) Mean Girls™ as antagonists.

Regina George Half A VirginA lot of contemporary YA/romance books are guilty of having a Mean Girl™ as an antagonist. And by Mean Girl™, I mean a girl who is catty, manipulative, possessive, and excessively mean to others who might stand in her way of Getting the Guy. She’s also usually conventionally, obviously attractive (think blonde hair, skinny, long legs — everything the protagonist likely is not) and the most popular girl in school, despite being, well, kind of cruel and condescending.

The most important of all, of course, is that she has no reason for being mean other than that’s just part of her personality! Here’s where the ™ part comes in, in my opinion — I don’t mind a mean character or two but there has got to be a reason behind all this meanness, and when an author doesn’t give me it, the book strikes me as cliched and uninspired.

What’s on your TTT this week? Leave me a link or let me know in the comments!

113 thoughts on “Top Ten Turn-Offs in A Book

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