Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
As much as I love reading, there will always be bookish pet peeves able to drive me up the wall. And I bet we all have them – book tropes we dislike, poor writing choices and just random things we’d rather not deal with while trying to sink into all these magical literary worlds.
The 15 bookish pet peeves I will talk about here are by all means not the only things I don’t like to see in my books. But they are the things I encounter often, that are able to drive me a little crazier every time I run into them.
I sense I’m going to be harsher in his post than I usually am and than I generally like to be. But we are talking here about things I don’t like. They have ruined my reads on multiple occasions. So please pardon me while I’m venting out this once.
15 Bookish Pet Peeves And Tropes I Don’t Like
1. Special snowflake getting powers too easily
I don’t necessarily mind the infamous special snowflake trope and characters being unique. In fact, when done well, I actually quite enjoy the chosen one trope.
It’s when these special people only need to appear on the page for the magic to start flowing through their veins that I start rolling my eyes. I will always be interested in characters able to go farther than any other man, but they gotta work for it for me to appreciate the story at all.
2. Miscommunication/Lack of communication
We all love to see it. In a trash bin.
There are many different ways this trope can irritate the readers. The worst for me personally is when I get the feeling that the author was so scared of making their characters anything less than perfect, the only way they could possibly get into an argument is if they misunderstood each other/didn’t hear the whole story.
But making a character unable to finish a sentence that would have solved the whole thing does not add good drama to the story. It does not add a good kind of tension. In fact, it can ruin even pretty good stories.
3. It was all a dream
I’m not even going to comment on this one. Just – no.
This one is one of the worst ones for me. Instant mood killer.
I can tolerate authors telling me the same information two or even three times. But when they start drilling it into my head, it’s almost as if they think I didn’t get it the first fifteen times. I did. And this is me taking down the stars from your rating. Repeatedly. Just in case you didn’t get it.
5. Stupid characters
Every time I run into a protagonist that the author is trying to convince me is a victim but in truth there were obvious solutions to their problem and somehow they just don’t see it… It makes me ask myself why would I want to follow such a character.
I also hate when characters (smart or stupid) make stupid mistakes because the author needs something to drive forward the plot. It screams fake. I’m sure there were better ways to keep things moving and if not… well, if that doesn’t say enough about that story.
6. Telling instead of showing
I’m not going to connect with a character if you just tell me about this thing they went through. I want to go through it with them. I want to feel their pain, and their struggle, and be scared when they are scared, and when we finally get to the payout, I wanna feel like I earned it too, dang it.
I also hate when characters run through these monologues in their heads saying how they are the best at something, they could so easily resolve this, oh how shocked everyone will be when finally they unveil their true skills… but then we never actually get to see any of it on page.
Not living up to expectations is so much worse than not setting any expectations at all.
7. Magic solves it all
I love well-imagined magic systems and I love when magic is used in some cool, unexpected, yet logical way to solve a complicated problem. But if someone just swishes a wand, says an incantation, or even worse – the power they didn’t even know they had suddenly swoops in to save the day because the pressure was somehow enough to trigger it…
Having a magical solution to all the worst problems the characters are dealing with is one of the most effective ways to ruin a book for me. Why should I bother to worry and fear and anticipate when I already know everything will be well in the end simply because magic?
8. Dead character comes back to life
This is one of the pet peeves that actually can be done quite well. It’s all about how the trope is handled and whether it enhances the overall narrative or diminishes its impact. When used thoughtfully and with purpose, a character’s return to life can lead to intriguing plot developments and thematic exploration.
However, overusing or misusing this trope can weaken the story’s emotional resonance and undermine the integrity of the narrative. When a character dies and returns, it can come across as manipulative, as the author is toying with readers’ emotions for shock value without a genuine commitment to the character’s demise.
Have the guts to stand behind what you did is all I’m saying.
9. Unreliable narrator
I know a lot of people love unreliable narrators, but it is by far one of my least favorite tropes. There are exceptions, I’ve seen it done really well. But if I knew upfront a book has an unreliable narrator, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t pick it up.
What bugs me about unreliable narrators is that they seem to me like cheap plot devices to add twists. It’s like – this story I’ve been telling you for the past few days? Well, actually none of it was true. Feels like I just wasted my time.
I’m talking about those instances where the author convinces me something really huge and juicy is coming. Like a character maybe has an ace up their sleeve we don’t know about. Or someone’s a real badass who hasn’t acted much on their badassness yet, but they will when we get a situation that requires it.
You know? Like you’re sure there are things hidden beneath the surface just waiting to explode. Small hints at the most amazing outcomes ever. But then none of it happens. And till the end of the book/series still none of it gets realized.
Yeah. I hate that.
Similarly as with the repetitiveness. Why don’t some authors trust their readers to be able to take a hint?
12. Enemies-to-lovers minus enemies
Selfexplanatory. Enemies-to-lovers is such a great trope, can be taken to high standards. It offers incredible opportunities for growth, development and redemption. But if I can’t understand why they hate each other, it’s not real and I don’t like it.
You know what I’m talking about. It’s when the characters hate each other just because. For the sake of being sassy. Because the book needs some tension. It’s usually characters with zero personality who I guess need something to talk about. Yeah. No.
13. Ridiculously long chapters
Out of all the other things I’ve mentioned so far, this one probably bothers me the least. And I don’t necessarily need the chapters to be super short either. But extremely long chapters can be tiring. So if we could keep them at least under 20 pages, that would be great.
I also read much faster books with short chapters just because, no matter how busy or tired or sleepy I am, it’s easier to convince myself to read just one more.
14. List of characters at the beginning of the book
I don’t know if this is a new trend, I started encountering it only recently. But it’s been in several books I’ve read in the last year or so and the fact I’ve included it in this post tells you enough on what I thought about it.
I think the idea is to write this huge list of all the characters from a, let’s say, fantasy. A list of their names and their titles, sometimes a bit about their background. So that later the author can cut down the character introduction from the scenes and focus on the action. Maybe they thought it would make for a better writing flow? Shorten infodumps?
But it definitely doesn’t make for a better reading flow. I’m certainly not going to remember any names or info about characters I don’t know and don’t care about, and I don’t want to scroll to the beginning every time a new character is introduced just to see who we are talking about.
15. Standalones turned into series
I’m not talking about all series that weren’t planned to be series in the beginning. But we all know those wonderful stories that should have stayed standalones. When more installments don’t add to the story we loved.
Even worse – when they take it in a completely other direction that has absolutely nothing to do with the original book because the first story was so nicely wrapped up, there’s nothing meaningful you can add to it.
And the absolute worst – when somehow – somehow – they actually manage to diminish and ruin the first installment we all so loved.
I could continue, but these 15 tropes and pet peeves were the things I really needed to vent out about. Though there’s always a chance I’ll add more things as they get to annoy me in the future.
What are some tropes you’d rather live without? Let me know in the comments!