The Broke and the Bookish host this awesome weekly meme in which we get the opportunity to freak the frack out over absolutely everything.
What We Like
1. Slow burn (Amber) (also Tatum)
Slow burn is my absolute favourite thing in the entire (reading) world. A lot of people think I’m crazy when I say that I want a pairing to take at least three books to get together after many, many interactions and lots of snark, bickering, and a fuck load of build up. I like the progressing tension, and when the characters finally get together there is a giant explosion and I collapse from the epicness of it all. One book just isn’t enough for me to fall head over heels for a ship, and therefore I don’t think it’s enough for the characters to fall in love either. Prime examples of this would be a) Bellarke, from The 100, who are not together and haven’t even been acknowledged to have feelings for each other but IT IS SO OBVIOUS THAT THEY ARE GOING TO HAPPEN YOU CAN’T FOOL ME over the one and a half seasons that have aired, b) Tod and Kaylee from Soul Screamers by Rachel Vincent, c) Damon and Elena from The Vampire Diaries, which I don’t watch any more THANK THE GODS but their slow burn was most excellent. I like it when characters go from being either acquaintances or outright enemies, to being just okay with each other’s presence, to friends, to REBEL PARTNER BEST FRIENDS OF AWESOME, to finally falling into a relationship after six seasons and a movie.
2. Triangles (Amber)
Hear me out before you start screaming at me, okay? I know, I know, I’ve officially lost my mind. It has up and left me. But I have reasons to back up this controversial and ridiculous claim, okay! I’m not saying I like every love triangle, because many of them drive me mad and I hate how often the girls or women are torn between two guys for absolutely no reason. But, and it’s a big BUT(T), when a love triangle contains certain aspects and is well written, I do quite enjoy them. I like picking a team and sticking to it (Team Jacob 4ever) and picking apart the other half of the ship. Love triangles also give me a chance to do some really cool analysis on the parallels and contrasts in both relationships. I like to write essays in my head, and I’ve found that love triangles are a lot of fun to “write” about, especially when I feel strongly about one of the ships. Other types of love triangles that I would consider good ones are when the lady slowly outgrows the first love, moves on, but the other guy is still in love with her and wants her back. Then the lady is like FUCK NO YOU LOST ME AGES AGO BYE NOW. (I want to give actual examples, but spoilers). Other love triangles that I am sure I would enjoy if publishers would actually publish them are the ones between non-straight people. Or maybe a straight person and two non-straight people. An example here would be the
FinnPhil/Clarke/Raven love triangle from The 100, which would have been EPIC if Raven had been like buh-bye, Clarke and I are getting married, leaving Phil behind in the dust. Basically, I like drama, and I like analysis, and I also like shipping. I like shipping a whole lot.
3. Polyamory (Tatum)
Also known as ‘the more the merrier’ because YES. I love relationships that go beyond the traditional limits and explore what it’s like to live outside of those conventions – The Raven Boys is a great example, and it’s done so well in that series. Blue loves Gansey, but dates Adam, who Ronan likes, and kisses Noah, who idolizes her – they’re all (canonically) in love with each other and it’s beautiful. Also in The Montmaray Journals, which ends with a threeway relationship *throws confetti* Fiction is about humanity, in all of its messiness and confusion; why should love only be limited to two heterosexual people when the world is so much bigger than that? Why love triangles when threesomes is what I’m saying here. Why should girls have to choose between two guys who represent different parts of her personality when she can choose both and embrace everything about herself? Polyamory is awesome and I want more of it in my fiction.
4. Blurred Lines (Tatum)
Not to be confused with that terrible song, blurred lines to me are relationships which often cross from platonic to romantic and back again – good examples of this are Elise and Anna in Dangerous Girls and Maddie and Julia in Code Name Verity. I find it especially fascinating when this happens in relationships between teenage girls. This is because girls are conditioned from a very young age to become incredibly emotionally intimate with each other whilst also competing for the same things. It creates a dynamic I’ve only ever seen (and experienced) between the closest of friends. I love the messiness of such relationships and how it illustrates how the world of a teenage girl can often be a dark, confusing place. Like, functional relationships are cute but who wants to read about that when GIRLS FALLING IN LOVE WITH GIRLS WHILE HATING GIRLS AND ALSO THEMSELVES. Truly, it is beautiful to me.
5. Hate – To – Love (Tatum)
This relates to Amber’s amazing points about slow burn relationships – there’s no better payoff than getting invested in relationships which have miles to go, especially between two people who are so different on the surface but are incredibly similar at the core of it all. It takes time for these similarities to surface, which is why these relationships almost always start out in a bad place – Damon and Elena clashed all the time but there was always that undercurrent of something more. That’s what I look for in all my ships – that undefinable something that eventually becomes everything. I love that moment when it changes; when a single act tips the dynamics of a relationship and you can feel something begin (Clarke killing Atom *coughs*), when hate begins to bloom into something completely different and it turns their entire worlds inside out.
What We Dislike
1. Instalove (Amber)
I have a feeling that instalove is going to be on a lot of lists. No one likes it, no one falls in love at first sight, and publishers keep publishing these damn love stories. Like I mentioned above, I like slow burn, and I don’t expect every series to include a six book-long build up followed by an epic romance, but I don’t expect anyone to be whispering I love you’s in the first week of their relationship.
2. Second Act Breakups (Amber)
I cannot explain quite how much I despise this trend. The reader can see it coming every single time because it’s overdone, and often it can be prevented or there will be another way to sort things out. By Second Act Breakup, I mean when the main couple get into an argument over something either little or large (sometimes because one tried to protect the other) and break up until the very end of the book when they realise they can’t live without each other. I HATE THIS SO MUCH. Please stop doing it, authors. It’s unoriginal and frustrating, especially since 99% of the time the characters will easily get back together and it makes the breakup or their issues seem trivial.
3. Abuse (Amber)
I’m looking at you here, Fifty Shades, you absolute waste of paper. I can deal with abuse in romances, as long as ultimately it becomes a message to raise awareness, and the characters and author acknowledge that that’s what it is. Abusive relationships need to be talked about, not swept away and hidden in the closet. I am all for them if they’re bringing light to real people’s situations. But if you write an abusive relationship disguised as an epic romance, that’s when you and I are going to have problems. As is the case with Fifty Shades (which I haven’t read and have no intention to, by the way), I have read or heard of quite a few books that depict abusive relationships and then try to play them off as romantic. No. This is the way abuse victims are made to feel, as though their abuser is doing it out of love, and if you go and write a book containing this shit then you are no better than the abuser.
If you have been affected by domestic abuse and you need someone to speak to, you can click these links to find out how, or to research more. UK: Domestic Violence Helplines US: The National Domestic Violence Helpline Australia: White Ribbon & more.
4. Nice Guys (Tatum)
Y’all know the type: this guy is a real class act, one of the good ones, moral, righteous and upstanding. So he gets with the girl pretty early on and everything is great except you start noticing that he’s actually pretty shady, got some secrets he’s not going to tell, is manipulative and gross whenever he’s backed into a corner, guilt trips his love interest every chance he gets and all of this is held up/justified by the text because he’s just so Nice. There’s also the other type: not the conventionally attractive type and has a giant chip on his shoulder because of it, is real nice to girls until he realizes they’re not interested and then becomes absolutely awful toward her. He never ever stops feeling he deserves to be adored by girls just because he’s Nice. There is a huge abundance of them in fiction – Finn Collins, Finn Hudson, Stefan Salvatore, Mal Oretsev, Xander Harris…the list just goes on and on. I hate them all, every last one. Nice Guys are never actually nice; they’re manipulative, awful people who feel entitled to a girl and can’t accept any kind of rejection at all. Gross. The grossest.
5. Love Triangles (Tatum)
Yeah, I know that Amber made some truly excellent points about the love triangle thing; they were so good I almost left this off here. But. But. You guys, I really do hate love triangles. They’re tedious, often drawn out beyond all sense and reason over the course of several seasons/books to the point where people just stop caring about the romantic subplot at all, and always, always involve the same tropes. Here is a good girl, here is a good guy oh but wait here comes a bad boy oh no who will she choose? Stay tuned to find out…eventually. Love triangles get in the way of natural character and relationship development, often pushing a relationship that no longer fits with the story or the characters involved e.g. Finn/Clarke. It infuriates me, mostly because out of the three characters involved it is always the female character who suffers the most – not only her development halts in favour of triangle ‘progression’ but for incredibly gross reasons a huge amount of fan vitriol is always directed at the female character. I hate it so much. There are very, very few instances of love triangles working out well and I keep hoping this annoying trope will die out. One day it will happen if I believe hard enough.