30 Days of Books – Day Seven
Posted by Jen Moore
Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise
(My apologies for the delay in posting; life has been insane lately.)
Token Romance. (WARNING: clicking on a TV Tropes link may cause the rest of your afternoon to be lost in an obsessive maze of clicking. Open at your own risk.) I really dislike the idea that just because there’s a male and a female character, they ought to get together. This isn’t just books — it’s a major cultural trope — but I loathe it with every fiber of my being. Similarly I hate that getting the girl (or guy, it shows up about as often in books with main female characters any more) is treated as the prize at the end of the adventure. It’s one of the reasons I like children’s books so much; they’re much less likely to have this trope. And I cheer in joy whenever a book doesn’t go that route, like the glee I had at the finish of the Eden Moore series by Cherie Priest. I think it frustrates me so much because putting the hookup at the end of the book implies two things: first, that the work of the relationship isn’t interesting or worth talking about, and second, that obviously everyone wants nothing more than a romantic relationship, so getting one is fulfilling one of the great goals of life. Since the vast majority of books actually have characters who do want other things — not to say that they don’t want romantic relationships, but they do want other things as well — having this tacked on at the end is just endlessly frustrating.
A related trope that I despise is the Tragic Dead Girlfriend, usually from the hero’s past, which is supposed to give him some kind of depth or something but really is just tired and old. It’s my least favorite part of the Gentleman Bastard sequence by Scott Lynch (which starts with The Lies of Locke Lamora), a series I otherwise love. Really, you don’t think Jean and Locke are awesome enough without having to give them Tragic Romantic Backstories? It’s cheap, and it allows the writer to put in a romance without actually writing a main female character.
Less negativity tomorrow, I promise! But hey, the prompt asked me to complain.