Handle With Care

handle with care; the tropes edition

bookworm things

More tropes!

I’m not going to lie, I sort of imagined myself throwing some confetti in the air while shouting this. I don’t know why, but it is possibly because I’m running on a little sleep and nothing but coffee in my stomach.

In the last post, I talked about tropes that I will always read – and sometimes be disappointed by, of course that happens. But in this post, I will talk about tropes that might be over-done, but sometimes? Can be written in a fresh way that I find myself enjoying them.

handle with care

And surprisingly, this time all the tropes are not romantically inclined! Just – most of them. I don’t know why, but hey, you might get some good recommendations out of it?

claudia gray

  • Everybody and their grandmother is probably tired of forced love triangles in stories. (What about ending in poly relationships? Some of them would have definitely made sense.) Love triangles are tired and boring and it makes the character stuck between two love interests look shallow. And one love interest is always obviously better for the main character than the other. At least, most of them tend to go this way. But some of them grip you because they portray both possible love interests as viable and healthy options. They show you the depth of the main character’s feelings for both. They evolve the characters such that you genuinely feel bad for the main character and for their love interests.
    I have a lot of opinions about love triangles apparently.
    Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed series was a pretty decent example of a well-written love triangle. So was Claudia Gray’s A Thousand Pieces Of You.
  • A large part of me has grown very tired of stories whereby the adults in the situation are almost entirely absent. These are teenagers! They are kids! (Okay, it might be frustrating me more because I can no longer deny being an adult. I’m a mom now, and I would never let my daughter out of my sight if the world were the way it were in some of these books.) I mean, in some cases, the parents are there, but sort of emotionally distant? And it doesn’t resonate with me, and frankly, never has, but maybe it does with the target audience? I don’t know.
    It can be understandable in a series like Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, where the parents and mentors have disappointed the protagonist until she no longer trusts them, but I’d love to see more YA novels where the adults are very much present in the protagonists’ lives, and in a healthy way.open book
  • Is anybody else also getting very tired of the “not like other girls” trope? Thankfully, they seem to be happening less these days, but I still occasionally find them. I have been guilty of referring to myself as such when I was younger, and even writing characters like that in my first few stories, but now? I want to see ALL THE GIRLS. Give me female friendships and girls who love make up and dresses. Give me thin girls and fat girls, and girls who are “one of the guys” and girls who are part of a “clique”. Give me girls who love girls and girls who are aro and ace and trans girls and – just give me all the girls.
    (Note: I might have missed out someone and I’m sorry, but I’m blanking on more.)
    Over the years, I’ve started to dislike Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series more because of Bella’s thought processes towards the other girls in the books. Honestly, that just always makes me love the other girls more.
  • Another trope that I think needs to be thrown away is the damsel-in-distress. Sometimes girls need to be saved, yes, definitely. Sometimes the other characters need to be saved too. Sometimes the damsel does the saving. This is seen less lately as people write more fully fleshed out, 3 dimensional characters who save each other, who hurt each other. (Honestly, I don’t read books with this trope at all anymore, so if there have been any in recent years that are very evident, I either blanked on it, or I didn’t read it.)
    Meg in the Disney movie Hercules says it best – “I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this.”
  • Sometimes I’m a sucker for the whole “forbidden love”, star-crossed lovers thing. Sometimes, it can be done well, with reasonable explanations as to why they should not be together, and why they have managed to fall in love anyway. But a lot of times, this trope is paired with the whole instant-love aspect, and it is just not believable at all. If you know your family hates your love interest’s family, then why pursue him? Wouldn’t you feel instant hate with all the negative things you’ve heard about their family over the years? IT MAKES NO SENSE.
    Of course, if you don’t know about the history that makes your love forbidden, then yeah, okay, you could fall in love before you realise you shouldn’t. Or you could be reluctantly working together for a thing, and fall in love slowly. It can be done well, or it just falls flat. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner did this right.

the starbound trilogy

Of course, there are more tropes that might have become tired and boring over the years. Some of these tropes, you might enjoy and have good recommendations of! I would love to hear all about tropes you like, books that handled these tropes well, and basically all your thoughts!


I’m Ara, a Southeast Asian writer who someday hopes to have published a novel, and who is currently losing herself in the worlds created by others. I love books and food and television and blogging and I get distracted and sidetracked easily.


  • Olivia-Savannah

    I love a forbidden romance kind of story! Also, the damsel in distress is sooo done. I really don’t like it. I love the quote you mentioned from Hercules. I love that character and the movie is one of my favourite Disney movies. Oh, and absent parents is horrible. It’s one of the main reasons I really didn’t like Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. I agree, unnecessary love triangles are annoying. But like you, I think it actually worked in the Claudia Gray Firebird series!

    • Ara

      Glad you agree! Forbidden romance can be well-done sometimes, I’ve definitely read a few that I love, but sometimes it’s super cliche? It’s really a hit-or-miss with me for some.

      I never finished the Shiver series so I don’t remember it, but it’s probably a good thing I never picked it up again!

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