Talk to Me Tuesday #4 - Literary Pet-Peeves

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Talk to Me Tuesday is a brand new weekly meme where we will discuss anything (and everything) literary-related in an open forum of honesty. Questions for the next week will be posted one week prior to the post on the Features page. If you'd like to participate in this weekly feature, simply create your post, link back to me, and add your post to the wonderful Mr. Linky below. Have fun, and have at it!
This week's question: Do you have any specific literary pet-peeves in the genres you read and why?

There are so many things about YA literature that I love. I enjoy the no-holds-barred emotional plot lines that authors use to push the boundaries of the genre. I love the amount and vast nature of the sub-genres within YA including contemporary, dystopian, Christian, fantasy, science fiction and more. I love that the YA genre encourages all reading ages and levels to dip their toes into the proverbial waters of literature. All that aside, however, let’s be honest. There are always a few flaws lurking behind the corners or, shall I say, smacking us over the head repeatedly until we beg for mercy.

For me, my biggest literary pet-peeve in YA is the emergence of the love triangle. Good Lord. Really? Girl meets boy. Girl experiences instant love. Boy falls head over heels. Girl meets other boy. Other boy falls head over heels. Manly exhibition of brute force. Grrr! Argghhh! One boy wins! Girl and boy live happily ever after and make babies with strange names…oh…sorry…I went on a tangent. In all seriousness though, Twilight created a phenomenon with its popularity. And yes, I'm glad more people are reading, but no, I'm not glad so many books follow the same mold.

The amount of books with love triangles these days, including my beloved The Hunger Games, is a bit absurd. The only reason I could stomach the love triangle in The Hunger Games is because of the intensity of the action in the book overshadowing the need for a super-sappy subplot drenched in a boring romance. Here’s a thought - if you absolutely MUST do a love triangle…two girls fighting for one guy? But hey, what do I know? I'm just looking for something fresh like true love. Between two people. Now that is is a novel idea.

Here's what some of your fellow book bloggers said were their biggest literary pet-peeves:

Liz from Consumed by Books says, “I hate it when authors throw in so many unbelievable plot twists that their novel reads like a soap opera.”
Amber from Books of Amber says, “At the moment, it’s love triangles. It’s more of an annoying cliché at the moment – there are so many of them in YA literature!”
Nikki from Wicked Awesome Books says, “Insta-love. I hate it. Give me some buildup, some friendship, a little date time, then maybe I can accept that two characters are in love. I want people to get to know one another before they decide that they could die for one another.”
Jess from Tangled Up in Blue says, “When an author’s voice is too forced. Seriously, no one speaks like an English grammar text book.”
Heidi from YA Bibliophile says, “Characters that never grow…they go through the whole book and are the same as they started!”
Yes, there are other things that plague me in YA literature such as authors dumbing down the prose (sorry, we’re just fine reading at a high level, thank you very much), when the tone is overly conversational, or when the plot lags, but for me, it’s the love triangle that takes the cake. I want to see a book step out of the norm because I tend to find a lot of the love triangles formulaic. Again, yes, some work well, but others…well, I’d love to see something break the mold, or better yet – become something new entirely.

Want to weigh in and do your own Talk to Me Tuesday post for this week? Go ahead and link up!


  1. I get really annoyed with the disappearing parents. I mean seriously, where are they?! It's always so convenient that Mom or Dad has some big-to-do trip planned on exactly the same weekend daughter wants boyfriend to come over. Really??!! because that doesn't happen. Oh & I love the parents who are oblivious to their teenager's mood altering/shift-shaping self! Seriously?! I think I'd notice if there was some magic going on upstairs (and I don't mean that kind of magic! Ha!)

  2. This is a great idea! Something that bugs me is when the main character is instantly in love with the other. Grr...Love triangles bug me too, but only if they're not done the right way. One triangle I like is the Ash, Megan, Puck love triangle.

  3. Oh, the disappearing parents thing is so annoying! I agree with Ginger on that!

    I love a good love triangle, but a lot of them are very lame, I agree. I am a sucker for romance, though, so the more romance the better for me, and so I often find myself drawn towards books that have ridiculous love triangles. lol! Sorry, I just can't help myself.

    The girl who falls in love after all of five minutes and ditches all of her friends and all of her interests in the process - now that really irks me!

  4. Totally agree with insta-love and the love triangles. I can't STAND love triangles. And the brooding over said love triangles. >_< Goodness. And vampires. =/

    Loved reading the tangent. XD

  5. I just listened to Breaking Dawn for my Audio Challenge and I think your so right. The love triangle was fun in Twilight....BUT...not in every single book since, geez people get a new plotline!!!! And the insta-love, so ridiculous authors have been writting about it since 13 year cousins fell in love and killed themselves!!

  6. I actually like love triangles, but totally think they are overdone, in the same format. I liked Unearthly- it was a totally different spin on it.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  7. That was suppose to say 13 year old cousins..:)

  8. I used to not mind about love triangle but after reading multiple books that seem to feature almost identical thing, I start to get really bored. I feel that when certain thing becomes a trend, many authors would like to write about that same thing because he/she thinks that is what readers really want without thinking that there are many categories of readers out there. I don't really like hating a book just because something this small, but at times I really cannot help it.

  9. Yikes, totally agree. I never really read YA Fiction before Twilight and was wondering if they all had the same annoying love triangle thing.

    But I mostly can't stand the elementary school language at times. I'm reminded of a sentence from "Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld that made me throw the book down on the bed for a second (paraphrasing from memory)"What was the word he said? Oh, 'botanic-zero'" That might not even be the sentence LOL but it was something like that!!! Like, dude, we can read! We are reading your book!

  10. Love at first sight....... that one really bugs me. I mean I can understand attraction, but love? "I would die for you, can't live without you..." That's not love...that's lust..

  11. Ouf, I agree. The love triangles are everywhere! I start a book and when I see that second love interest pop up I just groan. It's there way too much, I might have liked it more if it was a once in a while thing.

    My second biggest pet peeve in the YA genre is, like Nikki said, the "insta-love." Gah! When I read a romance I want to fall in love with the character also, I just can't get into it when it's that whole corny love at first sight, all the stars align at that moment thing.

  12. This has nothing really to do with the book itself, but I hate when the book is marketed as "The Next Twilight." Really?! Doubt it.

    And I also hate it when books leave too many things unaswered at the end and no sequel is coming.

  13. Well, the love triangle biz has existed much, much before Twilight, but I do believe that it has become a bit of a pest in its growth in popularity.

    Yes! I hate when books are compared to other books, namely Twilight. HATE IT!

    Superficial love - the love-at-first-sight, can't-get-him-out-of-my-head-and-if-he-leaves-me-I-might-just-kill-myself unhealthy relationship dynamic that Twilight also brought forth to the table.

  14. I actually posted a while ago about the love triangle double standard- where it's okay for a girl to waffle between 2 guys, but not for a guy to pick between 2 girls. Everyone would call him a jerk or player, and to stop toying with them/leading them on... (It's here if you want to read it)

    The overuse of love triangles bothers me a lot more than their existence. Sometime they really add a lot to the story, like in Caridad Ferrer's retelling of Carmen, When the Stars Go Blue (and let's be real... Carmen needs that love triangle. That's the point!) But a lot of the time it's really in the way and annoying, and I feel like it's only there to create drama.

    So that along with Nikki's annoyance at instant romance are probably my biggest pet peeves. Although I'm sure if I thought about it I could definitely come up with a few more!

  15. I'm so very tired of the love triangle as well. What's wrong with just one love interest? Now, there are some books that do the love triangle well and it's not overrun with angst, and I think the Iron Fey series is an example of that. I don't mind it when it's well done, but I grow weary when the girl clearly can't make up her mind and decides she's in love with whichever boy is currently standing closest to her. But then again, maybe I'm just bitter two boys aren't fighting for my attention:)

  16. It's nice to see that the insta-love bothers other people as well. I'm a fan of well-done love triangles. It never really bothered me in The Hunger Games, but maybe that's because I felt that there was only one way the story could end (Team Peeta all the way!), but it does get annoying when I see the triangle employed in story after story.

    It also drives me crazy when a story that is so perfect and complete as a stand-alone...gets a sequel or gets turned into a series. I loved The Mockingbirds (as a standalone) but now there's a sequel coming out. Most of the time I'm pretty easy to please, bookwise, but I do have my pet peeves and they tend to keep me from loving a book.

    Great topic Melissa! I really enjoy this feature, but I will miss your RACE teasers.

  17. I am also tired of the love triangle, the love at first sight, the female lead that keeps passing out and needs to be revived and nicknames for love interests that are meant to be endearing but come off annoying: my heart, flower, ect.

  18. I can certainly understand the anti-love triangle vibe. I think the problem is the way it's written these days since it's been around for ages.


  19. I SO agree with you. Love triangles are really starting to get to me. I'm not a big romance person in the first place and love triangles just make it more angsty and ehhh. Just to much.

    I like that idea of switching it up and having two girls going after one guy. That would be kind of interesting. But then again it could just turn into literary cat fights which wouldn't be too fun. hehe. :)

  20. You hit the nail on the head again, Melissa. The Love Triangle is so unrealistic.

    In high school, I don't remember anyone, anyone being caught up in a love triangle. Even the most 'beautiful', 'popular' peeps were always single or a relationship with one person.

  21. I'm really enjoying reading evetyone's thoughts on this subject! I haven't read enough books with love triangles in that they would start to annoy me but I can see why that would happen. I agree with Missy above, love triangles are very unrealistic. Romance is great but not when it becomes cliched like insta-love. Love at first sight just isn't plausible and there needs to be some build up of the characters for me to root for them.

  22. I'm sick of adultery in books. Maybe it's just crazy ol' me, but I hate cheating. Yet it creeps up in SOOOO much fiction lately. I just find it really hard to sympathize with the characters after that.

  23. This is pretty much exactly what I said on another blog's Talk TO Me post, Melissa! And you're soo right, you nailed the YA love triangle trend to a tee. I'd love to see more girl/boy/girl love triangles, so I often write them in my stories and novels. As a teenager, I've never been caught up in a love triangle, but I know that when they do happen they form naturally, not through obvious plot points or love at first sight. :)

  24. I don't mind a love triangle if it's done right. Because in most cases we don't fall in love with one person in our lifetime. We date, we meet other people, some people get married, then get divorced, some people find another partner when their spouse dies. I can see all these situations, but not fighting over feelings for two people at the same time. Like in The Iron Fey. However, I can see it in The Hunger Games. Katniss starts to see Peeta in a different light, especially when they've been so close the entire games. However, it needs buildup. For instance, in Unearthly. There was a lot of buildup to the love triangle in that story. A love triangle throws conflict into the the story, but if it's cheesy, too fast or comes out of left field then it doesn't work.

  25. Great topic!!

    My personal pet peeves:

    - love triangles forever unless they are really really psychologically well-founded (a rare thing indeed, I know),
    - disappearing or even non-existing parents,
    - main characters (mostly girls) who fall in love instantly with the first handsome/beautiful person they see for the first time in their life,
    -lack of internal logic in the plot (things making you say "wait a moment, haven't I read on page XYZ something to the contrary?"),
    - the characters who just cannot change throughout the book, no matter what.

    As you see I am very average when it comes to these. ;)

  26. I could ramble on and on about all of these points! The insta-love, the absent parents, the love triangles - they're all so frustrating!

    And yet, they sell. We're always sucked in. =P

  27. Totally agree with you, love triangles are way overdone in YA and often it seems pretty clear to the reader who the protagonist is leaning towards (even if she doesn't seem to be able to figure it out, which is also annoying), so really what's the point? Just a way to create more angsty drama, I guess. When a love triangle fits with the situation and doesn't feel forced, I'm okay with it, but all too frequently it feels like it's only there so that readers can choose a "team" to cheer for.

    The other thing that bugs me about love triangles is that they usually end up portraying the protagonist as an indecisive heartbreaker as she flip-flops between one guy and the other. Not very flattering!

  28. My biggest pet peeve is the whole overly lustful thoughts that seem to dominate far too many books.

  29. Oh fricking love triangles! Or the insta-love! They are so annoying. Or when one character (which is almost always the male) is somehow intertwined with the paranormal world and meets/ falls in love with another character (almost always the girl)from the human world and refuses to tell the human anything about the paranormal world/ hides their activities/ lie to them, which forces the human to go (somewhat stupidly I might add) to find answers in the paranormal world and then since they have no idea what they are getting themselves into/ get into a dangerous situation, the paranormal partner has to come and rescue them.

  30. yeah i think twilight really opened the doors for the love triangle trend!

  31. Agreed! I am pretty sick of love triangles in general. That said, I read 'Her And Me and You' by Lauren Strasnick recently and she kind of uses the theme of triangular relationships in a different way.

    My pet peeve is that recently, it seems like every book has to be the first in a trilogy. I want more standalones!

  32. Agree unnecessary love triangles annoy me too. Especially angel books where the girl must decide between the bad angel and good angel. Great post. I didn't sign up this week but I will be back next week!

  33. I really agree whole heartedly with Nikki, I hate the instant love at first sight. I want a build up to. At the same time I am not too fond of the I hate you then I love you action, but at least they have to build up to it, so it isn't quite as obnoxious.

    The love triangle is also getting old for me too, but more than that is that it seems like the girl is always choosing the bad boy in the triangle instead of the friend sweety. Come on girls wake up if he is a bad boy he will remain a bad boy and you cannot change him so don't bother!

  34. ugh love triangles!! Hate them and frankly I'm starting to take it personally because the guy I root for never gets the girl. I'm also sick of girls falling for the "perfect guy and insta love". barf!!! I'm sorry, but that is not realistic.

  35. I'm with you about dumbing down the prose. Oh and I think that sometimes an author doesn't intend to make a triangle but the fans seem to demand it. I've seen that a couple of times. Oh well... don't think those will be pasé any time in the future.

  36. My top one is love at first sight, no build-up to a romance. Although love triangles are pretty high up there, too.

  37. I don't outright hate love triangles, but they do often bother me. Sometimes they're ok, like if the character thought the first guy was dead and gone and then a new guy comes into the picture, ok. That makes sense and doesn't lower my respect for the MC. I hate it when a MC just can't pick and ends up playing two guys at once and stringing them along. I lose respect for her then.

    My biggest pet peeve right now is when insta-love relationships happen and completely overwhelm the plot. I kind of hate it when the two characters get together early on. It completely removes all of the tension and anticipation I love.

    I want to see them struggle together (or against one another) for most of the book. I also want that struggle to be related to something outside their relationship (not the silly "Oh no, they can't be together!"). Give me a battle or something. Then, after they've seen one another in action and grown to respect each other, that's when I want them to get *that* kiss.

  38. Oddly enough, I don't mind this as long as it's even. Some even do it well. Loved Nightshade for it's triangle but I can see why it's so annoying.

  39. Love triangles are definitely a literary pet peeve of mine but instantaneous love and invisible parents are two others.

  40. I hate love triangles since it's so overdone. But you are absolutely right about The Hunger Games. Despite there being a love triangle, it never got cheesy or just plain silly like in most books. The author never deviated from the main plot of the book.

  41. I do not like the "love conquers all" theme in books. The message is too cheesy and unrealistic. Sometimes the message needs to be..."he's just not good for you."

  42. Hmmm.... I thought love triangles were breaking the mold of the traditional love story. It is a rather recent concept (a few years). Yes, lately authors are on the bandwagon, the falling in love instantly is not so good. But in real life I have seem my fair share of dramatic who do I pick type situations.

    If an author can harness the dating and a fall in love over a course of time I think they would have a more realistic approach to what one might run into in their younger days, or older.

    I'm not against mainstream boy meets girl happy ending books but they are boring. You know the ending before you open the cover. With triangles I find more... stress, maybe not the correct word, but I don't know the ending and that makes me happy.

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  43. Now,

    How do we get the authors to listen to all our pet peeves because you know we aren't going to stop buying our favorite authors or the sequels to our favorite series?


  44. I totally agree with Nikki. Insta-love, pfft, not really in the real world (liking is different to love!)

  45. I love love triangles but they have become too common place :) GREAT post!

  46. I think the completely absent parents is what bothers me the most, I mean come on... not all parents disappear...

  47. I'm always curious to whether you see these comments for older posts since you get so many comments, but I wanted to leave one for this one anyway (as I missed it too).

    I have issues with "insta-love" as Nikki said so perfectly. It drives me nuts. I mean yah, a girl is attracted, but how can you be instantly in love with someone you either haven't met or just met? I don't get it. Or how can you trust them if you know absolutely nothing about them. This, is something that has driven me insane for I don't know how long now. I just don't get it. You can totally be attracted on first site, but I'm not truly into love at first site. I mean, there are some people I thought were just my type...til I got to know them and wanted to shove them down a flight of stairs. So...

    That is my current peeve.

    But, I wanted to tell you that I watched a video on amazon the other day with Holly Black and Cassandra Claire and their opinions on the love-triangle. It was crazy interesting. Holly Black hates them and Cassandra Claire is for them as long as they are presented correctly. Namely, if the 2 choices represent 2 different lives. (I found it on for your viewing pleasure LOL! Here is the link )

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile


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