Some Strange Book Pet Peeves (Fantasy & YA)

I didn’t think I had book pet peeves, like I don’t care if books have dog-ears for the most part, but I’ve certainly collected some related to book plots over a period of time. Here’s that collection and I’m warning you that they are mostly personal, as in I know they’re not the most popular ones out there and people will disagree.

Fictional fandoms. I don’t know why this bother me so much, I think it’s something about there, in best case, being this entire subculture readers either don’t get access to and just have to live with imagining existing or have to wade through what I find to be unecessary amounts of facts for something that isn’t real. A good example of this is “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell, that spun this whole Simon Snow trilogy out of the fantasy series the main character is a part of the fandom of. Had I read the Simon Snow series before Fangirl, I might’ve thought different about it (not that it was published yet), but hence all details included in the book felt like a waste of time in a strange, unlogical way. It’s truly a weird pet peeve, I think, and I totally admit so. But it makes me dislike books I don’t think I normally would. The only exception I can think of is “I was born for this” by Alice Oseman, but I suspect that’s because the fandom there is based around a boyband that is a huge part of the story (and also very recognizable from the ‘real world’) and so the fandom and their culture is also very based in something and understandable without much background info.

Here’s a kind of specific and small one; what the magic is called in a fantasy/magical realism world. Most often I just hate the magic of the world being called something similiar like Magik, but the author/character insisting it’s not the same as magic, like they haven’t just changed the language. I’ve seen so many cases of this. But sure, do that if you’re creating magic with a couple conditions/limits, that’s just smart.

Fairytale retellings that doesn’t either make the story their own OR stay true to the feeling of the original material. Same problem with stories from mythologies. With making it their own, I mean things like a genderbent version, a modernized one or maybe a queer one. Like truly reworking the material, but with clear inspirations. I think my other critera, staying true to the ~vibe~ so to say, has more to do with my next point. But if you retell a fairytale, without changing much of the plot or characters, maybe just setting them in another setting, how are you going to tell a better story than the one honed through mouth-to-mouth retelling for far far longer than you’re working on it? Like what do the author even add, far too often? I’m all for an author daydreaming in this fairytale realm that’s already built up, but then have the basis of the fairytale realm and create your own story in there instead, which would’ve kept the feeling (maybe even keep short format) that brings the magic to the story, and have higher chance of telling a good one. Truth is, I’ve read my fair share of queer fairytale retellings where there’s a good romance, but everything else is boring/predictable still (side-eye at Ash by Malinda Lo). I would’ve just cut them out completely, but as with Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, any Riordan series or Circe by Madeline Miller it might be some of my favourite books as well.

Mythological creatures included in stories completely separated from any of the other parts of the mythology. Just to have a ‘cool’ lesser-known creature, without really taking into consideration what makes it cool or unique. Of course, at worst it could be some type of cultural appropriation, but that’s not really what I’m talking about as a ‘pet peeve’.

Including politics, but not really. As in not actually going into the politics or even spending time thinking about how a political system would work in their fictional world. Typical is (what I would call) YA book with princesses or kids of high-level politicians/diplomats, but I’ve also seen non-YA versions of this. “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuinston did it well in that the author kept its focus on certain topics and didn’t go too heavy into how policies was changed or what their parents did politically, but the limits and system was still set (even if very similiar to present day America) and you saw that in the story. I would’ve still wanted there to be more going into the politics, like I usually do, but it was a choice made rather than an obvious dodge. Like why even write a book around politics if you’re scared to interact with any part of it or do any research??

5 thoughts on “Some Strange Book Pet Peeves (Fantasy & YA)

  1. Kay @ Hammock of Books July 9, 2020 / 8:29 am

    I low-key didn’t read any of the Simon Snow excerpts in Fangirl lol. I don’t mind when there’s a fandom that the characters talk about, but I really couldn’t care less about what’s actually happening in that world

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Never Not Reading July 9, 2020 / 4:23 pm

    I agree with you about fairy tale re-tellings, they’re hard to get right. I hate when I find out it’s a “fairy tale re-telling” and then I finish it am like HOOWWW?? *cough* Throne of Glass *cough* I want to be able to recognize the story, but I don’t just want to read a carbon copy.

    Liked by 1 person

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