Remember I wrote up a list of my favorite tropes? Well, earlier on this month I was talking to a blogger who isn’t so interested in the Jane Austen/regency-type books. This is OK, we all have different things that work for us and things that don’t, but it got me thinking: what are those books that I have no interest in reading? I’m going to borrow a phrase from Angie, and call it “lacking a gene”, because these are tropes that a lot of people like, but when I see them, I’m making a face like when my mom tells me how delicious marrow or chicken feet or durian is and how I’m missing out. Pass.
These may shock you.
Knights of the round table, magic, a young boy who becomes a king who unites the land. Sounds great in theory, but I don’t have the gene. I’ve read The Mists of Avalon, in high school. Granted my tastes may have changed since then, but as far as I recall, it was OK, but I don’t remember loving it. I remember that it was very long and I was making myself read it. And I think that’s the part of problem I seem to have: it’s never one book. It’s a SERIES. If it is one book, its a big tome. And King Arthur dies at the end, doesn’t he? I read the books waiting for him to be betrayed and cut off from his men, get a killing blow, and then return to the lake, never to be seen again. The only book that worked for me in this category is The Once and Future King (also Cabot’s Avalon High, but that was a modern retelling so I don’t think it counts). Note that neither book deals with King Arthur’s death. Which is why when I read The Book of Merlyn, also by T. H. White, I didn’t like it as much. I have no interest in the Merlin mini-series.
Out of all the supernatural beings, this is my least favorite. I’ll take mummies over zombies. I’ve read and reviewed books about zombies here, and I can objectively read a book with them, but mm, not my favorite supernatural creature. They’re dead and shuffle-y, and the eating brain thing is gross. The thing is, the past couple of years, they’ve become SO POPULAR (should I blame Shaun of the Dead?) that they make surprise appearances in books that don’t give you a clue that zombies will be in them. They’re trendy now! This is where I, as an old fogey, stamp my cane.
I am perfectly willing to be converted though. I remember that over ten years ago, I was a straight fantasy girl. I avoided contemporary fantasy like the plague, and I tried to read a book where an elf somehow through some inter-dimensionality was in New York City, and it was a DNF for me. That was my first foray into urban fantasy. Which I now love and read all the time, but I can’t seem to convert my brother, who complains that he doesn’t like “the real world in his fantasy books”.
How about you? Have any “just not feeling it” tropes?
Zombies! That is mine too. I am squeamish and hearing about brains being eaten just completely grosses me out. The only zombie book I’ve ever read (not counting ones with very minor zombie involvement) is Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire’s Feed. I actually rather liked it, but that’s partially because the gore part was more low key than I’d expected.
I also tend to avoid books about vampires (not necessarily those containing vampires, but if the main supernatural creature is a vampire I tend to avoid it).
Contemporary/urban fantasy used to be one of mine, too, but authors like Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, and Seanan McGuire have convinced me otherwise. 😉
I’m happy to hear about the gore being low key, since I do like Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye series so much, I’ve been wondering if I should just bite the bullet and read FEED. I hear good things.
Ah, I am not alone at feeling weird at first about fantasy mixing with a real world setting! And now, I’m so used to it.
I’m totally with you. I’m not a huge fan of the Camelot trope either. But I do remember liking The Once and Future King a lot when I read it in high school. Have you read Angela Knight’s Mageverse books? It’s an interesting twist on the Camelot trope. I like it. But other than that … meh.
Also, I’m not about zombies at all either. Except for the zombies in Jeaniene Frost’s Cat and Bones books. But they are more like secondary characters so it’s okay. Supernatural beings: vampires > werewolves > zombies. For sure.
No, I haven’t read the Mageverse books. I hadn’t heard of them before. I just googled – there are like 12! A dozen! I will look into them though. You recommend?
I am very behind on Jeaniene Frost’s books. I have only read the first one, and I don’t remember zombies being in it.. were there zombies in the first book?
Like many series, Mageverse starts off well and interesting and then kind of drops off. I would recommend reading a couple definitely. Get them from the library.
Yeah there are zombies in the Cat and Bones books. But since they’re not the main focus, I’m okay with it.
Hey, me too! Not a big fan of those two things that you mentioned. But then again, I haven’t read a lot of Arthurian tales. Oh but wait, I recently read and loved Song of the Sparrow but that one didn’t focus on Arthur’s storyline but on Elaine’s. Also loved Elizabeth E. Wein’s books but those also didn’t feature Arthur as a main character.
I don’t understand why zombies are so popular right now. So many of my friends are reading zombie books and I see reviews popping up all over the blogosphere. Even the Cybils winner for SFF was a zombie book, right? I think the only series with zombies that I really liked was the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix.
I just got THE SUNBIRD based on your rec! It’s a small book, maybe I can read it for the readathon (I’m thinking if I finish THE THIEF first though).
I am not sure, it’s probably one of those cycles – suddenly zombies are popular again. And I think people find them funny these days, which adds to their popularity. Were the Abhorsen dead people zombies? I guess I thought of them as ghosts. They’re actually everywhere. So many books about a bad guy raising the dead, or men cursed to live on (I believe there’s something like that in The Lord of the Ring trilogy, if my memory is correct). Surprise zombies, I’m telling you!
Yay, I’m so glad you got a copy based on my rec! I hope you like it. Yes, it’s really short so you can read it for the readathon. Can’t wait to see what you think of that and of course, of The Thief as well.
Hmm I thought of them as zombies since they seemed to have substantial forms unlike ghosts. I know, zombies pop up everywhere. I don’t mind if they’re not the major focus of the story.
Aw, I love zombies. Lately I’ve been picky with the kind of zombies I read, though. It’s easy to just make zombies boring because they’re just undead who shuffle around and eat humans. FEED is very good because it didn’t really focus on the zombies but more on the blogging (plus that RSS logo on the cover is just too irresistible :D).
As for other tropes that I don’t feel? Other than vampires, werewolves and angels, I’m also not much into steampunk. I’m also not into heroines falling in love with bad boys. What else? I am still not much into anything historical, except that I may be changing my mind with that because I am loving Jennifer Donnelly’s A Northern Light.
Oh, and durian? I like durian. 😀 Not crazy about the smell, but it reminds me of one of my favorite vacation spots in the Philippines that I have yet to go back to. 🙂
I’m not so into historicals either, but I may have to look into Jennifer Donnelly’s A Northern Light. 🙂 I like steampunk, but I think it depends on how the author uses it in the story. Vampires, werewolves & angels – they’re OK… I think it’s vampires > werewolves > angels (that order) for me.
Durian.. yeah. My whole family loves it. I am the one who does not. I don’t know, I just don’t really like it, and I can eat other smelly things, like blue cheese or thousand year old eggs.
I’m not hugely interested in Zombies either. However, I have Zombies vs. Unicorns on my shelf so we’ll see if that sways my opinion at all.
🙂 There’s a good mix in that book. I may have ended up on Team Unicorn though..maybe it’s related to the zombie-avoidance gene? I dunno.
I lack the gene for those two too! LOL – feeling in good company here.
I’ve just borrowed Mira Grant’s FEED from the library though (yes, because of my mad Toby Daye love), haven’t yet opened the book but I still have a couple of weeks 🙂
I am also not keen on fairy-tale retellings – having said that, I did adore Juliet Marillier’s first Sevenwaters book when I finally caved in and read it.
I guess if it’s a good story, I’ll fall for it regardless of what I think of the trope – it just takes me a bit longer to actually get around to reading the book… if at all.
Oh, I love fairy-tale retellings. I too loved the first Sevenwaters (haven’t read the second yet? Same here. Need to at some point).
I’ve been told that FEED isn’t as violent/gorey as you expect from a zombie book, so this reassures me. I’m probably going to get it one day.
I wrote a post the other week about not getting zombies. I am SO not into them. But then I don’t like horror in general. Also not into vampires. I just don’t find them very… masculine, or something.
I couldn’t finish Mists of Avalon and I don’t have a particular interest in Arthur stories, but I did absolutely love Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave. It’s from Merlin’s POV, starting when he (Merlin) was a child. I don’t know how it would hold up now as I haven’t read it in years (decades?) but it held me entranced when I first read it.
My other missing gene is for high fantasy. Dare I say this? I haven’t read Lord of the Rings and I was kind of bored by the movies. Battles and politics just don’t do it for me.
You wrote a post about this? I didn’t see it – the hive mind must have communicated something to me! I will have to go and find it.
I’m getting a couple of comments on the vampires, and also uber-alpha heroes. Maybe it’s a combination of that – alpha vampires. I don’t mind the alphas if it’s implied that since he’s in love with the heroine, she’s the real alpha. 🙂 I suspect it’s something to do with female power over a supposed Alpha Male that draws a lot of readers to the romances with an alpha hero, but it can go the wrong way if alpha translates to jerk.
High Fantasy. Hmm, I am not sure I have a problem with it, although I think I have less patience with long fantasy series these days than I used to. I also had a hard time with Lord of the Rings. I once made the mistake of saying how I didn’t really like Tolkien’s voice when I first read it and that I preferred The Hobbit. In a room full of male geeks that I work with. It got really quiet.
That was my problem with Tolkein, too – the voice. His imagination is pretty great, but his writing is only okay.
Yeah, not so keen on zombies. There are always exceptions, of course, but I don’t go out of my way to pick up books that feature that particular variety of the undead.
I also stay clear across the road from anything that spells dog/animal + tear-jerker. Or, actually, most anything that heavily features animals – of the non-magical, non-talking kind – period. Just can’t do it. ‘Cause you know something awful is going to happen, and I don’t read to bawl.
OH, yes, any movie where it’s about a dog! I was telling my husband this the other day: don’t be fooled by how fun the trailer is, they’re going to kill off this dog. Especially if it was based on a true story. The dog is going to die. And I’m going to cry like a baby if I watch it.
I knew I wasn’t alone about the zombies. But I was expecting more “Aw, I like zombies” comments. I have seen more “I like Arthurian tales” comments. Hmm.
I have the exact same missing-the-gene tropes: I read The Mists of Avalon in high school and HATED it. Such a swamp of unfun emotions and messed up relationships. I tend to avoid Arthurian stuff, too, although I admit that I watched the Merlin mini-series and kind of like it.
Ditto with zombies, although I’ll also admit that I think that the new AMC series The Walking Dead is pretty awesome.
I also dislike any sci-fi involving space, spaceships, lasers, the future of technology. Exceptions for Star Wars and books that don’t overwhelm me with the gadgets, like the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield.
What else? The old west. The civil war – man, I hate anything to do with the American civil war, someone says “brother against brother” to me and I turn around and walk the other way. Also mobsters, which pop up every now and again in fiction.
I agree with the recommendations for Mira Grant’s Feed. I’m not one for zombies much, but thought she did something really amazing with that one.
Also, for as much as I have an admiration for Arthurian Legends, I did not enjoy The Mists of Avalon a whole lot! It was lengthy, very lengthy because, as you say, the legends usually span several books, but this is because the story is just so damn long! Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. There is usually one Arthurian Legend that tends to work for people (whether that’s a movie, cartoon, or book) very well. For me that was T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and the BBC show “Merlin”. There were a lot of recommendations in the series of posts I did about the legends… Here’s a link to the one for novels:
There’s different approaches to the legend that ranges from the historical, romantic, or fantasy. I tend to like the fantastical ones and sometimes those that lean toward romance a little better because it’s my opinion that a historical approach confuses the idea that Arthur was without a doubt a real person. I don’t subscribe to that branch of academia and so, am fine believing in it in terms of something that might have been but probably never was.
As for what tropes don’t work for me? Vampires and angels.
Ok, all these recs for FEED – I think I must buy it now. The group has spoken!
I feel a bit better about not being so into THE MISTS OF AVALON now. 🙂 Wow, I seriously thought it was just me, but you and a couple of others have felt the same way.
Agree with you on THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING. Only one I have liked. The Husband watches Merlin, but I haven’t felt the urge. I am off to check out your link now!
Vampires and angels. Understandable. There’s a glut on the market.
Thank you! Someone else who isn’t completely gaga for zombies! I’ve read a couple and they are just so gory and creepy. Blech.
Other tropes? Lately I can’t stand how so many YA paranormal books lately must have of a love triangle where the girl has to choose between the bad boy vs good boy. I just find I have no patience for that right now. I just want to shake her and say “YOU’RE IN HIGH SCHOOL! YOU WON’T EVEN REMEMBER EITHER GUY IN 10 YEARS!”
Haha, you’re making me laugh about the love triangles, but yes, so true. When I was in high school I thought this about relationships: it was going to be over when high school was over (my high school? everyone was going to different countries after graduation. It wasn’t even a matter of different colleges).
I think the bad boy vs good boy works only when it’s done well, and too often it feels like it’s just thrown in there without enough thought. That’s what bugs me most. When it just feels like it’s a tired cliche thrown in there with more cliched ideas of what should be in a YA book, instead of valid plot development. YA should be written as well as adult books, the bar shouldn’t be lowered because the age of the audience is lower.