Top Ten Book Turn-Offs

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Turn Off #1: "Babies Ever After" Endings

What It Is:
Sometimes you have a Happily Ever After situation, but it just isn't heartwarming enough. Maybe the marriage happened earlier in the season; perhaps the couple was already betrothed but weren't able to consummate the union. Perhaps you need some Dénouement to confirm that, yes, really, it really was happy. Maybe the Bittersweet Ending is short on "sweet". Or, maybe, you just want to make things as sweet as possible. The answer? Skip ahead a bit to show the Happily Married couple...and their adorable new baby. Awwwww! (TVTropes)
Why I Hate It:

I hate this trope. I hate this trope. Why does a fictional couple have to have a brat or two to prove that they're happy? Why does a fictional character--especially a female--who doesn't want children have to change her mind and suddenly "understand" the how fucking magical having children is? As someone who neither wants children nor appreciates being told over and over again that I'll "change my mind when I'm older", as if I'm some kind of hilariously naive buffoon for daring not to want to use my uterus, it infuriates me to no end that "Happy Ending" still equals "2.5 kids" such a huge portion of the time.

The Most Recent Example That Pissed Me Off: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Turn Off #2: The Love Interest's Misogynistic Friends (Who only Exist to Make the Love Interest Look Better)

What It Is:

A set of Those Two Guys who act as Foils to the ostensibly nice male protagonist or male love interest opposite a female protagonist. They only exist to make him look better through their misogynistic attitudes, objectification of the female love interest or protagonist, and/or aggressive, unwanted sexual remarks or advances.

Why I Hate It:

The Internet tells me that it was Euripides who said something to the effect of "One can judge a man by the company he keeps." And regardless of who did and didn't say that phrase during their lifetime, it's a pretty good point. The guy hanging out with the creepy misogynists giving off the rape vibes? Probably also a creep.

And let me put it this way: I don't care how nice you seem. If I have to be afraid that your best friends will constantly attempt to dehumanize me for my gender or attempt to rape me, I am not dating you. Period.

The Most Recent Example That Pissed Me Off: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Turn Off #3: Animal Abuse

What It Is:

Often in fiction, animal abuse will be used to punctuate danger. If the villain kills the main character's pet, it's almost like they killed a member of the main character's family. It lets the characters and the reader know that the villain's serious, but it doesn't sacrifice any of the characters we're actually supposed to care about.

If the villain beats, starves, or neglects an animal, it's just to emphasize what a worthless, potentially dangerous (to humans) piece of shit s/he is. It has no real bearing on the plot. The animal is reduced from a nonhuman character to an object to characterize or motivate one of the characters that the author actually cares about.

Why I Hate It:
  1. It's the pet equivalent of being Stuffed Into the Fridge.
  2. If I wanted to read about animal abuse that often goes unpunished and is not taken seriously in the criminal justice system, I could read the news.
  3. It makes me so angry I can't think straight. At the characters responsible. At the author. At the book. At myself for picking up the book. You get the picture.
The Most Recent Example That Pissed Me Off: Haunted Animals by Allan Zullo

Turn Off #4: Relationship Abuse Disguised as "Romance" and "True Love"

What It Is:

Rape, abuse, and/or stalking that is not recognized as such within the story's universe and is instead treated as exceptionally "passionate" romance.

Why I Hate It:

Look, I get the whole "rape fantasy" thing. For a man or woman who entertains rape fantasies, he or she is 100% aware of their own limitations. A rape fantasy takes an absolutely terrifying and horrific experience and inputs the one thing that can possibly make it anything but a terrifying, horrific experience: complete control. The person who is daydreaming or writing a rape fantasy doesn't run the risk of being forced into something they don't want or something that could traumatize them. They know their limits.

But one person's limits are not going to perfectly match up to another person's. The person who reads your rape-disguised-as-BDSM novel might be genuinely traumatized by what seems perfectly safe to the author in control of the plot. (Alternately, it'll piss off someone who doesn't appreciate seeing consensual sex confused/equated with rape.) And the abuser who seems romantic to the person harboring the fantasy--the abuser who magically stays within the victim's limits without ever having to ask what they are--is going to be a rapist to the rest of us.

On the other hand, you have the stalker type. The ones who climb in their crush's window to watch him or her sleep. The ones who track their crush's whereabouts, who follow their crush around, and who keep tabs on their crush's friends. The ones who would quickly be slapped with a restraining order if their crush didn't think they were so "hot".

The Edward Cullens of the world are infinitely maddening. Their behavior is not only portrayed as romantic, but it's intended to appeal to girls in their formative years. Girls who will be experiencing their first dates, their first summer loves, their first sexual experiences. Girls who might not yet realize that it's not okay to track your significant other at all times, to control your finances or access to transportation, or to try to distance you from your friends and family. Girls who might not yet know enough to recognize the first signs of an abusive relationship.

Basically, I hate these relationships because they actively encourage the kind of extremely unhealthy behavior that gets people killed in real life and the kind of relationships that people spend years trying to escape from.

The Most Recent Example That Pissed Me Off: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Turn Off #5: Instalove

What It Is:

Protagonist meets Love Interest. BAM! They're in love. Instantly.

Why I Hate It:

The characters in question are usually teenagers, and this is often their first romance. Yet somehow they know it's True Love, in spite of having no previous experience. And their relationships never have any emotional depth or maturity; each is just obsessed with the other, and all they seem to do together is wax lyrical on how spectacular the other is.

The Most Recent Example That Pissed Me Off: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Turn Off #6: Lack of Editing

What It Is:

When a self-published author doesn't bother to edit their manuscript before throwing it up on Smashwords or Amazon.

Why I Hate It:

Failing to edit your novel before you sell it is so unprofessional, I almost have to laugh.

The Most Recent Example That Pissed Me Off: I haven't ran into one of these in a while, thankfully.

Turn Off #7: Bullshit "Science" and "History"

What It Is:

When an author attempts a science fiction or historical fiction novel but gets wrong something absolutely integral.

Why I Hate It:

I'm super sick of people misrepresenting both, especially when it comes to often maligned topics such as evolution. And if you're too lazy to do any research, perhaps you'd be better off creating a fictional setting.

The Most Recent Example That Pissed Me Off: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Turn Off #8: Authors Who Assume Their Readers are Christians

What It Is:

In a story that has little or nothing to do with Christianity, the narrative is still written under the obvious assumption that the individual who reads it will be a Christian, thus alienating readers of other religions and philosophies.

Why I Hate It:

The arrogance and insensitivity inherent in the act of assuming that everyone who reads a book will belong to a particular group of people blows my mind.

The Most Recent Example That Pissed Me Off: the Berenstain Bears: Living Lights series

Turn Off #9: Novelizations That Don't Add Anything

What It Is:

If a movie gets a novelization, this is the kind that is nothing more than a word-for-word medium shift. The entire plot and dialogue of the movie is put down on the page without adding any background, depth, or insight.

Why I Hate It:

What's the point? If it doesn't add anything to the experience, why wouldn't I just watch the movie?

The Most Recent Example That Pissed Me Off: Monsters vs. Aliens: The Junior Novel

Turn Off #10: Heroines Who Are Special for No Apparent Reason

What It Is:

When the hot vampire/werewolf/faerie/whatever love interest first sets eyes upon this lovely female protagonist, he's instantly smitten. She must be protected at all costs, for she is the most perfect and unique woman in all of human civilization... and no one ever bothers to explain why.

Why I Hate It:

It's clearly the author's emotional baggage. She remembers being a young woman and longing to be special, so her character (written to appeal to teenage girls who currently feel that way) becomes special. And yet the character is usually an obvious self-insert Mary Sue, and the author completely forgets to actually include a single detail that makes her genuinely unique and interesting to this centuries-old dude. (I mean, wouldn't every teenage girl just start to seem like every other teenage girl after a while? A rather short while, really?)

The Most Recent Example That Pissed Me Off: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer


  1. Hrm.. we're a lot alike. ;) I despise instant-love, the abusive relationship, and poorly edited books too. Fortunately, I've been spared animal abuse. Mostly. I did totally cry when they shaved Aslan in the Narnia books, though. :/ Awesome list!

    Megan @ The Book Babe's Reads


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