[Top Ten Tuesday] – #60 – Top Ten YA Clichés We Love/Hate

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. I thought this would be a fun way to share a condensed version of potential rambles and thoughts that I have.


This Week’s Theme:
Top Ten YA Clichés We Love/Hate


Initial Thoughts:

Ahoy! A freebie Top Ten Tuesday calls for a rant. Except I’m not going to rant (too much)—I’ll let you do it in the thoughts you share!—I’ll just start it off.

For what it’s worth, many books wouldn’t have widespread appeal if they weren’t bound by several clichés. Yes the market is oversaturated with these kinds of writing but they’re often shortcuts (flagged by readers, I guess?) to explain the story without the requirement of an explanation. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun chirping them out!

That being said, I do have a love-hate relationship with all of them (but it’s kind of therapeutic to rant about).

Missing, Irresponsible, or Abusive Parents

They’re gone; possibly dead, definitely not part of their kids lives. I get the representation for these MIA parents to step away from their omnipresent role as someone to look up to (for all the good/bad that they’re seen as) but c’mon now why are so many gone or passed out drunk somewhere? Why you gotta slam parents like that?

Popularity Basically Means You’re the Devil

Bullies though; can’t live with or without them. Readers must have some sadist tendency to want to see protagonists get bullied so that we can root for them…? Why can’t we cheer for them without the slurs of discrimination and attacks on their character?

The Obscure Chosen One

Sorry kid, the entire world is useless to your gifted ability to change the world—that you won’t know of until the time is right (perhaps when you’re near death or in some debacle—but you won’t know when).

The “I can do it on my own” Syndrome

Because it’s so much cooler to fail at everything and let the entire crisis snowball than to, you know, get some help and not shoulder everything. Don’t even tempt me to start ranting about these same characters that need saving every damn time.

The Necessity for Happily Ever Afters

Disney is not the standard to which we should live by. If it were, then where are my freaking flash mobs and breaking out into song moments? Where are all my pets to do shit for me and listen to me complain?

The Dramatic Misunderstanding

What is communication anyways?

The Unattractive Misfit

Now, this one is a doozy. Yes, there are many characters that don’t see their own specialness or beauty (or any positive trait for that matter). This can be a pretty accurate representation of youths. What has me “wtf-ing” is that it apparently takes one special love-interest to convince them otherwise—AND NOT THE HOARDS OF OTHER PEOPLE AROUND THEM (OR THEMSELVES?). I’m not even saying I want Mary-Sue/Marty-Stu characters and their arrogance. I’ll gladly load the gun for that one. Where’s the middle ground to all of this ahhh.

Book Covers That Lens Flare Everything

Not really a cliché in writing but covers seem to love having a lens flare thrown in (or sometimes it’s the sun) which usually hides the faces of the characters in the shot. I get the anonymity of the effect buuuut nope. (I’m even certain the book would still be picked up without it too.)

“Bad Boy”—Related Writing

Brooding? Check. Inexplicably gorgeous? Check. Super secretive past? Check. Needs my help? Check. (Among other things.)

Monologues That Drag The Story

Just pull the trigger or what-have-you; consequences are necessary. We’re not playing Monopoly with infinite Get Out of Jail Free cards.

The Existence of Love-V’s

Well…you already know my stance on this. If you have yet to read my argument towards why true love triangles don’t exist, I’d recommend it (shameless self-promoting plug plug plug). But really, why are love shapes (or even instalove) a standard now?


Yeah, I’m sure there are plenty more that I haven’t touched on. These are the ones that stick out to me at this point in time (I mean, I could probably keep going…)

But you tell me: what tops your list of overused cliché?


connect: afterthoughtAn // twitter  |  anotherafterthought // goodreads



47 thoughts on “[Top Ten Tuesday] – #60 – Top Ten YA Clichés We Love/Hate”

  1. Completely agree with the missing parent bit. I’m getting tired of reading New Adult novels that have drunk/absent/neglecting parents. I know not everyone can have amazing parents but what happened to the “normal” household?

    I like your “I can do it on my own” syndrome. I call it “Lead-Heroine Sacrifice Syndrome” where they go to the extreme of sacrificing their life without asking for help–drives me nuts!

    But my most hated cliche is what I call the “Bella-Swan-I-can’t-live-without-him syndrome”. That’s where the heroine becomes completely reliant on her male counterpart to the point where she can’t do anything without him. I hate when independent women turn to dependent fools 😐 Have some self-respect ladies!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, are missing parents a common thing in NA too? That’s news to me! “Normal households” are a myth it seems!

      The protagonist doing everything on their own is cool and all–and I’d be lying if I wasn’t rooting for them–but you know what ticks me off? When they drag everyone else into their shit and ruins the lives of everyone because they couldn’t just band together to fix one thing hah.

      LOL I LIKE HOW YOU SPECIFICALLY CALLED OUT BELLA. I’m loving this. Oh goddd I call watching [New Moon] was it? Where they just do a 12937193 minute panoramic shot of Bella sitting on the chair as the seasons change because she’s so heartbroken. Oh godddddddd.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Missing parents is an extremely common theme in NA. I would say most of the time at least one lead has a parent who is either missing or suffers from an addiction (work, alcohol, drugs, etc).

        Yes, communication is key–drives me nuts when people keep everything all bottled up. It solves nothing people!

        Oh, you betcha I called out Bella! Anyone who makes me read 300 pages of pure whining and pining is going to get their own awful syndrome named after them 😉


  2. Well SOMEONE got out of bed on the wrong side this morning!! 😀

    I have to say though, I often wonder if it weren’t for cliches in writing, would we ever have any books at all, let alone relatable ones?? People often say that below the surface, a lot of us homeosapiens are the same – we have constants in our emotions whether we like it or not. So maybe cliches really are all there is. I’m done being insightful. My dissertation has clearly fried my brain cells.

    R x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll have you know, I sleep in all sorts of positions.

      I think if cliches are done well, they’re integrative in a way that doesn’t make us feel burdened by it. (If that makes sense.) I don’t know. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that if you can give a cliche a nod in your writing, I think it actually makes things more accessible because it is relatable and familiar to you as a reader. Like: “Oh, hey this parent is missing, this means ABCD for this teen character” allows you to get a grasp of so many issues without having to actually detail them one by one. But perhaps once that point is reached there needs to be a divergence of the commonly rehashed events. I don’t know. I’m full of nonsense (and don’t know what I’m talking about).

      At least you’re done your dissertation now!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. YES to this list!!! Love it!! I so want to punch people in the face when characters don’t talk about something when it could be SO easy to just talk about that something!!! And I’m starting to really get sick of the popularity = evil and misfit = cool stereotype. There can be popular people who exist who are just normal… not angelic overly nice, just normal people with normal morals!!! Very good idea for a list 🙂


    1. Haha. School experiences are different for everyone but the continual antagonizing of “popular kids” being rude and stuff (well, except for that one shining boy/girl who ends up with the protagonist…lolokay) is something that I personally haven’t witnessed–so where’s that representation?


  4. I am so done with one-dimensional mean kids! Although I’m having much better luck at finding parents/family involvement in the recent YAs I’ve read and I like how they are represented: conflicting to the MC but not because, objectively, the family is messed up, but because there’s really that different lens through you view your parents when you’re a teen, as opposed to seeing them as their own persons when you’re an adult yourself (or at least that’s my experience?). The Bad Boy I can tolerate but ONLY if and when he’s executed properly, with layers and all that stuff. But, yeah, why does every hot guy have to be brooding AND has a secret past? C’mon! As for the “I can do it on my own” Syndrome, I actually have it myself so… Oops.

    I don’t see much happily-ever-after and lens flare (if I’ve ever seen more than a handful, to begin with) these days. And monologues that drag completely suck! The Dramatic Misunderstanding, NO. But I must say, I think this is the most popular? Also, the Obscure Chosen One. Hmm. Isn’t Patrick Ness’s (whut? We all know he is bound to come up) latest book about NOT wanting to be the Chosen One? I’m so excited for that! And love-v’s. I found another REAL love triangle, Joe! But I think it’d be a spoiler to mention it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Parents are a hard find. Parents who actually have a voice in the novel are even more scarce. I think I’ve just been jaded by so many stories that lack that guardian-presence and if there is, it’s probably some wise individual that the protagonist ends up trusting more than their parents. Do teens really hate their rents that much? I can overlook drama and angst and everything that blinds them as an adolescent to not seek help from others (let alone their rents) but for so many characters to be that me-centric? Mmm, I’m dubious.

      For lens flare: just look up YA contemporary romances (with perhaps a spring/summery undertone) and I’m sure you’ll find something. And for an example: Katie West books.)

      Monologues that get to the point of somehow good overturning the baddies is just ridiculous (or it “buys enough time”). Like, c’mon, get real LOL. If there were only a little bit of GRRM in everyone…oh how the world would be a tad more realistic.


  5. I love this post! Love the topic you chose. All of these are so true!

    I recently read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (omg the title, right?) and I was actually happy that there were parents in it! And parents that actually were cool, involved, and loving to their kids lol.


  6. I totally agree with everything you just said! Especially with the parents one! But the cliche I hate the most is probably best friends/sidekicks that do nothing on their own time! It’s annoying to see a character that always has to deal with the MC’s crap and not their own. Sidekicks need love too!

    Liked by 2 people


      Oh my goodness why does every single secondary character have to answer to their beck and call (to the extent that sometimes they end up dead because of it). LOL maaaan. I mean, friends are good and all but the “let me sacrifice my life for you even though you got me into all this shit” Whhhhyyyyyyy?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. DAMN! bravo on this epic list. this is hilariously brilliant. gosh, i mean those chosen one thing, happily ever afters an ugh love triangles pfft! I hate those in a book.


  8. Oh my gosh, I love this. Why didn’t I think of this? I totally agree with the Happy Ever Afters, the unattractive one, the popularity one, and the dramatic misunderstanding (I HATE that one the most). Fantastic list.


  9. I don’t read a ton of YA, but yes to most of these. I’m especially with you on i-can-do-it-on-my-own syndrome, happily ever after, bad boys and love triangles. It just… it bores me. It’s possible to use tropes without making them cliches–to do something different and unique with them. I don’t want to read a book that pretty much a carbon copy of another.


  10. Awww I want pets to do shit for me and listen to me complain
    All my pets do is…well…literally do shit for me…
    This may sound awful but one of my most hated (sort of) clichés is the fact that children are virtually untouchable
    Like suddenly we’re in a world where children can’t die or be harmed in any way
    I think that’s why Lord of the Flies struck me so hard as a kid, because suddenly kids were just people and they could get hurt
    Also I was a fat child so secretly had a strong connection with Piggy


  11. YES, ALL THE YES! Lol…this is an awesome list. Although, I do have to agree with Rachel about being able to relate to the story in some way and needed cliches ONCE in awhile. But I can’t relate to a lot of them. Maybe the bullying one (believe it or not, I was brutally bullied as a kid and it was not fun). I don’t believe popularity means you’re the devil at all. I would say I have a lot of friends now, but I worked hard to get to this point and overcome that horrible shit I put up with in my younger days. Okay, enough woe is me.

    And I will argue the point that I normally need a HEA in a book. And here is why…I read for escapism. I know the world is going to shit and not everything is rainbows and unicorns. But when I read a book, I want to escape into a blissful world of happiness and enjoy that break from reality. So, I would normally like to see that world come to a happy ending as well. But I have been reading some dark and twisted books that do not have happy endings lately because I am TRYING to branch out. Speaking of – you really need to read Mud Vein & Marrow by Tarryn Fisher. Would you do me a favor and look these books up? Fisher is twisted and completely against all HEA and I didn’t get her at first. But I’m starting to now, after reading Marrow, and I think that book especially would be one that would make a really GREAT discussion with you. It made me THINK, and you know I don’t like to think.

    Oh, but there’s so many good ones on this list that I totally agree with you. The bad parents. I had great parents and most of the kids I grew up with did too, so this is hard for me to buy in every.single.book.

    Miscommunication in books makes me crazy. That and the unnecessary dialogue/drawing EVERYTHING out…those two are my biggest peeves in reading.

    Ok, you know how I feel about bad boy books. 😉 You can make me think more, but you can’t change everything!!! LOL.


    1. I’m definitely not saying to burn all the cliches but to, once in a while, raise them with the intent to better the narrative so everything isn’t…well, the same wood-scented bad boy. Why can’t a hipster accountant be sexy? LOL.

      I think my intent with the popularity comment is that so many stories write popular kids as bullies (except for “the one true love”). Perhaps it’s not like that in older-YA or new-gen NA but I’ve seen it often enough in YA that it’s kind of upsetting that some popular kids can’t just be “normal”–that they have to be “something else” (i.e. rich). But I definitely sympathize with your point and am glad that you’ve made it out for the better.

      LOL: “I know the world is going to shit and not everything is rainbows and unicorns.” This is basically the reason why I look for realism inside an escapist world. I guess I’m pretty masochistic for putting myself through two lives of garbage HAHA.

      One day I will start with Tarryn Fisher and CoHo and all these lovely ladies you and Rachel keep telling me to try. Baby steps!

      I feel like miscommunication could be one of the biggest problems I’d run into in NA-romance novels; as if it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy to read into a scene where “girl walks into place and sees guy with another girl. and oh no! drama ensues” but I’m only speculating… (I’ve watched a lot of teeny-bopper television, okay? #nojudgment).

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love this topic, and really I do agree with all of these! These days many of these things have become so overused that they’ve become so cliché and at some times, unrealistic! I love it when a book is fresh with either mine of these clichés or a toned down, realistic version of them!


  13. Love this list! I agree with most if not all of it, not that I’ll stop reading the books that fall into these. I’m also really liking your take on love triangles, that is something that’s always confused me. Great post.


    1. Cliches are pretty unavoidable (and I guess it’s impossible to know what you’re walking into without early reviews haha) but you’re right I don’t think I’d give up reading books that are laden with these tropes.

      I’m glad you agree with this particular take on love-triangles/V’s! Baby steps to correcting the term (hopefully).


  14. I completely agree with everything you’ve said on this list. Bad boys and love triangles are the bane of my existence, and I wish authors understood that it’s not a necessity to have them in their books. *sighs* Thanks for sharing and great post! ❤


    1. Thank you for reading and validating my sanity (despite many of these cliches being unavoidable to begin with). Though I can’t really put the full blame on authors when surely the market dictates some percentage of these stories that pander to certain tropes/cliches.


  15. Ha, Love-Vs. The cliche that topped my imaginary list would probably be the Miss Modesty Mannerism, as I like to call it. You know how the main character constantly compares herself with her model-like best friend and why the brooding bad boy settles with her mediocre looks? I don’t know why this annoys me so much.


    1. I’ve rarely seen the questioning of “why the broody boy likes me” but I have seen them putting themselves down in comparison to other options for said brooding boy. Or, well, maybe I have seen what you describe. I think it just comes down to demoralizing one’s self, no? Either way, it doesn’t really set a good precedent.


  16. I find that in contemporaries and fantasies with romance subplots, “The Unattractive Misfit” and “Dramatic Misunderstandings” are the same thing! Like “OMG why is popular hot guy talking to me, is he like, making fun of me?” I don’t know why this happens so much in books. A goldfish can tell the difference between someone genuinely interested and someone talking to you because they’re there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOLLLLLLLL. This is a good interpretation. Good ol’ self-deprecating ways! This also brings up the question of why so many fantasy plots with gorgeous world-building get hijacked by its romance. (Aside from romance being a key point of conflict, that is.)


      1. I had a conversation with someone recently that noted how rare it was to find a fantasy or YA (and a few other genres, too) without romance at all. We were wondering why. Like, maybe you read the book for the kickass sounding plot, but is a book just missing something without a romance? I read a book called The Divorce Papers recently (review coming soon, just finished ten minutes ago) and even THAT had romance! The DIVORCE Papers! Go figure. Maybe as people we just drink that stuff up. Love is one of the highlights of life, so we can relate to it as a highlight of our books? Who knows. Maybe it’s just that most people only get one true love story (unless you’re remarried four times over) so it’s fun to live someone else’s. Like how Toddlers and Tiaras mothers will obsess over their child’s “dream future” when it’s clear they’re just living their lives through their daughters and sometimes *shudder* sons. But I babble. Dear Lord I love to talk. Thanks for the topic, haha!


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