Ooh, this is going to be an interesting one. Tropes are kind of a big thing that pulls most of us into certain books. We see those trends coming and we get excited–because they’ve worked in other books. Of course, sometimes they go horribly (looking at you, love triangles), but more often they work pretty well. I’m trying to think of what exactly it is that draws me in about my favorite books and I think I have a few ideas.
So let’s take a look at some!
Top Ten Favorite Tropes
1. Girl goes to new/unknown world
This is probably the one that I read the most when it comes to fantasy or historical fiction. This is Alice in Wonderland. This is The Wizard of Oz. This is A Court of Thorns and Roses. This is a historical fiction novel about Jamestown. I like it when the story dives into a world that is vastly different from our own because it’s sometimes easier to show lessons about our own world.
2. Forbidden love
It’s the basic Romeo and Juliet effect: boy and girl cannot be together. But they love each other and want to be with each other. That breathless recklessness is a lot of fun to read.
3. Girl sacrifices herself and lives with a dude in a fancy manor and falls in love with him.
Oh, is that too oddly specific? I actually immediately thought of at least 4 books/series that employed it, the most obvious of them being Beauty and the Beast. (Oh, did I just work in my favorite story into this list?) Again, this works for ACOTAR, but it also even works for certain myths, like the myth of Cupid and Psyche or even Persephone and Hades. All of them call for a girl who is selfless (well, Persephone was kidnapped and Psyche tricked, but modern retellings give them more agency) and willingly embarks upon an adventure that seems kind of stupid at first. But God, if it isn’t my all time favorite type of story.
4. Falling for the best friend
These love stories are just the cutest. They’re the ones where the girl falls for the boy next door who’s been her friend forever. Or the one where it’s her brother’s best friend, but she’s known him forever. That kind of history…you can’t fake that. It creates a bond between two people that resonates on a different level.
5. Enemies fall in love
On the flip side, I also love the stories where two people can’t stand each other and fall in love. Like 10 Things I Hate About You or Much Ado About Nothing. Maybe there’s a dare or maybe they’re forced to partner together for some project, but they just loathe each other…until they see they’re really not that different after all. I also like those stories because the verbal sparring between the couple is usually superb and I love a good sarcasm battle.
6. Life from the “Other Side”
I have this weird fascination with how religions and individual people portray the Afterlife. So those stories where someone has died and we see them fighting to get back to life or whatever, those are fun for me. And thematically, they hit the hardest. I know after I read those, I’m going to look at my own life a little differently.
7. Life or death choices
Similar to the previous one, this is more of that moment (either early or late in the story) where the main character has a literal life or death choice. Like If I Stay. Like in Deathly Hallows. How they make those choices is truly fascinating, as they weigh their options. Because most of the time, neither choice is good. It’s all about what they’re willing to give up.
8. Murder, she wrote
Alright, so while I don’t often read them, I do enjoy a good murder mystery. I don’t know if this is actually a trope or not, but something like Truly Devious really hits the spot sometimes. (Unless it’s night time and I’m at home by myself.) I grew up on Agatha Christie novels, so I have a high standard for mysteries. I don’t want to be able to figure it out in the first few chapters. I just like seeing the mystery unfold and trying to guess for myself who did it.
9. Celeb falls for the “normal” person
I almost forgot about this one! I’m a sucker for these. Whether they’re singers, actors, lords/ladies, or kings/queens, I love when someone who’s famous falls for someone who is traditionally seen as “normal” or, in the case of my historical romances, “lower class.” I don’t know why I’m drawn to these, except maybe it’s for a similar reason to my enemies-turned-lovers situation: they don’t think they have much in common until they truly talk.
Oh Jesus, it all comes back to not judging people on their appearances. That’s what it is. Beauty and the Beast strikes again!
10. Good vs. Evil
The classic. Most stories fantasy stories have that good vs. evil fight at some point. Harry Potter, ACOTAR, Throne of Glass, just to name a few. On a smaller scale, it’s in stories about bullying or abuse. It’s a tale as old as time itself, really. We’re taught that good will always triumph. That doesn’t always happen in the real world, but it usually does in the stories. And that hopeful better-world ideology is something that I very much enjoy.