It has come to my attention that there is a concerning lack of bookish lists on my blog.
I’m sorry about the abrupt opening, but it’s a problem. I mean, I love bookish lists. I go through the archives of all my favorite blogs just to read someone’s randomly compiled thoughts of, say, their top ten characters worth dying for. The lack of such lists on this blog is, again, a major problem.
So today, I have compiled a list of my all-time favorite tropes in YA lit that make me melt into a puddle of adoration. Tropes, to provide a bit of context, are commonly recurring themes or motifs in books, somewhat akin to clichés but less universally hated.
Without further ado, let’s get to the list!
I haven’t even read Six of Crows yet — and I ALREADY LOVE THIS TROPE WITH ALL OF MY HEART AND SOUL. It is wholesome, sweet, delightful, and I just want to cuddle up with the bundle of love that makes up a Found Family trope. When several damaged darlings collide, have to work together, and discover where they truly belong — SOMEBODY HELP ME.
Examples include: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, the Waterfire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly, Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Mending family relationships
Okay, I suppose this is a sort-of spin-off on the Found Family trope, but that’s not stopping me from giving it its own item on this list. Reading about family members with tangled and messy relationships slowly beginning to understand each other and mending their relationship throughout the book is an utter delight. The characters learning how they’ve changed and realizing how much they mean to each other is a beautiful instance of love in literature (especially YA) that isn’t the romantic type.
Examples include: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H. G. Parry, Rebel by Marie Lu, Far from the Tree by Robin Benway
This is more of a fantasy trope, but I’m 99.8% guaranteed to love any and every book it appears in. The main characters setting off on a journey, sometimes for a quest, or a journey of self-discovery, finding a family member, you name it — it’s the perfect opportunity for some serious character development. Even if there’s really nothing happening except for, you know, the traveling, reading about how the thoughts of the main characters evolve throughout the journey — especially regarding each other — is totally worth the slow pacing.
Examples include: A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer, A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab, The Lost and Found by Katrina Leno, A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
This is it. This is the ultimate romance trope. Don’t get me wrong, I love friends-to-lovers, fake dating, and all the other romance tropes out there, but this is it. The one guaranteed to make me faint in distress and delight. All of the inevitable relationship milestones are unbelievably adorable, in both contemporary and fantasy: the transitions from “I HATE YOU” to “tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “you know what cuddling can’t hurt” to “you make me whole and heart-eyes.”
In a word: I’m ~helpless~ (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Examples include: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli, Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer, Legend by Marie Lu
Morally gray themes
We’ve gone over exactly why I love morally gray characters, so it should be no surprise to find this trope on this list. I love protagonists and antagonists who don’t fit into the black-and-white boxes of “good” and “evil.” I love grey-and-gray morality with a passion. I love mourning the death of a supposed “bad guy.” I love characters who do the right things for the wrong reasons and the wrong things for the right reasons. I love anything that makes the villains human and anything that makes the heroes morally questionable.
Examples include: Holland from the Shades of Magic trilogy (NO I WILL NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM), Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles, literally everyone from A Song of Ice and Fire
Those were just five of some of my favorite tropes (trust me, there’s plenty more)! What are your favorite tropes? Who are your favorite morally gray characters? And also, please help: is it morally gray or grey??? Chat with me in the comments!
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