Let’s start by defining the term “trope”, shall we? A trope, in the manner in which we will be using it, according to Merrium-Webster, is “a common or overused theme or device“. This can be the love triangle, for example. A theme that is used consistently in the book world. This post will focus on my favorites. So, let’s get started!
#5 – The 4th Wall
I love books that utilize the 4th wall. In fact, television shows, theater productions, and movies also are loved for this with me.
Breaking the 4th wall is simply this: Letting the audience (you1) know that the actors in the book, play, TV show, or movie know that you’re there. The classic children’s television show “Saved by the Bell” was notorious for breaking the 4th wall. The main character, Zach Morris, would stop the scene whenever he felt like it and speak directly to the audience.
Breaking the 4th wall doesn’t have to be direct contact with the audience, either. In an episode in the 6th season of “Supernatural“, the main characters got sent into a world where they played themselves in a television show called “Supernatural“. It was Jensen and Jared (actors) playing Sam and Dean (characters) playing Jensen and Jared playing Sam and Dean. That is also a great example of the 4th wall being broken.
As far as literature goes, I really do not want to list my favorites because in order to do so, I must provide spoilers, which I will not do. When a book goes so far as to talk to the reader or to acknowledge that the book is truly just a book, that is something that draws me in completely. I will say that Markus Zusak is a gosh-darn genius at it. A book like that will generally make my favorites list very quickly.
#4 – Politics/Tyranny
As a voter in my 30’s, I pay a great amount of my attention to politics in the world outside of literature. It has a great impact on my life and the slightest change in policy can have dire consequences for myself and my family. Reading books with tyrannical governments, or governments that are full of espionage, betrayal, and even a coup or two (hehe) will grab and hold my attention.
The Hunger Games was a fantastic delve into the world of politics and “Mockingjay” was the most important book in the series when it came to truly delving into the political climate of that world. It was dangerous and horrifying. It is the reality of how countries are governed, if they make it into a novel, that fascinate me and hold my attention throughout the entire story.
Tyrannical governments are also of interest to me, provided they are done well. Some books, especially Young Adult literature, have difficulty creating a realistic tyrannical government as compared to Adult Fantasy/Science-Fiction. If it is to hold my attention it must first be realistic. Truly over-the-top governments, such as those in the “Throne of Glass“ series, make me sigh with disappointment. Suzanne Collins’ “Mockingjay“ was probably the greatest example of how great a realistic political drama can unfold. Amazing work.
#3 – The Mentally Disturbed
Ah, the psychopaths and sociopaths of the world. The more books from their perspective, the better! Bring it on!
The best I’ve read so far was a newer book entitled “You” by Caroline Kepnes. Kepnes is following this triumph of a novel up with a second book in February called “Hidden Bodies”. I have been jumping in my seat waiting for that one.
The mentally disturbed in books is always fun to read. Stephen King is great for providing some great psychopaths – the best being Annie Wilkes from “Misery”.
Bret Easton Ellis’ “American Psycho” is an amazing tale of psychosis, if you can get through the reading. He writes the novel in the thought-process of the main character, Patrick Bateman. It is too quickly written, sometimes incomprehensible, and certainly not a grammarian’s dream.
#2 – Magic, Magic, Magic
Who doesn’t love a bit of magic? I do! This is probably why Fantasy is my favorite genre. I love books with magic. Again, this is conditional upon whether or not the magic in the novel is done well.
The King of Magic would be Brandon Sanderson. His exceptionally detailed magic systems that differ dramatically from book to book are always astounding to read and I devour them like a hot cup of coffee on a cold morning. Especially the allomancy of the “Mistborn” series.
The magic in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was also done brilliantly. Of course. I don’t even know why I bothered mentioning it!
However, the magic system in “The First Law” series by Joe Abercrombie fell flat. Of course, the whole series fell flat, so it wasn’t truly surprising that so did the magic system attached to the series.
If a book has magic in it, you are likely to see me pick it up from the bookshelves without even knowing what it is about. I did that recently with a book called “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic” by Emily Croy. It has women and magic. That’s enough for me! I can’t wait to read it!
#1 = ASSASSINS!
I am an absolute sucker for an assassin book – especially female assassins. I love them. If I find anything on the shelves that even use the word Assassin, it’s bought. However, during my recent reading (catching up, really) of the “Throne of Glass” series, I’ve found myself disappointed. Once you read “Graceling” and are introduced to the amazing Katsa, there is no going back for female assassins. There just isn’t. I’ve found myself truly disappointed in the main character of Celaena after being spoiled by Katsa. Time to go back to the males for awhile!
If anyone has any suggestions for assassin books, please leave them in the comments below!