Romance tropes, to the say the least, are slightly* very overdone.
(I mean… That’s why they’re called tropes??)
There’s the love triangle (cringe), forbidden romance, hate-to-love, friends-to-lovers… all the good stuff that you swoon over in books!
And as entertaining as those are, I feel like there’s also the issue of people being tired of these tropes? That, as much as there are books where we really enjoy these tropes, people don’t always want them as much. *cough* Love triangles *cough*
We might say it’s because they’re all the same, they’re overdone, and unoriginal or unrealistic and sure, I get that! I’ve even said it myself.
Yet as easy it is to write off love triangles or forbidden romance as being “dead” or “overdone”, SO MANY YA books containing those tropes feature the same kind of characters; allo cishet, able-bodied, white protagonists, and THAT’s my issue, more than how much tropes appear in books.
Which is what this post is all about!! I’m focusing on the appearance of queer POC protagonists in particular, but this absolutely applies to any marginalized population as well.
*VERY, in case you couldn’t detect the sarcasm ahaha
FIRST – THE TROPES.
In case you needed a little reminder of your favouritetropes!!
- Love triangles: Usually featuring one girl and two guys who are in love with her! Extra Stereotypical Points if one guy is super sweet and caring and the other is the broody bad-boy (If you haven’t read one of these YOU ARE LYING)
- Friends-to-lovers: Um what else do I say here… but often very cute! Though what I often dislike is when it’s like “they’ve been friends for years” and so when the book start the character is like already in love with their love interest even though we’ve hardly seen any reason WHY or any development?? like off I understand how people who’ve been friends forever can fall in love, that’s super cute but in a book it so often feels like lazy writing??
- Insta-love: STAY AWAY STAY AWAY STAY AWAY
- Hate-to-love/enemies-to-lovers: The angst! The tension! The best!
- Forbidden romance: Similar to the star-crossed lovers, but not necessarily the same? But you know the drill, there’s always something that’s preventing this couple from getting together! But it can be sooooo good
- Star-crossed lovers: (too much) angst!! Passionate kissing scenes and Romeo & Juliet number 3546 😅
- Best friend’s brother (lmao): hm ok 🤔😅 Haven’t read as many of these? Not super interested in it either tbh
- The ‘innocent’ girl and the ‘bad’ boy: welp what a classic am I right??
- The nerdy boy and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl: I just find Manic Pixie Dream Girls (super weird/quirky/super exotic or unfamiliar to the nerdy boy) very bland? I think in attempting to BE ‘different’ from other girls they all become the same oops
- Soulmates: Usually becomes the same as insta-love but hey, maybe that’s the cynic in me?? (Says me, while being a huge romantic)
- Fake boyfriend/girlfriend: THE CUTEST I LOVE
Because although when we think of these tropes there are tons of books that come to mind, there is still a LARGE lack of marginalized people being represented in those same tropes we claim as being dead or unoriginal. Let me ask you: how many books have you come across with a love triangle featuring a POC, or a disabled, or marginalized character versus one with your typical white, allocishet Katniss-Gale-Peeta? I’m not saying they don’t exist, but the gap in numbers is quite large, I bet.
I’m not trying to attack books or anyone who reads and enjoys books with your “typical” types of characters (there are tons I love to death myself!), but as an advocate for diverse books and as a POC myself, this is something I’ve noticed and I wanted to speak about, from my own experience!
To be frank, it’s not that hard to answer this question in my mind. It’s a big fat YES. Now, I’m not in any way trying to diminish all the books out there who DO feature tropes with marginalized protagonists!! But I’m trying to say there should be MORE.
All my life, I’ve grown up seeing straight and white as the default. When I used to imagine writing my own books, I imagined the main characters as white because it never occurred to me that there could ever be books with characters who looked like me? And that reality is incredibly depressing.
Now, having found mainstream books that feature characters like me, or of other non-white identities, is so empowering and wonderful and I just don’t want it to stop where it is. When it comes to romance tropes, there is just SO MUCH POTENTIAL for all that could be done for diverse books! Yes, these tropes are common. Yes, we’ve seen them many times before. But not with everyone. And I want this so badly, you have no idea!! Love triangle featuring Asian characters? SIGN ME UP. A queer hate-to-love romance? MINE. Disabled characters becoming friends-to-lovers? YES PLEASE.
Literally take any trope and I will be overjoyed because marginalized identities are so often removed from the narrative concerning tropes. When we say they’re overdone, it almost never applies to minorities and almost solely refers to the “typical” YA character. And that’s an issue!
Take love triangles, for example. Hugely overdone, super common, yada yada yada. Off the top of your head can probably list a ton (Hunger Games, TMI, TID, The Selection, Red Queen…) but how many feature marginalized characters?
I want to step into a bookstore and see more books like When Dimple Met Rishi or My So-Called Bollywood Life. I want to see books like The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali. Books like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Books like Let’s Talk About Love. Books like Starfish and Summer Bird Blue. I want to see love triangles, forbidden romances, fake dating, hate-to love with brown characters, black characters, disabled characters, Asian characters, queer & POC characters! I want to see stories with intersectional representation.
The world is just made of so many more different, amazing people other than straight white kids, and it’s doing everyone such a huge disservice not to represent that in our selection of books.
(And I limited this post to simply romance tropes because of Valentine’s Day, but this applies to every trope out there! I want to see brown girls or boys as the Chosen One, queer protagonists the secret heir to the kingdom, see disabled characters part of a prophecy to save the world.)
I WANT IT ALL. And I’m not sorry for that.
Are tropes over?? What are your thoughts? What are some of your favourite romances featuring marginalized characters?! Let’s spread some diverse books love! 💕
(also hi here’s your belated reminder for Valentine’s Day that being single is OKAY and you don’t have to be in love or in a relationship to be happy
because you only need books you are an amazing individual who will reach success and great things with or without being in love!! okay bye I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day!!)