Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
This week’s topic is Favorite Tropes (a trope is a commonly used theme or plot device).
1.Enemies to Lovers
Possibly my favorite trope, enemies to lovers is usually a slow burn with constant conflict and bickering. The BEST Enemies to Lovers move from enemies to friends to lovers, without skipping the friends stage. My favorite of the year (EVER? WHO KNOWS?) has to be Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston. Alex and Henry go from “I hate everything about you” to “Okay fine I guess we have some stuff like Star Wars and these weird lives in common, but it’s not a big deal” to “I can’t stand not talking to you or being near you but it’s fine, it’s not, like, a thing,” to “I will kill anyone who gets in your way, fully, 100%, head-over-heels in love with you.” AND I JUST COULDN’T LOVE IT ANY MORE!
In upcoming releases, look for Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin. It features a truly epic enemies to lovers romance that you’ve got to read for yourself.
2. We’re Stuck Together
Being trapped together is another favorite, because it affords characters the opportunity to hash things out without anyone being able to leave. A favorite example of this trope is Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett, where Zorie and Lennon are stranded by their friends in the woods and have to stick together to make it home. They were friends once upon a time, and even briefly considered dating, but then things happened, and they stopped speaking. Now they’re stuck together in the wilderness, and we get to watch them navigate through both the trees and their feelings.
Coming up in September, check out The Grace Year by Kim Liggett for another We’re Stuck Together romance that I didn’t see coming!
3. Oh No There’s Only One Bed/Room
Wait, maybe THIS is my favorite trope! Nothing even has to happen, and in YA, usually doesn’t. Like in The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken, when the gang is out on the run after escaping the camps. Ruby and Liam aren’t even alone in a room, aren’t even sharing a bed, but are so aware of each other the whole night.
In very recent releases, Ellie and Cade find themselves in a similar situation in We Are the Ghosts by Vicky Sinner.
4. Love Triangles
Here’s some scandalous news: I don’t mind a love triangle as long as it’s done well! They are often NOT well done! But as long as the two (guys, it’s usually guys) aren’t enemies that are like, competing? And if it’s not TOTALLY OBVIOUS that one of them is going to “win”? When there is actual suspense, and choice? That’s why The Hunger Games is forever my number one love triangle. Gale and Peeta are both good for Katniss, they have a kind of grudging respect for each other, and there isn’t a clear favorite. I adored Peeta, but personally, I always thought Gale was better for her in the end. But I can look at both choices and have a conversation with someone about both guys, both relationships, pros and cons. UNLIKE Twilight, which was NOT ACTUALLY A LOVE TRIANGLE, because as much as people claimed “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”, there was no real choice. Bella would never have chosen Jacob if Edward was an option. She didn’t choose him in New Moon, even when Edward wasn’t an option, so.
Coming up in April 2020, The Best Laid Plans by Cameron Lund has strong love triangle overtones in the synopsis, though I haven’t actually read it so I can’t confirm (if you have an ARC of this one, holla at your girl-I was denied on Edelweiss and am 100% dying to read it asap).
5. Friends to Lovers
This trope typically takes things from the “friends” stage of the Enemies to Lovers trope to “lovers”. Often though, they’ve been friends for even longer and that makes the stakes even higher. Generally one or both of them is afraid of messing up the friendship if the relationship doesn’t work, and even if it does things can be awkward. Top Ten by Katie Cotugno is a great example because Gabby and Ryan have been friends forever, and neither of them know if trying to be more is going to ruin things between them forever.
Coming soon, look for a good Friends to Lovers trope in American Royals, by Katharine McGee! You’ll have to read it, but it does involve the Prince of America in an alternate US.
6. Villains Do Something Good, Heroes Do Something Bad
Another favorite (jk they’re all favorites, this is a TT list), books where EVERYONE IS MORALLY GRAY. And the number one example of all time is obviously Six of Crows. If you haven’t read it, by this point, I’m not sure what to tell you except that every character is wonderful and horrible and you’re never quite sure if you can trust anyone.
In early September, there’s a comp to Six of Crows called There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool coming. Now look, I don’t think the two are at all similar, but TWCaD does feature a whole new cast of bad guys being good and good guys being bad!
7. Fairy-tale Retellings
Who doesn’t love this one?? There are good ones that come out All.The.Time, including about 5 off the top of my head in the past three months. So I’m going with my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling as an example, and I think many of you will agree that it’s for sure A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. In Brigid’s masterful hands, this was flawless.
I’ve never liked Romeo & Juliet, but I hold a soft spot for Tristan and Isolde (Iseult, Yseult, etc.). I adored the retelling of it I found last year, Sweet Black Waves, and I’m in the middle of the sequel right now! Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Pérez comes out in just one week, and it is gorgeous and complicated and STRESSING ME THE F OUT.
8. Small Towns
Can a setting be a trope? Well, it’s my list and I’m saying sure. Do I want to live in a small town? HELL TO THE NO oh god it makes me stressed just thinking about it. Do I want to read about them? ALWAYYYYS. I loved Maybe This Time by Kasie West, which gave off such strong Gilmore Girls vibes!
Emery Lord’s upcoming The Map from Here to There doesn’t come out until January, but I’m guessing it will be another AMAZING small town setting, as her books generally are!
Another setting-as-a-trope, my actual favorite is summer camp! (Any kind of camp, honestly, send me your recs) I’ve never made secret of the fact that I never actually attended camp in the traditional camp (there was a brief sending me by force to Jesus Camp, but we stayed in dorms on a college campus for that), and would never want to because ew dirt and bugs and yuck. But I could not love reading books in this setting any more. A recent fave here? Say You Still Love Me, by K.A. Tucker. Told half in the present, half in the past, the older timeline takes place during summer camp and I am in looove.
I already let you know allll about how much I adored this one in my review here, but it comes out in just a few weeks, and then you all can fall in love with Paul and CeCe with me too in Sonia Hartl’s Have a Little Faith in Me!
10. Forbidden Romance
Want to know what two words will GUARANTEE I pick up a book? That’s right–I’m talking about Forbidden Romances, people. Hiding in secret alcoves, whispered secrets, the ghost of a touch and just hoping that no one sees? Count. Me. In.
And The Winner’s Curse is such a good one. I mean, a slave and his owner? In a land that his people used to rule? (If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of this series IT IS A FANTASY NOT U.S. HISTORICAL SLAVERY k just wanted to make that clear.
I don’t know ANYTHING about The Guinevere Deception except that Kiersten White wrote it, and DON’T THINK I DIDN’T SPY THE “FORBIDDEN ROMANCE” that’s at the very end of the synopsis! So obviously, I’ll be picking this one up.
I am PUMPED about this week’s Top Ten topic! I can’t wait to see what everyone else comes up with, or leave them in the comments here!