Welcome back to Trope Tuesdays, a meme created by yours truly.
Trope Tuesdays are a meme originally created to discuss, define, and explain one trope that you feel any range of emotion for, and then give your verdict on the trope. You can learn more about Trope Tuesday here.
In today’s edition of Trope Tuesday, I’m going to be talking about New Adult Tropes I Hate & Books that Subvert them. This post as been a long time coming. I hope you can find some new recommendations & further think on tropes that exist in NA novels.
Let me start off by saying that I love New Adult. Some of my favorite books of all time are New Adult. When I see people discussing things they don’t like in New Adult, there usually tends to be a degrading tone. People have made New Adult into a punching bag. Amazing New Adult novels exist, they just have to be sought out which is why I’m sharing a book for every trope I don’t like. And as I’m sure you all know, just because you love something doesn’t mean that it is exempt from flaws.
If I had a penny, for every time I came across this god forsaken trope so deeply rooted in hating other women…. It is no secret that New Adult gets critiqued a lot for how it treats women other than the heroine. Often, female characters will trash each other which is unfortunate considering how often these books are written by women.
Heroines hating the Hero’s Ex-Girlfriend almost always involves some plot about how the ex-girlfriend is evil and a “bitch” who tries to sabotage his current relationship. This trope is heavily rooted in the idea of the heroine being “Not like Other Girls”. Ex-girlfriends will either be extremely popular or traditionally beautiful while the heroine is neither.
One of my favorite books, Feels Like Summer, subverts this trope. In Feels Like Summer, Jett has multiple interactions with Adrian’s ex-girlfriend. Absolutely none of them are malicious, nor are they pitted against each other. I adore this book because of that. Six de los Reyes never falls into writing New Adult pitfalls. Plus, Feels Like Summer includes a scene depicting Jett’s painful periods (something you’ll rarely see mentioned in books) & a not so great first time with the hero. Also, did I mention the hero is the lead in a band?
A while back, I stopped reading Sports Romance. I found a lot of the plots to be redundant, they didn’t feature sports enough, or they featured the same two sports: Football and Hockey. As someone who was a HUGE jock in high school and played three sports, none of them being Football or Hockey, I was bored with the sub-genre.
There’s also the unfortunate fact that Football Sports Romance has a big problem with representation. We constantly see an overwhelming amount of footballer heroes being white, which doesn’t represent the actual demographics of football at all.
Well Played has a Soccer playing Filipina heroine (football for you non-Americans) who is aiming to win her university’s regional championship. There are a couple of reasons I like this New Adult Sports Romance: it’s one of the few I’ve read with an athlete heroine, it takes place in the Philippines, AND IT’S A PRIDE AND PREJUDICE RETELLING. And we get to see Patrice actually playing soccer and Paul, aka Darcy, is a math nerd who also plays basketball on the side. I mean, what more could you ask for?
Oh, the heroes of New Adult… While a lot of them do seem to be representatives of a good portion of men who treat women as objects and never learn to grow as human beings, that sure as hell doesn’t mean I want to read about them as romantic interests. The heroine has to undergo development for their relationship to work, but all of the hero’s flaws seem to be conveniently overlooked because he has washboard abs and is the king of the campus.
None of you who know me are going to be surprised by this recommendation in particular. There is a reason as to why I’m holding Hold Me in my banner on Lacy Literacy and in most of my profile pictures. I cannot recommend this book enough because it’s amazing on so many levels.
One of the things I like about it in particular is how Jay, the hero, grows from his mistakes over the course of the book. Jay is the pinnacle of those men in STEM who think they are self-aware, but actually come to misogynistic conclusions about women they don’t expect to be smart because they dress a certain way. Maria doesn’t take any shit from Jay. I loved that, and I loved Jay changed over the course of the book.
Some other things I loved about Hold Me is that Maria isn’t the traditional college student, there’s the contrast of Jay and Maria’s online relationship and real life relationship because they don’t know they actually know each other, and both Jay and Maria are QPOC (Maria is trans and Mexican while Jay is bisexual and Thai & Chinese).
It’s no secret that New Adult is dominated by stories set in College. If you pick up a New Adult book at random, there’s a 90% chance you will be about to read a story about someone going to the traditional 4-year University. As someone who is not on the traditional college path as I’m currently attending Community College, I don’t relate as much to the main characters experience. And there’s the fact that most of the time the “College” setting feels like an afterthought put together by someone who doesn’t know what a college environment is like. In the future, I’m hoping for more stories about main characters who don’t go to the “traditional” college or EVEN go to college. That’s simply not the path that everyone takes and fiction needs to represent that. There are SO MANY potential stories to be told about journeys that don’t involve a college path.
The Paths We Choose is one of the books I’d recommend if you’re looking for a heroine who doesn’t go straight to college after graduating (apt name too right?). Unfortunately, like many people Lily, the heroine, couldn’t afford to go to college but then she ended up getting a scholarship for LGBT+ students to help her get there. During the course of the book, she works at A BOOKSTORE!!! Also, The Paths We Choose is F/F and the other heroine is about to go off to graduate school for architecture.