Tropes. What would books be without them?
The answer, naturally, is less cliche. But even though tropes represent major cliches in books, I definitely don’t think that undermines their ability to move a plot along, develop characters better, or overall make a reading experience more enjoyable! It really just depends on how they’re used, the frequently with which they’re used, and if they’re able to be effective in the story.
There are a ton more tropes besides just romance ones, but I thought it would be fun to go through some of the most well-known tropes often seen in YA fantasy and contemporaries, and rank them according to how much I like reading them!! If I have a particular book (or books) that fit with the trope and I want to recommend, I’ll do that too.
This is just my opinion, and whether you agree with my ranking or not, I hope you can at least relate to some of this post- and I’m very much looking forward to the comments section because I would love to talk about what everyone else’s thoughts are on all of these. Without further ado, to the ranking!
6. Love Triangles
Taking up last place in my list of 5 has to be love triangles. When I think of the word “trope,” especially in a romantic context, I instantly think about love triangles, and unfortunately, my brain pretty quickly goes “no.”
I’ll admit, I can definitely see the appeal for a love triangle. In novels like The Hunger Games, where people are popularly Team Peeta or Team Gale, it creates an instant reason to read the book and want to keep going in the series- that way, you learn what happens and what ultimately ends up getting the girl. I do see how it makes you care about the character and certainly provides (if sometimes shallow) entertainment.
However, I ultimately have to put love triangle last on my ranking because I sometimes find it hard to care. Although the point of a trope is that it’s probably overused, love triangles don’t seem even that romantic to me at this point- I can’t say I’ve ever been in a love, so maybe I don’t understand, but I can’t help but question the motives of a character that’s in love with two people at once.
Overall, although I’m not denying the entertainment that can result from a love triangle and while I won’t necessarily *not* read a book because there is a love triangle, it’s my least favorite romantic trope.
5. Insta Love
Oh, insta love. The bane of many a reader’s existence. Not surprisingly, I’m not a big fan of this at all, even though it’s incredibly popular in YA novels, especially in contemporaries, which is what I read a lot of.
My main issue with insta love is that I find it too unrealistic for me to get behind. Maybe I’m cynical, but?? I just don’t find it romantic?? I completely understand thinking someone is attractive when you first meet them, and as you get to know them better and learn about them, liking them a lot, but loving someone within days (or hours?!) just seems way too premature.
I’m not saying I can’t enjoy a book with insta love, especially if it’s more long-term insta love rather than under-24-hours insta love, but if I’m aware of there being insta love in a book, chances are I might not pick it up, because there’s a pretty large probability that I just won’t be able to get into the romance.
4. Enemies to Lovers
I feel so sad that this isn’t higher because it’s not that I don’t like enemies to lovers? I just have more of a love/not-hate-but-not-love relationship with this trope in general.
The undeniable tension that develops between two characters when they start out at enemies and later become lovers is exquisite. *chef’s kiss* I love reading the parts where the two characters are still enemies and have chemistry and don’t even realize it and I’m over here reading it like…oh, I see exactly where this is about to go.
I really like all of these books (though I haven’t read past The Cruel Prince, which is mostly just the enemy part, I’ve essentially realized what’s to come), so that would lead one to believe that I’m a fan of the enemies to lovers! But at the same time, as much as the tension is very interesting, I’m such a peacekeeper and non-confrontational person that the fighting can sometimes make me not ship the characters??
It really just depends on the intensity of the enemies on whether or not I enjoy enemies to lovers! (And sometimes I love the lovers part and just had to struggle through the enemies portion to get there.)
3. Forbidden Love
Despite my lack of love for the famed Romeo and Juliet (even the Leonardo DiCaprio version of the movie couldn’t save it for me), I really do like a good forbidden romance. When not taking place in the range of three days with a lot of characters with communication issues, it can be really great!!
I think what ultimately makes me enjoy forbidden love is that it’s romantic as heck and I’m just a romantic at heart. The fact that two people can’t be together, for whatever reason, and yet they want to do all they can to be together anyway, even if this means making huge sacrifices in their own lives? Hi, yes, don’t mind me crying over how romantic this is.
The only thing that can sometimes make me not like this trope, and its reasoning for not being ranked first or second, is that I easily get stressed while reading, and I sometimes get stressed when characters are openly defying their families or beliefs or whatever it is that’s keeping them from being with the person- it’s not that I think they shouldn’t do so, it’s just that I do get worried for the characters.
2. Fake Dating
One trope that I can most definitely get behind is fake dating! Though it can have its problems, I really do find this to be such a sweet way to watch two characters fall in love. The constant questioning, back-and-forth, and the way a true romances happens slowly but surely…perfection.
Even though it can be agonizing to read a book and just be!! screaming!! inside your head that “you idiots love each other for real can’t you see??”, I do love that fake dating allows the characters to really get to know each other as friends and allies before they’re more than friends.
This is the opposite of love triangles for me- with those, I’m always wondering if the character truly loves either of the candidates if they’re having such a hard time choosing. But with fake dating, two characters make a conscious decision that whoever they were originally chasing after is no longer the person they want to be with, and that they’ve found the one for them in someone who was supposed to be just a cover story.
Despite the large range of emotions that comes along with fake dating, it’s just way too cute for me to pass up, and I’ll gladly read any book with this trope.
1. Friends to Lovers
My absolute favorite romance trope is friends to lovers. I know this one could come across as boring, as it certainly has less tension and questioning than any of the other tropes, but I think it’s the sweetest and ultimately most romantic.
Watching characters fall in love with their best friends is unmatched in its cuteness. Not only do they already know everything about each other, but they’ve laid such a solid foundation for the rest of their relationship! When a book ends, and friends have turned to lovers, I feel sure that the characters are going to be okay even when times goes on.
I don’t know where this gif is from, but wow, it’s so cute. It kind of embodies why I think friends to lovers is the most romantic- they’re such an integral part of each other’s lives at this point that now that they’re more than friends, it seems likely that their love is going to be able to last whatever trials life throws their way- because how could they ever not be a part of each other’s lives anymore?
That’s my ranking!! I definitely left out a lot of tropes, as this post could have quickly gotten much longer and I wanted to stick with ones that I feel like I’ve seen most frequently in books and had the most to say about.
I hope this was enjoyable to read, even if we drastically disagree on what tropes are the best (because this is completely up to each individual’s reading taste). I hope you’re all doing well, staying safe and healthy, and having a great July so far!✨
What would your ranking be? Do you agree with anything I said? Do you like any of these tropes? I would love to talk with you in the comments.