The Five Trends That Need to Disappear

John Green as a genre, kissing dystopians, generational family bores... Five genres, plots, and themes in lit that need to die.

the fault in our stars

There comes a point in the life of every reader – or at least every reader named me – where certain genres, certain themes, and certain plots just seem completely, 100% overdone. I was browsing io9 today when I found a list of the 10 stories in sci-fi and fantasy that editors say are overdone. Zombies, mermaids, time-travel, parallel universes.

But all they do is make out. (Photo credit Hypable)
But all they do is make out. (Photo credit Hypable)

1.) Romantic Dystopias

Girl lives under oppressed government, girl meets boy, girl decides cushy situation sucks because she can’t kiss the boy of her dreams, and therefore the government must be destroyed. Dystopias where the plot is driven by romantic tension and not by the plot itself just infuriate me, and while it can work occasionally, it’s just become so completely overdone that I just want to see it go away. Divergent and The Hunger Games have cornered the market. Throwing more stories at it just seems like overkill.

From the author being compared to John Green. Way to market there. (Photo courtesy Goodreads/Faber & Faber)
From the author being compared to John Green. Way to market there. (Photo courtesy Goodreads/Faber & Faber)

2.) John Green-esque Contemporaries

You know it’s a bad sign when books are pitched on how much they can be compared to John Green’s work more than on the merits of its own content. The more times you can name John Green in your synopsis, the better, and a John Green quote on your cover, or a good word in a publication? It can make your book a star. But when everyone tries to emulate John Green’s style to the point where it’s almost become its own genre? No thanks.

3.) The Generational Family Literary Fiction Bore Thing Whatever

I know this is a perennial award winner, the tale of multiple generations of a family, or of women and daughters, or even one person with multiple lives, but haven’t we told it almost every possible way there is to tell it? Yes, this one wins awards. That’s about all it does. Let’s move on.

4.) Paranormal Rape. I Mean Romance.

This one transcends demographics, but when girl meets boy, boy is some supernatural creature, and boy gets super controlling of the poor innocent virginal girl, it just makes me gag. Twilight, Wings,, the Anita Blake series, True Blood to an extent. I’m just tired here. I want something different. Vampires, mermaids, werewolves – it doesn’t matter.

5.) The 40 Year Old Middle School Kid

tumblr_mc1vme0M5r1rj93lao1_500More of a personal preference than anything, and definitely an unpopular opinion, but I dislike how so much middle grade fiction these days seems to be written with the 12 year old either coming off as 7 or 47. Really middle schoolers seem lost in the lurch as fiction either tries to go “Harry Potter for adults” or just cartoonizing 12 year olds, who basically are teenagers, especially nowadays. It’s the same thing with YA getting darker. Can’t we throw our middle school friends a bone and tell stories that they identify with, not just stories that seem way too literary or way too childish? My coworker’s 12 year old told me the other day about how she identifies more with YA protagonists because middle grade fiction is too young for her. Let’s fix this.


So here is my question to you. What genres, tropes, plots, characters, etc are you looking to die off, and what are you desperate to see in the future? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Amen to less John Green contemporaries! I mean, I liked TFIOS, but it wasn’t the end all, be all. I’d much rather read a book that stands on its own merits like you said. And romantic dystopians… I could go either way. I like romance in my books, but when the focus is more on the plot than the romance, I prefer that than the focus be on a romance and the plot gets pushed to the side. Good points here!

  2. 4.) Paranormal Rape. I Mean Romance. … I want something different.

    Have you tried the Angel series by L.A. Weatherly? Angels are bonafied bad guys (and stay that way) but have the whole world tricked into thinking that they’re saviors. There’s still a lot more romance than (I think) there needs to be, but it’s one of the few times that a male lead come in as problematic (tries to kill her) and then actually gets better, instead of staying creepy. It helps that all his creep factor was legit based on circumstances instead of his own “bad boy” mojo.

  3. “The Generational Family Literary Fiction Bore Thing Whatever”

    *snorts* With the exception of the middle school kid acting middle-aged (which I can’t recall encountering, but that could be b/c I rarely read middle grade), I agree with you across the board. ESPECIALLY about all of the John Green-esque YA contemporaries. I’ll admit to being scared to death of reading TFIOS, so maybe that’s his masterpiece, and I’m missing out, but of his books that I have read, my favorite was co-written with David Levithan. The others have been good, but I don’t understand the desire to completely emulate him at all. But then again maybe that’s b/c I haven’t read TFIOS . . .

    • I think right now that desire to emulate him comes from the fact that a lot of those books right now are selling, both at bookstores and to publishers for publication. Right now, there is money to be had there, even if a lot of those books do come off as little more than poor imitations of John Green. It’s the money!

  4. I think there is too much of everyone trying to be like someone else in books these days. It isn’t just with other books trying to sound like John Green or pull his fans, but everything that is marketed as “the next ___” annoys me to death. Books need to stand on their own, right? Great post!

  5. One trend I’d like to see totally disappear?
    The BDSM romance involving an emotionally damaged hero who just happens to be a studly, unwrinkled billionaire so he doesn’t really have to go to work; paired with a young, innocent woman with self-esteem issues. He seduces her then introduces her to the enjoyment she can have when he ties her up to restrain her, beats her until he’s tired, then has his way with her every which way. But wait! She discovers to her total shock that she really likes being pushed around druing this most intimate act. Gag.

    Can we just be done with the FSOG syndrome, or are readers still buying this stuff? I’m so tired of having to explain when people ask me what I write, and I reply “romance”, they wink and nod, “Oh, just like…” NO! NOT just like that series. No women are beaten in my romances, and love doesn’t have to cause welts or bleeding.

  6. One trend I’d like to see gone:
    The emotionally-stunted damaged hero who is also a studly billionaire, which means he rarely has to go to work so has plenty of time to stalk the heroine. The heroine is a young innocent with self-esteem issues. All of the power is obviously in his court. He introduces her to sex, then quickly progresses to his favorite: tying her up then beating her until he’s tired, before he has her every which way he can. And to her shock she discovers that (huge surprise here, since she already had self-esteem issues!) that she likes it that way!

    I’m so sick of telling people I write romance and they wink and nod knowingly, “Oh, like FSOG?” Most emphatically NO! No women are stalked or abused in the course of my romances, and love doesn’t cause welts and bleeding. Or is that really what readers are clamoring for? (As opposed to authors jonsing for some of that trickle-down money?)


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