4 Unpopular Opinions About Book Tropes

I see a lot of people, particularly on Twitter, mentioning their pet peeves in books, or tropes that they’ve seen so much, they can’t stand the sight of it one more time. And usually, though I understand where they’re coming from, I 100% disagree!

So, here are some of my most unpopular opinions!

#4- The “released a breath she didn’t know she was holding” isn’t a big deal

People on book Twitter HATE this line, or anything similar to it. So much so, that is was practically a bookish meme. And, thanks to Twitter, I can’t not notice when an author uses this line; it always jumps right out at me.


But, if I’m honest, it doesn’t bother me at all. There are times in my life when I realize, “Wait, why am I holding my breath? I didn’t mean to do that?” And I’m not even in life-and-death or steamy-romantic situations! I can hardly blame characters in those intense moments for holding a breath without realizing.

#3- I am SO over the idea of, “And then Harry woke up, and realized it was all a dream.”

I’ve seen this one the most with Harry Potter, which is why I gave it as the example, but I’ve seen it with other stories, too. This idea that, after we read thousands of pages following these characters on great adventures, suddenly they wake up and realize it was all their imagination. Most times I’ve seen people advocate for this, they seem to do it out of a want to shock and surprise the reader, but I cannot stand this idea.

wake up

In a Creative Writing class, not doing this is the first thing you learn after “show, don’t tell.” It takes away any impact the story may have had. If you go on this crazy, fantastic adventure, and then bring it back to “lol jk it was a dream” or “haha just kidding, it was all a figment of their imagination,” all the character development and all the struggles we saw become moot. Great books leave readers feeling like, “Well, if Harry Potter can make it through all that, then I can make it through this.” Somehow, the idea of, “Well, if Harry Potter dreamt all that, I can… idk, dream it, too, I guess?” doesn’t have the same appeal.

It also wastes the readers’ time. Like, imagine reading the thousands of pages of Harry Potter, and then you get to the end and it’s like, “Oh yeah, that? That was all for nothing. None of happened and nothing matters, bye!” I would be TICKED. Honestly, this suggestion annoys me way more than it probably should.

#2- The lack of parental figures in YA Fantasy isn’t a bad thing

I’ve seen this one a lot. People always ask why all these best-selling characters have dead parents and/or horrible parental figures. “Just once,” they say, “we want our characters to experience a happy, healthy parent who loves them.” While I understand that there is sometimes a lack of sensitivity for readers who may have lost parents, I still think that loss is necessary for most stories.

Deal with it

Reason #1 is that the story would likely become the parents’, not the teens’/young adults’. Because no good parent is going to let their child risk their lives, the parents will probably be the ones going on the adventure, leaving their child home in safety. Unless that child sneaks out to handle it on their own, in which case, you’ve still removed the parents from the story, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Reason #2 is that it frees character to develop in ways they couldn’t otherwise. If Kaz Brekker still had loving, caring parents, do you think he would have become the Bastard of the Barrel? Yes, that example is a little extreme, but a lot of times the loss of a parent, whether physically or mentally, is the catalyst for the character becoming who they need to be to fit the story (see: Prince Zuko in Avatar: the Last Airbender, Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, Asha in The Last Namsara, Jude in The Cruel Prince) or even the catalyst for the entire story (see: Harry PotterThe Name of the WindAn Ember in the Ashes).

#1- Romance in non-romance books is SUPER realistic

I’m a huge fantasy reader, and so I see this particularly with other sci-fi/fantasy readers. They’ll read a book, and then say something along the lines of, “The story was great, but why does there need to be romance?!? My girl’s saving the world, she doesn’t have time for smooching!!” Again, I get where they’re coming from; sometimes a romance isn’t handled well, but I actually think a bit of romance in those situations is more realistic than the romance in the very few romance novels I’ve read. In fact, I think having that romance there is more realistic than having it be non-existent.

They’re so cute!!

Here’s the thing: when a character is thrown into a life-and-death, you’re-the-only-hope-for-our-world types of situations, that character is going to be sharing some intense moments with the members of their group. They’re going to see each other break down, they’re going to see each other triumph, they’re going to see how each person handles loss or victory, fear or contentment, joy and anger. That kind of emotional closeness usually brings about very strong emotions. And since these characters hopefully don’t hate the other people in their group, those strong feelings often result in affection or love. So, to me, having that romance is WAY more realistic than not having it on the basis of “they’re busy.” To me, it’s the intensity of their situation that makes the romance MORE realistic, not less.

Thanks for reading!

What do you think? Do you hate me for any of my blasphemous comments? Or maybe you actually agree with me? Do you have any unpopular opinions of your own? Let me know in the comments below!


28 thoughts on “4 Unpopular Opinions About Book Tropes

  1. Oh gosh *yes* I do agree about the releasing a breath thing- I do it too!!! And I never like the “it was all a dream” thing either!! And I actually think a lot of people complaining about the lack of parents thing generally say “I have both parents so…” I also don’t see the problem with the absence of parents in ya (although I don’t like the cool parents who are there, but not there if you know what I mean, cos I just don’t get it) and I’m always happy for romance to turn up in non romance books. Seriously agree with you on all these points!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I’m not alone!

      I’ll never understand the cool parents who are only kinda there idea. Like, why would you go through the trouble of writing parent characters only to have them… Not parent? Like you said, I just don’t get it.


  2. Interesting discussion! I completely understand the first one, where she released a breath she didn’t know she was holding– because I, too, sometimes am holding my breath for no random reason??

    I disagree with the last one, though, because a lot of times teenagers hardly experience romance during their teenage years, and there are definitely lots of aromantic and asexual teenagers out there too! But I do see your point with how it can be more realistic than adult romance novels!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol I am so glad I’m not the only person who forgets to breath sometimes.

      I definitely understand your point about more diverse romance, or non-romance in some cases. Seeing different sexual orientations and gender identities represented in books is so important, and we’re definitely missing a lot of that representation in the book community.


  3. Great post!! I agree with you! I don’t mind “letting out a breath I didn’t know I was holding” – it’s really not that big a deal?? Haha. And yes!! I don’t mind absent parents in the book, because if the parents are there, how is the teen supposed to do anything with a parent breathing down their neck?? And I’m someone who very much loves romance in her novels, so definitely agree with #4 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with most of these, I never noticed #1 until twitter. I do agree that romance happening in fantasy books or any books isn’t unrealistic, if developed organically. However I think it’s aggravating that romance is so prevalent in YA. I wish YA books without romance weren’t quite so hard to find. But I definitely still do enjoy a good romance, and find I often like it better in fantasy books where it’s a side story then in romance novels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely appreciate the side story romance a bit more.

      I also think that it would help if the romances we’re more diverse, too. It seems like it’s always either brooding boy meets emotional toughie girl, or emotionally wounded girl meets sassy, flirty guy. If authors branched out a bit more, I’d definitely appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I totally agree with you on the last one! And I think sometimes it can also be the same with insta love, just a bit?? Teenagers fall in love really quickly, all my friends did and it really annoys me when people berate on so many ya couples because they feel in love within a couple of weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. YES! I’ve been thinking about #4 for a while. The past couple books I’ve read had that line but it never bugs me?!?!?!

    Also with #2 I don’t care much about parental figures in novels, especially in fantasy novels (I feel like I should care but I don’t ?!?!) Maybe because it’s personal since I don’t come from a stable Mom+Dad family but this dynamic not being present isn’t the worst thing for me.

    Great Discussion!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s how I feel! Like, I didn’t know it was a big deal until I saw a bunch of people on Twitter complaining about it, but it’s just never been something that bothers me!

      And I can’t think of a single fantasy where the protagonist has a great relationship with their parents. So, I don’t know if it doesn’t bother me because it’s not a huge deal, or if it doesn’t bother me just because I’ve come to expect it.


  7. Ah I agree with all of this! I don’t understand the outrage over the “let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding” thing. I mean sure it’s a commonly used line, but why does that make it a bad thing?
    And OOOOOOOO if a book pulled the “it was all a dream” nonsense I would scream (then throw the book out the window bc that’s just obnoxious)
    When it comes to the parents I mostly agree but I also wouldn’t mind seeing more contemporaries with parents more present in the story. I don’t think having parents there would work for all novels but it could make the ones going for realism more realistic

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! Just because a lot of characters apparently hold their breaths doesn’t mean we have to rage against it.

      I definitely understand wanting to see better parents represented in contemporaries. I mostly read fantasy, and I don’t think parents would fit quite as well, but I would like to see better family dynamics in some of the books I read.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I agree that parents don’t have as much of a place in fantasies bc, like you said, it will, in most cases, just stop the plot bc parents would never allow their kids to go on these crazy adventures lol

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Loved the post, I agree with the whole YA books not having many parents, it is kinda the basis on which some characters grow but there are good books in which parents made the book better. Also, for the whole romance thing, I am mostly just ‘meh’ at it because if done well, I can totally read with enjoyment and I understand your point on the romances being better than the ones in romance novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I definitely agree with your first point, I can’t count the number of times i’ve released a breathe I didn’t know I was holding, so it’s a natural line for anyone to include in their writing.

    The lack of parental figures trope does bother me sometimes though.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love this and I do agree, especially about the no parents and romance in fantasies. I don’t have issues with most tropes out there, as long as the story is good and makes sense I gave no issues with them, so your opinions aren’t that unpopular with me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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