Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Turn-Offs

Posted October 1, 2013 by Stormy in Books / 21 Comments


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, which features (you guessed it!) top ten lists on a given topic each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten Book Turn-offs. Basically, things you might find in a book that makes you immediately want to put it down or at the very least, lower your opinion a little bit.

No HIlda signs

My book turn-offs make me want to do this.

1. Infidelity

No, thank you. I’ve only read ONE book that included cheating BY the main character and showcased it as a bad thing, instead of trying to glorify it. Other than that lucky book, I hate this as a plot point because just. . . no.

2. Third Person Present Tense

It’s so AWKWARD. It’s one thing to have first person present tense, which I tend to like, but EVERY time I’m tried to read a book in third person present tense I couldn’t get through it because I never forget I was reading writing. It never got to the point where I could slip in the story because the entire time, my mind was going “this is weird. . .”

3. Animal(Pet) Death

Let’s be honest: There’s only ONE reason to kill a pet in a book–to emotionally manipulate. Now, if you enjoy being emotionally manipulated OR as a writer you like to emotionally manipulate, fine. Sometimes, I like to get emotional in books even if it’s emotionally manipulative. But I don’t like to FEEL like that’s happening, and we all know the reason for pet deaths.

4. Not using the scenery

If a book is set in space and at the halfway mark, the story has yet to take advantage of that fact, I consider that a complete book turn-off. Let me see the universe!

 5. Unnecessary Cliffhangers

Sometimes, cliffhangers work for me, like the cliffhangers at the end of Catching Fire or Cinder, but so often I feel I’m just being tricked into buying the next book(example: The Maze Runner). Theme of this post: I don’t like feeling like I’m being manipulated, like every other person on the planet.

6. Bad Boy Love Interests

I’ve NEVER been a fan of the bad boy. The phrase seemed to have totally passed me, even though culture tells me I should have had that stage at like 14 or 15. Sometimes I like bad boys in books, but not as the love interests(and by bad boys, I mean the REAL jerky bad boys. Not the boys with the tattoos who occasionally skip class or something).

7. Insta-Love

Insta-attraction? Sure, I am totally on board with that! But insta-love? I just can’t buy it without thinking it’s just a passing infatuation, even when the book ends on a happily-ever-after. I like the slow burn romance best.

8. Love Triangles where the ending is obvious

I actually mind love triangles a lot less than most bloggers, and even like them sometimes, but when the eventual love triangle ending is obvious from the start, why bother? That’s what I loved about the love triangle in Unearthly–I had a pretty good idea of the ending, but it wasn’t something I felt was ever guaranteed.

 9. The Informed Character Trait

RAGE. This book turn-off, right here, is my BIGGEST bookish pet peeve. The informed character trait is where we, as readers are TOLD a character has a certain trait, when all that character does CONTRADICTS that thing. Like when we’re told through dialogue or exposition that a character is smart, but all they do is dumb things! I HATE seeing this in books. It’s one of my DNF-triggers.

 10. Pregnancy/childbirth

It’s not really a pet peeve, because obviously people get pregnant and have children all the time, and are often happy about it, but I’m just not a big fan of babies so it’s definitely a turn-off for me. If a book synopsis mentions a baby, 80% of the time I’m moving right along.



21 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Turn-Offs

  1. Oh, I forgot Pregnancy/childbirth. That’s such a HUGE turn-off to me, but it’s so… normal for me to pass on everything baby related, it didn’t even come up when I was putting together my list. It’s like duh? 🙂 Cheating, animal abuse is on my list too. And cliffhangers and insta-love are not my favorites either. That cliffhanger at the end of Cinder so SO unnecessary, it didn’t make me want to rush to pick up Scarlet, but instead left a sort of bad aftertaste. I did like Cinder on the whole though. And obvious love-triangles are not something I like either, especially when I’m obviously on the wrong team (which is almost all the time. Sigh) And YES! Don’t tell, SHOW!

  2. Oh my gosh, animal death/violence is such a good one. I read a few recently where I was so angry, because I just felt like it was totally unnecessary and it was only in the book to manipulate the reader. I do think that in really specific and rare circumstances, it can be used the right way. Like, I read a book where these two kids had to hunt and kill an animal to survive in Soviet Russia. Yes, it was gruesome and horrible and I hated it…but the writing of it was amazing, and it was there for a reason — to show how unbelievably hungry these kids were, that they would have to resort to such drastic measures.

  3. LOL I’ve seen the pet-death one around a couple of times this week and it proves how different we are! I’d be sad for the character, but since I’m not a pet person, that would barely blip on my radar.

    We’ve already had our informed character trait rant this week, so I’ll just give you a high five and a nod on that one. 🙂

    Present tense in general used to bother me A LOT. When I first read Girl of Fire and Thorns, it was immensely distracting and my brain kept trying to rewrite the novel into past tense as I read it, which of course didn’t work and eventually my brain settled down. Now it’s become so prevalent in YA that it doesn’t even give me a second thought unless like you said, it’s awkward. Third person present tense always seems like a flashback 0r a dream sequence to me. “She drinks coffee. She leaves the house.” It seems so distancing to the reader – you’re watching the action, but you’re not invited into it. Stay back, reader.

    • stormydawnc

      Not a. . . pet person? NOOOO! How sad. 🙁 (I say as an admittedly not-a-baby-person.)

      I don’t mind 1st person present tense, but I still can’t get over 3rd person present tense for precisely that reason–it’s suppose to be more current, but it’s SUCH a distance between the reader & the story.

  4. 2. Oh my gosh — YES. I thought I was the only one who found reading books from this point of view extremely frustrating and annoying and awkward. I mean, I may be the queen of awkward, but that doesn’t mean I want to see awkwardness elsewhere, you know? I don’t think I mind it as badly as you do, though. I recently read TUMBLE & FALL by Alexandra Coutts, and the book was written in this way, and though it took me quite a while to get comfortable with it, I managed to finish the book. Didn’t have very high opinions, though.

    3. LOL. I don’t think I’ve seen many animal deaths in books, but in movies? Yep. Animals definitely die to emotionally manipulate us, and that’s kind of dumb. And also, if we don’t have a strong bond with the animal, their deaths would just be a total waste — and totally cruel as well.

    5. I get majorly pissed whenever a book ends with a cliffy. I have nothing against it; like you, I’ve read a couple of books that had very good cliffhangers, but if authors just use them as a marketing ploy? No. Just no. The mark of a good author is when you can entice your readers back for more without trying to bait them at the end. A good example is J.K. Rowling. NONE of her books ended in cliffhangers, but readers still came back for more. She definitely is the queen.

    6. *high five* Me neither. Never could understand what was so appealing about them, because they always spell trouble, and they’re almost always a convenient way for the author to try to sneak some relationship drama in. Or some “intimate” bike scenes around town in the middle of the night. Or how they sleep around before meeting the MC, and then proceed to beat up any male who so much as looks at her. Please!

    8. I know! Most love triangles nowadays are just there to add more drama, and with all that’s going on in the book, it REALLY isn’t necessary. SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo had a great love triangle, because I fell for both love interests and I could never guess who Alina was going to end up with!

    9. The first book that pops into mind is SILENT ECHO by Elisa Freilich. The author tries to tell us that she’s this innocent, sweet girl, when all the vibes I got from her was bitchiness. Horrible book.

    Great list, Stormy!

    • stormydawnc

      #2–YES! So glad I’m not alone! Basically, here’s how I break down POVs I’m okay with reading:
      1st person: You may use past or present tense. Carry one.
      3rd person: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE only use past tense! I also read Tumble & Fall was able to EVENTUALLY get past that but it took me forever(& I didn’t like the book very much overall anyway).

      Yes, I hate emotionally manipulative animal death!
      I always feel I can tell the difference between a book that genuinely NEEDED a cliffhanger and one that is just a marketing ploy. At that point, I generally stop reading the series.

      Whenever I think of the informed character trait, I always think of America Singer from The Selection/The Elite. I enjoy the stories for their superficiality, but America is the QUEEN of this trait. She’s always said to be so smart & kind and I’ve NEVER gotten that impression, and I’ve read both books!

  5. Hallo Stormy!

    🙂 I like the changes your doing to your blog! 🙂 Meanwhile, I saw a comment of yours pop up on one of the blogs I was visiting for this meme and I was thinking to myself, I didn’t even realise which blogs I regularly visit who join in! 🙂 Therefore, here I am! I must say, I am a bit taken aback by how many TTTs are claiming that children | babies are DNF issues! Wow. I cannot relate to that personally as I love children and look forward to being a Mum! Yet. Clearly, there is a disconnect between readers, as I feel like I’m in the minority on enjoying stories of family and children! Hmm,… that is just odd to me, but I respect it as a difference we will run into at some point! 🙂

    I listed cliffhangers as being a difficult thing to traverse myself! I’ve fallen for two books this year alone that fall into this category! OR, did I state that in a different way!? Hmm,… wells, I had intended to mention it! Laughs.

    Ironically or not, I do read a lot of romance, and therefore, infidelity does come into play, but the stories I read tend to strike the balance that aligns with my own personal views on the subject which is good. A few times I notice that they do not, I tend to read the story to see a different point of view, which can be healthy as a reader! 🙂 Its not something I gravitate towards, but its clearly an important issue that many women face and stands to reason will be included.

    • stormydawnc

      Oh, thank you! The children/babies thing is a bit weird for me. I LOVE children & have worked with children on-and-off for the past few years, but I don’t like babies. So basically, I’ll be hopefully one day adopting if I ever have children of my own. I always thought I was an outlier on that though, so it’s been a bit strange(and affirming, at least from my end), how many have said the same thing on their TTT. I think it’s mainly I really dislike pregnancy story lines.

  6. Your list has so many of my pet peeves too. I don’t like love triangles and I had huge cliffhangers. I am all for series arcs; however, I expect that the individual book to wrap up its arc. I don’t like when a book is just a set up for another book.

    • stormydawnc

      Yes! I hate that! And there are right ways & wrong ways to do a cliffhanger. I always think of The Maze Runner when I think of awful cliffhangers, and The Hunger Games when I think of good cliffhangers.

  7. 1. Just a friendly heads up, you swapped a couple letters around spelling infidelity, which I also loathe in books.

    2. I’ve started trying to pay attention to the tenses so I can figure out if 3rd person present bothers me because I just don’t know.

    5. HAHA, Maze Runner. Yeah, and you will never get answers in any of the books. SURPRISE! I am fine with cliffhangers as long there’s also a plot arc that resolves within the book itself. I don’t like when it feels like the chopped a long book into parts and released them as individual books.

    8. I’m with you actually. Love triangles can be great, but the popular formula for them right now is not. It shouldn’t be obvious who the person will pick, and both options should have different sorts of real appeal.

    • stormydawnc

      Ah, thank you! I’ve fixed it now, but for some reason it’s one of those words I just CANNOT spell. I finally mastered definitely last year, so maybe I’ll try infidelity next(and wonder why spell-check decided to not catch my mistake this past time).

      Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard about The Maze Runner as a whole, which is why I think I decided to just leave that series be. I just felt so MANIPULATED the entire time.

      As far as #8, I think this is why I really like parallel universe love triangles. All the benefits of the love triangle without so much of the angst!

      • I have some words like that too. Generally, I’m a great speller, but a couple do not work for me at all.

        Quitting with Maze Runner after book one is a good choice, as that’s the time when the plot is tightest. So yeah.

        Parallel universe triangles can be so much fun. Little changes can make such a change in a personality. See: Through to You. Haha.

    • stormydawnc

      I haven’t read Wither(but I do own the first book), so we’ll see if it bothers me. But I was thinking mostly of contemporary pregnancy. That, I am definitely not a fan of!

  8. I can’t say I agree with all of your points (I’m having my bad boy phase 15 years late, I think) but pregnancy is a huge turn off for me, too. Somehow the pregnancy scare is even worse – the main characters imagine what kind of life they could or couldn’t provide for the baby, bring up religion or lack thereof, and basically rake your emotions over the coals before going, “Just kidding – her period was late! Isn’t it funny how that happens?” Grah!

    • stormydawnc

      Yeah, I know the bad boy is not normal, and I’m okay with that! I’ll let ya’ll have all the steamy bad boy romances. Oh yeah, I think pregnancy scare might be worse for me too.

  9. Yes, especially #9 and #10. When a character is supposed to act one way but seems always to do the opposite? And number 10, one of my own book turn offs. I think if you’re going into the book knowing it involves pregancy/childbirth, then fair enough. It’s when it sneaks up on you. Another one of my book turn offs is deliberately witholding information from the reader, The Knife of Never Letting Go, I’m looking at you. I understand why it needs to be done, and it’s amazing when done right, but nothing will make me yell at a book faster than a character having the information in their hands and just shoving it aside for later.

    • stormydawnc

      #9 is definitely my BIGGEST book turn-offs. And for #10, I agree. I mean, if I’m warned about it before hand, I can’t really complain(which is why I just typically stay away from those books all together!).

      Oh man, The Knife of Never letting Go. I do really like Patrick Ness’ books, and I did enjoy that one as well(I think I gave it 4 stars), but it definitely went on the side of withholding information TOO long. There comes a tipping point where its’s not suspenseful anymore, just frustrating.

  10. Asti (A Bookish Heart)

    Oh yes, I think you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head with a lot of these. Like love triangles. I think many of us are quick to say “I hate love triangles”, but then we’ll have some where we don’t mind them at all. I think it really does come down to how well they’re done, like what you pointed out with the obviousness of the outcome! And hmm… I’m split on bad boy interests because right away the Darkling comes to mind for me because he’s a true bad boy/evil guy and I love him. Haha. But I don’t like when that’s all they are. I like for them to be confusingly bad, like you’re not sure where their true intentions lie. Of course, you might be talking more for contemporary reads which I don’t read as much. Hm…

    • stormydawnc

      Yeah, I definitely don’t ALWAYS mind love triangle. It all depends on how it’s written. I know I’m one of the few that doesn’t like the bad boys, but I’ll just shrug & leave more for the rest of ya’ll!

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