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Top Ten (Or Five…) Book Turn-Offs

Top Ten Tuesday

Thanks to the gals of The Broke and The Bookish for hosting this meme every week!

Due to my completionist nature, I probably won’t actually put a book down for any of these, but they make me unhappy and if I hear a book has a heavy amount of some of these turn-offs, I’m unlikely to pick it up! Also, there are only five because I can’t think of more! I’m sure that as soon as I look at other lists I’ll realize I forgot some though ;-).

Kingdom of Little Wounds1. Sexual violence: Blargh, hate reading about it. I hate that it’s become the thing to do to characters to show how tough they are or how difficult their lives are. I’m likely to push through one scene like this, but if I hear there is a lot of sexual violence in a book, I’m not picking that one up. I did actually DNF Kingdom of Little Wounds because of this, and wow wtf is up with that book???

2. Cheating: I’m weirdly sensitive to cheating in relationships. There is no like big horrible relationship  event in my past that explains my aversion to cheating, honest! If a character cheats at all, I instantly dislike them. From then on, I’m rooting for the other partner to move on and find someone worthy. I get pretty unhappy if the cheated on partner doesn’t do anything when they find out, since I don’t like cheating being considered a normal part of a relationship.

3. Love Triangles: Yup, have to admit it. I hate love triangles. The littlest whiff of one from a book description will have me putting that book back on the shelf. I’m just so freaking over this YA trope. I find it very unrealistic since I’ve never encountered a love triangle in real life, and I just want to scream at the characters to figure their lives out and move on!

4. Hero Complex: A pretty typical fantasy plot line is that the MC has some magic power and destiny to save the world and they don’t know it until someone tells them. I’m pretty tired of this plot line and the special snowflakes that go along with it. I want stories from someone else’s perspective, like the sidekicks! :D

5. Boys’ Club: If there are no girls as secondary or main characters, I’m really annoyed. I connect better to female characters normally and I like seeing female characters play at least some role in a book. Token females DO NOT COUNT. If a synopsis doesn’t discuss at least one woman playing a significant role, I’m dubious.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, help me think of five more by telling me yours!

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings 


© 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. I also can’t stand infidelity in books. I mean, I know it happens, but I want them to be smacked down by life for being awful. It’s romanticized so often, and that just lights the fire of my rage.

    Also, the boy’s club thing is so awful. Especially when it happens in books that purport to be feminist because they’ve got a strong female lead. But when that’s the only female of note in the book, well, it doesn’t make the intended point.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Cover Snark (77): The One with an Angry Little Man in a BathtubMy Profile

    • Exactly! I don’t want to be in a world where infidelity is accepted and romanticized, ugh.

      Excellent point about the female lead not fixing a boy’s club, equal representation please and thank you!

  2. LOVE TRIANGLES!!!! That pretty much sums up my major dislike turnoff forever. But I also dislike cheating. I have a really hard time with sexual violence in books and would probably avoid a story if I got wind of it, but I can think of a few favorites books that include it (DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST for instance), and I wouldn’t wanted to miss the story because of that. I couldn’t handle gratuitous violence or if it was praised in any way, and if it involves children that is a NO for me. BOO for boys clubs! Girls should aways bee in books! That statement reminds me of the I HATE STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS article, which really made me think.
    Lauren @ Love is not a triangle recently posted…Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg SloanMy Profile

    • Haha, I have always appreciated that you dislike love triangles more than me! I can’t wait until this YA trend is done D:

  3. HERO COMPLEX! I listed out unsympathetic characters as one of my let downs, but I think this phrase hits the nail on the head – I was trying to go in this direction.

    • Right?? I get so tired of MC’s who are destined to save the world…. There are so many better angles to write from!

  4. 1. What? NOOOOO!!!! I was excited about that book! Ugh. Sexual violence is one of the reasons I hated Poison Study by Maria Snyder. Man.

    2. ME TOO. I hate hate hate cheating, especially if it feels like they’re going to get away with it. Ugh.
    Shae/Shelver @ Shae Has Left The Room recently posted…Wishlist Wednesday #37My Profile

    • 1. Yeah, super warning: there is a character who surgically implanted jewels into his man organ *shudders* and guess how we find out about that! Oo, good to know about Poison Study, I’ve been meaning to read those for a while, but I don’t know how well I’ll handle that aspect *sigh*

      2. Completely agreed! I especially don’t like it in YA since I don’t want teen readers to think that is normal ya know??

  5. Great list! I definitely agree. I see that you are a big fantasy reader and I totally understand the Boy’s Club comment. I feel like in order to get some female heroines outside of romantic fantasy, I have to read YA. And then half of those are full of Insta Love and Love Triangles. Can’t there be some strong female characters?! =)
    meganm922 recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday–Book Turn OffsMy Profile

    • Haha, yes, fantasy and sci-fi have a lot of boys’ club problems. Probably one of the reasons I’ve been reading more and more YA recently >.>

  6. Although I agree with your “Boys Club” comment, I am sure that boys would beg to differ. Boys must get sick of reading books filled with female characters, and the only male characters are completely romanticized in most YA books.
    Great list! Check out mine:

  7. I agree with all of these, especially sexual violence is a no-go for me. I also have a problem reading a book with no female characters, even a boy as the main character is sometimes troubling for me :) I’m just not that interested..and I constantly fear he’ll say something degrading or insulting of women, which I’m really sensitive about. See my list for my top ten.
    Lanaia recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday #12: Book Turn-OffsMy Profile

  8. Awesome list!
    The reason I didn’t like Anna And The French Kiss is because I felt as if St Clair was cheating on his girlfriend half the book.
    Em recently posted…Variants #2 Cover & Title RevealMy Profile

  9. Great list! I am about 20% into KoLW and some of it is just…wow…I feel scarred reading it. I don’t know if I’ll DNF or not. It according to how much worse it gets. I can take a lot if it’s written in a certain way (not too detailed) but I think we both know the jewel scene was pretty graphic. Ugh *shudder*

    My Friends Are Fiction’s TTT
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday-Book Turn OffsMy Profile

    • Yup, the jewels was where I DNF’d. Is there much of a fantasy element to it (besides some people’s disturbed fantasies…), since I hadn’t hit anything interesting at that point so was rather meh beyond the disgust.

  10. I am totally with you on the cheating and sexual violence! Love triangles I don’t love but I don’t hate. Because they are most often used in YA books and I can well imagine people being torn between liking multiple people.
    Pabkins recently posted…Review: When the World Was Flat (and We Were in Love) by Ingrid JonachMy Profile

    • I guess that’s part of my problem really, since I certainly had conflicted emotions in my teenage years, but I’ve never experienced or seen love triangles to the extent they are portrayed. Generally the third wheel gets the message and moves on ya know?

      • Oh I totally agree – the third wheel usually moves on much quicker. But then …ehh I don’t know – I know some people that held onto their crushes for a long time even when they started dating other people or the other person was officially ‘with’ someone else. Course the only time I’ve seen a girl string along two guys I thought she was a total bitch and didn’t even stop to think “maybe she really likes both guys”. LOL
        Pabkins recently posted…Review: When the World Was Flat (and We Were in Love) by Ingrid JonachMy Profile

        • Haha! I definitely agreed about crushes, I just throw my head against a wall when someone is convinced that they are undyingly in love with two people ;-)

  11. I don’t like sexual violence either. Just makes me cringe. Cheating also made my list. I’ve never been cheated on either, but I know people who have, so I do have a bit of a hatred toward people that do it. No one deserves that I can’t get behind a character that is so dismissive of the feelings of others. Great list. :D

    My TTT
    Liesel Hill recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Turn-OffsMy Profile

  12. Yes, to all of the above! And also: the official genius. Everybody in the book announces that so-and-so is a GENIUS, but you never actually see them do anything smart.

    • Haha, show not tell right?? That’s when authors need to get a consultant if they don’t feel capable of writing dialogue to show that a character is a genius in some area

  13. 1. Obviously I dislike sexual violence, but I actually like reading about it, because it informs me. I’m reading Fault Line now, and my heart is just breaking.

    2. Same. Nothing happened to me. No one cheated on me, but that doesn’t make cheating any less loathsome. If you don’t love the person enough anymore for being with them to be worth not being with other people, then END it. It’s that simple.

    4. I don’t really mind the hero complex thing. What I DO mind is when the main character KEEPS HAVING TO BE TOLD. If they’re given a mission and they accomplish it (like Frodo), cool beans. If they are basically manipulated like a puppet by the others through the whole plot, not cool, man.

    5. Bechdel test, yo. Let women have minds and roles. There are some exceptions for this, like a book set in a men’s prison or a boys’ school or something. But if there SHOULD be women and their aren’t or if the women are solely sexual objects, OH HELL TO THE NO.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…September: Month in Review & Secret Giveaway Winners AnnouncedMy Profile

    • 1. What do you mean by informs? >.> I just can’t really take that heartbreaking nature ;-) I can deal with a bit in an otherwise solid book, but too often authors use it as a crutch ya know?

      4. Good point! I guess I’ve just gotten tired of it because it means I’m not surprised anymore, I’ve just read too many books where the MC has to save the world and is the only person who can do so

      5. Indeed! And I’m honestly not interested in men’s prisons or boys’ schools as a location anyway, haha

      • 1. As in I can learn about it from different perspectives. I can consider factors and complications I never previously had.

        5. Well, me either, particularly the prisons, but they were the examples that came readily to-hand. Haha.
        Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…September: Month in Review & Secret Giveaway Winners AnnouncedMy Profile

        • Excellent point, I think those later factors and complications make it even harder for me to read since they just upset me more D: I don’t like not being able to fix things ya know? And there is no way to fix that

          Fair enough ;-) That more reflects the point that there are VERY few settings where it’s acceptable not to have any women, unlike what fiction likes to pretend…

  14. Great list! I agree with your turn-offs, but I didn’t exactly come up with these! Kind of close maybe…but not quite the same.

  15. Totally agree with sexual abuse! I hate reading about it I think since it’s something that is so real and could happen to anyone. Also the cheating thing, I am SO with you on that one!!! I always steer away from books if I hear the guy or girl cheats on their partner, mainly because usually the person that was cheated on FORGIVES the cheater, which I think is ridicules lol. Great list hun (:

    -Also love the idea of a story being told from the sidekicks point of view..that’d be awesome!!
    Haley @ YA-Aholic recently posted…Review + Giveaway: AntiGoddess by Kendare BlakeMy Profile

    • Yup, I hate storylines where the cheater is forgiven, sets a bad example to impressionable readers! D:

      Hehe, thanks! I just get tired of the same fantasy/sci-fi tropes over and over ya know?

  16. Love Triangles, Bad Editing, Absent Authority Figures (If Reading YA), Snotty Leads, Infidelity

    • Bad editing is one I should have remembered to include! That’s the one that I’m actually going to DNF on and have DNF’ed most indie reads because of :(


  1. […] discussed our Top Bookish Turn-offs, and I completely forgot one: BAD SCIENCE! (This will be clear in a review at the end of the month […]

  2. […] discussed our Top Bookish Turn-offs, and I completely forgot one: BAD SCIENCE! (This will be clear in a review at the end of the month […]

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