I would love to welcome Abigail from All Things Urban Fantasy – a wonderful review site with lots of great features – to the floor. Abigail is here to talk about her Top Ten Urban Fantasy Pet Peeves, so I will leave you in her excellent hands.
Have you ever finished reading a book and realized you’ve been scowling for the last half? Have you ever wished you were physically capable of vomiting out of your eyes just so you wouldn’t have to read and more of a book that is the literary equivalent of a kick in the crotch? Then I feel your pain. I don’t have a litmus test that I use to gauge each book I read, but I do have a list of pet peeves that I can’t help but be aware of when I read. Some of these aren’t limited to urban fantasy/paranormal books, they bother me regardless of the genre I’m reading, but urban fantasy books are particularly guilty of them. And sometimes a book can get away with one or even two of them, but any more than that and the book begins to degrade rapidly in my opinion. I’m sure your list of pet peeves is different from mine, but that’s what comments are for, right?
My top 10 urban fantasy pet peeves:
1. Sex breaks
Sex breaks are when two characters inexplicably stop in the middle of the story, often during time sensitive dire situations, to have sex. Sex breaks are rarely isolated incidents, if one occurs you can typically expect two or more to follow. Sex breaks are easily distinguished from sex scenes in that they neither contribute to the development of the characters involved nor do they advance the plot of the book.
Exaggerated example from the totally-made-up-not-an-actual-book: “Fangs with Dick and Jane”
Dick gazed at Jane with naked desire on his face, “Jane, baby, I know that even as I speak the vampires are closing in on the children’s orphanage/blind puppy shelter, but a man can only take so much.” He eyed the backseat of the car significantly.
Dick’s burning stare heated Jane’s flesh and she knew she could not deny him. Did not want to deny him. Surely the orphans could fight off the vampires for a little while, she reasoned, and the puppy population was getting a bit out of hand lately. Jane met Dick’s eyes and undid the first button on her blouse.
[insert 3-6 pages of vehicular sex]
“I knew we’d make it in time,” Jane said as she staked the final vamp. “The vampires only drained half the orphans and 2/3 of the puppies. I don’t think anyone else could have done better.”
Dick nodded as he surveyed the carnage. “A few of the puppies are going to need immediate medical attention, but…”
Dick gave her his sexiest smile. “Some of these beds are now permanently vacant.” A few soft whimpers escaped from the injured orphans lying on the floor.
Jane smiled and backed towards the closest bed.
[insert 3-6 pages of dorm room sex]
2. Covers that lie
Defined as: Cover art (good or bad) that misrepresents/has nothing to do with the actual book.
Example: Minor offenses include tattoos on a cover model that the character doesn’t have, or weapons that the character never uses. More glaring examples include wrong hair colors, or wildly inaccurate clothing.
3. Blurbs that lie
Defined as: Implied/stated subject matter from the blurb that does not appear in the book, or significant subject matter from the book is not mentioned in the blurb.
Example: A romantic/sexual subplot is implied but either does not appear in the book or is not as much of a focus as implied. Conversely, when little or no romantic/sexual subplot is mentioned on the blurb when a majority of the book is romantic/sexual in nature.
4. Whiney heroines
Defined as: Heroines who consistently complain about their situation either in word or thought rather than seek out solutions, or who refuse to even try in a dire situation.
Example: A heroine with special abilities is the only one can save herself/others in a given situation and instead of acting she drones on about her inability and requires copious amounts of coaxing, rallying, and ego stroking before she will reluctantly attempt any action.
6. Wimpy heroes
Defined as: The opposite of Alpha males, wimpy heroes contribute little or nothing to a given situation. They offer little to no support either physically or emotionally to the heroine and often require saving/rescuing from a situation of their own making.
Example: The hero is often normal in the sense that he possesses no supernatural abilities whereas the heroine is supernatural. He must be given orders for his own protection and can require supervision/aid at any given time.
7. Lust not love
Defined as: when two characters see each other, evaluate each other based solely on physical appearances, and without any other information decide/vow eternal love. Copious amounts of sex typically follow.
Example: Characters meet in chapter one and after no more than a few words are exchanged (sometimes no words are exchanged at all) the characters are inexplicably head over heals in love. Often several paragraphs of physical descriptions are given and characters will complain about uncontrollable attraction and then decide on the next line that it must be in love. We as readers are just expected to accept that this spontaneous declaration of love is real and ignore reality.
8. Info dumping
Defined as: When an author cannot think of a natural way of explaining or relaying information in a creative/interesting way, and must ‘dump’ large passages of back-story/world building etc. At readers in large, unnatural chunks.
Example: Characters speak to each other in unnatural manners reminding each other of information they would be well aware of; Typically in the beginning of a book, an author will relay a character’s back-story when it does not relate to the story; or when rules, distinctive of world building are explained in encyclopedic fashion in large, dull chunks.
9. Sex excuses
Defined as: when authors invent unnecessary obstacles for their characters that can only be overcome by having sex.
Example: A character must have sex with various people in order to unleash her power; or when characters are compelled mindless physical urges that demand sex. *cough* ardeur *cough*
10. Token fantasy/urban elements
Defined as: when a story has only minimal urban elements in what is really just a dressed up fantasy story and vice versa.
Example: Characters may use cell phones but everything else is gowns and castles; a character travels from a modern setting to a magical traditional fantasy world and stays there until almost the end of the story; a contemporary character with a minor magical ability that is never explained/justified and has little to no impact on the story as a whole.
So those are my ten. What are some of your urban fantasy pet peeves? How many are enough to ruin a book for you?