- Sex negativity. Admittedly this one is at the forefront of my mind because I’m reading David Copperfield at the moment, which features a character whose life is LITERALLY ruined because she has sex outside marriage and this is a Terrible Thing. I know the Victorians were all repressed – actually, scratch that, it seems to have been the women who were repressed really. Anyway, I tend to side-eye anything that attaches moral attitudes to sex as deeply unhealthy.
- Subtle homophobia. Any book that unironically uses “gay” as an insult should be – well, not burned, but at the very least pointedly returned to the shop.
- Sexism. There is nothing like a bit of old-fashioned sexism to make me immediately hate and despise a book, especially the kind that sidelines and subordinates female stories to male narratives and doesn’t even realise it’s doing it. Oh, and infantilisation of women is just creepy.
- Insta-love. I want to read about actual relationships, with difficulties and arguments and awkward discussions, not about hearts and flowers and all the instant joys of spring.
- Factual inaccuracies. “Scientists are founts of all knowledge.” “Nobody was reading Dante in the twelfth century.” This kind of thing is easy to look up. (This is not the same thing as when SF writers ignore the laws of physics, though. I’m not sure why.)
- Infodumps. Less, believe it or not, really is more when it comes to worldbuilding.
- Divorce. I realise that this is a really stupid and old-fashioned hang-up, and that reasonably easy access to divorce is one of the great breakthroughs for women’s rights. I just find it difficult to sympathise with divorced people in books. This is possibly because divorce doesn’t particularly tend to feature in SFF, which is perhaps something to think about.
- Will-they-won’t-they shenanigans. Please. Just either snog each other or don’t. Make up or break up. Unless it’s written really well, romantic suspense annoys the heck out of me.
- Endless fight scenes. I don’t care how the fight goes, just tell me who wins it.
- People acting out of character. I’m more and more interested in character over plot, although that doesn’t mean I’ll be switching to literary fiction any time soon. It’s just incredibly jarring when a character does something that isn’t like them solely because the author’s written themselves into a corner.
(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)