Bookish Sins? You Decide.


First, I must clarify that these absolutely are not actual “sins”. This post is going for a more lighthearted tone, so I am not including things that are actually offensive, like shaming, and stereotyping, and things of that nature. Great, useless disclaimer is finished.

Basically, these are the things that we often find disdainful in a book. Eye-rolling ensues, and stars are taken away. Granted, some of these can be done in a positive way, but more often than not, there are side-eyes. Your job? Why, you get to decide: Which of these sins is the most egregious? 

Sin #1: The Love Triangle

I think it is safe to assume that love triangles have been happening in books since… forever? Done right, a love triangle can add something to a story, but only if it “fits” the story. Perhaps that’s where the hate stems from: Not all books really need love triangles. Not all books do them well. So you end up with really silly, meaningless love triangles that enrage readers everywhere. In fact, I actually read a review in which there was a third random guy thrown into the mix, and he seemed to serve no purpose other than “romantic choice #3”. (Note: I cannot for the life of me remember whose review this was, so if it was yours, let me know so I can link to it and give you your due credit for introducing me to this elaborate mess!) In my head, it looks like this:tumblr_mhm1pmVeze1rdzuduo2_500

EDIT: It was The Winter People, and Kayla @ The Thousand Lives reviewed it! Her review made me laugh hard so you should probably check it out.

Sin # 2: Insta-Love

While we’re on the topic, let’s talk the dreaded insta-love. Unlike Sin #1, there really isn’t a great time for insta-love. It rarely seems plausible, and usually ends up being frustratingly unbelievable. So why do it? I haven’t a clue. Maybe it is for convenience, perhaps so the romance has longer to pull readers in? I have no idea, but I don’t think I have ever said “wow, I really liked the insta-love in Some Novel“.

Sin #3: Mary Sues

These characters drive me batty. No one is perfect. I am looking at you, Malencia Vale of The TestingI am fairly certain that she is the actual definition of a Mary Sue, in case you were wondering. Look, I know that some characters are just going to be more innocent, more passive even, than others. But nobody’s perfect, and I just cannot handle the “perfect” character. Just… have a bad hair day, or misspeak, or do something to prove you aren’t some kind of cyborg.

Sin #4: The Wholly Unlikeable Character

This seems to be a thing. Why is this a thing? It is what ruined Falling Into Place for me. Man, Liz Emerson was the worst. I could not find a redeeming quality to her, and I kind of didn’t care what happened to her by default. If I hate you, why do I care about your story? Answer: I do not.

Sin #5: Deus ex machina

Ugh, this one kind of slays me. It is almost as bad as insta-love. Maybe worse, I haven’t decided (hey, that’s your job).  But seriously, if you can’t come up with a real reason to have something happen in a plot, then maybe that thing should not be part of the plot. I am an incredibly logical thinker, probably to a fault, so some random introduction just as a way to make the plot move in a certain direction isn’t going to work. Instead, I am probably going to yell at the book for awhile in sheer frustration.

Sin #6: Info Dumping

Ah, no one loves this. Mostly because it is kind of boring. And then your eyes kind of glaze over, and you no longer care so much. And since you just basically skimmed a lot of information, you are confused and kind of mad later.

Sin #7: The Evil Cliffhanger

You’re happily engrossed in your new favorite book. Perhaps you even have an ARC, you lucky duck. You know it’s a series, and you are just living life, reading your book. Then… BAM. Your entire world is shattered at the hands of a cliffhanger. Oh, and by the by, the next book doesn’t come out for like, two years. Good luck functioning!

Sin #8: Parent-in-YA-Syndrome

Yeah, I named it. It is a thing. This is where one of several things happen:

  1. All adults disappear. Maybe they die of a disease, or just randomly disappear, or aliens kidnap them, I have no idea. But they’re goners.
  2. The main characters’ parents are dead or elsewhere.
  3. The main characters’ parents are awful, neglectful, harmful, abusive, or otherwise evil.

Basically, if this wasn’t fiction, you can bet Child Protective Services are paying someone a visit. And while yes, it can and does happen, it doesn’t always have to happen. Bring on more familial relationships!

So now, it is your turn! We are going to take a nice little poll and see which of these sins you all hate the most:

Of these bookish sins, which bothers you the MOST?

View Results

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Spill: Which one do you hate the most? Would you ever stop reading a book over one of these things? Which one doesn’t really bother you that much?

Also, thanks to Lola @ Lola’s Reviews, I did want to mention that I WILL post the poll results in my Weekly Shenanigans section on Saturday, so stay tuned!!

Posted January 8, 2015 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 62 Comments


62 responses to “Bookish Sins? You Decide.

  1. Oh yes, the dreaded love triangle . . . I hate them! And have you noticed it’s usually the girl choosing between a guy that has been her best friend forever and some new guy she has found insta-love with. Argh, two sins in one! Hate them so much.

    • I completely agree! I just read a trilogy where this was the case throughout the whole thing and I was so angry. I also read a trilogy where there was a love triangle and in my oppinion, the main character was a Mary Sue.

    • YES! And it is always the GIRL being fought over too- where’s the dude love triangle!? It’s so weird. And yep- always a friend, and new “intriguing” stranger. Ugh. Two sins mashed up is very, very bad.

  2. I pretty much hate all of them, but I’m gonna go ahead and vote for the love triangle, since that one makes me want to murder something. Like you said, if it’s done well, then I don’t really care (as long as they end up with the right person, of course!). But lately, there have been a lot of love triangles just for the sake of being love triangles, and they’re just awful. If a love triangle is your main plot, go away.

  3. Ugh, I can’t stand love triangles and I can’t stand instalove. >:( Like you I was also recently thinking about parents and families in YA; as much as I think it’s great that there are so many different kinds of families represented in YA, there is a disturbing lack of good, supportive ones.

    I think I might make a bookish sins post of my own, because a few certainly came to mind while reading this!

    • Ah, I LOVE your post!! It is perfect- and so, so true! I hadn’t thought about those, and you are so right. Ugh, your numbers 1 and 2 are huge dislikes for me. Why!? I am so glad you decided to play too!

  4. The triangle and insta-love are the two biggest sins IMO. I will NOT read triangle books. If a book boasts a clear triangle, I won’t even pick it up and if it doesn’t and a wild triangle appears, I feel cheated (looking at you Shatter Me). I did just read Defy though, which has two guys vying for the MC, but it’s obvious who she likes, so I didn’t really class it as a triangle in the end.

    Insta-love though: -_- WHY? Insta-like is fine, it’s realistic even. But how can you love someone after two conversations?

    • YES, insta-LIKE is fine. Insta-lust is fine. But LOVE? Come on. I hate when the character literally changes some huge life plan for a dude she knew for about 10 minutes. That slays me!

  5. I can’t stand all of them! The love triangle really drives me mad. Like, stick to that damn partner and not look for his imperfections and find the one who’s more “worthy” of your whatsoever called love.

  6. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I’m stuck between Mary Sues and The Unlikeable Character (most of the time they’re the same for me) because though I do find love triangles and insta-love annoying I can get passed it (it just loses a star usually) so I can live with it. The Parent-in-YA-Syndrome, ha, YES. It mainly annoys me more in contemporary more than any other though, so again, I can live with it. I did pick The Wholly Unlikeable Character in the poll, but I’m going with the both. THE GIF THOUGH, HAHA!

    • I agree with you- a lot of times they ARE the same! Of course, not always, but you are right- I hated Cia BECAUSE she was a Mary Sue, so yep, it works!

      And yeah, the Parent-in-YA Syndrome is definitely most absurd in contemporary. Because in other genres there are more legit reasons why parents are MIA, whereas in contemporary it just seems convenient.

  7. Stephanie Sandefur

    I hate all of these as well but a major one for me is the info dumping. Granted I love to know as much as I can about what’s going on, but if you turn it into a class lecture I’m not gonna stick around. If I do, I’m usually lost later bc I didn’t pick up on something specific in 50 pages of history. I think everyone has an issue with insta-love and love triangles. I thought I’d be different 🙂

  8. So many of those things frustrate me but alas I could only pick one for the poll so it had to be my #1 dislike, insta-love. Some things I can overlook but insta-love is a huge no NO. Like you, I tend to be very logical. So when insta-love happens, I become detached from the story and can’t enjoy it as much anymore or even at all. For my runner up pick, it’s going to be the Mary Sues. Let’s be realistic, nobody is ever perfect! The evil cliffhangers definitely also has a special hate spot in my heart lol. Why do they torture us so?!? I really have to laugh at the Parent-in-YA-syndrome. SO TRUE!!

    How do you come up with these perfect topics! I’m always racking my brains for topics but I usually come up empty :S I really love your discussions~

    • Exactly! Because it is so ILLOGICAL. I mean, I have seen someone and LIKED them, but love? Nope, not even almost. (Also, I must tell you how glad I was when I googled “Parent-in-YA Syndrome” and ONLY my post popped uP!)

      And THANK YOU. You have seriously made my day by saying that! Sometimes I get ideas and sometimes I literally just sit around thinking about books, hoping something will come along 😉

  9. First off, I love the post! What a great idea to actually have a poll at the end.

    I was debating back and forth for a while, but I finally settled on Unlikable Characters because, well, in no situation do I feel like this is likable! There are times when love triangles actually work, when info-dumping (or at least a lot of info) is necessary, and when insta-love isn’t so bothersome (or at least I don’t notice it that much). But it’s almost impossible to get away from an unlikeable MC! Mary Sues might get an honorable mention, though.

  10. My personal favourite was one book I read (it ended up being a DNF) that had a cliffhanger at the end of EVERY CHAPTER! Things like “I wondered if this was the moment I was going to die”. Well, there are 2 more chapters, so probably not. GAH!

  11. It is a toss up between Insta-love and info dumping.
    In regards to ‘Mary sues,’ more than perfect characters being annoying, I have a problem with the ‘all-powerful” The ‘I speak 11 languages, am a master in 8 forms of hand-to-hand combat, have unlimited funds, 6+ degrees, and did it all by the time I was 16’, etc.

  12. Ah, I agree with all of these!

    My least favorite is probably insta love. I just hate it, because I always feel like if it was a slower romance it could have been so much better! The only one I think could make me stop reading a book is an unlikable character, if I can’t stand the character then unless it’s a really really good plot and story I don’t see the point in finishing it.

    Love triangles don’t bother me if, like you said, they make sense to the story. Also, sin #8 Parents-in-YA-Syndrome is probably the one that bothers me the least, I mean I definitely would like to see more YA books with good family presences but in my mind all the other “sins” are worse! =)

    • That is mine too. A slower romance just lets you enjoy it even longer! It is like on TV, when the couple gets together, no one cares about the show anymore.

      I agree, the other sins are FAR worse!

  13. I recently read soem books with love triangles done right, but I dislike the love triangles were a rnadom boy is just throw in for the sake and it doesn’t feel natural. I think thats most impoirtant if the situation feels natural and realistic.
    The insta love is one trope I really dislike, I guess you cna feel instand attraction, but i don’t believe in insta love as I think you have to get to know eahc other before you can feel love.
    The absent parents trope is also overused. Again in this case I don’t mind if there’s actually a reason, like they have to travel a lot for their job, but sometimes it just seems weird there are no parents.
    The info dump is one I don’t mind as much, I love world building and don’t mind the occasional info dump to achieve it. I prefer it if the author find a better way to put world building into a story though.
    Great post! Will you share the results of the poll eventually?

  14. I’m not sure it was mine, but The Winter People had that love quadrangle thing going on! And YES THANK YOU! Love triangles CAN work, but at least make them necessary, or hard to choose between. If everyone can see the CLEAR option from book one, please don’t drag it through another four books…


    I actually can stand instalove sometimes, because there are those moods where I just want to read about lots of kissing and STUFF (HELLO ACOTAR), so the instalove just makes room for more of the fuzzies.

    • YES! It was yours! I checked your blog, because I really thought it was yours, but now I know why I didn’t find it- it was an older review that I couldn’t help but comment on!

  15. Love triangles: That GIF. xD Most of the time I’m not bothered by love triangles (as long as the girl ends up with the guy I like!), but once a THIRD love interest comes along… That’s where I draw the line. Way too unrealistic.

    Insta-love: There have been a handful of books with insta-love that worked for me, but 90% of the time, it’s a little piece of shit. I don’t understand why lots of books with insta-love have the highest ratings on Goodreads.

    Mary Sues: UGH. These characters make me want to rewrite the book myself (even if I’ll do a horrible job at it), just to get a different side of the heroine.

    The Wholly Unlikable Character: I haven’t read Falling into Place yet, but it’s on my TBR. Other than that, I read Side Effects May Vary and the MC was a huge bitch. Couldn’t stand her. But the Wholly Unlikable Character theme in general is respectable.

    Cliffhangers: I can’t say this is a “sin” since it’s a pretty decent marketing strategy. xD

    Parent-in-YA Syndrome: Normally I don’t mind this, but a book gets tons of bonus points in my book IF the parents ARE present and are meaningful in the main character’s life.

    Awesome post, Shannon! 😉

    • Aw thanks! Also, you are so true, it IS an amazing marketing strategy! I just can’t handle the wait 😉

      I agree- definite bonus points for a present family, BUT why do we have to just hope that there’s someone around? Like, my thing is, shouldn’t the kid having an adult around be the norm, not the exception?

      I think you SHOULD rewrite some of these Mary Sues! I’d be interested in your take for sure 😉

  16. I agree with all of these, so was really torn which one to pick! I really hate love triangles, but seen as they can occasionally (and I mean very occasionally!) be OK if they are actually there for a reason and not just for the sake of it, I went with Mary-Sues. They are just irritating and totally unbelievable, and seen as they are usually the main character, a Mary-Sue can pretty much immediately ruin a book for me.
    Great post!

  17. I can pretty much get on board with all of these sins. I will stick up for Insta-love in one scenario. The apocalyptic/dystopian one. You’re stressed out, the world is ending, you’re hungry/cold/lost/dying, and so finding someone to burn out with… ehh, there’s worse things I could do. hahaha :p I so agree about the YA parents. Why can’t we have good parent relationships. Not all teens are angsty and not all parents suck. I’d really like to see a good father/daughter story. Great post!

    • HAHAHAH I love that! I can see what you mean too- who knows if you’re going to live to see tomorrow, so might as well find your mate 😉

      OH! If you want an AMAZING father-daughter book, The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan has the best one I have ever read about!

  18. Great post- I pretty much agree with all of these. I’m sure I’d continue reading a book with some of these “sins” if I was enjoying the book otherwise, but when I read a ton of book reviews about a book that talks about “insta-love” and “love triangles” that DO NOT work, then I’m probably not going to read the book. I have too many other books to read!! hah


  19. I HATED THE WINTER PEOPLE. THAT LOVE QUADRANGLE WAS USELESS. I did not even finish it. Me and Kayla bond over that book LOL. Also, Shannon that gif is HILARIOUS.

    Gah. I was stuck between insta-love and deus ex-machina (HOW DO YOU EVEN PRONOUNCE THIS?). But I choose the former, just because I cannot function if something is not explained but rather just thrown in randomly to help the plot. I hate insta-love too, but I haven’t read many books (since I avoid it) so I don’t know if it would bother me a lot.

    Shannon this post is hilarious.

    • I want to read the damn Winter People now! Because… it sounds amusinG!

      I have no idea how you pronounce it, it’s Latin, though in my head, it sounds like Spanish, since that’s really the only other language I kind of know (that, and a couple semesters of basic French, but we can’t all be Canadian, Val).

      And thank you 🙂

  20. SUCH SINS. I was nodding along the whole time. Dear lord, Malencia Vale, PLEASE please just screw up once, right?! Come on, no one is that perfect. *rolls eyes* Insta-love has me seething more than a love triangle. Info-dump gives me headaches and I have to read much slower to understand everything. Please authors, can you not…? IKR?! Why can’t parents be NORMAL in some YA books. With all these books you’d think America is the land of single or absentee parents. NOT TRUE. Haha great post, Shannon. LOVE IT.

    • GAH, I HATE her. I yelled at her basically from the beginning of the series to the end, getting angrier and angrier at each book.

      And YES! It’s like, sure, there are all kinds of families out there, but you would think that we were basically all self-raised, living in the woods, looking for our insta-spouse (and the other guy, of course).

  21. Hahaha I love everything about this post! I don’t even know where to begin… I hate them all! Some are things that can work… if needed and necessary and make sense to the plot. But they very rarely do. I think insta love might be my least favourite, just because it drives me so crazy and doesn’t ever make sense. I understand lust at first sight or attraction at first sight. But when characters start declaring their love for one another after two minutes of meeting, my eyes roll so hard. The worst is when a book seems to include almost all of these. Now that’s a book worthy of being thrown out a window.

    • Yep, that is exactly it- insta lust, or like, or infatuation, FINE. Makes sense. LOVE? Nope. Especially when they are making major life decisions based on their 3 minute relationship. The worst!

  22. Love triangles don’t bother me (even though I never pick the right guy) but what does annoy me is when the heroine just can’t choose. Don’t get me started on Instant love. Just no. Mary Sues don’t normally annoy me, but perfect love interests do sometimes. Characters that I don’t like are okay, but not hated ones. Like whiny heroines, especially ones who were supposed to be tough. Deus es machina can taint a great book, but not ruin it entirely as long as there is a little reasoning there, even a poor attempt to explain things. My eyes glass over with information dumps and I loath cliffhangers. I wouldn’t have thought of the parent thing, but yeah I prefer nice little families.

    Great topic! 🙂 I voted for wholly unlikable character though instant love is a second if there’s a focus on the romance.

    • Hahha I think I have started training myself to pick the right guy, just so I don’t get too disappointed. I have been so lucky that (knock on wood!) I have picked the right guys so far. But the day will come when my heart is destroyed, no doubt!

  23. DEUS EX MACHINA = every Stephen King book ever (pretty much). That man cannot write endings at all so he just chucks something completely ridiculous in to do it for him. It sucks.

    I did however vote for info-dumping because it makes my brain ache and I hate it. SHOW don’t tell.

    I don’t really have a problem with love triangles even though they are wholly unrealistic most of the time BUT I do dislike insta-love a lot.

    Great post 🙂

  24. The Parent-in-YA-Syndrome is what gets me the most. I’m not sure if this will make sense to you but I have a 12 year old step-daughter who loves to read and her favorite genre is dystopian YA. In almost every single one of the books she has read, the parents are either dead, MIA, or they’re terrible people. And the children are disrespectful to authority figures. She’s been going through a lot with her mom and dad and dealing with them both being remarried and since she has started reading these books her entire attitude has changed towards her parents (and step-parents) in a negative way. I just wish there were more books that put parents in a positive light. Especially step-mothers. (I’m not evil! LOL). Great post!!

  25. These are all great and excellent sins, but the worst for me is the wholly unlikable character. It will RUIN books for me. Like you said above: If I hate you, why do I care about your story? I don’t. EXACTLY! Insta-love and love triangles are pretty bad too. But there are a few books, actually, where I didn’t mind the insta-love and felt it kind of fit the story. So I can deal with those, and I can deal with cliffhangers and info-dumping and plot issues. Because, for me, the characters are the heart of the story. And if I find them to be utterly detestable, then I’m going to hate the book. It’s a thing, and so it’s why I voted that unlikable characters are the worst.


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