Sometimes, when we read a book we get a dreadful sense of deja vu, almost like we’ve read the book before. After a brief desperate hope that we’ve developed some kind of psychic powers or perhaps have discovered Time Travel, we succumb to disappointment (and check that the Doctor isn’t in the next room. Just in case) and realise nothing supernatural is afoot - what we’ve got is another book that has been Written-by-Numbers.
Yes, like those paint by numbers kits we all did as children, it’s a book that feels it’s been written following a pre-set pattern. At each stage the same old clichés are faithfully followed more rigidly than any fundamentalist ever adhered to his dogma. The result is often called a rip-off by some critics but I have to disagree - it’s just that so many books are following the same rigid patterns that they feel like they’re copying each other. Not so, they are merely all worshipping at the altar of the same tired clichés and flogging the zombie horse of overused tropes.
So how to get through one of these books that, while not bad enough to DNF, does feel like a reanimated Frankenstein’s monster of old tropes sewn together by an inept hand?
We propose a drinking game! And this week, it’s for Paranormal Young Adult. Grab your bottles, folks and prepare the stomach pumps (we are not responsible for any alcohol poisoning that may develop)
The Protagonist!: 1 drink if:
- Per dead/absent parent
- +1 drink for every tragically deceased sibling
- +1 drink If has abused/tragic childhood (1 drink per element of tragedy)
- +1 drink if the protagonist operates with zero parental/guardian supervision
- Teenager has super powers but just wants to be noooormal and hates her specialness!
- +1 drink if their powers have absolutely zero negative effects.
- Empty Glass if they don’t just have powers but are the the Super Special Chosen One of Amazingly Awesome Power
- Protagonist thinks she’s more hideous than quasimodo after being beaten for 8 years with the ugly stick
- +1 drink if she is obviously conventionally attractive
- +1 drink if love interest has to convince her how beautiful she is
- Empty Glass if she has a swarm of admirers
- Empty Bottle if she considers her conventional beauty markers to be ugly (“oh my terrible straight hair!” “curse my pale, luminous skin!” “woe, my hideously ginormous breasts!”)
- Protagonist is all alone and isolated and complains about what an outsider they are and how alone they are
- +1 drink if they actually do have friends
- +1 drink if many people try to be their friend
- Empty Glass if they have more than 5 friends
- Refill Glass and Empty again if their behaviour should actively drive their friends away
- Protagonist has friends who just exist to serve them with no life of their own (1 drink each)
- +1 drink if they’re minorities
- +1 drink if they’re “sassy”
- +1 drink if they have conveniently useful magic power they only use for the Protagonist
- Protagonist has a pretentious “refined” hobby to emphasise how special they are: classical literature, pre-20th century art, classical music are favourites (1 drink each).
- +1 drink if Love Interest is super-skilled in said hobby and communicates his deep, passionate, painful soulfulness through the art.
The Love Interest!: 1 drink if:
- They’re a supernatural being that has lived for centuries that for some reason decides to go to high school
- They’re a supernatural being that has travelled the world for centuries for some reason decides to settle down in Hicksville, rural Maine/Louisiana/Virginia/etc
- +1 drink if they’re not American and have no ties to the town
- Protagonist and Love Interest meet once and fall instantly in love/lust/obsession
- +1 drink if they fall in insta-love before knowing each other’s names
- +1 drink if they fall in insta-love before speaking to each other
- Finish your drink if they fall in insta-love after glancing each other at a distance
- +1 drink if this is a being over 100 years old fascinated by a 17 year old
- Finish your drink if no-one thinks this is creepy
- The Attractiveness of the Love interest is described at length (+1 drink per paragraph used to describe him.)
- +1 drink every time the description is repeated throughout the book
- +1 drink if eyes or hair or voice alone takes over 2 paragraphs
- Empty glass if description goes on for a page
- Empty damn bottle if it lasts more than 3 pages.
- The Love Interest feels they can’t possible be with the Protagonist because of their unholy hunger/curse/terribad enemies that would endanger her
- +1 drink if he acts like an arsehole to drive her away (for her own good)
- Empty the glass if she keeps obsessing over him no matter how much of an arsehole he is
- Refill glass and empty again if he can’t stay away from her so gives her mixed signals
- Empty the damn bottle if he repeats the pattern of driving her away, reeling her in then driving away again 3 times or more.
- Empty the damn bottle if the curse/etc disappears suddenly, was never real or is otherwise easily overcome
- Love Interest saves Protagonist from mundane Peril (car accident, fire, etc), thereby revealing his true nature.
- Love Interest feels super protective of Protagonist and uses it to justify skeevy behaviour
- +1 drink if he actively stalks her
- +1 drink if he gives her orders
- +1 drink if he keeps secrets from her “for her own good”
- +1 drink if he hates any other man looking at or going near the Protagonist
- Empty the Glass if the Love Interest is concerned about the Protagonist’s “Purity”
- Empty the Glass if those secrets end up hurting her
- Empty the Glass if he actively imprisons her or otherwise controls her (disabled her car, locks her door, steals her clothes/weapons etc)
- The Protagonist or the Love Interest spend more than 3 paragraphs angsting about something (+1 drink per paragraph over 3)
- Empty the Glass if a teenager decides their life isn’t worth living any more
- Empty the Glass if a centuries old immortal being decides their life isn’t worth living any more
- Empty the damn bottle if a centuries old immortal being decides their life isn’t worth living any more over a 17 year old.
- +1 drink if they’re angsting about each other
- Empty the damn bottle if they’re angsting about each other after knowing each other for a week or less
Antagonists!: 1 drink if:
- The Love Interest has an evil twin/brother/old friend
- +1 drink if said evil twin/brother/old friend also loves/obsessed with Protagonist (apply relationship drinks from above)
- +2 drinks if full blown love triangle
- Empty Glass if it’s obvious which love interest the Protagonist will choose
- Empty Bottle if Protagonist is willing to overlook blatant murder/torture on part of Love Interest
- There are Mean Girls who hate the Protagonist for no damn reason.
- +1 drink if the Protagonist calls them “mean girls” or says how horrible they are, despite them doing nothing in the text to deserve such description
- There’s a Jealous Woman who hates the Protagonist because she’s jealous of the Love Interest
- +1 drink if Love Interest encourages her (to drive off Protagonist/make her jealous/whatever)
- Empty the Damn Glass if Jealous Woman was already dating Love Interest and Protagonist blatantly makes moves on him and expects Jealous Woman to get over it
- Empty the Damn Bottle if all women everywhere hate the Protagonist because they’re mean, jealous, spiteful nasty people.
Plot: +1 drink if
- Protagonist is the holy, special, chosen one and the only person who can save love interest/magic/people/country/world
- +1 drink if there’s no damn reason why she would be so special
- +1 drink if this is the only compelling thing about her
- The world hangs in the balance and a group of teenagers decide to handle it on their own
- +1 drink if the Protagonist decides to handle it ENTIRE on their own
- Empty the Damn Bottle if the Protagonist decides to nobly sacrifice herself
- Empty ANOTHER Damn Bottle if the Protagonist decides to nobly sacrifice herself for no damn good reason and/or trusts the enemies to keep their word
- The world hangs in the balance, but for every paragraph of plot, we get 10 of angst and love affair
Bottoms up folks! And don’t blame us for the hangovers!