Does every heroine have to have red hair and every love interest “amazingly dark green eyes”? (EVERNIGHT sparked this complaint, but believe you me, it ain’t just that book.)Ages ago someone named Joelle Anthony posted the red hair thing as #2 (for best friends, but I think it goes for “feisty” protagonists too) in her list of cliches in young adult and middle grade fiction. (She doesn’t have the “amazingly dark green eyes” thing, but she does have “Guys with extraordinarily long eyelashes” — and I can attest that it’s always put in that exact phrase, too.)
How many of these cliches have you noticed, and how many bother you? A huge number struck a chord with me — either as things I’ve been annoyed by myself (“Using coffee, cappuccino, and café latte to describe black people’s skin”) or things that hadn’t really occurred to me, but upon reading, seemed Duh!-worthy (“Using the word ‘rents for parents, but not using any other slang”).
But her ironic choice for #1 (“Lists”) doesn’t do it for me, mostly because I don’t care how often this is done, I love it always and forever — whether it’s Anastasia Krupnik or Bud E. Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.
Emily already mentioned how THE PRINCESS BRIDE is one of the few kids’ books to have been made into a genuinely good movie, but one thing the book does do better comes from its lists: in the movie, when it ends with history’s greatest kiss blah blah blah, it’s a little bit irredeemably cheesy; but in the book, where the narrator’s been obsessively ranking everything about Buttercup all along, it fits perfectly.