December 06, 2015

My Open Letter to Santa: Things I Hope I WON'T Get in 2016 (Bookish Edition)

Dear Santa,

I've been a good (old) girl this year. I totally behaved. You know that.

So you probably think I'm going to ask for an adequate amount of presents as a reward for being so nice. Well, it's funny, but I'm not. I suppose it's a first for you.

On the other hand, I would hold that sigh of relief if I were you. Because what I'm asking for might prove to be a much more daunting task.

You see, I really hope you can grant my wish of NOT getting a number of things in 2016 - when it comes to books, that is. Here's my list of most annoying bookish things, and I trust that you will do anything in your power in order to get the written world rid of them. Thanks in advance.

The Infuriatingly Handsome, Mysterious New Boy at School

Dear Santa, please, if you care about my physical and mental sanity, make sure I don't hear the above mentioned EVER AGAIN. Every time a blurb introduces such a trope (that is, every three books or so), my teeth start to grind, which is not good for my oral health, and something akin to a flame ignites right behind my dura mater, which - in the long run - might result in a threat to the normal functioning of my brain. Please, dear Santa, make the next New Boy at School be a normal kid with an average amount of male teen charm, or better, no obvious charm but a striking personality. Scratch that - a normal kid who just happens to fit with the female lead (or other male lead) for reasons that don't necessarily include exceptional handsomeness. Or if you want to keep the male-teen-model package, at least make sure that the author gives him a hint of acne, for fuck's sake. Or Jensen Ackles' adorable cowboy legs. Just to keep it a TAD real...

The Mean Clique, or the Court of Insufferable Queen Bee and Her Devoted, Brainless Minions

Dear Santa, I get it: bullying is very real. It even existed, go figure, in the long-gone ages when I was in secondary school. The fact is, most of the bullying I encounter in books sounds like a fabricated item. Those girls - and their boyfriends - go to great lengths to do a bunch of stupid, over-the-top things that seem unlikely to give them a real thrill. Also, all the school lives in fear and/or adoration of this handful of individuals and pays homage to them, except that poor soul or two whose main fault is usually to bring lunch to school in a brown paper bag. How remarkable. So, dear Santa, I plead - if bullying has to be portrayed in books (and I'm not saying it hasn't), at least make sure it's done correctly. And that authors lose the darn brown paper bag...

The Over-Creative (So to Speak) Character Christening

Dear Santa, did you notice that pretty much NO ONE in YA books has a normal name anymore? Now, I'm all for original - or at least not overused - names. I really am. I can condone the occasional Theseus Cassio. And anyone who writes a fantasy book with characters coming from a different world is allowed to name their heroine Tetraphrimaporticheeq (Tetra for her friends), as long as it adds to the fun. But nowadays, even normal kids in a contemporary novel sport such a heinous range of appellations, I'm surprised their parents are not in jail by now - because I'm sure there must be a law somewhere against making your offspring's life miserable by tying them forever (or at least till they're 18) to a disgraceful name. Also, when a writer calls their main character, say, Nearly, just in order to be able to title their book Nearly Done, it's obvious that something spiraled out of control while you weren't looking. So, dear Santa, please do something before the written world populates with people called Seldom, Perhaps or Whatever. Please hurry - I trust it that you can see the emergence here...

OK Santa, I'm sure you are very busy, and I don't want to be greedy anyway. Just the three wishes above will do this year. Don't you feel a bit like the genius of the lamp right now? I put my trust in you, dear Santa. I know you can do it. After all, in case you don't oblige, it's not like I can't shame you on my blog and Twitter account next Christmas. Like I said, I've been a good girl this year, but I can't vouch for the following. I'm sure you understand.

Have a great Christmas, dear Santa. I hope you get a new uniform this year.

Yours truly,

Roberta (Offbeat YA)


  1. Loved this post, Roby! I was smiling all the way through it :D I hope Santa takes these three non-wishes into count and brings you happiness the coming year. Like you said, it's not like you can't shame him on your blog or Twitter if he fails to grant you them *sniggers*

    1. Thanks Ruzi! That's precisely what I hoped for - bringing a smile to someone's face. On the other hand, I also hoped that some authors would accidentally stumble on this post and reconsider some of their writing ways LOL. Who knows...

  2. I've been keeping a similar list about romance novels which basically narrows down to please dear god - write some variety and realism!

    I'm finding girls are allowed to be a little different now - plus size etc but all the guys must have ripped abs and be gorgeous.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  3. Great post! Especially the mysterious new boy haha! So many books have one of those.

    Myra @ I'm Loving Books

    1. Mysterious, new...and perfect. Don't forget perfect ;).

  4. This is so funny, yet so true. I have seen an abundance of these tropes in 2015 and I would really like to never see them again. I am tired of all the nasty popular girls who would never actually be able to get away with the things that they do in the real world. If an author is trying to raise awareness about bullying, I understand, but at least try to make it realistic. I also hate the whole "new boy in school thing." In reality, not that many new students transfer to high schools, and the odds of them being extremely attractive are very low. It is just not realistic.
    I would also like for Santa to get rid of the parentless teenager trope. There are very few YA books where the parents have an active role in their children's life. They are all either always working, divorced, or dead. Believe it nor not, YA industry, there are teenagers with two loving and active parents. I would love to see more teen-parent relationships spotlighted in YA.

    1. Quote:
      "In reality, not that many new students transfer to high school, and the odds of them being very attractive are very low".

      Yes to the parents! Of course, authors always argue that teens want to read exciting stories and have (virtual) wild adventures, and this can only be done without parental control. But the amount of divorced or dead parents in YA lit is, well, overwhelming...


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