5 Essential Things That Will Make Any Book Unputdownable

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. How it works is that each Tuesday the host assigns a topic and then posts their top ten list that fits the topic. Every blogger can create their own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well and link to the host’s. The topic for April 2nd, 2019 is: Top Ten Things That Make Me Immediately Want to Read a Book. I’m going to talk about my favourite tropes/elements in the sci-fi and fantasy genre in this post and also recommend one diverse book that uses a particular trope well.

5 Essential Things That Will Make Any Book Unputdownable | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (post graphic image)

1. The Chosen One

This has become a well-worn trope thanks to the success of Harry Potter and the million other books that followed the same recipe. However, I will be an eternal fan of this as I think that we still have scope to add more diversity. People of colour, neurodiverse people, disabled people and people across the gender and sexuality spectrum need their own chance at this kind of narrative. I hope more #OwnVoices stories with this trope are picked up until white, cis and straight is no longer the default.
Diverse book with this element: Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (book cover)

2. Space

If my blog design didn’t give you a hint, I’m an astronomy freak and absolutely love everything related to space. I don’t read as much sci-fi as I’d like but books like The Illuminae Files and The Martian are what I secretly want more of. Again, there’s a lot of scope for marginalised authors here and I think the success of authors like Nnedi Okorafor and Yoon Ha Lee will pave the way for more such stories.
Diverse book with this element: A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (book cover)

3. Enemies to Lovers

I’m not really a fan of romance in sci-fi and fantasy as they can be complex enough without adding a romantic subplot in. However, this is a particular subset of angsty romance that works for me if done well. I don’t ship any sort of Draco x Hermione situation where the bully/abuser becomes the romantic interest but when two people come from warring nations or have clashing world-views and sparks fly, my heart actually melts.
Diverse book with this element: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (Goodreads)

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (book cover)

4. Mystery

I love the mystery genre too but gravitate towards older titles like the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie. Combining that with a sci-fi or fantasy setting, when done well, is the most mind-blowing thing ever! This also can potentially mean a lot of red herrings and plot twists. I must admit that it’s also easy to go wrong with it as the reveal may fall flat or may be sacrificed for the sake of the overarching plot, but my favourite books always contain a dash of whodunit that keeps me glued to the pages.
Diverse book with this element: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He (Goodreads)

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (book cover)

5. Rebellion

As much as I love a benevolent king and queen or a dashing prince or princess, I’d much rather read about the common folk rising up against a tyrannical ruler. This is the kind of tale an ordinary person can relate to even in a completely fictional world. There is a myriad of possibilities with this as it can centre around court politics, consist of a special set of people who must work together or feature a reluctant protagonist. I feel like the stakes in such a story is really high from the get-go, so it makes for a compelling plot.
Diverse book with this element: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (book cover)

Let's discuss (blog graphic)
What bookish tropes do you enjoy? Are there any tropes that are used exclusively in your favourite genre? What words in a blurb make you add a book instantly to your TBR? Let’s discuss in the comments section below.

Pin it for later!

Check out this list of must-have elements in your sci-fi or fantasy book to make it irresistible to readers | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books

18 thoughts on “5 Essential Things That Will Make Any Book Unputdownable

  1. I think my favorite trope is a group of misfits that works together. Which means a lot of spaceship books end up on my TBR. Likewise various tales of thieves guilds and other outsiders coming together to use their quirks and skills to accomplish something.

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  2. Space is probably one thing we really don’t have in common 😜😜😜 Love everything else… Definitely need more POC chosen ones in books 😊😊

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    1. Agatha Christie has some of the best mysteries I’ve ever read and most modern writers just can’t match her I feel. The writing will take getting used to but I hope you enjoy some mystery classics soon! 😊


  3. Enemies to lovers is great, but what do you think of ”lovers to enemies to allies to friends to lovers”? I think that what makes enemies to lovers so great is that it’s impossible to do it well with instalove. It requires a strong development and the tension is delicious.

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    1. I completely agree with you! I really don’t like instalove and I don’t think it’s a good basis for a lasting relationship, so it doesn’t really reflect actual relationships. Well-developed romance is what I crave but they are quite rare, especially in YA fantasy where they meet “The One”, swoon over how beautiful their partner’s eyes are or something ridiculous like that and they’re set forever. πŸ™„ Excellent point! Thank you so much for your comment. β™₯️

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  4. ALL THESE TROPES I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. 4 out of 5 of these books are on my TBR and the only reason it’s not 5/5 is because I’ve already read DotC and LOVED IT. This list is great. Thank you for it!

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  5. Ahh, how did I never make the connection between your blog design and a love of space? πŸ˜› Now you’ve got me thinking of what tropes I enjoy…I think I really enjoy middle grade where the protagonist sets out to do something ‘small’ to help their friends or family and ends up also helping society at large (like, they become involved in something greater and decide to make a bigger change)….is that a trope?? I think so!

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    1. Haha, I haven’t really talked about my love for space before on the blog, so it’s fine! πŸ˜… Yes, I’ve seen plenty of narratives like that, more so in middle grade. I love that one too! 😍 If you can think of any more, you should do a post about it too!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I understand! I used to be bad at them too but now I just keep a note on my phone about list topics and keep adding books to them whenever I remember them. Goodreads also is very helpful. I browse through my recent reads and then see if any of them fit into the list I’m making. Hope that helps! β™₯️

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