Sunday Coffee – Disturbing Themes

For the last month, I’ve been skim-reading thrillers. Not reading them enough to review them here, but kinda speeding through them when my brain needs something fast and furious to swallow down. Frankly, I’ve been disturbed by a lot of what I’ve found in them, and not by the gore or violence. I’m appalled by the number of books playing off a particular disturbing trope: a woman has been assaulted and/or abused, only to be revealed in the last chapter or two that nope, she’s been faking it this whole time in order to manipulate, drum up sympathy, or get away with murder! This is too commonplace, and often written by female authors – I don’t get it!

The proliferation of this kind of crap in fiction does not help anything. Yes, it’s fiction, but how often – in real life – are female assault/abuse victims accused of making it up, exaggerating, or otherwise falsifying their claims? Way too often. I’m not saying this kind of thing never happens, but the instance of it is a tiny minority compared to the number of victims out there. Fiction is capitalizing on this minority, often for shock-value alone, and spreading the idea that falsified claims are more the norm than actual assault and abuse. No. No no no.

I really don’t get it. I know authors need to make a living. I understand that. But throwing victims under the bus in order to shock-value your way into more money? I’m not okay with that. And if that’s not what they’re doing – if all these authors, many of them female, believe that what they’re writing is totally plausible and commonplace – then that’s another nail in the coffins of What’s Wrong With Our Society and Why Rape Culture Thrives.

I don’t want to read any more of these. Perhaps I’ll have to start reading the last few chapters of these kinds of books before I read the beginning. I’d rather deal with spoilers than the rage that comes along with enjoying a book until an unnecessary disturbing twist.

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
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10 Responses to Sunday Coffee – Disturbing Themes

  1. Blech. I agree. I hate when I start seeing the same trends in books, but especially like what you are describing. Lately, my pet peeve has been authors switching from first to third person. Just stick with one perspective, please.


  2. Karen K. says:

    I haven’t been reading that many thrillers the last few years because I’m sick of all the violence against women. Even JK Rowling’s Cormoran Strike novels have some level of ickiness which is so disappointing.


    • Amanda says:

      I don’t mind the Cormoran Strike novels because I don’t feel like the violence against women is approved of or perpetuated so much as discussed and vilified. I would hate for authors to remove unpleasant subjects from their books, especially very real situations like violence against women because that’s a real problems and removing it altogether implies that it’s NOT a problem, you know?


  3. Roof Beam Reader says:

    Thanks for this… I agree with you. It’s not just lazy writing, but it’s also very dangerous. This sort of cliche can do a lot of damage to the way we treat women who are raising the alarm and seeking help, which is already much too difficult. We need to believe women and we need to treat them better.


    • Amanda says:

      Agreed. And this particular case seems a simple one. A thriller/book can be good on its own even if the woman is abused/assaulted. It doesn’t NEED the (very obvious by now) twist of “oh but she’s been a lying psychopath this whole time bet you didn’t see it coming!” It’s bad writing on top of lazy and dangerous writing, and the whole thing makes me feel squicky.


  4. Michelle says:

    This is such a familiar trope though in any form of storytelling. I was just watching a show last night where one of the characters not only threatened to cry abuse to the authorities, she had rough sex with someone, then roofied herself, drank a bottle of wine, and knocked herself out all in order to have evidence of the “abuse.” I agree it is a dangerous storyline to use, but given its proliferation in movies, television, and books over the decades, it is also the reason why so many female victims cannot come forward without having to go through hell to prove the abuse at the hands of others.


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