Welcome to 2017, where the only books you can buy are about women being brutally murdered
Literally though, can we live?
Recently, I had a lot of extra time in an airport (I was on a beautiful holiday look it’s no big deal but yes, you can view the photographs on my Instagram).
Traveling gives me anxiety, and sometimes the only way of relieving that is a good book. Unfortunately, airport book shops have been infiltrated by a sick trope and now — this is not hyperbole, honest — there are no good books.
There are only books about women being brutally murdered and killed.
OK, hear me out — because once you notice this trend it will haunt you, you will be unable to un-see it, and it may piss you off, if like me, you were due to take a 3.5 hour flight without a novel or Xanax to distract you from the fact that you’re hurtling through midair in a tiny metal box.
Every book now is the same. After the phenomena of a slew of crime thrillers with vulnerable, potentially unhinged, ultimately great female protagonists — the Gone Girls, Girls On A Train, Girls With The Dragon Tattoos of the world — every book now follows a specific, undeviated, boring, offensive formula. And they’ll all say they’re “perfect for fans of Girl On The Train”.
The book will have ‘girl’ in the title
No women in crime thrillers are women. They are all girls.
You’re faced with shelves and shelves of “girls”, dead girls: The Girls, Girls Who Played With Fire and Girls With Secrets and Girls Who Danced In The Lake With Spiders (all the titles of these books are the same, the only variation is how ridiculous they are).
If in the rare situation that they’re not “girls”, they’re “sisters”, “daughters”, “her”, or “dead.”
Don’t believe me? Here is a totally unbiased list of real, actual book titles people came up with:
The book covers will all feature the aforementioned girl looking out over a large body of water
They face away from the cover, only visible by long sheets of hair. They’re anonymous. They could be any woman, you see. They could be you! That is the scary part! YOU could soon be the dead girl! You had better be afraid. And buy this book, of course.
The color scheme follows the pattern of every old episode of Are You Afraid Of The Dark? (and not even the good ones with Ryan Gosling). Don’t believe me? Think I am exaggerating? OK, here is a totally unbiased selection of covers of these books:
The books will all involve some sort of spooky, abstract monologue
Often the women narrating these books, the central characters, are already dead. Dead dead dead.
“If you’re reading this, I’m already dead”, it might say. “They found me in the bath. My long hair and big old boobs bounced around in the red water. They said I killed myself, but really, I didn’t…”
You can practically hear the “dum dum dumsssss!” in the background. You can practically hear Emily Ratajkowski speaking the lines, wearing the ill-fitting baby doll dress she wears in the definitely not creepily directed by Ben Affleck in the Gone Girl movie.
Oh, and that leads me on to the next great trope of these books which are everywhere. The girls, the dead girls, the dead girls who look out on the water, they’ve all been killed by men. Killed by boyfriends or husbands or stalkers or strangers or dads.
Or if not killed, then they’ll spend most of the movie being used and abused by those same men. Alright, alright. Depressing statistics show that nearly half of all women who are murdered are killed by romantic partners, show that the plot device has some basis in reality at least. But at some point that basis in reality becomes hackneyed, commodified, exploited.
It’s not just offensive to women, creating fictional mirror images of them who cower and die and hurt, it’s offensive to men.
The books are written by a gender neutral author
Their name will be in huge font, big bold bright font, on the front cover, and more often than not they’ll go by initials. It’s a phenomenon thats gained traction as more and more of us realise that male authors (some, not all, but some) struggle to write well-rounded female characters.
And rather than addressing that by y’know, researching or talking to actual women and by writing better characters, male authors have instead decided it’s altogether easier and more lucrative to just kill them.
The era of literary cool girls, femme fatales, sluts, virgins, Mary-Sues, and manic pixie dream girls is gone. Because now they’re all dead.