Urban fantasy describes a work that is set primarily in the real world and contains aspects of fantasy. These matters may involve the arrivals of alien races, the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence between humans and paranormal beings, conflicts between humans and malicious paranormals, and subsequent changes to city management.
Although stories may be set in contemporary times, this characteristic is not necessary for the fiction to be considered urban fantasy, as works of the genre may also take place in futuristic and historical settings, real or imagined. (source)
This post sprung up as I’ve just recently reread the first five Mercy Thompson books, written by Patricia Briggs. It’s not a bad read, in fact, I admit that it did keep me pretty entertained. But after a while, you start to get really tired of their generic formula and its predictable plots. And of course, the usual problems – overpowered main characters, lack of actual character development, cliched cookie-cut characters.
When I was in secondary school, my main drug of choice was urban fantasy series, and I think I’ve tried almost all the series available in the libraries back then.
It always begins with one of those strong independent female main characters, who normally have some special abilities, in some sort of career that would allow them to investigate the paranormal ongoings in the community. They could be a paranormal investigator type, invested with actual authority or just poking their noses in dangerous business like a hardboiled detective, or they could be someone with a flexible type of job, with connections to all the major paranormal factions in the city. Yeah, you don’t see urban fantasy characters as high-flying CEOs or lawyers, because they won’t be able to just drop all their work and go sleuthing and getting beaten up by villains and shit.
And of course, they will be accompanied by a slew of interesting characters, both powered and non-powered, but more importantly, there will always be a love interest, who will not have much of a personality, or at least not very distinctive beyond the ‘he’s good-looking, rich, has power and status, overall, a very good catch, somehow still attracted to our main character…?’
Glossing over why the love interest is interested in the first place, once the two characters fall madly in love with each other, the main character seems to start losing her spine, and becomes less independent and more annoying. And eventually, the love interest will cross a line somewhere and turn out to be kind of an jerk, but somehow our main character won’t see that the love interest isn’t really all that great and continues to support his undeserving arse.
If the writer drags out the series, we are bound to meet vampires, werewolves, the fae/fair folk, witches/wizards, other exotic paranormal creatures from other cultures, and the once straight-forward plotlines start becoming more and more convoluted, with more political on-goings and scheming, while our main character slowly advances in her machinations and gains power (literately sometimes).
Idk, it’s not that I hate the genre now, but it just gets so tiresome and recycled, I need writers to start parodying this shit and making things bizarre, perhaps.