Talk To Me 21: The New Girl

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the plot coupon of The New Guy. This week, I want to talk about the other version, The New Girl. Special thank you to Angie @ Pinkindle Reads & Reviews for her comment about it, thus making my blogger mind go “Write it! Write it!”

The scenario:

You are Girl McAverageteen, and your family has just moved to a different city/state/region/continent/etc. You are clearly annoyed by this development, as you feel that you have left behind practically EVERYONE from your previous school and thus your life is RUINED. Skype? Facebook? Social media? You have no idea what that is, and resume your dramatic moaning about how your family is ruining your life, how everyone will forget you back home, how you’ll never see them again, etc.

As you walk into your new classroom, you feel all eyes on you. The phrase “NEW GIRL” might as well be flashing above your head in bright marquee letters, complete with confetti. Everyone is looking at you, and everyone notices you. But you’re just Girl McAverageteen! Why would they notice you?

Rules of plot, of course.

Then, you see them. The bubbly friendly classmate, the friendly guy who will not end up as your love interest, the bitchy mean girl, the broody hottie in the back who will so obviously become your love interest. You feel it, a tingle that something is about to happen.

You’re the new girl in town, and this is your story. Have fun!

Alright, raise your hand if you read a lot of YA and have not encountered this storyline before. If you haven’t, please recommend me some good books because your choices probably don’t have the tropes that I get tired of in usual YA books. Anyway, this plot coupon is something I’ve encountered fairly often.

Plot Coupon Characteristics:

  • Main Character (MC) is the new kid, and since nothing seems to be more exciting than having a new kid in school, they clearly get all the attention from everyone. EVERYONE! Including people from different grades and classes! Really? I don’t know about you all, but I could never keep track of any of the new kids in my high school unless they were in my class.
  • MC will probably make some mistakes, like sitting at the “wrong” lunch table and earning the ire of some clique. This mistake will either make her more endearing/cute to Potential Love Interest, or embarrass her and make her social status plunge.
  • MC will end up becoming attached to Bubbly Friendly Girl and Friendly Guy because they’re here to show her the ropes! Through them, the reader gets all sorts of exposition. Who’s dating who, who the Bitchy Mean Girl is, and insider information on Potential Love Interest.
  • Speaking of love, Potential Love Interest may be that untouchable hot guy who rejects everyone and doesn’t want romance. Until he meets MC, and he becomes automatically smitten with her! He doesn’t know why! Rules of plot, people! (Thank you to Angie for bringing up this point.)
  • Friendly Guy may end up developing a crush on MC, and despite the fact he has been so helpful and kind to her, MC will end up pursuing the unfriendly but hot Potential Love Interest. Really? Really.
  • If fantasy is involved, MC is special but she doesn’t know it yet. The school is probably under some curse or something, and only she can stop it! How did they deal with it before she came along? I don’t know, but now that she’s here, everything will be fine. … Right?

There are more characteristics of this plot, but I intend to cover those in further discussions about the other characters, like Bitchy Mean Girl. Look out for those in the coming weeks! 🙂

What I like about this Plot Coupon:

  • It does hit the mark on some of the struggles of being the new kid. You don’t know the teachers, sometimes you have to run to catch up with the academic pace of things, and you don’t really know who’s a good person to hang out with or who will bitch about you behind your back.
  • If the setting is in our world, sometimes the MC will experience a whole new culture that is absolutely fascinating to read about!

What I don’t like about this Plot Coupon:

  • Dramavalanche. This is why I sometimes steer clear of YA books with a high school setting. Okay, it’s one thing if the MC and Bitchy Mean Girl have an argument and their social cliques are fighting. It’s another thing for it to escalate to the whole school, making MC a social pariah, and even turning her family against her!
  • Insta-love potential. As the new girl in town, she and Potential Love Interest don’t have the benefit of having a history. Trying to bring these two together in the course of a short book can make the romance seem rushed, rather than growing naturally.
  • MC leaving her new friends in favour of the hot guy. Sigh. If this happens, I shake my head and consider reading something else. This paints the MC as ungrateful to those who helped her out when she was new, and makes it seem like the only thing that matters is romance. Nope, sorry!

Some examples of books that use this Plot Coupon:

  • Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins)
  • School Spirits (Rachel Hawkins)
  • Ink (Amanda Sun)
  • Twilight (Stephanie Meyer) (Angie’s example!)

I highly recommend the movie, Mean Girls, for those who want to see this plot coupon handled in a really funny way!

What about you, dear reader?

Have you encountered this Plot Coupon before? Tell me about your experience with it!

Let me know in the comments!


7 thoughts on “Talk To Me 21: The New Girl

  1. YAY! I’m happy to have inspired a new Talk to Me! 😀

    This plot is everywhere! I was the new kid in 8th grade and no one was interested in me! If I wasn’t being ignored, I was being bullied! There was no hot guy giving me all his attention and no bubbly friend! Why do YA heroines have it so good?! And like I had said in my previous comment, is a new student the only way to have teenagers meet?

    I loooooooooooove school settings, but this trope does get to me when it also falls into so many other cliches. I do like it when there’s a new culture being introduced like in Ink.

  2. *confetti* 😀 Thank you for your comment, which inspired this post! 😀

    Exactly! I was the new kid a few times and I never got all these things that YA heroines get. Why can’t it be “old student, but joined a new club recently” or something like that. I’m hot/cold when it comes to school settings, mainly because of all the cliches that annoy me. The Japanese culture being covered in Ink was really the only thing that saved it for me, haha.

  3. This is so accurate. And also one of the reasons I don’t read much contemporary YA. The portrayals of high school almost always seem unrealistic to me–and nothing like my high school experience.

    Also, now that I’m a few years removed from high school myself, I just don’t relate to the “trials” as much. Sitting at the “wrong” lunch table is not an earth-shattering event! It’s hard to sympathize with the characters in these cases sometimes.

    I relate much more to YA fantasy because 1) I think the characters generally sound more mature (I guess you have to be to save the world) and 2) without an explicit high school setting, it’s often easy to imagine the characters being a little closer to my age.

    Side note: I was never the new kid in high school, but I did switch schools during middle school. I don’t think I really had a “new kid” experience. People weren’t really that interested in me. I wasn’t bullied, like Angie commented above, but the school was small and fairly cliquey in its own way. The kids who had been there for years hung out together, and the people who transferred in, during various years, ended up hanging together out due to lack of other options. 😉

  4. Hey! That’s my real name you’ve used there! Us McAverageteens are very proud!

    UGHHHH I hate this trope. So overused. It appears a lot in manga too, especially if the person is a transfer student appearing in the middle of the term/semester!

    One of the reasons it doesn’t appeal to me so much is because this version of secondary school/high school is so different to my own experience. No big cliques, no ‘cool table’, blah blah blah. The main thing that bugs me (actually the reason I stopped watching the TV show ‘Greek’) is really REALLY bitchy girls who are very manipulative. One or two, fine, but showing basically every other girl that way? No thanks.

  5. I think this is another of those Twilight sub-plots that spawned a million copies. I didn’t mind it the first few times I came across it but nowadays…yawn. I think a story where nobody notices the new girl and she has to fight to make her presence felt would be a lot more realistic. Fun post Anna 🙂

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