BookClub logo

Love in the Time of Serial Killers or How to Negatively Portray Your Plus-Sized Characters Without Trying to

Why are we still getting these character wrong in 2024?

By Jade M.Published 2 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - February 2024

For about a year, I’ve wanted to read Love in the Time of Serial Killers. The cover was adorable, and the premise seemed to be Disturbia meets How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I wanted to love the book, but I stopped reading by the time I reached page 76. There were various reasons I added the book to my DNF pile, but the main one was Phoebe, the plus-sized main character.

Phoebe is an edgy, self-proclaimed true crime junkie who doesn’t seem to have a positive thing to say about anyone. When she meets the love interest at the start of the book, she assumes he’s a serial killer and even gives him a serial killer nickname. He isn’t doing suspicious things in his garage, or digging graves in his backyard when she gives him this nickname. He asks her if she needs help while moving her desk, and she decides he must want to kill her because he wanted to help her.

There’s no chemistry between the two, nor does Phoebe have chemistry with any other character in the novel. She seems to hate everyone around her. She often reminds the reader of how those people are the ones who make her feel uncomfortable. The biggest example of this is her brother, who disgusts her with his happiness and love for his girlfriend.

Why isn’t the ‘lovely’ Phoebe entitled to the same love and happiness as everyone else in the book? From what I’ve gathered in the first few pages, it’s because she’s plus-sized.

Phoebe reminds the reader at least three times within those first pages that she’s plus-sized. One of these times, she uses her size to comment that her love interest probably prefers skinny girls, comparing herself (negatively) to a girl who doesn’t exist. Phoebe’s weight should have little to do with her love story, but it’s brought up an uncomfortable number of times in the few pages I read.

Phoebe’s flaws aren’t exclusive to her. Writers often consider the size of plus-sized characters when creating them, but this isn’t always positive. In the past, movies like Shallow Hal have depicted plus-sized characters as slobs who have consumed large amounts of food. They’ll make comments referencing their size and weight more than a ‘normal’ sized character would. Sometimes their weight is an important part of the story. They'll lose weight and become more attractive, or their appearance will lead to them being denied an opportunity. Often, they’ll lose weight for the approval of others, usually a love interest who rejected them in the past.

One thing I’ve noticed when reading or watching something with plus-sized characters is that their weight is often a center of negativity for them. In movies like 2016’s Ghostbusters, Melissa McCarthy’s character has many jokes centering on her weight. In books, plus-sized protagonists are often worried that their love interest isn’t interested in them because of their weight.

Alicia Thompson, the author who wrote Love in the Time of Serial Killers, likely thought that she was crafting a positive and edgy protagonist. The problem with her approach is that she wrote Phoebe as a character who constantly must defend herself from what others think, especially about her weight. This is a trend I’ve seen recently, mostly in romance novels.

A well-written plus-sized character wouldn’t constantly remind us of their size because most people don’t remind us of their size. People of all shapes and sizes exist, and they all have different interests and hobbies. They also have different insecurities, but they rarely bring them up as often as Phoebe brought up her weight. Well-written characters can focus on their other qualities instead of constantly discussing their weight.

Alicia Thompson quickly threw away Phoebe's character's potential by making her a negative character. I would have loved to read about a true crime-obsessed heroine who falls for a guy she thinks is a serial killer, and maybe someday I will.

The best thing about Love in the Time of Serial Killers is the cover.

Book of the Month

About the Creator

Jade M.

Jade is an indie author from Louisiana. While her first book failed, she has plans to edit and republish it and try again. She has a senior min pin that she calls her little editor, and a passion for video games and makeup.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

Add your insights

Comments (13)

Sign in to comment
  • Joe Guay - Dispatches From the Guay Life!!about a month ago

    Fascinating. When we have something we dislike about ourselves, we for sure think about it a lot, but it does seem excessive and not a good sign if it came up that often in the first few pages. Sprinkled throughout the book, maybe, but yeah, that's a warning sign of not enough character development... or expecting the reader to hang in there for the good parts.

  • olymoolla2 months ago

    Your stat is challenging your story is so beautiful you write like this you will be a great writer I wish and yes one more thing please open my vocal id and a story come later

  • Barbara Bell2 months ago

    Thanks for pointing this out. We are still not always comfortable as a society seeing plus-sized as normal, which is kind of silly when you think about how many people actually are "plus-sized." Years ago I read an autobiographical account of a woman who lost a great deal of weight and - much to her surprise - fell in love and was loved in return by the man of her dreams even before she had achieved what she considered her ideal size. She had put the whole romance/relationship concept on a list of things she wanted to experience someday in the distant future, when she wasn't so big. More than once, when she was feeling self-conscious, she would comment on her weight, assuming that her boyfriend was already thinking the things she was saying, and he would look confused and ask why she was being so hard on herself. The book, by Australian author Shauna Reid, is The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl. The movie Falling for Figaro is on Netflix in the US right now. The plus-sized protagonist never once mentions her weight, as far as I can remember. All she wants is to get voice training so she can sing opera. I kept waiting for her self-esteem around her body image to be somehow associated with her longing to make it big in the world of music and it never was. Reviews have called the movie "predictable" but I enjoyed it for its unconventional treatment of what is often a stereotypical situation.

  • Goodness, it is a pain to find a good plus size character because of the way they are written. We don't need to be reminded at every moment! The other big thing I don't like about this is when they struggle with loving their bodies and when they fall in love, boom! They are the uber-confident in their bodies. Yes, love can help, but it is not a cure-all. There is one book I really love that I feel does a good job with their plus-size character and that is "Big-Boned" by Jo Watson.

  • paint beast2 months ago

    thanks for good information all information was very well you can visit to the

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!!

  • Test2 months ago

    Well, yes. I know what you mean. I'm actually reading The Silkworm right now and the main character—the detective—is quite heavyset, but it doesn't come up an exorbitant amount of times. It's always sad when you are disappointed in a book you've been looking forward to. Hopefully you can find another good one. Great writing!

  • Inferno Snivy2 months ago

    Nice content food is not just about taste, but also about culture and tradition. That's why we invite you to embark on a culinary journey through South India and experience the flavors, colors, and aromas of this vibrant region. So why wait? Come and indulge in the rich and diverse cuisines of South India with our sambar cafe check out us at

  • Bozhan Bozhkov2 months ago

    This is a good piece of advice. I haven't read this book and cannot comment on the particular case, but it is still possible for a person to develop a serious psychological complex if they have been bullied and teased frequently in the past and become hyper-focused on a specific problem they have.

  • Test2 months ago

    Marvelous work! Keep it going—congrats!

  • the constant focus on her size detracted from what could have been a captivating narrative about a true crime enthusiast's unexpected romance :)

  • Manisha Dhalani2 months ago

    Oh wow, it sounds tough to read through this book.

  • Phil Flannery2 months ago

    Monica from "Friends". Right through the series they reference her size in school. She was essentially mistreated by her parents which perhaps creates an eating problem, but there were a lot of jokes at her expense. I am almost finished a show on a streaming service called STAN. The Tourist. Jamie Dornan plays a tourist in Australia who is saved by a local police woman after crashing his car and losing his memory. It is a big story, but a romance ensues. There is no reference to her size, and I am into the second season. It has been a refreshing change.

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.