The Failings of Romance in YA Books. So Clichéd It Hurts.
I am one of the many adults who reads YA books and even middle grade books. (Out of all YA book buyers, 55% are older than 18 years of age and out of that 28% are aged 30 to 44 years old. I’m perilously close to being part of the second group.) It doesn’t matter to me what the so-called target audience is. I read books for the story. I read mostly fantasy books because reading is an escape for me. The further away from reality I can get with a book, the more I will like it. Young adult books have an abundance of fantasy, paranormal, and sci-fi elements that attract me to those books.
But, I have a pet peeve. It’s a peeve I can’t seem to get away from either. It appears in both young adult and adult books and it drives me slightly crackers. That pet peeve is less than stellar romance. A good romance should be fluid and evolving and include all the traits and pieces of a real relationship. It should not consist of the so-called love interest being cute/hot/mysterious and some weird reaction of the main character’s body. Have you noticed that? The main character always has heart palpitations or some sort of stomach upset when around their love interest. That’s not romance, that’s something you need to see your doctor about. It’s cliché.
Since a good 90% of young adult books have female main characters, I’ll continue with that for the sake of the argument. In the beginning, the girl never likes the boy. He’s either stand-offish or just a plain jerk. But that doesn’t matter because whenever he’s around the girl’s body suddenly gets hot flashes. There is medication for that. A romance should not be where the girl doesn’t really like the boy but that’s okay because he has a nice face. That’s crap. That is not romance; that is lust. And it can be taken care of with cold showers or just by doing each other already. Stop making me read your train wreck.
My kingdom for a romance that develops naturally. Maybe it’s just the easiest pattern to follow in YA books. It’s a rut. A stereotype. It’s my pet peeve. Romance should involve talking and spending time together and discovering you both hate Jane Austin and love shrimp and like the color blue. That little thing called compatibility? It’s a major part of developing a relationship and it’s what makes romance worth it. There is a difference between genuine romance and just plain lust. The romances in YA books are one-dimensional and, in my opinion, degrading to females. It makes it seem like we will overlook any personality flaws as long as the guy has a hot body. That is not how it work, readers.
How about you? Do you have a romance that actually seems well-developed and between two people that actually have a snowball’s chance in hell? What’s the worst book romance you’ve read?