I was an avid reader growing up. So much so, I still call myself a fan of books, despite the fact I haven’t read one in almost a year- but that’s another story.
If there was one thing I remember most about reading – especially YA- is the romance. It’s sort of a staple in the genre. But as I got older, I began to realise that the romance aspect which I never used to mind, was starting to become a turn off.
It’s probably the fact I grew up, but YA romance as I remember it, was so unrealistic. It was falling in love after just one look or an epic decision between your best friend and the new guy that often overtook the actual plot of the novel. I would roll my eyes as the protagonist dove into an internal monologue debating her two romantic options, and I roll my eyes now just thinking about it.
It’s probably not something I should do, but the slight mention of romance in the description of a novel turns me off of reading it. That’s how much I dislike the inclusion of romance nowadays, especially when it plays a part in the plot. I find it plays too much on the drama aspect, than to move the plot along in a natural way. Most romances are unnecessary, over the top, and way too unrealistic to be believable.
And I get that books are there to serve an escape from the real world, but there needs to be some sense of realism. And honestly, girl finds true, everlasting love at 16 with the mysterious brooding guy who is either really creepy with stalker like tendencies, or is a complete and utter jerk, is not realistic. It’s ridiculous.
I’ll admit, when I first wrote Nephilim, it had all the makings of a cliche romance. It went from Aly involved in a love V between her best friend and one of her new friends, to just dating her new friend, to not having any romantic subplot with Aly at all. Because the more I revised my outline, the more I realised the romance played no part in the plot, or Aly’s character arc. I added it because I was writing a YA. But you can have one without the other.
And that’s why I don’t write romance. For me, it’s a YA cliche I actively try to stay away from, just to save my eyes from permanently rolling into the back of my head. There is more to teenagers nowadays than romance and first loves and first kisses. More important things which I intend to explore with my characters like self acceptance and platonic friendship and being who you are.
Has romance in YA changed in recent years? Maybe. And when I get back onto the reading wagon, I know I’ll have to push aside my distaste. Because for the most part, YA and romance do go hand in hand. And that’s something that I doubt will change.
What are your opinions on romance in YA?
Good thoughts and happy writing!