Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Tru Luv" Teen Romance: Pulling YA Down One Genre at a Time?
The Book Lantern blog's recent post about YA dystopias, combined with the responses I have gotten so far to my YA lit questionnaire for teens (if you're a teen, you should read about that here and participate!), got me thinking about what it is about YA lit that doesn't work for me. It's been a while since I've been impressed by a YA paranormal romance, which I thought was just me being burnt out by the overabundance of YA paranormal romances that have been published ever since Twilight. But THEN, I started--and continued--to be underwhelmed by most of the recent bestselling YA dystopias. Wait a minute, Steph, I said to myself. This can't be just a sign of genre burnout! You LOVE dystopias! So what's going on??

I think this is what's been bugging me about the bestselling titles in these two genres (and in some ways this is going to sound terrible, but it's true): they all have love as their main conflict or theme.

Look, I love love and romance. I love when it appears in literature, and movies, and, uh, well, life. (Maybe. The verdict is still out on the last one.) I love romantic stories and gestures of love. But I think it is safe for me to say that my life does not revolve around love. I do not exist simply in hopes of one day finding the guy I want to marry. I have other dreams too. And I bet that most other people feel this way.

(This is not to say that there aren't people out there who live just to fall in love and get married. They exist too. But I have not yet reconciled myself to the fact that theirs is a lifestyle that I would be willing to promote to others, and therefore, we're going to leave them out of this discussion for now.)

I get super irritated when a YA book portrays teen love as the be-all and end-all of all love ever in life. Do you know the percentage of teen relationships that DON'T last into and through adulthood? I don't, but I'll bet all of the books I own that it's a really, really, really high percentage. I'm not saying that teen relationships never blossom into fully mature and lasting relationships. There are a good number of people who end up with their high school sweethearts and have a wonderful relationship. And yes, when you're in love you can't help but think of the possibility that you might end up with your partner, the likelihood that he/she is The One for you. That's a pretty natural result of being in love. In the moment, a relationship may seem like perfection, something you want to hold on to forever.
I do not want to discount the fact that there are many YA stories out there with realistic romances. But I would like to see more bestselling YA books portray more variety in teen romance. I like a happy ending myself, and if I choose to imagine that the characters live happily ever after in love past the last page of the book, then great. But I DON'T want it to be pushed on me that these characters will be in love 4evah, that their lives cannot go on without the other, denying all possibility that, in fact, their relationship could have a very normal end in the future. That attitude is, quite simply, childish. It represents to me the kind of all-consuming infatuation that ends many relationships instead of preserving them.

"But YA lit is my escapism," some people argue to me. "I don't read YA lit to read about the literary equivalent of my own dull, normal, and unimpressive life." Fair enough, I say. (Although I also want to tell these people that YOU and you alone are the one who can make your life special and fascinating and wonderful. But that's another rant for another day.) I read books for escapism too. But I don't read ALL books for escapism, and I'm fairly sure that most people don't do that either. Oftentimes I read books because I want to get something out of it, whether I realize it or not. I turn to books for life advice, witty comments I can inject into real-life conversations (admit it: I can't be the only one who does this), effective ways to deal with serious issues. I turn to books to research how best to proceed in matters of human interactions as much as I turn to them for a wish-fulfillment portrayal of love.

I still like the paranormal genre. I do. And I still like dystopias. But I don't read dystopias for the romance. I'm much more a fan of the paranormal or dystopian story in which love does not make up the main plot. I'd rather read about the speculative fiction protagonist who slays the dragon, saves the community, overthrows the government, defeats the physical manifestation of evil, or whatever else they can do, AND gets the hot guy/girl somewhere along the process. Or, the protagonist who does all of that with the help of said eventual love interest, but hey! he/she didn't need the love interest's help to accomplish his/her goal, he/she was perfectly capable of doing it on his/her own, but it did make things easier, more enjoyable, more effective, etc.

This is opposed to, say, the bland everygirl protagonist who doesn't realize how little joy there was in her life until she meets Godlike EveryBoy (hey, look, oxymoron!), whose dimples, sparkling eyes, and enigmatic philosophical commentary on life bring scintillate her previously meaningless existence or open her eyes to everything that is wrong about her dull, dull, colorless world. First of all, it's heteronormative. Second of all, it's perpetuating outdated models of femininity that have encouraged females to think of their lives as incomplete and meaningless without the love of a strong man. Gack. Quick, pass me the nearest container so I can throw up, please. We live in the 21st century, people! Why are we still subliminally encouraging females to pull a Bella Swan and sum up the five months following her breakup with literal blank pages in a book until, miraculously, she is "brought back to a semblance of life" by--surprise, surprise--yet another strong, supernatural, protector-role guy? Why are books with these kinds of romantic plots the bestsellers?
Kind of worried about your respiratory system and life philosophy, Bella.
I dislike when a story uses a subgenre to distinguish its tru luv teen romance plot. "It's a dystopian with romance!" the book will proclaim. Um, no. It's a romance set in a poorly conceived future world where the elements that typically trouble relationships--such as disapproving friends, geographic disparity, and finances--and the satisfaction one feels when a lasting romance overcomes all obstacles are tangibly represented by a Big Bad Wrong Social System and love's ability to open your eyes to said Big Bad Wrong Social System as well as all that is wrong with your world, your life, your dreams, you...whatever. These stories read to me as a pretty typical fictional romance, except that literally the entire world as the characters know it is against them. That doesn't make it dystopian for me. I think it's possible to write a dystopian love story, but I don't think anyone has done it yet, recently.

Although I believe really strongly in my stance that bestselling YA lit's on "tru luv" teen romances is limiting, I also recognize that it's a slippery stance to hold on to. Most of the people I've talked to about this issue feel similar to me, that they, too, are tired of the love-centric plots in lots of bestselling YA books. But whether you're a teen or not, when you're in love, of course you're going to resent anyone who tries to convince you that, uh, you're not really in love, it's just a passing phase. Furthermore, one appealing aspect of YA lit is that it takes teenage concerns and thoroughly explores them in a realistic, relatable, and nontrivializing manner. Loving and being loved is a big deal to teenagers. Why wouldn't it be a big deal--in fact, the biggest deal--in literature that is written for teens?

Furthermore, teens make it very clear that they don't want to be talked down to, and that controlling their access to "triggering" influences (e.g. book censorship) doesn't do anything, is in fact completely unnecessary, because almost all teen readers know that a book that discusses, say, suicide is not promoting suicide, nor will it increase their likelihood of committing suicide. So, following that logic, reading books that feature tru luv teen romance shouldn't necessarily increase teens' belief in the prevalence of real-life tru luv teen romance...right?
So what's the best way to approach the topic of teen love in literature? I'm not saying that we should all go out, grab the nearest teen, and shout in their face, "AH, YOUNG LOVE. IT'S NOT GOING TO LAST. DON'T GET TOO INVOLVED." Gosh. We've read about enough adults in YA lit who try that to know that this imposed rationale has no effect whatsoever on the teen in love. And I don't think that YA lit should preach to readers that the idea of true love sprouting from teen romances is impossible, because we know that sometimes that happens, and it's wonderful (see: high school sweethearts). I think that, basically, YA lit shouldn't preach at all, and should just portray as believably as possible the many different trajectories that teen romances can take... and all of these different portrayals should receive the same amount of attention and consideration. Instead of our bestselling YA lists being dominated by not so realistic, not so healthy portrayals of teen tru luv, there should be more of a mixture. Stories in which the romance is a swoony sideplot. Stories in which romance doesn't appear at all. Stories in which teens *GASPOMGTHENERVE* break up.

I just want the critical and commercial acknowledgment that there is not just one way to tell a teen love story.


  1. OMG STEPH! WOW. Ok..I'm pissed that I'm at work because I have so much to say about this and cannot do so right now. But RIGHT ON. I'll comment more later but just wanted you to know you get a big HELL TO THE YESSSUH for this one from me.

    Better yet..we should discuss this sometime person!! :P That's my way of's been way to long since we've hung out and I could really go for some great conversation and IHop breakfast!

  2. This was very well thought, written and explained.

  3. I love this post. You basically just expressed all of my thoughts on YA romance. It just annoys me that the girls in some of these books think they can't get along without a man around! It makes me want to slap so good old sense into them *sighs* Those silly, silly girls... ;)

  4. Ohhh yes Romance is way to prevalent in YA these days. It's taking over everything AND about 99.9% of it is unrealistic. Definitely liked everything you said though I must admit I did enjoy the dystopians I think you're thinking of. But regardless great post. :)

  5. This is the best post ever, for serious. This is why I get so annoyed with genre-YA, because yeah, it seems like the Most Important Thing Ever is being in love, finding the right guy, even at the expense, sometimes of, y'know, SAVING THE WORLD. It's funny and frustrating sometimes how little page-time the actual plots get, in comparison to all the ~love angst~.

    On the other hand, I know people who primarily read genre books for the romance - the bigger and more epic, the better - and obviously that's the mindset of a huge part of the YA market. When a book doesn't feature a lot of love, they're not very satisfied with it.

    So you get the love-centric genre bestsellers, as well as the decent genre books with badly shoehorned-in, weakly developed romantic subplots. Romance can be a bummer on both ends of the spectrum.

    But yeah, I'm with you - why can't more books have realistic endings? I've read a crapton of paranormal romance and dystopian fiction and I've only found one in which the featured couple parts ways in the end. And it sucks because not only are those more realistic, but, for me, those are the endings I like the best. I love the bittersweet endings, the ones where the couple learns their lessons from one another and part ways, or better yet, when there's something more important to them, personally, that pulls them apart. I love the Paradise Kisses and the Ink Exchanges, because, y'know, that's life. People have different goals. They change. You can't expect to fall and stay in love forever, and YA books about teenage soulmates and lovers who are MEANT FOR EACH OTHER and will never part create incredibly unrealistic expectations xD

    I mean, not to say that teens wouldn't naturally be focused on love and, like you said, wouldn't be wondering if their partner is "The One" anyway, but I can't help but think that a large part of the reason why teens are so obsessed with love is because our culture is as well. Television and music and movies and books tell them that starting at a certain (increasingly younger) age, love and finding love and dating and having a boy/girlfriend should be the most important thing to them. I mean, what are most any books/movies/tv shows primarily aimed at teens about? Love.

    Hell, what are most any popular television shows/books/movies about anymore?

    And I mean, you can say it's art reflecting life, and it is, in part, but it's also a cycle. Not to say it wouldn't happen, or even wouldn't be important, but I'm not sure so many teens would see finding love as ~The Most Important Thing Ever~ if our culture didn't teach them that it was. Like you said, not just a woman's life, but everyone's lives, according to media today, are incomplete and meaningless without love. Total sidenote, but that's what pissed me off royally about Princess and the Frog, and it's a prime frickin' example.

    I just want the critical and commercial acknowledgment that there is not just one way to tell a teen love story.


    /end rant, lol Great post!

  6. Welll...
    Okay, so I'm a romance reader - that and YA are my two main genres - and I do need romance in my books.

    In some way or another. I'm all for age appropriate romance - I read a lot of Tween books too - but I like to have that spark, that possibility.

    That being said, I do prefer realistic romance over every other kind. Which is why I probably never bought into Twilight, Hush Hush, Fallen, and other paranormal/fated love/I'll die if I'm not with you books.

    While I did enjoy Romance like in Paranormalcy or Hex Hall (also paranormal books), and the main difference was that there was no Meant To Be in those books.

    Even in books geared toward adults I have a hard time stomaching the Meant to Be.

    Anyway, when it comes to teen romance, I don't need to believe that these people stuck together forever and ever, though I do believe it sometimes (like in Jellicoe Road or The Piper's Son, for example), I just need a realistic build up to the relationship, and a great, awesome MAYBE at the end.

    That they might stay together forever and every. I want that possibility, which is all you really have at that (or any) age.

  7. Hear, hear! My thoughts exactly. Romance is all very well in its place, but I personally don't often read books whose primary genre is "romance" and so it's quite irritating to find the boy-girl relationships taking centre stage when there's so much going on. Yes, romance is a big deal, and particularly to teenagers, but life is made up of many parts. (Personally I'd be quite happy to read a YA novel where there's no romance whatsoever.) And as you said, the model of some of these relationships - Bella&Edward or Luce&Daniel - are rather "unhelpful" (I hate that word but it's true) as an example to impressionable people.

  8. I completely agree, but I think there's hope. The genres of paranormal and dystopia in their current YA incarnations are so new, they haven't had a chance to adapt to the times (the current batch of bestseller dystopias were written back when those authors didn't even know there'd be a big dystopia resurgence). I think, looking at the history of YA, authors WILL adapt. Ten years ago, if you wanted to look for a "teen romance" would you have looked in the paranormal section or the contemporary section--Contemporary! Contemporary used to be the bastion of sappy, cliched teen romances. But, those got old and standards changed, and now contemporary writers couldn't get away with the cliched love stories that are so common in paranormal and dystopia. Contemporary has, luckily, evolved, and I think the other genres will too, given enough time.

  9. May I please marry this post?

    Because, YES to everything you've written.

    Though I was never very fond of paranormal, I adore dystopian fiction. However, while romance is a necessary component of anything I read (because I am a hopeless romantic) -- I much prefer it when they take a backseat to the central action, much in the vein of THE HUNGER GAMES. As much as we readers loved the Team Peeta/Team Gale debate, I doubt many of us read the series only to know who Katniss will end up with.

    In truth, I did read and enjoy some of these YA dystopian romances -- but, as you've said, they read more like a teenage romance than anything truly dystopian.

    This is one of the reasons I'm so looking forward to LEGEND. Yes, I do hope there will be romance between Day and June -- but the driving conflict seems to be so much bigger than that. :)

    As somebody writing a futuristic YA, however, I have to say that it is tempting to focus on the romance angle -- because that seems to be the stories that garner six-figure deals and grace the bestseller lists.

    As for the best approach to teen love in literature: Personally, I do read a story hoping that their romance is going to last. However, I want to be able to come to that conclusion myself after witnessing their relationship, rather than being preached at that these two teenagers are "tru luv".

  10. I like this post and much of what was said. I love having romance in books, even the sappy sometimes. I think the real problem people have with books like Twilight is that they're so popular. There are plenty of crappy examples of relationships in books out there, but that one is/was wildly popular, so it gets all the attention. The fact that it was so popular indicates that people liked it. I don't know if you can get the general population of readers (ie those who could make it a bestseller) to read more realistic (and perhaps therefore more depressing or bittersweet) books. Of course, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be published, especially since there should be a good audience for them as well. I personally will take my lame and even "unhealthy" romances along with my more realistic and "healthy" romances. There is room in publishing for both, even if it seems like there aren't enough visible ones in the second category.

  11. You hit on what really bothers me on romance in genre teen books. The "forever" angle. I know most teens feel like they'll be in love forever. But it's so much more awkward in a genre where they can live forever. They'll probably break up in six months or so and spend the next six hundred years occasionally running into each other. Not fun.

  12. Found your blog through twitter. I must say, this post is simply wonderful. It is true that many teens feel their love is lasting, that it will conquer all and that they will always be together, but as you pointed out this simply isn't realistic.

    I too, would love to see -- in addition to the great "true love" stories that are already out there -- some more honest, bittersweet and sometimes heart wrenching, young love stories. I think John Green is particularly good at this realistic look at teen relationship. PAPER TOWNS and AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES both handle young love in different ways, but with equal levels of honesty and realism.

    I think ultimately, regardless of genre, we always want to see characters grow. I find the stories I enjoy most are ones where a romance is a part of the character's journey, but not its sole focus.

  13. Fantastic post. You hit it on the head perfectly. I'm getting tired of seeing YA with "love at first sight" romances. There are too many out there that don't portray it realistically. And, nearly all of the time they're rocky and don't last. Thanks for posting.

  14. This was an amazing post and you nailed down my biggest problem with the young adult genre. I'm okay with some "true love" teen romances here and there, but the thing is that EVERYONE is doing them now and very few does it right! There's very little variation anymore and that bugs me.

    I would love to see more young adult novels that get some variation. The one variatoion I would like to see most? Young adult paranormals with less focus on the romance and more on plot and characters. Maybe these are already out there, but if they are, they're hidden. All the popular ones are about love.

  15. I don't read a lot of paranormal, or I think I'd be more annoyed by this. I do like romances with happy endings, but I don't like unrealistic relationships. I read a lot of YA historicals though, and throughout most of history teenagers were considered adults and old enough to marry and have kids so young romances bother me a lot less in historicals. Since it was realistic to look for someone to marry at that age.

  16. Excellent, well-written, sharp, and absolutely wonderful. Your post sums up everything I've been explaining to people. Congrats on this one!

  17. Why should YA stick to only believable teen romance trajectories? Why can't it have it's fill of completely off the wall, high ball romance that the adult genres, like romance in general, have?

    Just as adult women salivate over soap operas, so do teen girls get giddy about that over the top kind of romance. Why deny it to them?

    I'm not disagreeing, just trying to look at it from the other side. I don't think bad romance should be perpetrated in YA, or any genre for that matter. But there are just as many adult women that swoon over Edward and Jacob as there are teens. The teens we can excuse away with hormones and easily influenceable minds. But what about the adults? What's they're excuse? Shouldn't they know better?

    I would like to see many more believable teen romances out there but I wouldn't want the unbelievable ones eliminated either. That just doesn't make any sense to me. And it's not giving teens the credit they deserve to differentiate between what's real and what's a fantasy. Yeah, some don't but I think they're in the minority. I don't think they should be denied they're stories, either.

  18. I totally agree with you about dystopians. I can see the romance in finding love in a totalitarian/oppressive society, and I'm not saying that there cannot be romance in a dystopian, it just cannot be the main theme. Dystopian are all about the oppression, the hopelessness, not love.

  19. Very interesting, carefully thought and well expressed! I agree that some of the best romances in life and literature happen on the way as opposed to being a goal in itself. I found the relationship in TWILIGHT very disturbing because it had many of the attributes of an abusive relationship, however Meyer did a beautiful job in showing how longing for the kiss is more romantic than the kiss itself.

    What makes romance stale is hearing the same story told over and over. I have little patience for books where the girl’s only aim in life is getting the hot guy who will love her for what’s inside. Still, a book without romance feels stale.

    What I’d like to see is more realism. So many teen relationships don’t work out and even the ones that do, the kids might still have to go different ways. Teen relationships, especially, can be messy, and they don’t always include love. I’m exploring those different types of relationships in my WIP, and also trying to factor in the male perspective as well. Why is romance almost always considered female?

  20. For a good teen dystopia that doesn't focus on love, try X-Isle by Steve Augarde.

  21. i'm with you sister. and i loved your closing line: "I just want the critical and commercial acknowledgment that there is not just one way to tell a teen love story."

    so here it is. i acknowledge it! and there are books out there that do too. unfortunately, i fear they do NOT get nearly enough press.

    one of my all time favorite book series just happens to be a dystopian with a perfectly balanced and 100% natural (and still amazing) romance - the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. seriously - perfect blend.

    thanks for composing and sharing your thoughts on this!

  22. Lol! This is great! I completely agree with you! The "always and forever" is soooo played out. Sure I am not going to deny that I like to read those type of books once in while even though I can never truly buy their absolute necessity to be with each other because one is not going to die if they don't have a soul mate/prince charming or whatever people try to sell to us. I for one would like to see a different ending in which a couple breaks up or realizes that the other isn't what they need, but then I wouldn't want to see a character become sl** either.

    I guess putting a little romance is okay, but not to the point where they are destined to be together in a happily ever after type. Or maybe have them destined to be together, but one of two does not want to be with the other one at all and still doesn't end up together at the end of the book/series.

    I don't know maybe ya authors should try something new. Maybe bring in some horror and unhappy endings.

  23. I love this post so much, I want to have a love triangle with it and a best friend type who really doesn't stand a chance at winning my affection, because my heart has been lost to this post.

    My big turn-off is romance as the main driver for a story. Sure, sometimes I'm in the mood for that-- and a romance novel fits the bill. But so many YA novels that appear to be another genre, be it fantasy or sci-fi, or what have you, inevitably become about the love story.

    What about mentor-mentee relationships? What about sisters? Best friends? Why not all of these things? There are so many compelling forms human affection takes that I just get so tired of the single theme of true love.

  24. Someone sent me your link because I've been complaining about the SAME things for the last few months. First teen dystopian upset me because I found the worlds so NOT compelling and so UNbelievable...perhaps "shallow" is the word I want. It didn't occur to me that the world-building was weak because the story was about the LOVE and not the WORLD/SOCIETY. Which...kinda defeats the whole point of dystopian (as you so eloquently state yourself).

    Then I moved to a stack of teen paranormal ARCs, hoping the breather from dystopian (which I used to love!) would help me refocus on why I enjoy YA.

    BAAAAAH. Wrong. Out of 4 ARCS, all 4 were built on a premise of TRUE LOVE with a stalker-ish, Cullen-ish hero. I was so frustrated I only managed to finish 1 of them.

    Um, this led to an identity crisis because all I could think was: "Oh NO! What if I can't enjoy YA anymore! What if the novels I write aren't appropriate because the romance is only a subplot!"

    Honestly, I was worried because I write YA for a living! But then I discovered Saundra Mitchell's amazing YA paranormal, SHADOWED SUMMER. And despite what the dumb Amazon blurb says--"fans of TWILIGHT will love this!"--it is NOT a romance. In fact, the little dabble into romance is so minor, I almost wanted more! But only "almost" because in reality, the ghost story and its characters were *so* vivid and *so* engrossing, I couldn't put the book down.

    Her book reminded me what READING means to me, what READING can do to me, and what I want to do in my own novels.

    And then I made a vow to myself that I would, no matter what, only write books I could be proud of--i.e. a book I would enjoy reading. And those kinds of books are filled with adventure, captivating settings, and heroines who save their own butts while learning a lot about themselves along the way. Romance is secondary and usually doesn't even wrap-up until the very end of the series (Tamora Pierce, I'm looking at you).

    Wow, so I just wanted to say how much I appreciated your post, and it turned into my own rant. Oops!

    Thanks for saying something that I think needs to be said and shared. Life is about LIFE, and sometimes romantic love happens along the way.

  25. I'm seconding the Chaos Walking trilogy for an amazing dystopian-- I saw that you didn't finish The Knife of Never Letting Go on goodreads, but I hope you give it another try someday. The second book is completely different and even more amazing, too imo ;D

  26. Your post about this came at the perfect time, because this is something that I've been struggling with, too. More often than not, I find myself wondering what exactly we're supposed to think as readers when we walk away from a story that features teenagers finding what they think is true love. Are we supposed to believe it'll last forever? Are we supposed to think that it'll last until summer, or college, or maybe a little longer?

    What kind of message does it send to readers, I wonder? What kind of expectations does it set up for real-life first-love (or even lust)?

    I have a post about this topic scheduled for next week, and I've linked to your post, because yours is way better than mine. Hope that's okay.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's a really articulate, well-structured analysis about what's happening in YA right now.

  27. Amen to this! This is exactly what I've been thinking about YA dystopians and scifi novels lately.

    I'd like to think that my books tackle romance other than "tru luv," among other things, because I myself would like to see more of it. BLOODBORN in particular explores what happens after people break up and still have feelings for each other.

  28. You've pretty much said everything I've been thinking the past few months!

    I feel like the YA books I read when I was actually a young adult are non-existent nowadays. I think to myself, "What happened? Why is everything revolving around these ideal male figures who are so NOT ideal?". I find myself not buying new YA titles, but hunting down older YA books - because they actually have PLOTS! They aren't simply Harlequin romances for teens! They have SUBSTANCE. Character development! Worlds I can lose myself in!

    And I'm not trying to say that teen Harlequin-type romance books shouldn't exist - but I wish they'd stop hiding under the labels of different genres. A romance set in a dystopian world is not a dystopian novel - it's a romance with a dystopian backdrop. There is a difference.

    Anyways, my point is that I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Kudos to you for so eloquently saying what a lot of us have been thinking!

  29. "...or whatever else they can do, AND gets the hot guy/girl somewhere along the process."
    Absolutely this. :)

    "But whether you're a teen or not, when you're in love, of course you're going to resent anyone who tries to convince you that, uh, you're not really in love, it's just a passing phase."
    Especially as these comments tend to come invariably from people who couldn't tell true love if it bit them in the... backside.

  30. <3 this post. Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to say that while ~luv at first sight~ novels are obnoxious, ~luv before first sight~ ones are even worse. As in, the couple has been reincarnated over hundreds of years and loves each other automatically because of it. x.x

  31. Excellent, excellent post. Defining what love, or true love, or whatever is hard, because our understanding stems from movies and books. I often wonder how teens in books know they've "fallen in love", especially in such a short time, and what did the guy do to get that love anyway (often it's by bullying or just existing prettily).

    So yes, I agree with you. I've read some awesome books about the perception of love *cough*JohnGreen*cough*, and because it's different, I could recall it instant. It stands out.

    Again, great post.

  32. Followed you here from LT :) you got me hooked on YA books 2 years ago.

    First I have to say that I met my bf when I was 18 during 'O week' of my first year at Uni... 8 years later we're still together and looking for our first house. It does happen :)

    Secondly I love teen romance, if it's GOOD teen romance, to me it is a talent and sometimes I get the feeling that the authors editor has said something along the lines "if it's YA novel you have to have romance" so these authors are writing teen romance with no real talent or desire to.

    Once in a while I get the urge to read a romance. (Typically when BF is overseas on business) Doesn't have to be YA, doesn't have to be a bodice ripper, just an honest to god goey, tears in my eyes, awesome romance. And I'll think: but that YA book I just read was romantic, it had the angel dude and that girl who was sad all the time coz of a craptastic life and they were meant for each other... soulmates... but it didn't have the magic a romance should have! It's just a formula.

  33. Interesting post Su - can I just say that you should read Divergent by Veronica Roth. I think you'd like that ;)

  34. Holy crow, you just said what's been sitting in the back of my brain for months, that I couldn't seem to articulate.

    What bothers me most is that it's not just in YA that these issues are coming up. Have you seen a RomCom lately? I grew up watching the originals from the 50s and 60s, even the ones in the 80s, and women were all strong, knew themselves, and found love along the way of doing other things. Now, it's like no one can love you unless you're a little broken, clumsy, and obsessive.

    And I'll say this: when I was a teen tearing my way through books to escape my crappy life, I gravitated to the ones with women who had a better life than mine, not the ones where the girl was just as dull and dumb as I often felt. It's nice to fall in love, but I had enough friends to know that always finding eternal lasting love when you're fifteen is ridiculous.

    Thanks for the good read!
    Samantha Holloway

  35. Very interesting and thoughtful post. I agree with most of what you said; I also agree with the poster above who said that there is room in the YA world for both kinds of stories: those "tru love" stories that for many grow tiresome, and the stories that either tell a different kind of love story, or no love story at all. And I think that both kinds of books are out there. Don't give up, readers! For example: The Dairy Queen trilogy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock is an excellent contemporary series, in my opinion, and I think portrays a realistic, open-ended high school romance (and there's so much more going on than just the romance). Kristin Cashore has kick-ass heroines who have their own adventures, with maybe a little romance along the way -- but it's far from typical. And I agree with the mentions of John Green and Patrick Ness. I'd also add The Agency series by Y.S. Lee. It's historical fiction (which you didn't mention specifically), and while there is some romance, the books are really all about the mystery. Anyway, I know those are only a few examples, but I wanted to throw them out there.

  36. "I'd rather read about the speculative fiction protagonist who slays the dragon, saves the community, overthrows the government, defeats the physical manifestation of evil, or whatever else they can do, AND gets the hot guy/girl somewhere along the process.."

    You should read Karen Marie Moning's Fever series!! it is what you are looking for!! (not Y/A thou...) its an awesome book...action w/ little romance. More Urban fantasy!!

    I loved the post BTW!! Exactly what i've been thinking!! Twilight is not a good makes women seem week and needy!!


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