Monday, February 24, 2014

YA Romance Loves and Loathes

A post just on time to be fashionably late for valentines day.

I'm a romance type of girl.  As the youngest girl in my family, I grew up watching Pride and Prejudice and other PG chick-flicks.  I think I was 10 before I was able to stay awake for the whole Colin Firth version of P&P, but I loved the story long before that.

Maybe this constant feed of Jane Austen and other classics is what did it, but I'm a pretty hopeless romantic.  To the point that sometimes my parents, especially my father, I think, worry about me quite a bit.

But when it comes to romance in books, I tend to get a little picky.  There are certain things I love, and certain things that will give me pause when I go to recommend a book to someone.

Something I love.  Love and romance are a part of life.  Books that acknowledge that make me happy.  I love  when two characters, no matter how minor, have chemistry.  I love when I, as the reader, get to watch that unfold and develop on the page.  A side of romance always makes a book a little better.

Something I loathe. Love at first sight.  I'm sorry.  Attraction can happen at first sight.  So can obsession.  But those are both very different than my definition of love.  Because love requires admiration, and admiration is built in observation.  Lately I feel like a lot of YA hinge on this idea of "I see him, I want him."  Yes, we are the Me generation, but that doesn't mean we have to have the 'benefits' of a relationship instantly.  Please let there be some development in the story and romance between the two characters.

Something I love. Admiration from afar.  Accuse me of being a stalker all you like, I will always fall in love with a character who has secretly given her heart away to someone who doesn't even know she exists.  I like secret crushes and girls who know everything about a boy.

Something I loath. Novels whose main plot relationships.  After much beating around the bush, I started reading Twilight recently.  This books is just not grabbing me like I expect a hit YA novel to do.  I think the main reason for this is that the relationship between Bella and Edward is the only major plot.  There's pretty much nothing else going on in Bella's whole world except a boy who's eyes change color along with his mood.  I need some side action.  I need a character who's entire life doesn't revolve around the love interest.  Romance is all well and good, but give me some other plot points to sink my teeth into.  Even some strong character development of unpacking of back-story baggage would be great to have here.

Something I love. A good old fashioned  'friend-zone to date-zone.'  I'll be honest, in the second and third books of The Mortal Instruments series, I was kind of on team Simone.  Not that I don't love Jace, because I totally do, but I'm a big fan of guy best friends.  I kind of wish I had a guy for a best friend.  (Actually, maybe I'd just take a best friend who wasn't fictional.)  And I'm an even bigger fan of guy best friends who pull it off and make it as boyfriends too.

When it's all summed up, I love a story that incorporates romance, but doesn't rely on the romance to carry the story, and I like my YA relationships to be healthy, non-obsessive, and to develop over the course of the story.

What do you like to see in a good romance?  Should romance be a genre unto itself, or should it be something woven throughout all genres? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thanks for reading.


  1. Like you, I'm a hopeless romantic. I enjoy it in almost every genre, if it's well-done. But also like you, if there's not something in there besides romance, it's just no.

  2. Romance. The perfect sub-plot to EVERY story. I find that if there is no romance in a book, I don't usually end up liking it as much as books with a romance thread. But I totally agree that if romance is all there is, the story is going to drag in the dirt. :)

    1. Oh, and I hate "love" at first sight too. ;P

  3. Great post! I agree with you. Though, about love at first sight, I think it can be done well if done properly. I think if anyone's going to fall in love at first sight, it would be a boy. (Probably a nerdier, shy sort of boy falling in love with a girl who is "out of his league".)
    I don't like books which hinge on a romance either!
    And I think it's great when characters turn a friendship into a romance. That's how it should always happen, in my opinion.
    One more thing--I like romantic subplots, as long as they're done appropriately. And I confess I like the cute more than the melodramatic.

    ps--The Colin Firth version is the absolute best!

  4. I like romance but I like there to be a little more meat to the story as well. And love at first sight? Egh. No thank you.You would probably like the story I'm writing. The MC has a guy best friend who she ends up falling in love with and thats not the only thing of the story. Its not all about romance but I can't give away all the story or you would never want to read it when I finish it!


  5. Well, darn. I have a character whose eyes change color with his mood, and I've never read nor watched Twilight.

  6. Good list, and I agree with each one. I'm a romantic and love chick-lit and chick-flicks, but I love substance just as much.

  7. I'm right there with you on loving when a relationship develops over time instead of as love at first sight. That being said, people read as a form of escapism and want to get to the good stuff quickly. Which I think I might be screwing up in my own series because the love interest my MC ends up with doesn't even make a move until several books into the 5 book series, lol. I have flirtation going until then, but it takes a while, just like in real life.


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