A Crashcourse On YA Romance (Love Triangles, Instalove, And The Like)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hello, my fellow nerdlings! Today we're going to talk about one aspect of YA literature: Romance. I dare you to name one YA book or series that does not have even a little bit of romance. (Go on. PROVE ME WRONG.) I might even go as far as to say that if it's not romance, then it's not YA. The one thing about romance in YA is that IT IS UNAVOIDABLE. (Authors, this is your opportunity to immediately start writing a novel featuring an aromantic teenage girl with no romantic problems AT ALL).

So this post is for those poor souls who have not yet read YA, and don't know what's coming for them. Those poor old dears should not venture into YA lit without knowing what they're in for.

*BE WARNED. LOTS OF FANGIRLING AND HEARTBREAK BELOW.*

Ooh, my favourite. What with our rebellious teenage attitudes, we hormonal teens are obviously going to fall for the person everyone tells us not to. Even when said person is forbidden by LAW. For example: Switched (Amanda Hocking), Matched (Ally Condie), Delirium (Lauren Oliver), The Winner's Curse (Marie Rutkoski), Half-Blood (Jennifer Armentrout). Boy, do we YA nerds love breaking the rules. 

The reason that forbidden love is my favourite factor in romance is the fact that it teaches us to say "screw the law" and do what we want gives so much intrigue and suspense to the relationship, and through those rules and expectation, the relationship is strengthened.

When it comes to the infamous love triangles, it's a hate-or-love thing for me. If the love triangles contributes to the development of the characters, then I say "heck, yeah!". But if the author just uses it as a device to bring more angst to the story, then I strongly dislike it. LOVE TRIANGLES ARE NOT NECESSARY, DEAR AUTHORS. Most readers hate this, though, whether it's unnecessary or not.

Speaking of unnecessary love triangles, we can see a new trend emerging in YA literature. Can you guess? Yep, it's a love square. Or pentagon. Or a freaking hexadecagon. Whatever it could be called, it's basically where, instead of romantic problems between three people, you have four or five or even sixteen (like in The Selection. All those other girls who were Selected count. Except we only ever focused on Aspen and Maxon and America). We can see this in lots of recent releases like An Ember In The Ashes and Red Queen.

I really don't know what to say about this. I actually don't mind the love-squares in those two books, because ALL THE PRECIOUS CHARACTERS. LET ME HUG YOU AND GIVE YOU CUDDLY TOYS (Yes, even you, Maven). But, if authors keep on doing this, we readers are going to get very sick of it, very fast. BE WARNED.

This is right up there with love triangles on most readers' hate-lists. Actually, I think this gets the number one spot, perhaps rivaled by Mary Sues and Gary Stus. There is a LOAD of hate on instalove. I've heard people rant about how it's unrealistic and leaves no room for proper development and so on. But I have a confession to make. I don't mind instalove. There. I said it.

Now before the book blogosphere comes chasing after me with pitchforks, let me explain myself. 

So firstly, having never been in love myself, I have no idea what romantic love is, exactly. And because of that, I have no idea how long it takes to fall in love with a person. Is it two weeks? Two months? Two YEARS? When exactly do you decide that enough time has passed to fall in love with someone? Does time really matter if you really, really know that person, even though you only spent two days with them? SO MANY QUESTIONS. And I am not romantically challenged. Just really, really young. 

If I can't answer these questions in real life, how am I supposed to know them in fiction? People say Legend and TFioS have some instalove. And I really don't mind. Until I can experience these things for myself, I'm quite content with "love at first sight" moments in fiction.

That being said, even such a romantically inexperienced individual such as myself knows where to draw the line. If two people barely know each other at all, and are confessing their love after a day of setting eyes on each other, even I have enough sense to be annoyed. After all, they don't know a thing about each other, and one of them could be a axe murderer for all they knew. BUT, in cases like Legend, where people say there is instalove, Day and June get to know each other. Regarding that, I don't know where all the complaints are coming from, but just let me tell you I ADORED the romance in Legend. (Also, just keep in mind the fact that no-one say the 'L' word until the second book. Oops, was that a spoiler?)

Mostly, I think this all depends on every individual's definition of instalove is, and where that person is willing to draw the line. As for me, I draw the line where the love interests barely know each other and start confessing their love, and time isn't really a factor for me. If I think two characters have gotten to know each other really well, even within the space of two days, I'll allow for declarations of  unending devotion.
Best friend romances are where two best friends fall for each other. I don't LOOOVE them and fangirl over them, but I like them. But combine a love triangle into that angst, though, and I will combust with frustration. Books like The Hunger Games and An Ember In The Ashes feature these types of love triangles, and most of the time, I side with the non-best friend. It's not that I have anything against Gale or Helene, but I just don't like that. (That's the way my mind works. Take it or leave it.)

BUT, best friend romances can also be awfully cute and fluffy and shippable. It all depends on the situation, for me.

Jerk-Factor Romance. Or at least, that's how I dubbed the relationship (or, more suitably, non-relationship) which features a guy who is a jerk. Daemon Black, Jace Wayland, William Herondale and Warner from Shatter Me are absolute jerks to the female protagonists at first. You can decide to love this or hate this.

For me, it depends on the guy's character. Although I wanted to throttle Daemon in Obsidian, I couldn't deny the unmistakable chemistry between him and Katy, and he was so incredibly sweet to her in the last few books and he is completely forgiven. Jace, on the other hand, still annoys me. WILL, MY PRECIOUS, YOU BELONG WITH ME FOREVER AND EVER. #onetruelove. Warner is not yet completely forgiven, but I think a reread of the trilogy will help me.

On the other hand, there really other controlling, abusive jerks who just keep on treating the girl like crap, like in Gambit by CL Denault. This is NOT okay, and despite my lack of knowledge in romance, even I know that a relationship like that is not healthy.

So that's it for now, lovelies. But what's the point of a discussion post without a discussion? TELL ME, what do you think of romance is YA? Is it overdone? Do you love love triangles and hate jerks? Do you believe my belief in love at first sight is juvenile? TELL ME ALL.

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