Why does everyone YA novel have romance?
I don’t know if it’s just the books I come across while reading or if this is such a common trend that it’s practically impossible to find a book without it, but I swear every YA book nowadays has a gosh darn romantic plot. Frankly, I find this to be both misleading, daft, stereotypical, and unrepresentative of what young readers actually want to read. No matter what the genre, the plot, the sexual orientation, the race, etc, etc of the stories/characters, there is some romantic element somewhere (and I won’t even go into the number of times it completely takes over the plot like the author wanted to write a romance, but wasn’t allowed to or put it under the guise of a genre novel or some crap. 😡)
And yeah, there are probably a few YA novels out there that have no romance in them. They actually focus on the plot and legitimate, realistic, complex character development, and I know I have read a few of these books (they tend to be my favorites because *gasp* a plot where a character doesn’t need the justification of a romantic relationship! How scandalous! *eye roll*) These books are very good and PROVE a YA story does not need a romantic plot. So then:
Why is romance still so commonly found in YA?
I think what bugs me the most about having a romantic plot in all of these YA novels is the fact that these novels are still required to be PG and most of these characters are under the age of 17, but the author makes the romantic plot so focused and so important that it’s like life or death if these characters don’t end up together. They are DESTINED to be together. They are horny teenagers who can’t keep their hands off each other. They are so enraptured with one another that they can’t think about ANYTHING else not even, oh say, the world ending!
I don’t know if it’s because the romance has to remain PG or if it’s because of the age of the characters or just poor writing, but the romantic relationships in YA novels lack depth! The characters almost NEVER actually have a real conversation about anything of any importance (no, devising a plan for your rebellion does not count.) There is never any real build up in their relationship other than they find one another attractive. So not only do we have a COMPLETELY unnecessary romantic sub (*cough* not actually sub anymore) plot, but the ‘relationship’ is also based off… absolutely nothing. 😑
Another reason I have such a big issue with this in YA fiction is because of what it is telling young people (aka the people whom these books are marketed to.) If a 13-year-old girl reads all these stories about a girl who doesn’t feel pretty without a man, can’t save the world without a lover, and must remain virginal and pure and demure and embarrassed about EVERYTHING it means to be a woman, what do you HONESTLY think is going to happen to that 13-year-old girl? She is going to find her self-worth in a man. You know what happens to those girls? They grow into women who can’t be alone and can’t stand on their own two feet. I, for one, do NOT condone this.
While I have focused mainly on women, the very same could be said about young boys who read YA. They are now told by these stories to be strong, rugged, stubborn, sometimes manipulative, there to comfort a woman whenever she needs it, but not expect it in return. They are told to lay down their lives for a woman because she is apparently the ONLY reason he exists. This is just as bad!
Young people should not be reading about characters they could potentially identify with if those characters think only of a vapid, skin-deep relationship that hasn’t even seen the toils and battles of what learning to live with someone truly means.
But what do you think?
Are romantic plots used too commonly in YA?
Leave your thoughts below!
And check out my discussion from last week:
“Scifi for Young Readers“