Discussion

{DISCUSSION} YA Romance

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

41 thoughts on “{DISCUSSION} YA Romance”

  1. I think the romance sub plot features in almost all iterative, YA or not. Maybe it’s humanity’s need to procreate driving this sub plot. Maybe it’s a way of making characters identifiable or relatable. Maybe it’s a cheap way to introduce tension or conflict. I agree though that in YA especially it doesn’t seem to serve a lot of purpose. Lucky for me, I write A.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! Lucky for you, indeed, Jessica.

      And I really don’t support the whole “humanity’s need to procreate” as an excuse to through in romance because there are PLENTY of people in the world who a) have no interest in finding an S.O. OR b) have no interest in kids. The idea that all people long for companionship or offspring is extremely outdated and needs to be done away with. There are also plenty of relationships that are based on interest in a person’s personality before their body, which is why I have such issues with the lust at first sight crap in YA. Not all teenagers are so horny they can’t think of anything else. :/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. YES. I’m not even going to write you my usual ridiculous essay-length response comment because I only need to say YES. I TOTALLY agree with you. OMG. FINALLY. AT LAST. WTF. YES. TEENAGE ME ALSO SAYS YES BECAUSE SHIT NO BOYS WERE INTERESTED IN ME BUT HOW CAN I SAVE THE WORLD AND BE MY BEST VALIDATED SELF WITHOUT ONE?? YOU DON’T, TEEN ANGELA. IT’S SILLINESS. Plus you’re so on point: WHY BOOKS BE SO FREAKING CLICHE?? YAAAAAS.
    …Yep, that about sums up my agreement with this discussion post haha

    (I’ve literally discussed this so many times with people who don’t seem to notice or care haha so hurrah that I finally found someone who sees something ANNOYING about romance overshadowing plot! Like what you doin’ kissing or having stupid romantic drama angst when you’re supposed to be trying to rescue someone or escape or save the world or whatever?? Also I’ve talked with quite a few guys who aren’t into YA (and actually have said they sort of stopped reading for fun by the time they got to high school/YA age) because they feel as if the majority of books are too romance-focused and geared towards girls/just don’t write what they’re interested in. They don’t want lots of kissing and constant swooning, they just want an epic plot…but that’s not just guys (or all guys) obviously, I’m a girl and I want that too haha but it was interesting to hear them share that as I hadn’t really thought about it before seeing as I’m a girl I guess lol) …aaaaaand there I go writing a ridiculous lengthy response comment like I said I wouldn’t haha
    But yes, I agree with your post lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. BAHAHAHAHAAHAHA! I love your reactions, Angela! And trust me, high school Melanie didn’t need no man either (because no man was interested in the overweight, punk-dressing, resting-bitch-face, lax goalie with the geekiest friends in school. Hahahaha!) Wait. No man is still interested in me. >.> Hmmmm. Anyway! HAhahaha! I don’t need a man now (though, having one would be nice for movies. 😛 )

      Duuuude! That’s a really good comment to add. Most of the guys I talk with don’t read in general, but I never thought about it being because of the constant, unnecessary romance in these books! That makes so much sense. While we have been promoting girls to read and find themselves in books, we have left dudes WAY in the dust. And we also believe that girls only want romance. Like bitch please! I’m sorry that you think all teenage girls (and all women in general, let’s be fuckin’ honest right now) want a fucking cheesy ass romance plot. Uh. No. Kay, thanks. I want a gorgeous world! I want exciting mysteries! I want some shuddering-inducing horror! I want that villain you feel sorry for and the protagonist who actually doesn’t WANT to be the protagonist but always ends up doing the thing the protagonist would do, but on accident. Like COME ON! Where are these books for young peoples?! RAWR! rage quits reading YA

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Melanie, you honestly have some of the best discussion posts ever! I agree with every word you said! While I do enjoy a little romance to appease my fluttery heart, I equally love stories that don’t shove pointless romances down my throat. I’m not suggesting romance is a bad thing, but to represent it as being fully necessary in a young adult’s life is absurd. Many teenagers don’t have relationships in high school, so it’s partially unrealistic to always display romantic relationships in novels. And a hat about platonic friendship? In my high school experience, I often relied on my friends for advice. I wish these kind of relationships are represented as least as much as romantic ones are in YA books.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha! I try, Kelly. 😛

      Exactly, Kelly. Romance has both a place and a purpose, but not in every story. And honestly, nowadays, a lot of college students and twenty-somethings aren’t in relationships because they are focusing more on school and careers. And those that were in high school relationships almost NEVER stay in them anymore, so the whole ‘love or death’ crap in these YA stories is just unrealistic garbage!

      YAS! We totally need more platonic relationships in YA because THOSE are the ones that get you through life.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is why I’m taking a break from YA. I’m tired of the “girl has no self esteem until some random dude says she’s pretty.” “Girls whole life changes when she meets this guy” “girl is the chosen one and must save the whole planet but forget about that because… love triangle” “girls whole life revolves around this dude, despite the fact that she has school, a job and oh…. some terminal illness” It’s all bs

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is why I’ve been on a break from YA too! I agree with Melanie’s post and with what you said… it’s so frustrating to have all this ROMANCE in YA ALL THE DANG TIME! So far, my break has been so nice that I’ve extended it indefinitely. If any of y’all commenting here have read some decent YA books without romance as the be-all, end-all in the book, please do let me know!

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Here are the only few I condone for GOOD YA w/ no overt romance: Jackaby by William Ritter (adorable and goofy historical fantasy), Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (action-packed space opera), Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (dark historical fiction).

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Honestly, if I wasn’t trying to become published in YA (and didn’t read slow as a dang sloth), I don’t think I’d spend my time reading YA either. It’s just repetitive. There’s no originality anymore. No character is independent or has brains. This is especially bad in fantasy. Oh wait. That’s because the publishing industry only likes to publish fantasy and contemporary goo. eye roll I really hope I’ll find time to start reading adult books again or, you know, just something with… well, something?

        I do recommend: Jackaby by William Ritter (adorable and goofy historical fantasy), Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (action-packed space opera), Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (dark historical fiction). Those are the only GOOD YA stories I’ve come across that have no overt romance.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks, Melanie. I will have to check out those books! I’ll let you know if I find some others… at this point, anything I can think of off the top of my head has a ton of romance as the focus.

          Regarding originality, I feel like that is a problem in adult novels nowadays, too! With adult novels, there isn’t as much as a focus on romance—as in, unlike YA, there are a fair amount of adult novels that don’t focus on romance. However, I feel like everyone’s voice is the same. It’s like editors (or writers?) think a certain “brand,” for lack of a better term, sells, so everyone writes in that same voice. There are some exceptions, don’t get me wrong, but a ton of the so-called popular stuff coming out of the major publishing houses reads SO INCREDIBLY SIMILARLY. The one exception to this rule is science fiction. Obviously I don’t love every SF book I read, but I do feel like it’s the only genre remaining in which writers aren’t afraid to take risks and experiment!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yeah, I imagine the same thing happens across genres and age groups. It’s pathetic that the market has become so homogenized, but that’s also why self-publishing has taken off so much in the last decade. It’s not just the writers who wrote a book and never edited it. It’s for the writers who are going against the current and writing how they want to. It’s a shame and I wish there were more ways to promote them.

            SF is definitely that genre. However, SF is not being published in YA. For every one scifi book I find, I’ll see two dozen fantasy books. And the scifi books I do find have very little if anything to do with scifi or tech or WORSE YET are dystopians… with romance! It’s so pathetic what the publishers believe is SF and I hope that if I ever get published, I can show people what SF really has to offer.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes to everything you just quoted because that is literally every f*ckin’ YA book nowadays and I blame MOST of it on the publishers since they are the gatekeepers for these books. It’s really a shame when 40-year-old dudes are telling young girls they NEED love or else they are worthless and will never amount to anything and society has no need for them. Kay, thanks random people who have no idea what it’s like to be a woman, much less a teenage girl. How about… no. -.-

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Personally it doesn’t usually bother me because most teens DO care about finding romance. Ignoring it completely would most of the time be unrealistic. But I do agree that the “destined to be together” thing gets old and can be damaging. I don’t think the problem is the romantic subplots, I think it’s the poor way they’re handled, and (as you said) their tendency to take over the whole thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can agree with you, Katie. Romance has a purpose. Romance can be very beneficial for promoting healthy relationships, but it really does NOT need to be in every YA story ever. :/ Epic fantasies and rebellions don’t really need romance. Why? Because, oh I don’t know, maybe an entire race is about to be enslaved and you’re kind of on a time crunch? But, whatever, go have your super awkward moment where all you can think about it that dude’s jawline. >.> And I guess a lot of it just comes off as lust. If it was true romance, where the characters communicated and shared personalities traits and hobbies, I wouldn’t care so much. But it literally becomes: you’re sexy, I’m sexy, we should hook up. No, we can’t! We have a mission. But you’re so hot! (and literally the only dude I’ve apparently come across in my entire epic adventure. -.-)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I also get annoyed at the replacement of love for lust. That was actually one of the things I liked about the way it was handled in The Hunger Games. Katniss was like “I have to pretend to LIKE this guy? This is so stupid, but I guess I will if it’ll get me food.”

        But I actually think end of the world situations ARE appropriate for romance. When things look bleak people have a tendency to start falling in love. Think of how in wartime marriages skyrocket. If you’re about to die you may as well tell someone you love them. shrug I’m a hopeless romantic though.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Mm. Yeah, that is very true, Katie. But a lot of the YA stories are not about end of the world. They’re just rebellion with the dream of a better future, so it does not have a place. (I am so NOT a hopeless romantic, if you can’t tell. hahahahaha!)

          And Katniss was better. However, I’m not really sure I condone the direction that relationship (or series) took towards the end. :/

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeeesssssss I have been waiting for this post ever since last week’s discussion came out!! Totally agree with you on everything. I mean, it’s great to be appreciated and have romance in your life, but for EVERY YA book to incorporate them just makes young readers think that they HAVE to have it as well. Kids need to know that it’s okay to not be in a romantic relationship!! Hell, adults need to know it’s okay not to be in a romantic relationship.

    Publishers need to ALSO start publishing YA books that don’t have romance in them! I’m not shaming books that have romance in them (especially if it doesn’t take up the whole freaking plot), but just saying that these books also need to be given some TLC.

    P/S: Any recs for YA without romance?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! I’m excited you were excited. 😛

      Exactly. While it is important for people to find love and affection (human nature and all), this kind of promotion of love and your unworthiness if you don’t find it is extremely damaging! We have a HUGE issue with women going back to abusive relationships after getting out because they don’t feel they’ll find love anywhere else, but feel they HAVE to be in a relationship. Like, NO! You do not need a relationship to be worthy of anything! And you are worth so much more than some person’s abuse! Ugh! (We also do a REALLY bad job repping healthy relationships in YA. Some of them verge on stalkerish and manipulation. Not okay.)

      Aha! You have found the glorious answer that will NEVER happen: publishers. Publishers have fallen into this obnoxious, pathetic piece of shit blackhole called ‘Money.’ The books they have already published made good money. So they publish the same crap over and over again with a different title and by a different author. Thus is why it’s really hard for new, interesting stories with untried authors to break into the publishing world. I am so sick of seeing the same crap all the time. I literally had to step away from YA fantasy because EVERY plot was the damn same and all the characters were the same and it was like: “God, didn’t I just read this?”

      Recs for YA w/out romance: Jackaby by William Ritter (adorable and goofy historical fantasy), Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (action-packed space opera), Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (dark historical fiction). I wish I had more, but almost everything has romance and I don’t really like most YA books (now that I look at my reviews. o.o)

      Like

      1. Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve had Nyxia on my TBR (since I saw your reviews), but it wasn’t really that high on the list. Bumping it up now!

        Some of these relationships are controlling and it’s so unhealthy when young readers read them and go “relationship goals!!” over those. And then when their own relationships turn sour and abusive, they feel like they’ll just have to settle because that’s the best love they’ll get. All because of the lack of books that give fulfilment without having the need for a romantic relationship.

        Publishers are milking off the money they’re making, and since they find that most of the audience loves these things, they keep on doing that like you said! What they don’t consider (or maybe they do, but decide the money isn’t worth it) is the amount of teenagers who CAN’T relate with the story.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think it is also necessary for YA stories to start offering multi-romances. I don’t mean a love triangle. I mean, a love after another love because that is something that doesn’t really get talked about in society either, but it’s more common than we like to think. The end-all-be-all relationship just isn’t realistic anymore. So, I think it’s important to show people there can be multiple relationships in one’s lifetime.

          The publishers don’t care if a person relates to the story. All they care about is what sells. Publishing is a business. And there have been dozens of agents who will back this up by stating: “For every one passion project they want to promote, they must promote twelve others that will sell and make money without a shadow of a doubt.” That’s how the industry works and I think it’s garbage.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ooohhh that’s true! It’s so unrealistic (although not impossible) that someone finds their true love and sticks with that true love until the end of time. God knows it took me 4 tries LOL.

            Honestly it’s so bad, and it’s a stretch to hope that the industry will change overnight. I just hope that agents will pick up more stories like that and then publishers will start selling more of those.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Yeah, I hope so too. If they actually started to introduce new types of stories, more authors could have a chance because plenty of authors don’t write romance in their stories. It just doesn’t have a place. So, here’s hoping. 🙂

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  7. I think its real to show the need to connect with someone and the desire to be loved, but I completely agree that it doesn’t need to be all consuming and the only thing to live for. It sends a message that if you don’t have a significant other you are missing out or without, and that is not a good message to deliver; especially in a YA book. We shouldn’t identify ourselves by our romantic relationships, we are so much more than that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. Romance is fantastic! (I mean… I think it is. I don’t first hand. Hahaha! Reasons why I write these post. 😛 ) But it has a place. However, not everyone puts the same emphasis in being in a relationship that others do and I think it’s unfortunate that we are still promoting the 1950s ideology of finding your ‘high school sweetheart’ and living happily ever after with your picket fence and two kids. Like, come on. How has society not modernized yet? Blergh!

      What really bothers me , though is just how out of place the romance almost always is. It literally becomes a plot filler like the author didn’t have enough of an original plot, but still needed to write 300 pages. :/ Such a shame and really brings down YA as a whole.

      Liked by 1 person

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