Romance has become a focal point in young adult fiction. The last several times I’ve gone to Barnes and Noble, looking for a book to buy, I’ve left empty-handed. All you see in the description these days are something along the lines of “Girl is irresistibly drawn to a guy she should not like. Now, the two of them must work together to bring down the empire.”
Don’t believe me? Here are just a few examples of fantasy/sci-fi YA novels where romance played a pretty big role. (Although I assume most people have read the books or watched the movies, spoilers for Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend, and Throne of Glass.)
1. In Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen manages to do pretty well on her own in the Arena. But in the second half of the story, Katniss teams up with Peeta to survive, a technique that she continues in the next two books… first because she has to, and then (after she sorts out her feelings for Gale) because she wants to.
2. Divergent is far more guilty than Hunger Games, mostly because Four is supposed to be fawn-worthy, both in demeanor and appearance. Again, we have a girl (Tris) pairing up with a boy (Four) to first learn what’s wrong with their world (the factions) and then to tear down that world.
3. Legend’s a pretty good book about a girl (June) who thinks she understands how her government works, and then her eyes are opened up by a boy (Day), a kid from the streets who is described as swoon-worthy (and if it wasn’t for the long hair, I’d probably agree that Day is pretty good-looking.) We’re not doing a book review on Legend, though; just pointing out that the whole plot wouldn’t have happened if June hadn’t trusted Day because she decided that she liked him.
4. And, finally, Throne of Glass had one of those shiver-worthy love triangles between the girl (Celaena) and Chaoll and Dorian. Celaena’s romance didn’t drive the plot forward like the romances in some of the other books listed above did, but felt a bit random and out-of-place, as if they were only included because YA novels should have a romance. Supposedly.
These were not terrible books (in fact, I liked all of them), yet I know I’m not the only one who found the relationships in these and other books to be highly unnecessary. Well, let me rephrase: the way they were written, almost as the focal point of the story, was unnecessary. I’m here to read about this horrible practice called the hunger games, or to read about the strange way a society divides its people into factions…. etc, not some kinda-sappy romance between the two main characters.
I like a good, organic romance as much as the next person, but these books are about young people falling in love (true love, mind you), people who are willing to essentially turn their back on everything that they know for a person that they only met a few days or weeks ago. It’s not exactly a great message to be sending out to young teenagers.
Now, I’m certain that there are quite a few people out there who do enjoy all the romances, but until New Adult fiction becomes a thing, I’m stuck reading YA books, and I wouldn’t mind finding one or two that don’t focus solely on the romance.
What are your thoughts on it?