Okay, so spoiler alert. I go through a handful of books here that I think either have love stories too strong, or that are too over the top or that are perfect. I just don’t want to wreck any novels/series for people so the books/series I discuss are:
– The 5th Wave
– The Mortal Instruments
– The Starbound Series
– The Twilight Saga
– The Divergent Series
– The Hunger Games
– The Queen of the Tearling
– Harry Potter
– The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon series)
Why does the all-encompassing, heart breaking plot line of teenage heart throb hijack every YA book these days? It’s not just the YA romance novels it conquered. Love is now cropping up in everything from dystopian to fantasy to even historical fiction. It’s everywhere! Constantly burying other storylines and dominating front and centre.
5th Wave: wonderful, well thought out dystopian novel that gets pushed to the back as the female protagonist frets about her new love she found randomly in the woods.
The Mortal Instruments: It’s okay, the teenage heroes have to defeat not one but two homicidal maniacs that are threatening not only their own secret world but everyone on the planet throughout the series but it’s okay because we spent the first 3 books trying to work out if Clary and Jace are related and then the other 3 figuring out if Jace and Clary will ever be allowed to be together.
The Startbound Series: It’s okay that LaRoux is trapping souls from other dimensions in our world as long as Lilac/Tarver and Jubilee/Flynn??? Stay together, right?
The Hunger Games: It’s okay Katniss, I know we have stuck you into an area designed to kill you with people who will only benefit from your death, twice. We’ll then make you the symbol for the rebellion and give you a key role in overthrowing a horrible dictatorship. Hmm, you know what, you don’t have enough to deal with throughout the novel so we are also going to through an emotionally draining love triangle your way as well and we’re going to focus hugely on that and not your struggle to survive.
The Divergent series: Tris! Sorry lovely, your entire society is going to hell and you’ve just found out everything you’ve ever known is based on a lie but that’s okay because let’s focus on the broody guy whom may or may not love you.
The Twilight Saga: Do not even get me started about Twilight. Bella Swan is mentally unstable. Plus what kind of writer makes it socially acceptable for boys to stalk, yes stalk, girls and break into their bedrooms whilst they are sleeping? Plus there’s the whole “if you really love someone you must give up literally everything to be with them even if it’s detrimental to their health.”
Side Rant: why do girls in YA novels need boys to validate their existence? Why do authors make it appear that these girls are nothing without the boys? The boys that save them time and time again. The boys that cause so much emotional turmoil? The boys whom out right stalk them place them in harm’s way again and again and again? (looking at you Twilight). When did it become so important for every lady to have a leading man in her life? Can they not just be themselves? Do all young women need a man to complete them? Can they not just be strong, young independent women whom don’t need no man? These are message YA books send to so many girls. It’s horrible. I know that I spent a significant proportion of my teenage years worried because I was single and boys weren’t interested in me. It meant that there must have been something wrong with me right?
All the heroines in the novels I loved seemed to find boys left, right and center. Boys that seemed to make their lives infinitely better. It’s only now that I’ve taken a step back and looked at these stories that I’ve realised how damaging they can be. I guess it’s the same with everything message we send, both to boys and girls. Boys: you must be strong, handsome and dashing all of the time. Nail the Prince Charming look to a tee. Girls: you must be vulnerable, beautiful and fall head over heels for the first handsome boy whom shows you an inch of kindness. It’s horrible. I do like that Disney has started to correct his image over the past few films. Anna, Elsa, Rapunzel and Tiana are all strong, independent ladies whom do just as much saving as the guys. Good one Disney.
There is a multitude of YA books, the list goes on and on and on and on. I didn’t realise that the sappy love stories was the thing annoying me within the young adult genre in general until I read the Queen of the Tearling. Someone made the comment that there wasn’t a love story within the novel and the response was that she’s trying to rule a very politically corrupt and damaged country, she has enough on her plate without adding love to the mix.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good love story. I do get completely and utterly sucked into the whole “will they? Won’t they? Yes, they did!” thing. I think the issues I have is that these aspects of the young adult books often dwarf the actually plot line. It’s as if the all of the other stuff that’s happening within these novels is just facilitating the love between the protagonists. I think that’s why I love books like Eragon and Harry Potter. Yes, there are underlying love lines within the novel but at the end of the day the main focus is always on them trying to save their world/over throw the bad guy. The love stories accompany the novel but don’t consume it. I actually love the way that it’s explained in the 2nd Eragon novel, Eldest. Eragon makes an attempt to woo Arya but Orimis explains that Arya won’t respond to Eragon’s attempts because he is the only hope for the entire country and it is imperative that he is not distracted from his studies and the all-encompassing goal. No, not for him and Arya to get randy out the back after his lessons but for him to defeat the terrible dictator that is hell bent on genocide and has successfully wiped out an entire order. It makes sense. Eragon’s love still simmers below the surface and occasionally does break free but the readers focus is on the war that is ranging across the country side.
Young adult authors need to find a balance within their writing and need to either commit one way or another if love is the centering theme throughout the novel, just saying. Rant over.