Saturday, October 23, 2010

YA romances, and what I didn't get until now

Been reading a few YA books, just because they happened to reach the top of my TBR. Some really enjoyable ones. Some not my thing. But I figured something out:

You don't write a YA romance the same way you write an adult romance.

Wow. Yeah. The big issues, huh? This may not seem like rocket surgery to some. But I figured out that the reason I get so frustrated with a lot of YA romance -- here you can picture me cursing and throwing things at a really big screen showing the New Moon movie -- is that THERE'S NO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.

We keep getting TOLD how much in love Edward and Bella.. umm, I mean the characters in a YA novel... we get TOLD they lurve each other and will DIE without each other and can't LIVE for a MOMENT APART... but we're never shown why. We're never shown what she thinks is so great about him. There's no basis for any real relationship.

My epiphany was this: in a YA, no one cares.

In a YA, love is meant to be mysterious. The heroine isn't supposed to understand why she thinks the Mysterious Boy is so hot, or why she feels drawn to the half-angel-demon-fairy-vampire-witch boy who's trying to murder her/drag her to hell/suck her blood/use her skin as wallpaper. It's meant to be all perfect and dreamy.

In an adult book, you would never get away with this. Beyond a few chapters of insta-lust, that is. Readers want more.

So yeah, I get it now. Doesn't make it any less frustrating to read, though. The YA romances I like best will still be the ones where I get to see them like each other.

What do you guys think? Do you buy into instant YA lurve? Ot do you prefer to see more than just 'there was something about him that drew me in', etc.??


  1. I agree, even though I don't read much romance at large. But I do read a fair bit of YA (because it's in the house, and my daughters have it). In YA, the roamnce, if any, has a novelty aspect. It's not about the character, but it's about the romance, the process, the discovery element involved in the first time falling in love, the first kiss, etc. The character subject to those feelings is secondary. It pretty much mirrors the stage of life YA readers are at.

  2. Frankly it annoys me, it could be the reason why I and YA novels does not work so well

  3. For me, the other issue that I expect a lot more ... steam ... in an adult romance. I expect sexual contact, if not full-blown sex, and I expect to see two adults negotiating the tricky waters of love, lust, and passion.
    In YA, I would be surprised to see full-blown sex (although it does happen in some series, it's always very lightly done and I've never read anything explicit in a YA novel), and I expect it to be more about the feelings than the act. In that respect I think maybe it's easier to have the characters pine and sigh and wangst over each other moodily.
    The YA romances I like best will still be the ones where I get to see them like each other.
    Yes, definitely! Above everything else, whatever the genre or age-range, I want to see two people connect on a personal level, and if that's not explored, the story fails on a romantic level.

  4. rotfl!
    You are so right!
    Sometimes I do buy into it though.. Esp. when I am PMSing :P
    You know, when all I want is an instant "awws- ohmigodlove".
    But generally, I don't find it plausible or believable how easy love blooms in YA novels.
    It's like it's enough for someone to be mysterious and good-looking and we don't need to bother to find out more about the dream guy. He is just there and perfect - if dangerous. And the protagonist just drools all over him.
    I can understand it should be all about the sighs and glances in YA, not steamy and particularly sexual, but still, it's not realistic that the couple is always satisfied to just hug each other once and touch each other fingertips once, to fall in love and KNOW that they are meant for each other.
    I mean there should be some conflict or even long talks at least. To get to know each other.
    We all understand love at first sight, but there should be something more for it to last.. But maybe that's just me.
    It kind of annoys me, because even if there's angst within the plot, it still gets resolved relatively fast and easily in YA novels compared to other books.
    I mean just when you are getting warmed up, when you can feel the thrill of danger and excitement...BAM the bad guy gets what he deserves as if from deus ex machina and the lovebirds are together again! lol
    Maybe I am babbling, don't know if I make sense, but ..anyways.
    But, still I read a lot of YA... it's a guilty pleasure! :P

  5. Yeah. This is what I have come to realise... the ones that really show the awkwardness and amazement, I can buy. But too many have these self-assured main characters who just kind of... go there. Bleh.

  6. Yeah it's a bit of a turn-off for me too. But now I understand it more, I shall be prepared, and make allowances...

  7. I don't mind the sighing and wangsting :) I just like to see why they're doing it...
    And that's just the heroine. Don't even get me started on why on earth a centuries-old vampire/immortal angel/demon of sin who can have any woman he wants etc. would be the slightest bit interested in a moody teenage girl for more than about five minutes :)

  8. Yes! You've clarified it even more. That's exactly what I mean - I like it better when there's some conflict. And mostly in YA the conflicts seem to be external. He's an evil fairy, he's the angel sent to kill me, he's my teacher and too old for me, etc.. It's the internal conflict that's missing, or underplayed.
    Yay! I'm getting it!!

  9. You are right, it is more about that and not what goes on inside their heads except or the "all-consuming" "ohmigod I luuuv him". :P

  10. I have noticed this about YA too and it drives me absolutely crazy! There has to be more there then just "he is so mysterious" for me to buy into it. Don't get me wrong, there is some YA out there when they dive into it more and explain things, but not always. I love all things paranormal, adult or YA, but sometimes I need to get out of the YA world just because of the built up angst factor alone. Stop thinking "omg, I really want to kiss her" and just do it for crying out loud! Does that makes sense? Well, anyways, I am trying to say I get what you are saying. Sometimes YA can be to vague and it is frustrating, which is why adult books can be so much fun :)

  11. Ye, it makes sense :) I don't mind a bit of angsting in YA, but I like it better when the characters recognise it for what it is.
    Like, oh, I dunno... the first Vampire Academy book, where Rose knows she's got this big crush on Dimitri and wants to kiss him, but doesn't confuse it with 'OMG I'm in LOVE!!!' at least not right away. That seems more realistic. I seem to recall real teens are smart :)