If I was to present to you right now 10 different, latest YA releases, how many do you think you would be able to point out to me that are empowering books but don’t have romance as a subplot, or aren’t centered around teen love? That’s right. Hardly any. Much to the chagrin of not just me, but hopefully plenty other bookworms, authors are forgetting to add that element of believability and are getting carried away–not that it’s necessarily bad of them since this is fiction–but really, which somewhat-sane person here is going to vouch for the continual of biased, unrealistic teen love that is being portrayed in books?
I have to admit, this is probably the worst title I’ve ever written in my life: because I’m not simply referring to the incorrect portrayal of innocent, first-hand teen love, but instead I’m referring to how it’s begun to prevail over the magnificent universe that is the YA universe.
Half the world is alive without a true love to sustain itself. Some people believe in the power of true love. I happen to think it doesn’t particularly exist because of my own personal misgivings and experiences.
BUT WHAT I WANT TO SEE LESS OF IS THIS: people saving the day (hooray! makes for an enchanting story.) with stronger relationships than INITIAL BASE ATTRACTION AND INCOMPLETE TEENAGE LOVE.
If we go down, we go down fighting and we are the best of friends and have each other’s backs > If we go down, we go down together while passionately making out.
IT INSPIRES PEOPLE TO FALL IN LOVE? Alright, I lied. I don’t exactly believe in true love, but I do enjoy reading a good love story here and there. And see, when I was little, I always wanted to grow up and have a nice little love story with some prince who finds my lost slipper at his glorious ball, and you know. I WOULD BECOME QUEEN OF THE WORLD AND TAKE OVER AND RULE FOREVER. Then I would probably kill the king just so I could have the throne…? So this is why INSPIRATION to fall in love in books is better than ACTUALLY falling in love.
LOVE IS LOVE AND BY THE WAY THAT KIND OF THING EXISTS BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE I THINK. The other day I was speaking to a few people. They said they were completely against the LGBTQ+ movement because it went against the Bible and against their god. Well, guess what? I’m not Christian, so I didn’t relate to this feeling, but do you know what I did think: LOVE IS LOVE. You cannot control who you fall in love with. And even though I think, again, that the whole concept of love is a little deceptive, I do acknowledge the fact that there are people who care deeply about each other: YOU GUYS LOVE IS LOVE. And, yes, I was talking about believability earlier–so YES BOOKS NEED TO REPRESENT IT. Having that kind of relationship with someone is a major benefactor in life for most people, so it needs to be shown.
IT OPENS UP PEOPLE’S EYES OR WHATEVER THEY SEE WITH TO THE REST OF THE WORLD. I WILL SHOUT THIS ALL THE WAY TO NEPTUNE AND THE ALIENS ON NEPTUNE WILL PROBABLY UNDERSTAND ME MORE THAN I UNDERSTAND MYSELF WHEN I SAY THIS: YA authors have been doing a great job of putting more diverse books out there, for 2017 especially (as I cry surfing through Goodreads). AND LET ME TELL YOU: In love stories being published now, since there’s so much diversity everywhere–THERE ARE DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOPLE FALLING IN LOVE WITH DIFFERENT KINDS OF OTHER PEOPLE. It’s really a very simple concept.
LOVE STORIES ARE ENJOYABLE AND ENTERTAINING. IT IS THE TRUTH. Even an obsequious fantasy nerd like me sometimes wants to read a nice little CoHo book because they’re SOO PERFECT. They’re definitely lighter and fluffier than dark, complex fantasy, which I LOVE BUT SOMETIMES IT WEIGHS ME DOWN SO I FEEL LIKE I’VE BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK FOR NINE YEARS AND NOW I BELIEVE I CAN FLY AND THAT I CAN TOUCH THE SKY. Or atleast I want to.
LOVE STORIES ARE MISLEADING AND SOMETIMES UNREALISTIC. It’s nonsensical to think that authors are really writing the most accurate, realistic, love stories of ever–and if you read Sarah J. Maas–well, the aforesaid statement could not possibly be truer. AND TRUE STORY: less than 5% of high school relationships last. Most of the protagonists in YA lit today are between the ages of 15-19. This is generally a ‘high-school’ age range and SO THE INNOCENT, SHALLOW RELATIONSHIPS OF TEENAGERS ARE NOT ALWAYS THE MOST POWERFUL FORCE OF THE WORLD. Please, SJM.
IT’S IMPRACTICAL TO PORTRAY LOVE AS THE EPITOME OF EVERY TEENAGER’S UNIVERSE. The world is changing, folks. While I can definitely atone to the fact that TEENAGERS ARE DELINQUENT LOVABLE CREATURES WHO ARE A BLESSING TO THIS PLANET, I can also atone to the fact that teenagers can sometimes be love-struck, blundering fools. I have experienced this phenomenon of nature myself, fiends. It’s like being attacked by a dementor–you need lots of chocolate afterwards. Not every single teenager is head-over-heels bent on falling in love! There are incredible teenagers who book blog WHO I AM ALWAYS FOREVER IN LOVE WITH BECAUSE THEY ARE GREAT CREATURES and then there are incredible teenagers who just want to get places in life WHICH TO THEM IS THE LIFE. Kind of like me.
LOVE STORIES AREN’T THE ONLY WAY TO EMPOWER YOUNG AUDIENCES. The youth of today is, well, very different than what the youth of today used to be 30 years ago. A man and woman falling in love with each other isn’t simply the only key to literary success or film success–in all honesty, true friendship is more empowering than fragile love that is always in need of cultivation. So I think you can tell I’m kind of against the be-all-end-all true love theme that authors seem to have going? AND HERE IS MY REASON WHY. (yes I truly am an excellent debater) PEOPLE ARE REALIZING THAT LOVE DOES NOT NEED TO BE THE FOCAL POINT OF THEIR LIFE. You can still have a relationship with someone that’s just as powerful, if not more, without the need for procreation, you know what I mean?
IT’S USUALLY ANOTHER STORY INSTEAD OF SUBPLOT AND EXECUTION FAILS ARE TOO LIKELY. I mean, it’s a nice touch. Everyone wants to hear about the love that saved or broke the world. Preferably the latter, since the former is old and stereotypical. But the fact remains: when people fall in love (AND FINALLY AUTHORS ARE LEARNING TO REMOVE INSTA-LOVE), it doesn’t take a day or two. Having that kind of relationship should be portrayed accurately, and I’m pretty sure it takes longer than that. SO IT IS A STORY ON IT’S OWN. And now, if stories aren’t told thoroughly, that means they have poor execution. And now what happens to stories with poor execution? NO ONE LIKES THEM. So execution fail, check.
We need more empowering relationships like the amazing friendship between Kate and August in This Savage Song. Instead of letting the same old angsty teenage romance control the YAverse, there should be more familial and friendship-like relationships. And finally, I’m not saying that romance needs to be to extinguished. In fact, I don’t think I’m qualified to preach about the necessity of true love in fiction because from my own personal experiences and who I am, I don’t feel like I deserve or want that kind of relationship in my life.
But do you see how I said MORE empowering relationships than teenage love? By all means, if you want to keep writing love stories, please go ahead, but try to make them genuine. Not all teenage relationships define the meaning of true love, and not all teenagers are powerful warrior queens who control magic and not all teenagers are sculpted, glorious, muscle-y warriors WHO ARE AT YOUR SERVICE IMMEDIATELY even though that would be nice: the first thing I would do is teach them to become pastry chefs.
HOWEVER THAT IS BESIDE THE POINT. The point here is that bookworms who read YA have given authors multiple chances to polish up on the romance, or perhaps introduce something new. I’ve seen diversity spreading and I’ve never been happier–minus one thing: DIVERSITY IN THE LATEST BOOKS DOES NOT FEEL GENUINE.
It feels like diversity in books now is not genuine, but for the sake of having diversity and being loved as an author. It feels like authors are writing diversity just to check it off a checklist.
Yes, there are more people of many scopes being represented in literature today, but love is the oldest motive and story there is: and it hasn’t changed. Even still today, the handsome prince sweeps the self-declared inept but beautiful lady off her feet. Whether they’re people of color, or whether their both the same gender, or either of them is afflicted in any way–it’s still the same love story.
And it might only be me, but I think we need a change. I want to read about true friendships that carry you through you life; I don’t want to keep reading about teenage love in YA that is full of angst and absolute unbelievability. The same elements of that one ‘perfect character’ are themes that people will simply not retire of–people will never grow old of hearing perfect characters, BUT THAT DOESN’T REFLECT THE WORLD MY FRIENDS.
How many romantic relationships have you had that ABSOLUTELY WERE INCOMPARABLE TO the power of the friendship between you and your best friend, or one of? How many romantic relationships have you had that WOULD CAUSE YOU TO THROW AWAY THE BOND YOU HAVE WITH YOUR BROTHER OR SISTER BECAUSE IT PALES IN COMPARISON? YA romance doesn’t just revolve around angsty teen love–it revolves around singular romantic love beating out everything else.
So that’s why I’m not pleading for the shutting down of all love stories–instead I’m just asking for relationships that aren’t quite centered around the theory of true love between two individuals and procreation–but are centered around a relationship that is something more.