YA Paranormal Romance is a genre that has been booming the past few years with series like The Twilight Saga, The Wolves of Mercy Falls, and Wicked Lovely raking in sizable piles of cash. There are a fair few YA sci-fi series aboard the train as well like Allie Condie’s Matched and Beth Revis’s Across the Universe (I’m not including The Hunger Games here because all romance is a subplot and not the main event). I am definitely not a genre snob by any means: Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Horror regardless of target age group have always made up the bulk of my reading list. However, there are a few genres I can’t abide, and Romance is one of them.
For most of my life I referred to Romance novels as “sex books” because that’s what many of them are: various implausible situations arranged to shuffle the reader along toward a verbose description of lovemaking. So I just avoided that section of the bookstore/grocery store/my mom’s bookshelf, no big deal.
Then Twilight showed up on my go-to table at the bookstore, the first in what would turn out to be an avalanche of sex-books for the teenage set. Except we adults like to pretend that teens don’t have sex, so most of the titles are three hundred-pages of will-they/won’t-they with a dash of the star-crossed, encased in a framework of paranormal or light sci-fi circumstances.
Love is really hard to write well. Falling in love is such an intensely personal experience (though the symptoms seem to be the same), that I find it plain awkward reading a lot of these books. The author often writes a thinly-veiled account of what won her real-world heart (and it’s almost always a “her”), seemingly without thinking whether any of that would appeal to her characters. If your story is about falling in love, shouldn’t your characters, you know, do that convincingly? Rather than have a string of flat vignettes topped with a declaration by the MC “Yup, not the measles. Definitely in love.” Lucky thing you told me, because I never could have guessed.
Lust and being in love seem much easier to communicate, because the signs are a lot more similar from person to person. Falling in love is a strange beast, and poorly written monster-manuals are mucking up my favorite section at the bookstore. Bah humbug.
Am I way off base here? Have you read a book that really nailed the whole “falling in love” thing? I’d be interested to hear about it.