Books · Discussions · Friendship · literature · reading · Young Adult Books

What’s with all the love stories in YA?

Now, obviously this does not apply to all YA. If I’m reading a romance then of course I am expecting a love story! But why is it that, regardless of the genre, I still seem to be caught up in a love story? The extremely popular love triangle and on some occasions even a love square doesn’t seem to be losing any steam.

I’ll be honest, I have used a variation of the love triangle in my own writing! However, despite it not being a romance, it was integral to the plot. Now, if I’m reading, let’s say a dystopian novel (I’m naming no names) and suddenly I find myself tangled up in a romantic dilemma I start to feel irked. Especially when the protagonist is attempting to overthrow a corrupt government. Surely they don’t have time to fall in love!?

I also can’t help but notice how all consuming love often is in YA. There seems to be little lust in YA, despite the characters usually being teenagers. That’s not to say you can’t fall in love as a teen, I’ve been with my fiance for twelve years and I met him just as I turned fifteen! However I don’t think I have come across quite as many teenagers falling head over heels with one or more people so instantly.

Can’t they just like, fancy them for a bit?

The reason I take such issue with all these love stories is that they seem to leave little space for friendships. Why do so few of these characters have solid friends. Sure you can find someone to fall in love with one chapter in but you haven’t got time for friendship? A lot of the YA I read have female protagonists and in most cases their best friend is a boy AND they inevitably fall in love with them.Why can’t girls be friends in these novels without one of them turning out to be a bitch. It is like we forget how important friendships are at that age. Why can’t the protagonist who is trying to save the world have a best friend by their side? Is this too much to ask?

Love is not the be all and end all when you’re a teenager, even if it might seem like it sometimes! Many novels would still have the same story line even if they eradicated their love story. I just sometimes wish that authors would think twice before creating a love interest for their protagonist..maybe your character just needs a friend.

 

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22 thoughts on “What’s with all the love stories in YA?

  1. You make some really good points in this discussion I totally agree it too often becomes the focus of the story. I have heard a lot of people talk about how there isn’t any romance in The Savage Song maybe you should check that one out – I will!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Personally, I love romance in my books, but I do agree there should be more plots focused on friendship than love. I think people just like reading about romance, especially in the teen years.

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  2. I think most YA has romance in it because that’s part of growing up and it is pretty relevant to what that age group is either experiencing or wants to experience.
    As for friendship, I like the idea of a protagonist finding a forever friend instead of instalove.

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    1. That’s the thing, of course falling in and out of love is so relevant at that age! I just worry it may be alienating some readers, especially boys. And I champion friendship of all kinds, I just feel it should have a more prominent part in YA 😊

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      1. I can see it be alienating. A lot of my male students tend to read books that are targeted either at a young or older audience because there’s less romance. Then again, I have boys who love Dystopian literature and fantasy, even if there are romantic undertones. They just don’t go around reading The Fault in Our Stars. I think that there are some good books that are being published/have been published recently that aren’t as focused on romance.
        I do agree that friendship should play a bigger role though. I mean our friends especially played a big part in our lives as teens, so it’s odd that doesn’t transition as often in lit.

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      2. There are so many varied readers reading YA I just hope that writers are mindful of what they are writing. Don’t get me wrong I love a good romance! But yes friendship is just so important at that age. Here’s hoping that trend happens next!

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  3. I completely understand this. A change would be so refreshing. I worry these books aren’t very suitable for males or even people who don’t care to read about romance followed by more romance. I’m currently reading I Was Here by Gayle Forman(3/4 complete) and there’s no romance yet! So you may want to give that one a try:)

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  4. You have made valid points on the post which I understand but some of the books that have romance in them often come from friendships first and that heps hold them together. I’ve read some YA books that the girls keep a solid friendship with each other and build something more from their friendship with a male friend. You mentioned that the love should not consume them so much but because I have always been observant and now mentor at my old high school, at that age, been in love is almost everything to them. Its the beginning of figuring out everything and even if I don’t totally agree with all teenage love (because I find that you should know yourself really well and its hard to know who you are at 15-18) its part of the journey some people take in life. So maybe they need to reduce publication of romance subplot a little and bring out others but I can understand why its a huge appeal.
    As for some commenters who find that it may turn some guys away, I think thats a whole a new topic for another day because the idea of romance should never turn boys away with the expectation that girls are the one its only meant for lol

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    1. I completely agree it does become all consuming! I know it too well πŸ˜‚ I just don’t know if it should always be the message when falling in love in YA. And yes many of them have friend relationships first but sometimes I think because they end up falling in love it doesn’t sell the boy, girl platonic relationship enough, which I thing is important. And yes I completely agree romance shouldn’t turn boys away lol it’s just so often romance is from the girl’s point of view so it is difficult. If there were more books like, for example, Looking for Alaska where boys get the chance to read the love story from their point of view I thing it would be far more encouraging for them 😊

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      1. Definitely true. Its mostly from a girl POV. That is a change that should be pushed more, guys POV . Yes, boy girl platonic relationship would be appreciated.
        Great post BTW! πŸ“š

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  5. Hmm, your blog post and the comments about girl POV and alienating male readers got me thinking.. I just finished Holly Black’s White Cat, told from a male’s POV and the romance is definitely a subplot–hardly even there. That does seem to be the case when you get male POVs, save, maybe Anna Dressed in Blood, I think.

    *SPOILER below?*

    But in White Cat: There is no romance really. He has an ex that he has some feelings for–but it doesn’t really go anywhere. And the girl who you think will become his romantic partner doesn’t in the end. Not really. Granted, I haven’t read the second book yet, but from what I can tell she’s not even in the sequel.

    *END SPOILER*

    I’m all for reading friendships develop in books, especially between teenage girls. I think it’s important to have another girl as an ally; not as “the bitch” as you called it. Romance is fine, but I’d rather that be a subplot–and maybe that’s why I’m not a huge fan of paranormal romance.

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    1. That does seem to be one of the problems, romance books just don’t seem to be common for boys so they are inadvertently alienated. Yes, definitely, why can’t a girl be an ally once in a while! And exactly, if you’re reading a romance then of course you are expecting to read a love story. But when you’re reading anything else I agree, if there has to be romance it should be a subplot that doesn’t take away from the main storyline! Not everyone wants a love story every time they pick up a novel!

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