Thursday, August 19, 2010

YA is for Lovers


I am not a romance reader. Never have been. There's nothing WRONG with romance, it's just not my thing. Until I started reading YA Fiction, that is. Now I can't stop myself from splitting up into Teams. (Team Edward, Team Ash, Team Rob... Wait, that's not a team... *wink*)

A good female heroine with a charming suitor is half of the draw for me. And it occurred to me that as an adult I long for that excitement of a first love or the fantasy of a bad boy. Grown women know better than the run after the sexy miscreant (usually), and we realize that passion doesn't always mean a lasting love. I love young love.

But then I started to wonder... while this escapism is great for those of us who've already survived high school, what about the intended readers? Does my love perpetuate the allure of the bad boy and encourage young girls? Or does it give them a chance to explore that in a safe environment? What do you think?

I agree with you on the draw of the "First Love" aspect of YA romance, because who doesn't want to relive those moments of falling in love? I think the other great thing about a lot of YA romance books is the whole Forbidden Love, Star-Crossed Lovers thing. When you're finally settle down for marriage and kids, it's usually with someone safe. Or at least someone who doesn't turn out to be a vampire or a werewolf. I think the star-crossed lovers theme is fun to read as an adult, since we've already settled into our relatively safe lives.

It's being kind of presumptuous of us oldies to think that these books will influence young girls to the point that they will run out looking for Edward. (Okay, well maybe we all have a little bit.) It's like Marilyn Manson back in the day (I'm dating myself)...People blamed his music for things that couldn't possibly be the music's fault (imo). Books can't make girls fall in love with the wrong boy. Right?

Okay, first of all, I don't know who you're calling an "oldie". Secondly, I agree that books don't MAKE people do things. I think that YA literature tends to romanticize the "bad boy" because this is the only period in life where falling in love with him seems acceptable. We all have that "but only I can see the good in him" fantasy, and YA loves to let us live that.

My only point was that I think we should be careful, as adults who can see the futility in that exercise, to not over-glorify it. I think for every Jace we put on a pedestal, there should be a Simon that we express similar love for.

Agreed. Because I think we've all dated the Potential in a Boy, rather than the actual Boy. I think that was part of the draw of Twilight. Edward was already perfect - he wasn't the Bad Boy at all, and he offered Bella complete safety. But, he offered it within the context of danger - being a vampire. So, basically, the best of both worlds. Let's face it, we all want to feel safe, but we don't want boring. A lot of YA books give us exactly that by placing them in a fantasy setting. I think the supernatural romance books are best for the "exploration" because the things that occur (falling in love with a vampire, werewolf, shadowhunter, etc.) could never truly happen. Well, so far as I know.

*stunned look* Wait, you mean Edward isn't real?

So, readers, do you agree? Are we over-thinking the whole "bad-boy" allure? Tell us what draws YOU in to a good YA Romance.



  1. Ooh, good discussion! So much to say, but don't need a 6" comment again-but it's probably going to happen :)
    Not on the topic of love, but when I started Graceling (which I'm still loving :)) yesterday-I had the thought-this is awesome for me as an adult-but is it too violent for younger women/girls-even if it is a female inflicting the violence? But, then I went back to my 16 year old self and realized I was reading Fantasty w/ sword fighters, etc and the Vampire Chronicles and Dean Koontz, and Stephen King, etc-which are all pretty violent and bloody, etc-and I here I am, still dorky and pretty lazy Molly, not some violent angry person..And, I was a Marilyn Manson chic back then too, I even got to meet them when they opened for Danzig (I'm dating myself a bit here too :)) and I was such a nerdy fangirl about it-rockin my Eddie Bauer button down (because my mom wouldn't let me dress all in black like my friends)and asking for autographs etc-practically squeeing all over them-but trying to be cool about it. So, while I loved the music and the idea of the anger in it-I stayed dorky fangirl :) The eddie bauer shirt did not help, thanks mom!

    So, in the same vein, I have to think the same is true with the love stories. Younger women probably do find the fantasy in it and maybe have hopes for that type of a person, but then get in the real world and realize, wait, that person doesn't exist! Or, when they do have the "bad" traits, they'll realize, hey, you're not all bad boy on the outside and softy on the inside, you're just a jerk. The idea of women being drawn to bad boys has been around since the dawn of time, and I think YA is just reflecting that in a fantastical way. And, as a fan of fantasty and supernatural and comic books, etc-anything to bring more girls into that world is fine by me! Boys have been ruling that world for entirely too long!

  2. *Puts in dentures & shuffles with the walker over to the soap box*

    When you're young and romance still has the dew on it or glow, or whatever thing that makes it sparkle, there is the fantasy of the bad boy. Especially if it's the bad boy that we can tame and turn into the prince charming who will take care of us forever (and young & beautiful).

    It's the time in our lives where we're expected to make mistakes before moving into adulthood.

    While these stories can be fun for us "oldies" as the majority of us have learned our lesson, I also wonder what teen (or target) readers get out of stories since there is this bombardment in the last ten years or so of expecting this ideal to come into our lives & make everything better.

    I do wish there were stories (and they may be out there) that had the hero or heroine is the boy/girl next door, who not necessarily is the perfect person but is the right choice to help the protagonist of the story. To give some reality.

    "But, yeah TB, where's the fun in that?"

    Good question, my little peanut gallery. I think with some dose of reality to a story, like having a character like "Simon" from TMI series, it can show that "the average guy" may have more to offer and help guide some "youngsters" towards possibility taking a second look at the people around them. Maybe they'll find that hidden gem. That also goes for friendships as well as any romantic entanglings.

    Yes, Leigh, Edward is not real. Jasper on the other hand is.

  3. @TB - I think Q from Paper Towns is just that type of "average guy" that you speak of. I love his character and he was (quite literally) The Boy Next Door.

    @Picksee - I love your 6" comments! And I agree - Boys have ruled that genre for too long! It's fun to see girls taking control for a bit.


Tell us what you think!