Thursday, March 1, 2012

YA Romance: Fact or Fiction?

I know what you're probably thinking:

"Julia you hate romance! Of course you're gonna say all romance is fictionalized nonsense!"

Yeah, I know I'm a cynic but lets face it guys: YA romance isn't exactly the most reality based stuff. Just look at Twilight. I don't know about you but I've never run into any sparkling super beings in my hometown. And yeah, that's paranormal but what about all the contemporary novels with "hot British boys" and the like. How many of THOSE kinds of guys really exist in America? Yeah, not that many. So here I am to discuss the top YA romance trends. Are they complete and total fiction? Or can they be fact?

The Boy Next Door Turned Boyfriend

Seriously? When does this EVER happen in real life? Maybe I was just never lucky enough to live next door to cute guys my age (or any guys my age for that matter) but it just seems so unlikely, yet it pops up in YA fiction all the time. Has this situation ever happened to one of you guys? Because I if so I really want to hear about it because I wish so badly that this situation was real! :P

Verdict: Though it's never happened to me I do think this situation could happen. Or maybe I'd just like to think it could happen. :P  

Books: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.

The Blast From the Past Boyfriend

This romance situation is terribly unrealistic but I will admit it: I am a sucker for the blast from the past boyfriend romances. This is probably attributed to the fact that EVERY girl has a guy from their past that they wish would pop back up in their life and fall in love with them. Yes, even me the romantic cynic wishes for things like that. I am human after all. :P

Verdict: Like the Boy Next Door Turned Boyfriend romance I think this scenario COULD happen but honestly I doubt it.

Books: Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler, Forgotten by Cat Patrick, and Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. Sweethearts really isn't a romance but it has a blast from the past guy so it counts. :P

The Hot Foreign Guy Romance

You know the romances I'm talking about. The ones with a foreign exchange student/new boy in school/random guy who just so HAPPENS to have a really schmexy accent (normally British) and then of course falls in love with the heroine of the story. Yeah, I love these guys too (who can resist a British accent?) but I really doubt this happens. At least not all that often. I mean how many of us have randomly run into foreign guys while living in America? Pretty much never. >.<

Verdict: Highly unlikely. Unless of course you move to Britain or some other country. Then you'd be surrounded by foreign guys. :P

Books: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

The Love Triangle Romance

Ohhhh the infamous love triangle. Probably the most overused and equally despised romantic cliche in all of YA literature. Twilight kick-started this one and it's been on a roll ever since. The funny thing is I actually know someone who was in a real love triangle. I'm not even kidding. Apparently my aunt was in a love triangle and not only were two guys fighting over her but the guys were also best friends. And now she's married to one of the guys. So as unrealistic, obnoxious, and terribly overused as these romances are they can and do exist. Crazy right?

Verdict: Highly, HIGHLY unlikely though my aunts story proves it is possible.

Books: So many I can't even count them all but the biggest ones that come to mind are The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith.

Best Guy Friend Romance 

I love the best guy friend romances because they feel real. Why? Because these romances actually happen in real life. Not only that but these are the romances you want to happen because who doesn't want to fall in love/marry their best friend? That's right: No one. However I do feel like this romance has been getting a bit overused.

Verdict: Fact. At least one of these scenarios is based in reality!

Books: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, The Body Finder Series by Kimberly Derting, and Heist Society by Ally Carter just to name a few.

The "Forbidden" Romance

I saw this pic and I just had to use it. So funny. XD

This romance comes in so many different forms its ridiculous.

Contemporary: One of the characters is from the wrong side of the tracks/a different social circle and so everyone at school thinks it would be CRAZY if the two characters got together as a couple.

Paranormal: One of the characters is a paranormal creature and so the romance is doomed (or really just extra sexy and forbidden) from the start.

Dystopian: Society dictates that the couple can't be together/they're fighting for different sides.

But what happens to the couples in these scenarios? THEY ALWAYS END UP TOGETHER. I will concede this does happen in real life (at least the contemporary and dystopian versions) but I am not really a fan of these types of romances because they often involve bad boys and bad boys are really just douchebags in disguise. Face it: You do not want to marry a bad boy.

Verdict: Fact unless of course we're talking about the paranormal scenario. I'm sorry but vampires are just not real folks. Neither are fallen angels.

Books: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, Fallen by Lauren Kate, Matched by Ally Condie and many, many others.

The "Oh My Gosh It Might Be Incest" Romance

(This topic may or may not be an excuse to post pictures of Alex Pettyfer....)

Yes, I am calling out Cassandra Clare on her oh so cliche Jace and Clary dynamic. I was late to jump on the Mortal Instruments bandwagon so I already knew that Jace and Clary couldn't be siblings since everyone sticks them together so much and I figured if they WERE siblings that was just gross.... So yeah I guess you could say I'm not a huge fan of this. It's just so gimmicky and lets face it: Absolute fiction.

Verdict: FICTION TO THE MAX. Long lost siblings who aren't really long lost siblings? Yeah, NEVER happens.

Books: The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare and believe it or not a random manga series (I've never read it I swear) Marmalade Boy by Wataru Yoshizumi.

And that is the end of my little examination of YA romance. There are a few others like the "Mysterious New Boy in School Romance" or the "Road Trip/Vacation Romance" but I decided that if I continued this post it would be forever long and you probably wouldn't want to read it. :P

So what do you guys think? Is YA romance too gimmicky and not realistic enough? Or do you like it's unrealistic yet fun nature? Which of these romances is your favorite? Which is your least favorite? And most importantly have any of these crazy scenarios happened to you? If so I want to hear about it!

Julia :)


  1. I, too, am BEYOND tired of the romantic triangle in YA. It nearly always feels like an attempt to force more conflict or to show, in a really obvious way, why one boy is a better choice.

    However, my husband was a blast from the past - granted, we were 20-21 years old when he called, not teenagers, but he was my secret high-school "what if" - and it just so happens, I was his "what if"... : )


  2. I really enjoyed your post, but I'll confess that I'm probably a huge succor for a lot of these.

    However, I'm not a fan of the brother-sister/incest relationships either.

    Most of these are definitely unrealistic, except I think the best friend turned boyfriend one is pretty realistic.

    So I guess my verdict is that yes these are unrealistic, and yet I still like them.

    But then again, most of what happens in novels is unrealistic. Whether we're talking about romance, the plot, the characters etc.

  3. HAHAHAHAHA Oh my god, your commentary on long lost siblings is hilarious.

    I don't think the foreign guy thing is just a stretch, because there's also study abroad!!!! And exchange students! Exchange students probably aren't all that common in high school but it's pretty common once you get to college. ;)

    Other than the sibling thing, I really am not a fan of love triangles because you are right; they are SO SO unrealistic. Seriously.

  4. I dated one guy in all four years of highschool.. he was "the boy next door"... Literally lived right next door. It was four years of the typical highschool romance thing. Then Senior year hit and it all fell apart. But it was real... for a while :)

    I've also got a "blast from the past / forbidden romance" story as well. That one is a bit complicated and almost lead to the "Love triangle" situation : /

    But now.. It's just me and my "love at first site guy"... Been together 8 years and going strong!

    In conclusion.. I'd say ALL these scenarios could happen! Based on personal experience ;)


    1. Oh my gosh seriously? That is INSANE! Haha. I guess these situations really do happen. Just a lot more rarely then in YA fiction. XD

  5. Yes, the most annoying of the romances is the love triangle...

    especially when one of the guys suddenly do something wrong, start acting mad and pressuring the girl and not so in love, so the girl can get rid of him and go to the other guy arms without much regret... yeah --'

    And about the least realistic one for me is the forbidden love, especially when they want to be apart, but have a unexpected attraction going on so they cannot help but be together forever <3, oh yeah it happens once a week with me, at least!

  6. Great post! I admit that many are not realistic BUT I LOVE THEM! I don't want reality. I want happy lovey dovey goodness when I read romance ;)

  7. God, I hate this love triangle crap.
    It seems like every goddamn time I read a YA book series, the first book has a girl...with a guy whose obviously a romantic interest. And within the second half of the first book, or the next book in the series, there's suddenly a supersexyspecialmagic guy who woos her and is the exact opposite and IT'S SO HARD TO DECIDE BETWEEN THESE TWO SEXY GUYS WHO WANT ME.
    Stop it, YA authors.
    You stop this right now. D<

  8. Julia - I had to laugh that you wrote this blog post at all! It wasn't that long ago that you swore you would not read ANY book with kissing in it. :) Now you're reading enough romances to categorize them? Love it!! You know contemporary romance is my thing, and I've read many of the ones you're talking about. While I do think the long-lost sibling one is icky, I have read a few volumes of Marmalade Boy, and the Mortal Instruments series. I've been WAITING since the fall for Lola on hold at the library...hope it comes soon!

    1. Really? I swore against kissing books? I do not remember this... I've never been a huge fan of romance but I don't remember ever outright banning it from my reading repertoire. I was always able to categorize it. In fact I used to pride myself at being able to guess the ending to contemporary romances just by reading the summary of the book. XD

  9. There are some gimiky romances in YA that I might never get tired of no matter how many times it's used like the "forbidden romance" and "hot boy with an accent" but there are others that make me weary of a book if I see signs of it in the synopsis like "love triangle" and "bad boy" because it turns out most of the time the bad boy isn't really "bad" and he's usually a jerk. I know bad boys aren't the marrying types but they are suppose to be great for the short term aka story life cycle and wonderful to our MC without losing his dangerous edge, but that's not usually the case. And the love triangles -sigh-. Its always easy for me to pick which guy I want the MC to end up with so I just spend most of the book waiting for her to make a decision, if the choices between the guys was actually nearly impossible then that would be a different story.

  10. OMG the pseudo incest! I thought it was incredibly funny (in a maybe unintentional) way that Clary mentioned the manga series Angel Sanctuary, seeing as there is a real-incest-love story in that one. I was like "Wtf?"

    Anyway, I agree. Tropes are nice and all, but sometimes.. I'm not even rating anymore. I just feel some mild annoyance and sigh, wondering why I've even bothered to read yet another book like that. v.v

  11. I'm not a fan of romance stories, but I think the point of romance stories is to feed into some of the readers' fantasies. So, you'll probably never meet a hot exchange student with a swoonworthy accent, and the boy next door probably doesn't even give two thoughts about you. But, sometimes we wish we could snag that sexy British boy or that dreamy boy next door. I think that's why there are so many stories with these types of story lines.

    But, the psuedo-incest thing? Gross. I'd hope nobody fantasized about that. That's...creepy.


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