The Madness of Romance in Young Adult Novels

The Madness of Romance in Young Adult Novels

While When Stars Die may be a paranormal romance, romance overall isn’t my thing. I had to play up the romance in When Stars Die to elicit the appropriate responses for the ending, but the sequel, I can tell you right now, will not be packaged into a romance genre.

I wanted to do this post because the trend lately for a lot of young adult novels is to have the MC and the love interest fall in love fast. The argument is that it is too fast and therefore unrealistic. The MC and her LI kiss on page 50 and perhaps go all the way on page 100. They weren’t even best friends before. Heck, they were hardly friends.

I want to posit that it accurately reflects not only princess culture but teens in general. I know I fell in love fast as a teen. I’d fall in love with the guy within two weeks–or so what I thought was love. The guy would love me back–or so what he thought was love. I romanticized love because I’d see all these long-term couples and how happy they were, and I wanted to be among them. I wanted to be talked about the way they were talked about–how cute they looked, how strong their relationship was, how inseparable they were. So when I fell in love with the guy, I was really just falling in love with love.

Young adult novels are primarily in the first person perspective. As readers, we have to remember that the unreliable narrator is common in first person. So the MC is going to think she is in love, but she might not be. There are no external forces in first person perspective to step out and say, “She only thinks she is in love, but she is a careless teen just in love with the idea of love.” Sure, some teens may realize this at the end of the book, but most teens do not have relationship experience and an adult’s perspective to step back and say, “I was just in love with the idea of love, not with the person I was with.”

So to say that the teens in these books fall in love too fast is to forget that there are teens in real life who do fall in love too fast. They just don’t have the life experience to be able to see that they’re not really in love. Now some may already be in love at the beginning of the relationship, but often it is with their best friends–so I’m not trying to argue teens don’t know what love is, because some of them surely do.

All I know is I didn’t know what love was until I met my current fiancĂ©.