Some time ago I wrote a post on my least favorite genre, which is romance. I don’t like pure romance books because it seems a prerequisite for writing one is to have crap happen that muddles a relationship, and then it ends happily-ever-after. It’s not that I don’t believe that happy relationships aren’t possible, because I am in one myself, but it’s very formulaic. If I know they’re going to get together in the end, I frankly don’t give a crap what happens in the book to bring them up to that point because I basically know the ending, mmkay? I think romance is a sweet, beautiful thing, but if the outcome is predictable, I will not bother with the book. Period. And, really, most of the outcomes are predictable because romance is a wish-fulfillment genre. But the beauty about romance as a sub-genre is that the plot can do anything to that romance, and you have no idea what it’s going to be.
I am about to spoil The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, so if you have not read it and want to read it, I suggest not reading this next part. The primary genre of this book is basically sick lit, even though it is shelved in your basic teen fiction and is considered literature. But it is also a tragic romance, which I didn’t know upon picking up the book. I knew there was romance in it, muddled by cancer and teen things, but I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I began reading it.
This has become one of my favorite books of all time partly because of the sick lit and partly because of the romance as sub-genre.
As I began reading the book, I melted at the sweet romance, but I also began to realize this romance wasn’t going to end well, but I had no idea who it wasn’t going to end well for and why. Hazel has stage IV thyroid cancer and Gus is an amputee whose cancer is in remission. Now John Green masterfully creates foreshadow to show who is going to bear what tragedy, but it is symbolism that you have to really pay attention to. As the end of the book draws near, Gus’s cancer returns and it is Hazel who must bear the tragedy of witnessing Gus’s dying. This was completely unpredictable because Gus’s cancer had been in remission for a while and even though Hazel is on a treatment plan that has kept her cancer at bay, her lungs were basically useless, so she has to carry around an oxygen tank, and she still struggles with her cancer in ways Gus daoesn’t have to struggle with his. So Gus dies at the end, a rather horrific death, let’s be honest, and your feelings have been left slaughtered and bloody because you spend x amount of pages reading the romance between Hazel and Gus, only for the sick lit aspect of the book to tear it apart. It is sad and tragic, but Hazel draws strength from the tragedy and knows she can survive it.
TFIOS has made me fall in love with romance as a sub-genre because, really, the main genre can send the romance spiraling in a thousand different directions that romance as a genre doesn’t seem to do. And the romance itself can really muddle the main plot in a thousand delectable ways.
Do you remember some time ago when I said that When Stars Die’s sequel was not going to have romance? Well, I’m back to working on it now and have discovered that there is some romance. It’s not as much as WSD, but there is still romance in it and I have decided to keep it because, well, a lot of crap happens to Alice, and she deserves something amongst all the crappiness. But, of course, the romance aspect is completely unpredictable. I don’t even know where my MC and her love interest are going to end up. But I hesitate to say that this one can be defined as paranormal romance like WSD can be. This one will just be flat out paranormal. Possibly paranormal suspense.
Once I finish with the Stars trilogy and this contemporary fantasy, I am going to start on a sick lit, sort of tragic romance book myself. I’m thinking of doing a novel-length alternative version of a YA contemporary short story I did last month. But that won’t be for some time–but I’ll probably start outlining it anyway just so it’s there.