Good morning everyone!
A few months ago, I wrote a post on the way adult readers like tear down YA books for the behavior of their protagonists and lack of relatability. Today, I wanted to expand on that topic a little bit and discuss romantic relationships in YA.
Now, okay, first? Please understand that I am not big on romantic storylines anyway. If you read my reviews, you will hear a lot of UGH WHY THE ROMANCE. While my own personal preference would be that these story have more plot than love, I do think that lust and love are big themes for teenagers. And today, I want to talk about the realism of instalove.
Outside of love triangles, instalove is the most complained about romantic trope in YA.
From the reader’s perfective, I can get how that’s super unsatisfying. There’s no connection, no steady build. And if it’s requited just as quickly? It’s not a very interesting story.
But those slow builds aren’t always real to the teenage experience. Sometimes they are. There are also those who identify as aromantic. And many shades in-between. What I’m saying here is we need to stop bashing instalove as bad writing, because it’s not always. For many teens, that’s their true experience.
Some young adults wear their hearts on their sleeves, and I was one of them. I’ve recently been going through my old diaries and converting them to digital because I don’t know why, to torture myself I guess. Anyway, what I have learned about Young Me and apparently had wiped from my memory was that I was always in love. Every day it was “today, we spoke for FIVE MINUTES and it was the most amazing thing” or “He wasn’t at church today and my life is an endless trudge of despair”. While these intense crushes never worked out for me, it doesn’t mean they didn’t feel real. And it doesn’t mean they were petty or annoying and shouldn’t’ve been included in the book.
I read Eve back in early 2017, thrilled for the dystopian world it promised. In the end, I was frustrated by a few things, not least of all the instalove that drove the protagonist rather than the urgency of the situation. In dystopias, there are a lot of reasons to drive the plot forward, survival often being the most prevalent. In Eve, survival took a back seat to love, and it exasperated me. Retrospectively, I should have been a little kinder. Just because I’m a bitter adult doesn’t mean that the story didn’t have a purpose. It may not have been the purpose I wanted, but to Eve herself it was very real and very important.
So, it’s okay not to like instalove romances in your reading. I still don’t like them, even though I was *that* kid. But we need to stop calling them illegitimate or bad writing. It’s okay not to relate to something, but there’s someone else out there with their heart on their sleeve who will see these characters and their experiences and love them. Need them. And those are the people who book like Eve or Twilight or Delirium are written for, the teens who feel the world deeply and love easily.
How do you feel about instalove romances? When I was a teen, I gobbled them up, but the older and more jaded I became, the less I liked them. What about you? Tell me all about it in the comments!