10 issues I have with love interests in YA novels

Monday, May 7, 2012

  1. If it is a paranormal book, the love interest often has some kind of power to influence the heroine's emotions. It's very odd. Morally, I have problems with a character saying 'I love him because he radiates goodness and love!' No. Seriously. Think of the implications this would have in the real world. Using magical beastie power to force someone who hates you into adoring you... That's not cool.
  2. Why is everyone always so romantically experienced and suave and cool about it all? (Except the girl protagonist. She is innocence personified.) Obviously I realise that in the worlds of novels (even realistic ones) things are a lot less awkward than in the real world, and that's nice, but sometimes I just think that it's been a very, very long time since the author was sixteen. (Seriously. There's all these confident, self-assured boys in these novels, even the contemporary ones where they are actually supposed to be sixteen. We need to remember that teenage boys are humans and teenagers too. Many of them are much more unsure of themselves than novels depict them to be.)
  3. Love interests are often really over-described. If I want to hear a teenage girl endlessly gush about the smoothness of some guy's skin, and his lovely, shiny hair, and how fit he is, and how stylishly-yet-effortlessly he dresses, and his goddamn crooked smile, I know a lot of One Direction fans who I can get that from. I think once we have established he's a babe, we can move forward with the plot.
  4. Why does everyone always have such special eyes? Jewel of Girl Saves Boy has two differently coloured eyes. But it's different! She's a girl! Okay, really, I have a problem with doing this myself. But I limit myself to one character a story, at most, and their eyes never glow or change in different lights or anything, so I hope it's all right. (Why is the temptation to mark characters as special by their special eyes so great? Even in contemporary novels?)
  5. Particularly in paranormal romance, why does the male love interest always have to be evil/secretly evil/the twin of an evil guy? I only have an issue with this because it has happened in every paranormal romance I have read lately. A lady protagonist never says, 'You know what, I'm going to pursue that guy who seems quite well-adjusted, transparent about his background as a shapeshifter, respectful, fun to be around and not controlling.'NEVER. Always the stalker creepsters who may or may not kill you because their species has been your natural enemy since the dawn of time.
  6. There is always so much hetero love. Why can't the love interest be the same gender as the protagonist more often and that not be a thing? The main plot of the novel can be about werewolves and sparkly folks or identity crises or whatever and lesbianism can be there but not be what the novel is all about.
  7. Why does the love interest always have to be their One True Love? Forever and ever and ever? Or, if we're in a novel more based in the real world, why is there so often the implication that they're going to grow up and get married? Maybe the two characters don't have to be together for all of eternity for their relationship to have value, hey? (Obviously people's personal values systems come into play here, but I think the concept of meeting 'the One' at the age of sixteen or seventeen kind of... frightening. Don't the characters have more growing up and learning about themselves and the world to do before they settle down?)
  8. Why, in paranormal romances, is the secretly-an-old-man-only-looks-young-and-attractive creature-boy always still going to high school? Why willingly subject yourself to that torture for decades? It makes no sense! Edward Cullen, it seems to me you are a poorly thought-out character who only goes to school in order to meet the protagonist! (Unless he was trying to find his one true love at high school? Really? Get a mail-order bride or something.) There are others. There are many others. (There are better places to pray on teenage humans, I am sure.)
  9. Do they actually all have to be dazzlingly attractive? If it's their One True Love and all, and they have the superpower that makes them able to influence emotions, or if they are just still a gangly teenager (people are mostly not that attractive at sixteen. You have to grow and such and your body and face are quite all over the place), perhaps, just perhaps, they're not conventionally beautiful. Just average. Maybe they just have a really good personality. Everyone being unbearably beautiful seems like a bit of overkill.
  10. I would say something about the lady love interests of male protagonist YA novels, but I don't find there are that many of them (at least not ones that focus solely around the romance) and really they don't do that much to annoy me. My main wish is that more of the love interests in YA novels (and there are many, many good ones already) just become whole, well-developed characters, that don't entirely exist for the protagonist to lust over. Maybe they could have hobbies. Take up scrapbooking, you know? Not attempt to murder the protagonist, or be overly suave all the time, or Manic Pixie Dream Girl all over the book. It's not a lot to ask. Really.
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