Monday, 5 May 2014

Discussion Post (1) - "Book Boyfriends"

I've been wanting to start making regular discussion posts because I have a lot of opinions that I want to share with the world (yes, I was the kid who would never stop talking as a child). Without further ado, the topic of my very first discussion post:

Sometimes I feel like the odd one out when it comes to YA blogging. Yes, I have an itty bitty blog and was on a pretty massive hiatus, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about YA romance, and the boys in YA romance in particular.

I don’t have “book boyfriends”. There. I’ve said it. I just don’t find the guys in most YA books that memorable. Sure, there are some who are better than others, but they just aren’t at all the focus for me. It may have something to do with the fact that I don’t really like guys in general, but I get far far far more attached to the (usually female) protagonists than I do their love interests. And to be honest, I find myself sick to death of the horrendously formulaic approach to romance that I find in most YA, regardless of the sub-genre.

My biggest issue is probably lack of character development. I find that most of the guys in the books I read, particularly the ones who fail to catch/hold my interest are incredibly bland. For example, one of my favourite YA series of all time contains a love interest who I just don’t care that much about due to his apparent lack of actual personality. That would be Akiva from Laini Taylor’s wonderful Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. There are so many astounding characters in these books, but I just don’t like Akiva. The female characters especially are incredibly likeable and dynamic (Liraz, anyone??) but for the most part the dudes are just not that interesting. The only male character I grew attached to in any large measure was Ziri, who got shit on for the majority of the two books in which he existed.

My second issue is the extraordinary focus that gets laid on love interests in lieu of actual plot. I often pick up a book whose blurb described a very interesting story about personal discovery or of an important quest only to discover that what I thought the book was about has been waylaid by a boy. It’s just boring. I’m not interested in reading boy-meets-girl books that are disguised as adventure books or as books about mental illness or family problems. If I wanted a straight-up romance I would choose a book that describes itself as a romance. Case in point: Hourglass by Myra McEntire. It was a book about time travel! How cool is that! But no, it got bogged down by too much boy drama and insta-love and gag me with a spoon because that love interest was awful.

Which brings me to my third and final point: most of the guys in YA are terrible people. I know that there are some decent ones – all of the love interests in Sarah Dessen’s books come to mind – but I regularly think them not only unappealing but altogether loathsome. I’ll blame this on the Twilight effect. It seems ever since Twilight came along with its depiction of a unhealthily dependent, all-consuming relationship that so many YA books have decided to take that approach to writing romance. I find it so gross. YOUR BOYFRIEND SHOULD NOT TREAT YOU LIKE CRAP. Enough said. (But actually, there is a lot more to say on this topic).

These are just a few of the reasons why I, unlike many other YA bloggers, do not have any “book boyfriends”. Also, I find it kind of creepy. And I would be really embarrassed of squealing over my love for fictional boys. Kind of hypocritical of me, considering my adoration and eternal defense of amazing ladies like Sansa Stark and Sydney Sage (don’t even get me started on my TV girls. Quinn Fabray is the love of my life, and I will defend Helena from Orphan Black until I go blue in the face).

Maybe it’s all just because I’m a super-queer and find girls infinitely more relatable that guys. Who freaking knows.

What are your thoughts on “book boyfriends” and the prevalence of romance in YA?

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