Home / Uncategorized / Romance in YA
formats

pwpvalentines

Happy Valentine’s Day folks! Maybe you love all the candy and flowers or think it’s just another day, the feeling of love being all around us is a little inescapable around February. I’ve been getting in the mood by reading YA and looking back at all the couples in YA novels. Whether you’re reading a high fantasy or a contemporary set in a high school, there’s usually a romance somewhere in the pages.

For Valentine’s Day we thought we’d look into three classic YA romantic tropes and see what the pros and cons of each one might be!

 

LOVE TRIANGLES

What is it?

A love triangle is usually a romantic relationship involving three people (although sometimes more), in which one individual is torn between which love interest to choose.

Examples in YA?

Lena, Alex, and Julian (Delirium Series by Lauren Oliver)

America, Maxon, and Aspen (The Selection Series by Kiera Cass)

Juliette, Adam, and Warner (Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi)

Thomas, Brenda, and Teresa (Maze Runner Series by James Dashner)

Alyssa, Jeb, and Morpheus (Splintered Series by A. G. Howard)

Katniss, Peeta and Gale (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

Rho, Hysan and Mathias (Zodiac by Romina Russell)

 

Arguably the most overdone of the three examples here, I see love triangles get a lot of flack in YA reviews these days. The example list above could have been twice as long, but why are they so popular? They add conflict to a story, especially if both of the love interests are decent people that you can root for. The danger when writing a love triangle is that you might drag it out too long, or it only serves to make your main character seem like some uber desirable special snowflake. That’s when love squares, pentagons and dodecahedrons start to crop up, and you definitely want to avoid that! However, judging by the list above, they can work. There are some really good arguments in defence of the dreaded love triangle, and like most things that have a cliche element to them, the trick is to do them well, to do them differently.

 

FORBIDDEN LOVE

What is it?

A relationship or feelings for another individual that is prohibited, by circumstances or by world-related taboos.

Examples in YA?

Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane, Jace and Clary (The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare)

Valek and Yelena (Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder)

Penemuel and Michael (Ignite Series by Erica Crouch)

 

I’m not going to lie: I’m a big fan of forbidden love. There’s something really good about the tension that is produced in a story where two people who want to be together, shouldn’t be together. There’s that undeniable pull between the characters and with that a whole heap of tension that makes a forbidden romance sizzle where others might not. People root for forbidden love because it symbolises something really beautiful rebelling against constraint. When it’s done well, it really works, but it can be horribly frustrating, as I’m sure anyone who has read The Mortal Instruments series can vouch for. There’s also the risk of a constant pull back and forth between no-we-musn’t and oh-what-the-heck-*kissing*. It’s important to know the difference between teasing a reader and torturing them.

 

INSTALOVE

What is it?

Instalove describes the quick and often unrealistic romantic attachment that two characters can have for one another.

Examples in YA?

Edward and Bella (Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer)

(I don’t have many examples, because I think Instalove is a fairly subjective topic. What I might consider ‘too fast’ might differ greatly from you!)

 

Instalove is a funny one; readers can accept super powers, and radioactive sea turtles, and one-eyed cyborg warriors out to harvest our spleens, but if two characters fall in love too quickly, it’s unbelievable. Why is this? Is it really that unrealistic that two teens would develop quick emotional attachments to one another? When we consider the raging minefield of hormones we all experience in our teenage years, I think we can all safely say, no, it’s not all that unrealistic. Our choices might be a little questionable too. Personally, I think the issue with instalove comes from the depth of that attachment. If the characters are saying wedding vows by the end of their first day together (and it isn’t somehow plot driven, like they have to because they’re on a planet where the unwed are incinerated), then there may be a problem. But Instalove can work, if you want it to. Be different!

For more YA Romance check out:

Kellie Sheridan’s discussion on romance in YA

and

Erica Crouch’s YA Romance series recommendations