Sunday, 12 September 2010
Disjointed Ramble on YA Love
I think it is bullocks.
I'm a realist. Love is work. Love isn't easy. Love doesn't make the world go 'round - there's a scientific reason for it that I would go into but I would probably botch some of the information and you'd stop reading, dismissing me as an idiot.
Love is awesome though.
Today I attended a wedding. There were no theatrics, no tantrums, no crazy eyes. Just two people comfortable in knowing they were meant to be, surrounded by those that love them and they love in return.
Love makes people desperate. Love makes people stupid, cruel and spiteful. Love gives strength, courage, resilience. Love gives people hope. People chasing love like hungry dogs scare me because they haven't realised that love can't be forced. Some people never seem to get that....many YA authors included.
I love love. I love romanticism. I love reading someone's adventures in romance when I get that stomach flip flop. It's visceral, it's affecting, it's universal.
And yet it is the reason that so many YA books are losing me. Making me roll my eyes to the book heavens and internally scream. If I wanted to be this disappointed on an ongoing basis I would read Nicholas Sparks books.
I know YA books with a romance sell. I know that from looking at the top ten titles on the New York Bestseller Lists this week. I know that from personal experience. I admit that I am much more inclined to read something with at least a little romance because I have a non existent love life at the moment. (Seriously, my love life hasn't been this barren since I was the age of the teens in the books I am talking about.)
But I take HUGE issue with the concept of an instant love connection. You know what I am talking about - he's gorgeous, he wants you and pow - love. I don't know about you but the guy that was the hottest kid in my classes at high school didn't know I existed.
I want to know why only hot guys seem to be inflicted with the instant love-pow.
There is so much emphasis in YA on being confident, owning our bodies, being proud. And yet, the guys that are often lusted after by our protagonists are hotties. Nothing wrong with that. Eye candy is eye candy. But why aren't these love-pows happening to the less aesthetically pleasing individuals of the XY chromosome? Are less attractive guys genetically resistant to the love-pow? Then why doesn't the same resistance inflict the average teen girl protagonist as well?
I am beginning to understand now why I never had a love-pow when I was a teen. I was digging the geek boy. The geek boy kinda, sorta, dug me. I think. I still have no idea. You see....there was no instantaneous love connection there as we failed on the communication front.
But so do some of the couples that have been hit with the love-pow. They don't talk. They kiss, they think too much and they save the world from mystical beings with interesting names containing too many consonants.
I need to check our non-love history:
We didn't talk that much. Check.
He wasn't hot by traditional standards. Fail.
We didn't have crazy chemistry. Fail.
He, nor I, had mystical powers. Fail.
There wasn't a third point to our non-existent love triangle. Fail.
When we did talk our conversations didn't revolve around professing our love over and over again. Fail.
I didn't use obliviousness as a mask for making contrived decisions. Fail.
We weren't meant to be. No wonder the world's jinxed my love life. I didn't follow the cliched YA rules of the love-pow.
But here's my big problem. Romance is being made interchangeable with love. Love isn't an automatic thing. Love is earned. Love is a living thing that needs to be nurtured. Nurture isn't love professions and petting. That's lust.
Whatever happened to being in like?
When I was fifteen I attended a leadership camp. I met Matt. Matt wasn't conventionally handsome but he was sweet, smart and was as cool as my conservative self could handle. We spent three days at the camp hanging out as part of a group.
I went home and told mum that I had met my future husband.
What I am trying to share is that I get the need to be in love, to feel that compulsion, to force something at the teen age. The need to equate like with love isn't anything new. But at the moment I think the adult writers of these YA books are taking it from a normal teen whimsy into something irresponsible....bad writing.
You can't love someone you don't know. You can have a connection, a pull toward them, lust. But at some point conversations have to take place. A relationship has to be built on more than kissing and that initial connection. Because if you don't know them, if the readers don't know anything about them other then a physical description and where his hands go when they snog then well....it's shallow. It's empty. It's barren. It's false. It's bad writing. It's love porn - stilted dialogue, some hot 'n' heavy and the story's going nowhere.
I also want to see the word 'love' used more sparingly. It's bandied around so much that it's lost its meaning amidst all the clunky characterisation.
When was the last time you read a YA title and found that that characters fell in love without ever saying the word love? That it was expressed without being implicitly stated. Why isn't liking someone a whole heap enough? Why is destiny such a major player when we want to be our own, independent strong selves?
I really don't know.
But it might be something you think about the next time you pick up a book?