YA Romance and Why it needs to change.

Alright, I had to do some extra time this week, so i decided to do an editorial about YA romantic subplots in novels. Don’t worry, there is no female voiced subtitles in this video. I learned my lesson from the last video. Hope you enjoy it.


Transcript of the video

In movie theaters across the country, another film based on a successful young adult (YA) novel is being released to mostly negative reviews. That film would be Rick Yancy’s The 5th Wave featuring Chloë Grace Moretz, Alex Roe and Liev Schreiber about an alien invasion that attacks the world in a series of waves ranging from earthquakes to disease. One of the primary complaints that critics would have with this film would be the shoehorned in romance between the main character Cassie (Moretz) and Evan (Roe) which takes away from any character development.

This actually brings up a valid point that is becoming more prevalent in YA novels and films as time goes one. As much as a romance subplot can actually help a novel, it can easily harm it as well. Personally, it no longer feels that there are naturally evolving romances in YA novels that grow over the course of a series, but rather it feels like part of a check list of writing a YA novel. Several books in the past have used the common trope of a young woman who has little flaws or none, falls in love with a mysterious and handsome young man who resembles something cut out of an Ambercrombie and Fitch advertisement and it is getting annoying. Then there is also the all too common trope of the young woman having to choose between two men who may or may not feel the same for her. I would normally give an example of one of these kinds of tropes, but you already thought of a few right off the top of your head.

I have nothing against romance, I admit that I enjoy reading harlequin novels and romantic reads from time to time, but this cookie cutter romances in YA novels needs to change. I know I am  outside of the intended demographic for these kinds of novels being a young guy in his early twenties, but I can’t honestly be the only one who thinks that this is not how romance and relationships work. There isn’t always going to be two guys fighting over the same girl and they aren’t always going to be living Adonises. These are some bold ideas, but these could actually help make YA novel romances something other than what has been done literally to death.

  • Focus on one on one relationships (Guy and Girl) and ditch the love triangle.
  • Have one of the characters not attractive (IE: being chubby or extremely skinny, a large nose, crooked teeth, etc.), disfigured or scarred and having the characters grow to love each other over time. Just don’t give me the ‘Alex Flinn’s Beastly did that already‘ story; even disfigured, he could still grace the cover of a GQ mag.
  • Have a homoerotic relationship between the main character and someone else.
  • Have one of the leads die and show the main character mourning the loss of the lover.
  • Show the ugliness of a relationship where one half is abusive (Physically or Psychologically)

But the most controversial of the ideas to help YA novels would have to be, DON’T HAVE A ROMANTIC SUBPLOT IF IT’S NOT ESSENTIAL TO THE STORY. What I mean by this is that there are several stories that could hold up well on its own without the romantic subplot. To give an example with The 5th Wave, this could have been a novel/movie about learning to survive during an alien invasion, where the story focuses on the unity of not only family, but what it means to be human as well. It could have had a well developed female lead who tries to keep on living despite the loss of her parents and the countless amount of death around her. But nope, instead it has an almost seemingly pointless romantic subplot that feels ripped out of a Twilight novel.

Authors of the world, I know that I am not a leading authority of how to write and people can easily agree with that, but can we please change YA romance?


Filed under Opinion Pieces

2 responses to “YA Romance and Why it needs to change.

  1. Even from a non-literary standpoint, any one of your suggestions would be a cultural breath of fresh air if it could garner some popularity. If we’re raised on Disney movies and read YA romances during our teens, how are we supposed to form reasonable expectations for our future partnerships? More diverse romantic subplots can hopefully open young readers’ minds to the diversity of reality.


    • I agree completely. It is a shame that writers and filmmakers are not open to new ideas about portraying relationships in YA media. Besides, the only book/movie that i think actually make the love triangle work is ‘The Perks of Being A Wallflower’.

      Liked by 1 person

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