Saturday, June 12, 2010
I was abroad recently, and brought some nice escapist YA urban fantasy/paranormal romance books along to keep me company while I watched the 6th rerun of the same story on CNN (by the end of my trip, I had the stories off by heart).
Although I found these books to be good page turners and I did enjoy them, there were some things that niggled me abit.
I'm quite Vanilla when it comes to giving opinions on books etc. I'll rant and rave about myself or RL, but I like to keep this place squeaky clean - as the public face of Emily Cross. Now, I'm going to have myself a rant about something which has been sitting on my for a while -
I've come to saturation point reading certain YA books (you know the ones - I'm not referring to the whole of YA paranormal genre in this post, just certain books), so this is more to do with this saturation than perhaps the books themselves (or maybe it is to do with them - they saturated me in the first place??).
Anyhoo I am just so sick of seeing this pattern:
'boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Boy goes neanderthal. Boy knows she is his. Boy has pretty eyes. Girl knows she is his. Girl is taken back to the cave. Parents don't care.'
Now in fairness, there have been some books that have done a better job at balancing the romantic relationship than others - but even in these more balanced books there are small sections and bigger sections of other books which make me:
and then scratch my head and check the calendar date, it is 2010, right?
I'm an equal opportunities etc. sort of girl. Men and women are different, but can't we be equal too? In the realm of some YA paranormal romance (like i said previously, this is about some not all YA PR books), there is this message about what love and relationships should be like, which doesn't consider different types/stages of love or abuse of love and in my opinion certainly doesn't consider equality between the sexes as represented by Hero and Heroine and their relationship
I've read some books where I just want to shake the main character and say "What the F**k is wrong with you!" shortly followed by "Where the hell are your parents!?!"
Other bloggers such as wonderful Anne R. Allen mentioned this, and linked to very good article. At the time, I said - tis a plot device! You're more likely to be able to sneak out at night, have boy stay in your bed or run around fighting x,y,z if you're parents don't know that you exist or care!
After reading the 10th book or so, where MC is in a boarding home/staying with relatives/single parent who doesn't care/self-absorbed - it really started to annoy me. I get that this is good to allow action to happen - but if you want some conflict for a teen - trust me, over protective parents or normally protective parents provide plenty of that! YA is all about growing up and relationships changing - not just between girls and boys but also with your parents. I think alot of PR YA has forgotten this element - removal of the parents is just easier for the romance and paranormal stuff, but what about young adult element which involves having your relationship change with possible the most important people in your lives.
When I read these books (and i'm not that far from my teens. . . mentally i'm still 17 but not sparkly - yet) I think of my own parents - maybe I'm sheltered but sometimes i think the biggest fantasy element of alot of these books is the relationship between parent/guardian and teen. Seriously, your 16 and your parents don't notice a guy is in your room or sharing your bed?!?!
Then I look at the romance element:
Where is the element of uncertainty? This whole instant soul mate supernatural thing makes it so easy for romance to bloom, doesn't it? Reading alot of these books, I have only found few where it seemed to me, the romantic element was significantly drawn out and done realistically. Maybe I'm a relationship dysfunctional spinster, but where is the doubt? where is the questioning of 'does he like me for me or cause he is obsessed with me?' Is this happening too fast? Do I really need this drama in my life? Does he love me? Is my butt big in this?
I think back (and I think now) - It is not that easy. I know this is the element of Paranormal Romance that is essential - food for the heart etc. but I don't think it would ruin the romance to have love develop and not be 'love at first sight'. One of the masterpieces of literature and romance (which has spawned a 1001 books and films based on it's plot) is 'Pride & Prejudice' - Darcy and Elizabeth's love developed - there eyes didn't meet and instantly they imagined 's/he's the one for me - i will now be obsessed and stalkerish' - they meet and he thought 'she has nice eyes but is a bit poor and doesn't have the best figure a bird can have' and she thought ' he's a stuckup know it all, wandering round the dance hall like his S**t doesn't smell' and it developed from there. . .
To be all Glee about it, the Journey is the best part!
Just to end this rant, I want to reiterate that I know there are amazing YA PR books out there that portray parents as caring individuals, and more importantly (IMO) portray young love in a healthy and more normal way. Some have love at first sight, others have love that develops - but when it's well done - it doesn't matter.
P.S. Please if any one has some book recommendations, drop a comment (especially YA PR)
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Thanks for listening/reading my rant!