A Romance Rant

I’m going to be reviewing quite a few books this week, and before I review them I’d like to get this rant out of the way. Brace yourselves. Feel free to look away now. Maybe go enter some of my contests. Visit some other book blog. Or stick with me, because here I go.


It seems to me like ALMOST every YA book nowadays has a plot that is utterly dependent on love. As in: if you took the love out of the story, you would have no more story. Or at best a TERRIBLE story. These books are being branded as paranormal, supernatural, dystopian, but really THEY’RE JUST ROMANCES!

I have never liked the purely romance genre. I’m a HUGE love-skeptic (as y’all are probably aware of by now). I like sweet love, I like true love, but I despise (yes, despise) love that is either purely sexual or superficial. Blah. It bothers me.

I also get really annoyed in books where the two love interest are not the same SPECIES! But that’s a rant for another time.

But why, why must nearly every YA book written recently be dependent on love? Were Alanna’s adventures hinged on her relationship with George? No! Did Sophie pine and moan on ever other page about how Howl wasn’t paying her enough attention? Certainly not! Did Gen challenge the gods because he wondered what Attolia would think? Preposterous!

And yet was there love in these stories? Oh yes. And it is delicious, and wonderful, and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

But the romance was just the spice of the story, not the meat. These kind of stories fall under the genres of fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, historical fiction, etc. and they all have a SUB-genre of romance.

But now there are DOZENS of stories coming out who fall under the GENRE of romance, and the SUB-GENRE of fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, historical fiction, etc. And it’s not just me calling them romance. If you open them and look at the subject it usually says “1. Romance” or (and I find this hilarious) “1. Interpersonal relations” and then it’s followed by “2. [insert sub-genre here]”

You all know the books I mean. I’m not going to name any names, because I don’t want you all to get the wrong idea.

I am not saying these stories are badly written! Some of them happen to be my favorites. Those sub-genres are what pushes these books into the light. It just bothers me when a story tries to get passed off as something it’s not! If you’re a romance story JUST SAY YOU ARE A ROMANCE STORY! Don’t try and disguise yourself as your sub-genre!

Do you guys agree with me? Why do you think books are doing this? I personally think it might be because the romance genre gets a bad rap(as I have clearly illustrated). Authors/Publishers are scared of labeling their book as a “romance” book because people usually imagine covers with lots of glistening skin. *shudder*

I guess what I’m trying to say is: if you’re a romance YA book BE PROUD! I bet people will still pick you up! All of these quasi-romance books have actually started to warm people up to the idea. All I know is, when I pick up a book that claims to be about fallen angels, and it turns out to be all about people falling in love with fallen angels, I get a little miffed.

The same is true for vampires, werewolves, humans, aliens, etc.

EDIT: I guess it should make it clear that there are 2 parts to this rant

1) It bothers me when books are branded incorrectly as "paranormal" when they are really "romance."

2) It bothers me that so many of these books are being written! What happened to the old style of YA? Where the protagonist was okay with being independent, but there was still some love on the side. Eh? Where'd they go? Because goshdarnit it BOTHERS me when I go in expecting something fantastical and paranormal, and come out with nothing but [usually petty] teenage romance!

*deep breath* all right I’m done now. Feel free to go wild or stay silent in the comments*. I’m prepared for either or neither. Please be aware that, like all of my rants, I am not trying to be mean. I believe that EVERY book is meant to be loved by someone. And even if that person isn’t me, it doesn’t give me any reason to call that book a “bad” book. No book is bad. Some are just… misrepresented.

If you’ve made it this far. Congratulations. You deserve a medal.

Happy reading of whatever genre you choose,

All rant content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2010

*Please be aware that, as always, any rude or cruel comments will be deleted. You are MORE than welcome to disagree with me, just stay civil. I promise to do the same to you. :)


  1. No, I enjoyed the rant!
    My YA series relies on the romantic aspect, but they are inspirational in nature and more like a slice of life than anything else.
    You are right that so many of the paranormal books are really romances.
    My beef is their placement. Sci-Fi/fantasy? Last time I looked, paranormal - ghosts, werewolves, etc. - was HORROR. I get annoyed when browsing sci-fi/fantasy online and it's nothing but a parade of paranormal romances. Those should not be in that category.
    LOL - there's my rant!

  2. That was a rather good rant.

    My opinion:

    Genres have little to do with the author and a lot more to do with the publisher, and they put things in genres to sell the book. Therefore, they really don't care if the genre is right for the book; they just care if people who read that genre would like and buy the book.

  3. Diane, I would have agreed with you a few years ago. But with the twilight books all of those "Paranormal" creatures aren't really scary. They're more sexy or (as Kiersten would say) quasi-superheroes, which takes them out of the horror category.

    Heather, I completely agree. That's why I say the romance genre gets a bad rap. It is exactly that purchase-oriented branding that gets me mad. I mean, I know why they do it, but it still bothers me.

  4. I think my problem with it is this: why must teenagers be dependent on love in YA books? I mean -- being a teenager in real life was hard enough. For some it's a really big deal. Then when ALL these teens are reading ALSO deals with romance and the need to have a boyfriend or the pressure to get it on or blah blah blah. Come on, we're supposed to be HELPING self-esteem, not hurting.

  5. Sarah, EXACTLY! I never once had a boyfriend in high school. There was NO WAY I could have handled that kind of pressure with all the other stuff I was dealing with. These books make it seem like if you don't have a boyfriend/girlfriend as a teen, then you're missing out on something really important.

  6. YAY!

    Now,I'm a romance reader, but i look for that kind of books in their own genre. When i pick up another book of a different genre i expect it to be that particular genre *Trust me you don't want to hear me go into the whole Obi-Wan Kenobi had a love interest rant that dominated my LJ when those plots came out in star wars*.

    I'm getting sick and tired of picking up YA books as well to read *insert female or male name* likes the new *insert male or female* in school. That *insert male or female* is mysterious and hiding something. They start a forbidden relationship. And i find myself putting the book back. I think thats a reason i tend to slid towards the younger side of the YA genre since it doesn't have it. There is only seems to be a few books nowadays where romance isn't the primary feature.


  7. The thing for me isn't that it's given a misleading label, it's that most books don't fit nicely into one little neat category. Genres are made to be general and not completely describe things. They are fluid and often incorrectly applied. I don't usually pay attention to "genre" and "subgenre" simply because nothing fits neatly into just one place. Or even two or three sometimes.

    I agree with you on YA being so dependent on romance. I'm ready for some action with a smidgen of romance.

  8. I totally agree with you. I've gone into some books hoping for an awesome fantasy or science fiction story, but all I got was a ton of petty teenage romance. It annoys me to heck!!!

  9. I would definitely agree with you. I have been dissapointed with the book I'm reading because I keep expecting it to be about the cool fantasy elements, but instead it's all about romance. Which isn't bad, but I've read half a dozen other similar books this year, and I'd like some more independence.

    (And I love that you mentioned Howl and Sophie! Love them! ^^)

  10. Don't forget you have to add the agony of the necessary love triangle. No YA book can be a straight up romance between one guy and one girl. It's ALWAYS a triangle.

  11. Great post. I love it. At the same time, I don't think it's necessarily wrong to include a romantic element in a YA book, but the author/publisher needs to decide what the focus of the book is. If the book is meant to be a romance first and a thriller second...then write it that way and publicize it that way. If you want it to be a thriller first and a romance second...then tone down the romance (or remove it altogether?) and market it as a thriller.

    I think it's perfectly appropriate for ANY book to have romantic tension. Any book in which there are interpersonal relationships can definitely lend to romantic undertones.

    However, it comes down to the oft-charicatured nature of adventure movies (a la James Bond) where the world is exploding all around them and the two central characters take time out for a little make out session.

    If there's a compelling reason to add a little romantic tension to character relations in a thriller/adventure/action/mystery/etc, then by all means, throw in some romantic banter, some internal conflict, whatever. But don't make the crime scene investigator sleep with the detective just because your book needs a little spicing up.

    To the YA genre in particular...a lot of teens are feeling a lot of romantic/sexual tension in their bodies anyway, so those thoughts are certainly going through their mind and it's logical to think that it will come through in some of the YA characters. At the same time, there are plenty of teens who have no romantic predilections and thus can't relate to characters constantly fawning over each other during a chase scene.

    I would also like to add my own rant....and I may get shot down for this....if there is NOT an overarching romantic element to the book, the readers should not try to impose the romance as a primary element. The case in point (that really bugged me) was with the recent Hunger Games series. I admit that there was romantic tension between Katniss and Peeta/Gale. It was an effective subplot especially after the machinations in book 1 which continued through the series. However (and this could be the "male" reader talking more than an unbiased reader), the romantic element was NOT a primary theme and was quick frankly just barely a secondary theme. There was SOOO much more to debate or wonder about. And yet, many of the conversations leading up to (and later reviewing) the final book almost invariably had some reference to being "Team Peeta" or "Team Gale." It seemed to be feeding off the voracious fandom of Twilight (definitely a romance) and the argument of Edward vs. Jacob....it seemed to me that the fans had been in the Twilight debate for so long that they felt subconsciously compelled to create a parallel argument in the Hunger Games rather than create new discussions. So, even though Hunger Games was NOT about the romance, a large portion of the readership MADE it be about the romance to the extent that there's a product line with Team Peeta/Gale merchandise.

    If we, as readers, expect authors and publicists to keep the distinction clear, then we the readers must do a better job of clarifying our own desires and expectations and not muddying the waters with irrelevancies that detract from the main themes.

  12. I enjoy the romantic element, but when it IS the book. I like when there is more to the story, more to the characters than who they are interested in. I think the thing I hate the most about the love in these books is that it makes it look so easy to find somebody and then fall in love with somebody. When it is not easy to do either one of those things. I mean I seriously enjoy swooning over boys in novels, but when the plot plunges deeper than that? Oh man, it's epic! Like the Hunger Games, I swooned over Peeta in all three books, but there was so much more to the story than their romance. I wonder if authors may feel as if they HAVE to have that romance in their books. I feel like it is all we see since Twilight came out. But, I could be wrong. Just my opinions!

  13. I agree! It kinda feels like you're reading the same book but with different characters and a different paranormal element. It gets boring, fast.

    As weird as it sounds, I think this is why I like erotica's. There's always some serious messed up drama in most of them and if you took out the hott scenes and romance you'd still have a pretty darn good almost mystery novel (I'm not saying ALL are like this, but most of the ones I read are)!


Thank you so much for commenting! I read each and every one.

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