Wednesday, October 30, 2013

YA Epidemics #11 - Insta-Love

Ah, yes.  Insta-love, the bane of romance lovers everywhere.  Girl meets boy, boy is gorgeous and has a tendency to go around shirtless, girl falls madly in love within a chapter or two.  Strip a romance bare of all the romantic build-up and commence with the kissing!

The thing about this one is that writing a believable, slow-burn love story is hard.  It's so difficult for an author to create the kind of chemistry I love to read about, I won't deny that for a second.  But come on.  Writing a slow-building romance that doesn't sizzle is understandable, but to make your two characters fall in love with next to no build-up, sometimes in as few as one or two days?

I'd like to think of myself as something of a romantic, but I have never fallen in love with a guy over our first cup of coffee.  But perhaps that's because I wasn't paying close attention to his deep blue eyes, or the way his shirt clung to his muscular chest, or the boyish dimple that emphasized every one of his charming smiles like a sexy exclamation point.  I mean, phrased that way, he's obviously my soul mate.

Or maybe, and hear me out here, maybe it's because I'm not a completely codependent sixteen year old moron whose only certainty in life is that I need a hot guy to make me happy.

I'm not saying insta-love goes hand-in-hand with destructively romanticized relationships, but I am saying that the two do have a tendency to pop up in the same novels.  The first fifty pages are dedicated to building a pathetic amount of romantic tension, adding one or two impossibly sweet actions by our romantic hero, and eventually loosing them on each other like two horny rabbits.  The next two -to -three hundred pages are then spent obsessing over our new boy-toy at an almost alarming level, crying about possible break-up scenarios, making out every other chapter here and there, having our protagonist toss aside any semblance of independence in pursuit of her brooding love interest, and sparing a few pages to a watered-down plot that attempts to fool us into thinking we're not reading the equivalent of tween-friendly erotica.

Now we all know why this Epidemic is so popular.  Ever since a certain sparkly vampire jumped into the scene and caused a nation of fangirls to collectively swoon over his perfectly pale skin and messy hair, romance has been all the rage in popular YA.  Any aspiring author looking to make it big can take a page out of this decade's YA handbook and write us a vapid love story full of sickeningly sweet declarations and gestures of love, throwing in a dash of danger, humor, and -- oh yeah -- plot, and walk away with pockets full of cash and a shiny new spot on the Bestsellers lists.

That sounds pretty jaded and hostile, doesn't it?  Let me explain my point on this, and you can decide for yourselves if I'm on to something here.  I'm not attacking the authors who actually do live and breathe their crafts.  The ones who have finely tuned their manuscripts, painstakingly worked and reworked, tweaked and retweaked, their characters and the epic journey of love they're put on.  Those who have put their blood, sweat and tears into their novel and have finally found a foothold to boost them up into the world of publishing success are superstars in my book, and I have all the respect in the world for them.  And you know what?  Their work is going to reflect their sincerity.  You can usually tell when an author is writing from the heart, or when it's phoned in.  Soooo many of these total insta-love atrocities are phoned-in, boys and girls.  Seriously.  So. Many.  And yet they still sell like the hottest item in the bookstore.  Why?

Because they have this

...and this

...and a lot of this

It's like the only thing a story needs to have is cute guys, sweet words, and make-outs to sell.  So is it any wonder we have so many people monetizing on this, authors deciding to skip the build-up and go straight to the hot gushy lovin'?  Not really.  This epidemic of insta-love is one of the most annoying trends in YA right now,  telling our youth that all you need is a smokin' bod and the barest hint of chemistry for a long-lasting love fest, and reminding the slightly more experienced YA readers why insta-love is one of the most infuriating Epidemics out there, robbing us of realistic romance and giving us these sloppily thrown together tales of horny teenagers.

And unfortunately, it seems to be here for the long haul.

What is your take on this Epidemic?  Is it as horrendous as I've made it out to be, or not so bad?  Do you even enjoy the occasional quick romantic build-up?  As always, thoughts and comments are welcome and encouraged! <3


  1. If it's done well, I can deal with it. But I definitely don't like when it seems like that's all that happening anymore.

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