I read a lot of YA even though I am probably 10 years out of the demographic now, but I didn’t read a lot when I actually was “the right age” if there is such a thing. As a child, I read a lot, but I don’t know if most of those books would be considered young adult, at least not in the way it’s considered now.
I spent most of high school doing the required readings which rarely fell outside of old European authors (the exception being Harry Potter, which started out childrens and changed over time). By the time I got into YA, I was out of college and tired of reading “classic” books that were supposed to be great but never quite were. So I turned to YA and I noticed a pattern: the YA love story. Required writing.
I read somewhere that every story should have a bit of romance, why? I don’t remember. I think, on the whole, it might be true, but romance and a love story are two completely different things. There’s romance (not sure I should call it that exactly) in Fight Club. Would I call it a love story? Absolutely not. But that romance doesn’t bother me the way a YA romance does.
YA romances are not just a side story. They’re the main focus beyond fighting demons or vampires or whatever. The protagonist should be focused on getting through her plot unscathed, but instead she’s worried about some boy. Some boy who “changed everything.” Some boy that propelled her forward in a way she couldn’t do on her own. I’d rather the girl get stuff done on her own, and if there was a love story, it was a quiet side plot that had little to do with the story, or hey, leave it out altogether? Is that too crazy?
For some reason, it’s only YA that rubs me this way. The girls always need to have some guy there to propel them forward, to be a plot device to up the stakes. As if living in a dystopian society where people are controlled by robots or factions or districts or an evil dictator isn’t hard enough. Let’s toss in some guy.
Unfortunately, that’s how the world turns, and it’s not every YA. There are plenty out there without the unnecessary romantic subplot. It just takes a lot more looking. And don’t even get me started on the YA plague of first person POV.