Discussion Time (1/29): Why must there be smoochies?

Seriously, what’s the deal with this? Why do so many writers think that we absolutely must have romance in our reads? It drives me nuts in so many cases, because its just not necessary. Like Angelfall, by Susan Ee. That would have been an excellent top-rated read… except that it contains the start of this thing between Penryn and Raffe, which was completely unnecessary.

I’m sorry, but angels came to earth to destroy crap. Killed billions of people. He initially treats her like crap and is vastly superior on a physical sense to her. Now, he could (and does seem to) develop a grudging respect for her that should have stayed right there! Whereas right from the beginning she’s in this love/hate thing. Ee does a good job of dancing around it, and not letting it develop into a big thing, but…but why does it even have to be a thing to begin with? Why do we have to have romances in our books?

(I’m not deliberately picking on Angelfall. I do like the fact that it at least seems to be a slow build romance. Its just the most recent example of it I’ve read.)

What kind of message are we sending? Oh, yes, girls can be strong, have common sense, and be able to do lots on their own…but that’s not enough. There has to be at least ONE love interest, and preferably two. Wwwwwwwwwhhhhhhhhhhhyyyy? Why is this a thing? Especially in young adult books. Why do we need to write it in constantly that unless you’re gaga for a guy and he’s gaga for you – your story is incomplete? These characters are in their teens/twenties! At that age, I barely knew if I liked boys or girls or both! Heck, I was more obsessing over the latest singer’s abs and then dealing with college than I was worrying about finding my happily ever after!

I was talking to my friend, and between the two of us we could only come with one book that contained a male and a female main character where there wasn’t some sort of undercurrent going on, and that was one I just recently read!

Now, I know somewhere along the lines I’ve read a couple other books where it wasn’t all lovebirds and such, but its so much rarer than it should be. There’s a main male character and a main female character and they’re friends. That’s it. That’s all you get from them is …they’re friends. They work fantastically well together, they tease and respect each other, and there’s not even a hint of the need for smoochies! And you know what? This was a fantastic book! Valentine (the girl) kicks butt. She saves the day on more than one occasion. She even rescues the guy (Paul). She also forms a relationship with his kid. Not because she wants to get in his pants, but because she realizes the kid (who spends most of the book hospitalized) is lonely and needs a friend. Great book.

In one of my other favorite books, there’s definitely a romance in it – but my favorite relationship? Its not the romance one. Its the one between the cop and her (male) mentor. They rag each other, care for each other, will go to the wall for each other …and there is not, nor has there ever been, a hint of romance there.

So, yeah, when you’re reading the Young Adult books especially, have you ever taken a step back to wonder why we feel the need to put romance in everything? I’m not saying its a bad thing to have it in there, but its in basically every bloody book!  How many books have you read where the first thing you talked about in your review was the romance? the love triangle? If you took that portion of things out of the book, would they be different? Would you like them more or less?

Talk to me!






17 thoughts on “Discussion Time (1/29): Why must there be smoochies?

  1. I don’t mind it – we are talking teens here, there are usually hormones involved :). But agreed, I don’t like it when it just seems thrown in for the sake of having romance. If it works in the story, great, but not for the sake of it. Although if I am being perfectly honest, my teen years were FULL of wasted, unnecessary romance… 😉

  2. I’ve been trying to write anti-romantic fiction for a while (the current serial features a guy who thinks he’s God’s gift to women, but the women think otherwise). It creates its own problems. Romance and/or sex helps bind characters together, and makes their cooperation seem natural.

    Of course, if the romance is poorly handled and unconvincing, then you’ve got to wonder about the partnership! I gather that’s a major part of your criticism, not just the ubiquity, but the fact that so many of the romances seem forced.

    So what will bind characters together? Professional respect, common goals, agreement on moral codes, common needs, and sharing a weakness, these are some of the ties I’ve used to bind two or more characters into a partnership. You have to craft these relationships; it’s not as easy as boy, girl, hormones. That said, boy, girl, hormones can be an enjoyable story; we just don’t want it to be the only story!

  3. The smoochies don’t bother me. I think because people have sex. It’s a fact of life. And someone in the pair is usually thinking about having sex with the other one at some point, even if nothing ever occurs. Although I must say through out Harry Potter I was afraid for several books that she was going to hook Harry and Hermione up. I guess that says something about the nature of relationship tropes in books.

    1. Its not it itself that bothers me, its the fact that its so saturated in the market. Yes, sex happens, but do we need romance to be a huge part of basically every single book? I’d like to be able to pick up a dysto-fic without being inundated with lovey-dovey thoughts. Thanks for putting forth the other point of view, though!

  4. My favourite kind of relations in books are when a guy and a girl have a brother sister relation. I mean, why should it always be romance? IN harry potter, for example, harry and hermione have an awesome sibling type relation and that’s what i love mots about the book.

  5. I’m with you too! And this ‘smoochie’ device usually only gets amplified when these YA stories get turned into films. (I had to talk films of course). The only non-smoochie books I can think of are Lockwood & Co. (though, I’ve only read The Screaming Staircase) and the Bartimaeus Trilogy (and that one BARELY features a male/female relationship).

  6. A-freakin’-men, sister! You’re preaching the truth! The thing I hate most about unnecessary romance is that when I’m enjoying a book in which it rears its unnecessary head, I know I’m going to be diverted from the engaging bits in order to wade through pages of crappy romance bits that read like every other crappy, unnecessary romance bits in every other YA book.

  7. Yes, yes, yes! I say this all the time, the book would have been awesome without the romance *cough* Passenger*cough* but I don’t understand why they feel it’s necessary to add it. But if they’re not listening to the readers about how much we hate insta-love or triangles yet, I doubt they’re getting the memo unfortunately. 😒

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