Discussion Time: Is Romance in YA Taking Too Much Away from Character Development?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love romantic relationships in books but recently, and I’m not sure if this is because I’m getting older or blogging has opened my eyes to it, I’ve started seeing romantic relationships that have felt shoehorned into the plot. They’re simply there to appeal to readers who love reading romance, and more often than not it seems to take away from the character development.

I still want to see romance in books, sometimes there is literally nothing more I want than a fluffy contemporary book with a heart-warming romance to read one afternoon, but I don’t want it to feel like something added in to make the story ‘better’ regardless of all the other aspects that make a good book great.

Is Romance in YA Taking Too Much Away from Character Development

Is Romance in YA Taking Too Much Away from Character Development?

As soon as a potential romantic relationship is introduced or hinted at it needs to be developed, and it sometimes seems like for there to be room for that development individual character development falls in the wayside a little. Recently I finished reading the first half of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, and in the second book Clary and Simon decide to change their friendship into something more.

Why?

The Mortal Instruments

What would have been wrong with keeping Clary and Simon as best friends with no further feelings, unrequited or otherwise, between them? One of my favourite friendships in a YA series is the one between Juliette and Kenji in the Shatter Me Trilogy by Tahereh Mafi. The two are best friends and have an incredibly written relationship that I loved reading, and one of the reasons I loved reading it was because there were no romantic feelings between them. Kenji wasn’t pining for Juliette while she was with Adam or Warner like Simon seemed to be pining while Clary was with Jace.

It felt like for most of City of Bones Simon was relegated to Clary’s best friend and nothing more, his main development seemed to be connected to her and his feelings for her. It was only in City of Ashes that his development seemed to be more about him as an individual character rather than as an extension of Clary.


It was the same with Empress of a Thousand Skies. I’ve mentioned this before in my review but as a whole the character development was what let this book down for me. Granted I loved reading Aly’s chapters during the first half and right up until the chapter he was introduced to his love interest.

Empress of a Thousand Skies

However in this case it wasn’t just Aly’s own character development that seemed to fall in the wayside, but the development of his relationships outside of his love interest that seemed to suffer. We were told throughout that Aly had two best friends who were more like his brothers, but I saw no evidence of that close-knit relationship between the three characters in this book. It seemed like Aly cared more about a girl he met bare days ago than his best friends, and the budding feelings he had for Kara were stronger than the feelings he should have had for Vin and Jeth.


For the most part I still love romantic relationships in books, when they’re written well. One of the things I loved about Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas was that Celaena/Aelin was developed as her own character after all the upheaval she went through in book two before a possible relationship with Rowan was introduced in book four. It gave her the necessary time to grow as her own character, and for Rowan to grow as his, before the two of them grew together in a relationship.

But there doesn’t need to be romantic relationships in books for them to be amazing. Plenty of authors have done it so why can’t we have more books with strong characters and no romance and less with weak characters and weaker romances.


Now Onto the Discussion Part of This Post:

Do you enjoy seeing romances in books or are you finding it’s something you can do without?

Have you seen books where the character development has fallen in the wayside to make room for the romantic development?

Or alternatively, do you think developing romances in YA books only make the individual character development stronger?

Let me know in the comments below.

Advertisements

83 thoughts on “Discussion Time: Is Romance in YA Taking Too Much Away from Character Development?

  1. Yay! Glad you brought this up! I have the exact same sentiments as you! Lately, I’ve been wishing for nothing more than to have platonic relationship play out in a book without any hint of romance between two characters. I’m not sure why many relationships between protagonists and their best friends almost always reach into the romantic territory. I only wish for a strong romance, be it outright or subtle (i.e. Feyre and Rhys, Lila and Kill) that doesn’t take away from the characters’ individual development. Romance is a great thing, but only if it’s written well. Sometimes, I think it’d be okay to have a YA book without a prominent romance and instead be a book that focuses first on individual character development and strong friendships among characters before introducing a romantic element. I’d be down for more books like that, personally!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thanks Azia, I’m glad you enjoyed this post and glad you agree with what I talked about as well. πŸ™‚ Exactly, it can seem at times that all books have a romance in it whereas less have a platonic friendship in. Really it should be the other way around if anything. The friends to lovers trope is one I’m starting to not enjoy, especially because it essentially takes away the one friend the main character has. Yep, totally agree, strong romance is a must and it’s got to further the individual character development rather than stop it. The two examples you used are great ones, and two of my favourite book couples as well! πŸ™‚
      There are some books out there that don’t have romance in them, and instead focus on the individual character development, and they’re just as good as books that have romance in them so it can be done and done well. I’d love to see more of them as well! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Platonic relationships are such an important part of the human experience and I think it’s a shame that it’s not represented that often in YA books, although there seems to be a few more books coming out these days that place a bit more emphasis on platonic relationships/friendships; despite that, romance is almost always still an accompanying element haha.
        And yes, the friends to lovers trope is losing its charm for me too. I still understand its appeal but it’s been used too often :/
        Hopefully more authors will follow in Maas and Schwab’s footsteps and provide us with stronger relationships like those couples πŸ˜€ I believe in them! Also, I hope they leave the instalove trope behind them too LOL
        I haven’t read too many of those particular books. Have any recommendations? I’d love to add a few of those to my TBR list! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly, we have more than enough romantic relationships in YA so it’s time to make some room for platonic ones as well. Hopefully if you’re seeing more that will kick start a trend and we’ll start seeing more and more on the shelves, and maybe it’ll get to a stage where romance isn’t always an accompanying element. πŸ™‚
        There’s only so many times you can read the same dynamic between two characters in a book before it starts getting a little tired.
        Well I feel like part of the reason everyone loves Maas’s and Schwab’s work so much is because of those elements so you never know it could be in the cards. Yeah instalove needs to end.
        The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Vicious by V.E. Schwab, but let me think on it and I can get back to you with any recs I have. πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m really hoping for that! I’d especially love to see more sibling/family relationships in YA. A greater emphasis on platonic relationships will definitely widen the world of YA and will help enrich our reading experiences.
        Vicious is already on my list. I’ll have to bump it up the list. I’m desperate to read a platonic relationship at this point LOL. And yay! Lemme know when you think of any! πŸ˜€ ❀

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Exactly, and yeah family is explored in YA somewhat, but there is a lot of that family dynamic missing from the fantasy genre (I can’t be the only one to notice that!)
        Yes definitely bump that book up, you won’t regret it because it is a brilliant book and if you’re looking for more stories with platonic relationships that one is definitely a must! πŸ˜€
        Ha, will do. πŸ™‚ ❀

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oh I couldn’t agree more. Family is definitely something we should see more of in fantasy novels! Especially in regards to parents who are almost always widowers or are completely absent lol
        I’ve heard nothing but great things about it so I know I won’t be disappointed, especially if you love it, too! ❀ πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yes I don’t understand why there isn’t more families in YA fantasy. It seems like we get all the family dynamics in contemporary but very little in fantasy.
        It’s V.E. Schwab as well so you know it’s going to be brilliant! πŸ˜€ ❀

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I’m starting to see a tiny bit more of a family dynamic in YAs (i.e. The Red Queen) though not many and not nearly enough. Hopefully, if we complain about it enough, the authors will catch our drift LOL
        Very true! I trust Schwab completely haha

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I rarely connect with romance in books when it’s at the forefront. I prefer a much subtle approach a lot like how it’s handled in The Raven Cycle. I can get REALLY excited over ships, but it definitely has to be written in a certain way. Maybe it’s because I’m a lot older now too, but when I see 15 year olds talking about “loves of their lives” or whatever, I just can not relate. At all. Sometimes I think it can be harmful too. I remember thinking there was something wrong with me when I was a teen because I never had any of these experiences myself? Great post, Beth!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s a good point, and one I agree with as well. I guess likely because I read more fantasy books than any other genre so I love there being more action in a plot than romance. The Raven Cycle is a great example of how to write romance right I think. πŸ™‚
      I do have friends who did meet the loves of their lives at high school, so I know it does happen, but I think it’s rare and yeah I guess it can be harmful in that way as well. Builds up unrealistic expectations for kids in high school.
      Thanks so much Lauren! πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. Ohhhh what a great discussion, Beth!! ❀ I totally agree with what you said. I love my ships, my romance in books, but sometimes it definitely feels so unnecessary and instead overshadows the plot/characters which is hardly ever a good thing. Don't get me started on insta-love, for example! At least, if there's going to be a romance, make it one that I can get behind and support and SEE building instead of having two characters fall in love after a couple of meetings haha. And friendships are so underrated, though it's getting a bit better?? Kind of?? But so many times friends turn into something more, and that's just so unnecessary sometimes. Of course, I don't hate the friend-into-lovers trope because there are some good ones out there, but I do love friendships and would definitely love more of those instead of a romantic relationship that's not always necessary. Lovely discussion, Beth! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Analee. πŸ™‚ Oh I’m the same, I love shipping characters in books but I think when it comes to finding OTPs and ships I look for the development more now than I did when I was a teenager and it was a case of any romance will do. Individual character development always needs to come before romantic development but it seems that isn’t the case in a lot of books nowadays.
      Instalove is kind of the opposite, when the romance isn’t given enough development and yeah I hate that as well. I think it’s a fine line with development and it takes a lot to get it right in the end.
      I love the friends to lovers trope but I din’t enjoy the unrequited friends to lovers trope. That I feel like I see way too often in YA and, like you said, it’s just so unnecessary sometimes.
      Thanks so much Analee. πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes, I didn’t pay much attention to development of a romance back when I first started reading books either. As I started getting more into YA and blogging, especially, developed romances are a big thing for me!
        Right? How am I supposed to ship said character with someone when I hardly care for the character itself due to lack of development? πŸ™ˆ Though sometimes I do actually prefer the ship than the individual characters haha which is a rare and different experience. πŸ˜‚
        Definitely! There are so many tropes YA books use all too often.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Reading tastes change as we grow up and read more books. I didn’t really start thinking about romance development until I started blogging and until I was older as well.
        I don’t ship many characters I think, I enjoy romance in books but there are few I get so attached to that I actively ship them you know. For me to shop characters the development, both individual and romantic, has to be exceptional! πŸ™‚

        Like

  4. Maybe it’s because I’m growing up, but I’ve been looking at romance’s roles in stories differently too. (Like how I finally realized that Jess and Logan aren’t quite the perfect guys I used to think they were–so sad.)

    It used to be that I’d read any book that had even a hint of romance in it, no matter how poorly the characters were developed, and if there wasn’t a romance, I wasn’t reading it. That’s kind of how I treated my own life too: I’d join any activity if there was a cute guy involved, and I didn’t care so much about my own personal growth. Now that I realize how destructive that can be, it pains me to see characters doing the same.

    It makes me wonder if the reason why some books struggle to promote character growth when they focus on romance isn’t that the author got distracted, but that the story is mimicking life. It’s hard to discover who you are when you’re wrapped up in someone else. (Not that it isn’t possible, but it’s a lot more challenging, especially as a teen.)

    Ah, well. I still enjoy those books, even if they sometimes make me feel like a cynical almost-adult.

    Thanks for another awesome post! πŸ™‚ You actually inspired me to write one on this topic myself! (I linked you–hope that’s okay.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah part of me feels that that fact I’m noticing this more now than when I was a teenager was because I am growing up, I tend to pick up on things I maybe wouldn’t have back then.
      Well it’s good you realised that about your own personal growth and yeah I can understand why it pains you seeing characters doing the same thing. I just think for all the young adults who are reading young adult books it’s got to be more positive to see these strong female characters stand on their own than to essentially lose themselves when the romance they have is developed more than their individual character. It would be great to see more of that in YA especially.
      That’s a really good point, and honestly I didn’t think of that myself but now you’ve mentioned it it makes so much sense and I’m kind of kicking myself for not realising it sooner. I agree it’s hard, and definitely even more so when you’re a teenager and still discovered who you are.
      Oh I still enjoy them, I guess i just notice some of the flaws more now than I did back then.
      That’s all right, and oh that’s great to wrote a post about this topic too. I haven’t actually got your link though, could you maybe send it in a comment. I’d love to see it! πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. I love romance in YA books, but I agree that sometimes it feels like the author forced two people to be in a romantic relationship just because it would appeal more to their audience. I don’t mind when this happens in contemporary / realistic books since (romantic) love is a big part of most people’s life. But it does bother me in books where there’s this whole other plot that’s clearly more important. I mean, who has the time to fall in love / worry about crushes when you’re trying to save the world? Or when your world / government is falling apart? Romance in fantasy / dystopia / sci-fi can still be done of course, but I think it’s more of a challenge to make it realistic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That seems to be something a lot of people have noticed in YA if the comments on this post are anything to go by, and it’s a shame because it shouldn’t be the way romance in any book makes us feel you know?
      I think it’s different in contemporary because there is more room to write about the romance between characters, more time to develop everything properly. It’s in fantasy where things start to fall apart, so to say, where characters just don’t feel properly developed anymore, romance feels shallow, etc. Definitely more of a challenge I agree but much harder to get right as well. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, you’re right. It’s not. Hopefully, more authors will realize that a YA book doesn’t have to have romance to be a good book. That might take a while though.
        Oh, definitely. It’s more difficult to balance the different plots and get them all right

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Great discussion post Beth. I agree sometimes the romance just gets in the way of a really good plot. Sometimes I don’t understand why romantic plotlines are thrown in, like is it to satisfy a need to appeal to more audiences? Because I feel like that’s such a waste. Anyways, most romance plots I read are pretty good, but there are the occasional random/forced ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Meghan. Oh it can sometimes can’t it, more in the case of fantasy than contemporary but there’s nothing worse when it seems a romance has been added in simply for the sake of having a romance and appealing to that audience.
      There are likely more good romance plots out there than bad ones. Guess I’ve just been unlucky enough to pick up a few of the bad ones recently. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s almost like the more stuff added into a book, so in fantasy novels the world-building on top of the plot and the character development, the more something inevitably gets less page time. Guess it tends to be either the romance or character development.
        Yeah I certainly hope so. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I love romance, however I feel the same way as you. Like, I really wish that Simon and Clary were only best friends…I think that would have been lovely and would have lessened the hostility Simon felt towards Jace and would have made the books generally less angsty. When Simon and Clary were a couple for that little bit, it felt wrong. To me, it felt like when Rachael and Joey got together in Friends…it was just kind of icky. Heir of Fire is one of my favourite books purely because of the character development and the fact that it wasn’t based around romance…that was what I definitely prefer to see in books. This is a great discussion post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s great to hear, and yeah Simon and Clary are just one example from a book I’ve read recently. They had such a strong friendship that it was a shame they had to try and develop it into a romance that just didn’t feel real to me you know? Ahh, I definitely get what you mean about the whole Rachel and Joey relationship in Friends, at least that didn’t last long!
      Heir of Fire was a brilliant book, and a perfect example of how you can do a fantasy story with great development with no romance. We need more books like it.
      Thanks so much! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my gosh you straight up read my mind! I’ve been getting more and more tired of romances in YA novels that I’m thinking maybe I’m just outgrowing the genre entirely since almost all the hyped up YA books include a romance. But perhaps it’s more because authors are trying to stick it in to appeal to a certain audience, which doesn’t include me, and while doing that have lessened character development as you said here – really great discussion topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, that’s good to hear. It’s something I’ve been thinking of for a while because the books I mentioned in this post are all recent reads of mine. There are a few books out there without romance, and even more where the romance is well written, but yeah I know what you mean. In the case of the ones where it feels like the romance takes away from some other aspect of the story it is like it’s just been added in to appeal to the audience but that’s not what we want. If a romance is added it needs to be well written and well developed.
      Thanks so much, I’m glad you enjoyed this discussion. πŸ™‚

      Like

  9. Ohh, great topic for discussion! Personally I prefer if there was less than more romance in the books I read, simply because its so rare to see these relationships being “helpful” in regards of the story or the character development. But I do admit that when its done right, I can 100% appreciate it. I can’t tell if the insertion of romance in YA novels is a new trend, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone were to say that there’s a lot more of these, just for the sake of pleasing some fans who like seeing those relationships in their stories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lashaan. I still enjoy romance in books I’ll admit but I agree with what you said about it not being so helpful in terms of the story or the character development. If it’s done right it should add something to the story rather than take it away.
      Based on some other comments it does seem like there have been some books that have had romance added in at the last second, so to say, to appeal to the audience. I don’t know about all the other YA readers but I’d rather no romance than a weakly written one!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I swear Beth we’re on the same train of thought because while writing my TBS recommendation I started thinking about romance and why it works so well for me in that series, it doesn’t overshadow the character development. We’ve talked about it before so you know I completely agree with you on everything you said in this.
    I love seeing romance in the books I read. There’s just something about discovering a new ship that makes me giddy. Though, of course, I don’t mind books without romance but I do tend to read more books with romance. And because of that, I’ve noticed more and more the fact that I prefer slow-burns that allow time for the characters to develop outside of each other before a romance is even attempted. I can’t stand when romance overshadows character development. I feel like it sort of kills my connection with a character when everything is suddenly all about the romance and I haven’t even gotten the chance to know who the character is outside of it.
    I haven’t read ToG or Empress of a Thousand Skies so I can’t comment on those but I’m with you on The Mortal Instruments. Simon’s character development really suffered because of the whole Clary and Simon thing. I remember not liking him until City of Glass whenever I first read the first half of the series and that had a lot to do with me just not connecting with his characters and not caring for the romance. Also, there’s the fact that Clary and Simon made great friends and why ruin that with a romance, you know? 🀦
    Honestly, I feel like romance can make or break a book for me. If it doesn’t overshadow everything I love it but if it starts to then it’s a big hit to the book and I don’t enjoy it.
    Great discussion!! 😁β™₯

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well it was actually my discussion with you earlier about the Simon/Clary romance in City of Ashes that prompted this discussion post. Simply because it got me thinking about how many times I’ve seen romance like that in books and how many times it just isn’t necessary and can take away from other important aspects I’d rather be reading about if I’m being honest.
      Yep, I completely agree, I love romance in books and I’d never want it to go away completely, but it seems like sometimes there’s a case of romance for romances sake where authors have just added it in to appeal to the audience and you can definitely tell cant you. It hasn’t been written all that well and yeah overshadows the character development.
      ToG is an amazing series, and in terms of romance done right SJM is an author I would highly recommend. I’ve used her as a positive example a few times now in these discussion posts and it’s just because she’s a brilliant writer. Empress of a Thousand Skies yeah is kind of the opposite of all that. :/
      Simon and Clary were great as friends, and honestly it would have made the book so much better and so much stronger if they’d stayed that way rather than trying to force them into a romance and essentially stunting Simon’s own character development.
      Like with any aspect of a book development is important with romance as well, I can definitely see why it would make or break a book for you, it’s the same with me.
      Thanks so much Melissa! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s awesome that our discussion about the Simon/Clary romance ended up inspiring this discussion! 😁 Thinking about it now, romances like that are too often showcased in books which leads to it lacking in a way it wouldn’t otherwise. Which sucks because, like you said, there are other more important aspects I’d rather be reading than that.
        Definitely, when romances is done as just an element to appeal to an audience you really can tell. There’s always this forced feeling or a complete disconnect with the character. And having the characters’ development revolve around that romance pretty much never works out. I feel like romance should just be this bonus and not something that the whole thing revolves around. Especially when it comes to a series, things outside of contemporary, since there is so much of the world to explore and the characters within the world. Why throw all that away to just have a romance focus, you know?
        Given what I’ve seen of her romances in ACOTAR I can tell just from that that whenever I read ToG I’m going to love that aspect. Right now she is the queen of second romances in my book because she really knows how to showcase the natural progression of a character ending a relationship due to how they’ve changed and become someone who doesn’t fit with someone they were previously with.
        Exactly! It definitely would have made the books much stronger if Clary and Simon would have stayed just friends. Then we could have seen Simon develop more earlier on. That will always be the one thing I didn’t care for in the first half of TMI.
        You’re welcome, Beth!! 😁β™₯

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Most of my discussion topics seem to be influenced by conversations I’ve had, it’s why my ideas of discussion topics seem to change each week because something new always seems to pop up I wanna talk about first. I almost feel like when it comes to book romances are always the areas that receive the least development. Like the author will build up the individual characters but then forget about building up their relationship together you know?
        You’d think that publishers and editors would see this in the stories before they’re published. If a romance is forced wouldn’t they notice it as well. In the end it’s got to be better to have no romance than a false one, give that page time to develop something else. Romance should definitely be a bonus I agree, an add on rather than the characters whole story. That’s something I think Samantha Shannon and V.E. Schwab did really well. There are romances in both their series but it is almost a bonus, all the other development of the world, the characters and the stories came first.
        ToG is the same when it comes to romance (well, not exactly the same, if not we’d be reading the same story all over again) but given the same level of detail and development as Feyre and Rhys in ACOTAR/ACOMAF. Definitely the queen of second romances in my book as well! I think of all the books I have read SJM is in a league of her own when it comes to writing romances like she does.
        Well it’s not in the second half of the series, kind of obviously given Clary and Jace know they’re not related anymore! πŸ™‚ So hopefully his development will just get stronger and stronger.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Most of mine come from conversations I’ve had too. Either that or the book I’m reading. I completely agree! There does always seem to be parts of romances in books that are lacking. Although, I have run into individual character development being sacrificed for romance rather than the other way around more often.
        That’s what I’m wondering. Sometimes I think it’s a case of what sales. And while in our online book community most of us don’t like our books completely revolving around romance there is a big market for romance books. I just think it isn’t one of those things that is as scrutinized by publishers as other things. But, yeah, I agree that in the end it’s better to have no romance. And yes! Samantha Shannon and V.E. Schwab are perfect that making the romance more of a bonus. Honestly that is a huge reason why the romances in their books are my favorite. I do think Samantha Shannon takes the prize for longest slow-burn romance build up though. Three books later and Paige and Warden haven’t even really admitted to their true feelings. They kind of skate around it. πŸ˜‚
        SJM is definitely in a league of her own when it comes to romance. Besides Samantha Shannon and V.E. Schwab she is one of my favorites when it comes to romance in fantasy. You have me even more excited to read ToG now! Funny enough my mom ended up reading them the past few months and wants me to read them now so she has someone to talk to about them. πŸ˜‚
        I really do think his development gets stronger in the second half. I can’t wait for you to read the rest of TMI! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It’s funny the things that can inspire you isn’t it? Mine tend to be mostly from conversations but then I do tend to pick up on books I’ve recently read that can be used as evidence you know? You’d think when it comes to development authors and publishers would realise that it would be better to develop the characters before the romance, and if anything needs to be sacrificed it should be the romance instead.
        I do love romance books, and yeah if a book has romance in it I guess I’m more likely to pick it up, but at the same time I think now I’m getting older I value books that are well written over books that have romance in for romances sake you know?
        V.E. Schwab is also good at writing great books without romance in at all. Have you read Vicious yet? That’s an amazing book and it has no romance either so it’s kind of proof you can write amazing books without romance, it’s not a necessity. Slow burn is a great way to describe Warden and Paige’s relationship, but it makes it all the more better when we get those small scenes with the two of them together. And it will make it feel more special when the two of them actually admit their feelings.
        Oh definitely, Sarah J Maas, V.E. Schwab and Samantha Shannon are just amazing authors when it comes to romance and fantasy. Oh then in that case I hope you enjoy the ToG series, it’s wonderful and given you love ACOTAR series I’m sure you’ll love this one as well. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It really is. That’s probably one of my favorite things about book blogging – we have conversations that inspire us to talk about certain topics in more depth. Right? You would think that would be something obvious but apparently not given the amount of romances that overshadow character development versus the ones that don’t.
        I completely agree. It’s the same for me. I know when I was younger I was a huge romance reader (which means a lot of old favorites are books I now don’t care for) and even though I still like romance I’d rather have a book with no romance over one that just has it for romances sake. Better writing, better development is always preferred.
        I haven’t read Vicious yet but it’s on my list for this year so hopefully I get to it. I’ve heard it’s a great villain type of book for other bloggers and I really want to read it. Especially after having loved the Shades of Magic books so much. And Warden and Paige’s slow-burn relationship definitely makes those little scenes that much better. I can already imagine my reaction when they do actually admit their feelings. I will be freaking out big time! πŸ™ˆ
        I hope so too! Although, I’m trying to put off reading them until the last book is released next year. I might spread them out over next year. Pace myself and all of that. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Same here, I’m trying to draft a few discussion posts so I have them ready to go for each week. My next one is something that’s been on my mind for a while as well, again because of another conversation I had with another blogger. I think until people realise you don’t necessarily need romance to sell it won’t be something publishers pick up on, because obviously their priority is books that sell isn’t it?
        Most of the books I enjoyed as a child/teenager I still enjoy now but there are a few I’ve realised aren’t that good when you go back and realise the romance is all that’s really been developed well.
        Vicious is a great example of a book with better writing and better development than some of the other books which prioritise romance over both those aspects. Give you enjoyed the Shades of Magic books I’d highly recommend it. It fits in with their characters doesn’t it, the slow burn romance. They’re both people who find it hard to trust and open up so it would have been weird if they were declaring their love for one another in the first book!
        Sounds like a good plan. I tend to do that with books where I know there’ll be a long wait for the last book, or even just the next book! πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I’ve been trying to draft one at the beginning of each month since I’ve been doing them monthly. I can’t wait to see what your next one is about! 😁 Exactly, publishers are going to pick the books they think will sell. Sooner or later, hopefully, they’ll realize they don’t technically need romance to sale and there is a bigger market for books without romance.
        I think contemporary wise there are still a lot of old favorites I love but fantasy wise a lot of my favorites had really underdeveloped romances. I tried to reread the Hush, Hush books last year and couldn’t get past the first book. And I used to love that series. πŸ™ˆ
        It really does! I couldn’t imagine Paige and Warden’s relationship not being slow-burn because, like you said, they’re both characters who have a tough time opening up to others. It definitely would have been weird to have them declare their love in the first book. Especially with everything that happened in that book. πŸ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I’m sticking to a twice a month schedule for discussions. It works so far and I keep getting ideas so I may as well keep posting them for however long I have them.
        It’s almost like romance is a trend, like vampires was way back when, and all the books have it but soon we’ll start seeing more and more books where there isn’t romance and it will be the trend dying down a little (I doubt romance will ever be a trend that completely falls out of fashion but you know what I mean right?)
        I haven’t read too many old fantasy favourites, but I think I can see what you mean. I read Hush Hush ages ago and wasn’t a massive fan so either way that won’t be one I’m picking up again. πŸ™‚
        It would just feel unrealistic, and kind of be everything I wrote in this post about. I doubt we’d love the series and the relationship between them so much if things had ended up going that way.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Yep, if the ideas are flowing keep posting! Which I’m hoping I don’t run out of ideas anytime soon because doing monthly discussion is fun.
        It really does seem almost like a trend. Especially with NA having really come into popularity within the last few years, I feel. I definitely think we’ll start seeing more without romance though. It’s just a matter of time. Especially because there’s been a lot of talk of people wanting books without romance. But yeah, I don’t think romance will every completely go away in books either. Too many people enjoy it for that to happen. And I would never want it to completely go away. I’d just love to see more great books that don’t have romance. 😊
        Hush Hush has all the tropes I can’t stand now. Insta love and girl hate being two big ones. Can I blame my fallen angel obsession for loving them when I first read them? Because I so do. πŸ˜‚
        It definitely would have felt unrealistic and I don’t think we would love the series as much if it had turned out that way. Good thing it didn’t! Which I attribute to the fact that Samantha Shannon is also a fan of slow-burns and romance being a bonus rather than the focus. (that rhymes and is officially my fantasy motto lol) 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I have an idea for another feature I’ll be posting soon (probably in June now) and I am so so excited for it, it’s been swimming around in my head for a good few months now so I really want to try and get around to it soon. And yeah discussions are a lot of fun.
        NA has definitely become more and more popular recently, which is great to see isn’t it, but even if seeing a lot of romance is a trend I don’t think it will ever be one that fades out of existence. Hopefully it will be one that slows down so we get some books without it in which we can have better developed characters. I enjoy romance, and don’t get me wrong I love seeing books with romance, but there are others I read where I just find myself thinking, this would have been so much better without that romance taking away from the characters you know?
        God that sounds awful, I could possibly look past one of them but girl hate and insta-love, definitely not the book for me.
        Very very good thing it didn’t, I imagine if it had been though it would have turned into a completely different series as well. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      11. I’m officially curious! I can’t wait to see whatever this new feature it. Everyone has been coming up with feature lately that it makes me want to do the same but well no ideas for one at the moment. Maybe in the future! πŸ˜‚
        I definitely don’t think romance will ever completely fade out either but am completely with you on hoping that it slows down a bit and makes room for books without romance. And YES! There have been several books where I’ve thought that about how it would be so much better without the romance. That was me with The Movie Version. That book needed the cut the romance and have dual POVs and it would have possibly been better.
        Definitely would have. It would have fallen into the trap that some dystopia/fantasys do with making everything romance focused.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Well in that case I’ll be sure to let you know when I post it, so you can check it out and let me know what you think. I’m very excited about it so I hope everyone else will be as well! πŸ˜€
        I haven’t read The Movie Version but I remember seeing some mixed reviews for it. I read a book recently, and while the romance and character development were well written I did wonder if the book would have been better if the main character hadn’t had a romance. I’m not sure how to explain it but I think this book would have been just as good without the romance, maybe even better.
        Yeah, I’ve read a few dystopias where romance takes the front and centre stage and I’ve never enjoyed them that much. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      13. I definitely don’t recommend The Movie Version. Not just because of the romance being terrible but also because of the bad mental illness rep. That one is just an all around not great book. What was the book you read that you felt could have been better without the romance?
        Same. I’ve read more than a few. I feel like a lot of dystopias ran into that trap back when they were really popular. πŸ™ˆ

        Liked by 1 person

      14. I did read that more than one review of The Movie Version, yours was one of them even I think, so I never really added it to my to-read list because of that. There are some cases where any rep is good rep but I don’t think that’s the case with diversity.
        It was actually Flame in the Mist. It’s still an amazing book, and I loved the romance as well but I just found myself wondering if, based on this character’s past and thoughts at the beginning of the book, their development would have been stronger without the romance appearing in the first book. I dunno, you’ll have to let me know what you think when you read the book. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      15. I completely agree about that! Definitely not the case with diversity. Especially whenever a book is covering an experience others could have gone through.
        Ahhh okay! I will definitely let you know what I end up thinking about the romance in Flame in the Mist once I read it. You’ve got me curious if I’ll end up thinking the same or not now. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      16. It may be a case if now I’ve mentioned it you may notice it more (that’s what happens with me in books) but just based on the characters thoughts in the beginning and their overall journey the romance felt like it was in there to appeal to an audience more than because the story needed it you know? πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Lovely post, Beth! I definitely think that romance can be good — ONLY if it’s developed, done well, and done to advance the plot. If it’s just romance for romance’s sake, then it’s like why is this here??? Instalove is one thing I absolutely HATE, because it’s a relationship that formed with no development whatsoever, making it totally unrealistic. Sometimes, I feel like YA focuses too much on the romance — there are some books that I think would’ve worked fine without any love interests (I can’t think of any right now though πŸ˜› ). I think it would be AWESOME to see more platonic relationships. They are SO awesome to read — all cute and fluffy and just… GAH.

    So yeah. If the romance is done well and accurately developed, there’s a strong chance I’ll like it. If it’s NOT, and it seems like they would be better off as friends… I probably WON’T like it. We really do need more friendships in YA though!]

    May @ Forever and Everly

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much May, and yeah that’s pretty much my thoughts on romance as well. It’s the same as any aspect in books it needs to be well developed for it to feel real and it seems like most times the romance is the part that’s the least developed. Oh I definitely agree on instalove, it’s almost like the author has decided to go with no development whatsoever instead of working at it to make it real.
      We do need more strong friendships in YA books, that’s something I’ve mentioned a few times before because it does seem to be something we’re lacking somewhat, and it can be just as heartwarming to read a well written and well developed friendship as it is a romance can’t it? πŸ™‚
      Here’s to more strong written friendships in the place of weak written romances then! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Such a lovely discussion, Beth! I really enjoy reading romances in stories and fluffy kind of contemporaries are overflowing my TBR ahah, I love it, but I admit that it’s something I could do without in some kind of books. It’s not really necessary all the time, especially in fantasy stories where sometimes the story and characters would develop just find, and even better, without it.
    I can’t think of any books to illustrate this argument at the moment, but I think that at times, developing romances allow the character to develop even more just as well – I guess it just depends on the book. I recently finished reading a contemporary, called 180 seconds, and there was romance in it but it allowed so, so much in terms of character development, it was incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie. πŸ˜€ ❀ Yeah I love reading contemporaries as well, and I've found nine times out of ten the romance in them works better because the authors have the space to develop both it and the characters. In fantasy it can be give and take. There's so much happening the romance either falls in the wayside or takes away from something else.
      Oh I know what you mean, I've read books that do the same thing and I think that's a great way of writing characters and writing romance as well. It just seems like for the most part when you're reading romance in books it's kind of put a hold on the character development or something else to that effect you know? πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I also really enjoy romance in plots, but it has to be well-done. I totally agree there are books where it doesn’t seem to be serving any function in the story and comes across looking as more of a marketing ploy. I was actually talking to an editor about a book once and mentioned that the romance in a particular book felt forced and out of place (I knew the book was from her imprint but not that she actually personally edited the book). So it was really awkward when she told me that there had been no romance initially; she told the author the add it to appeal to readers. Yeah…I could tell. While I was sort of embarrassed I accidentally probably insulted her, I hope it helped her think more about forcing authors to add romance to plots, but who knows?

    I think romances should be like any other character relationship, and the author needs to think about how interacting with the love interest changes the protagonist. What is the dynamic of the relationship? Is the love interest helping the character grow, holding them back, or just acting as scenery because “romance sells”?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Romance in books can end up being just as important as the character development or the plot so it needs to be developed the same amount, and you can definitely tell when it hasn’t been. That’s quite interesting, and someone mentioned previously that it was the same case with The Hunger Games where a romance was added in at the request of the publisher/editor. I think THG is a rare book where it worked but more often than not if an author is adding in a romance simply so a book sells more it will feel forced. I dunno, it would be nice if what you said did make that author think, we don’t need romance to enjoy books.
      I definitely agree, there is a lot more that goes into a romance than just putting two characters together and having them kiss and say “I love you” to one another. It takes a lot of work to make it work in books and it’s gotta be better leaving it out than forcing it in. πŸ™‚

      Like

  14. I enjoy romance in books when it’s developed. But just reading a book for the romance is not something I would do, I think that’s one of the reasons that I don’t tend to read contemporaries – as romance, for the most part, seems to be the main aspect. And I don’t care about it. I get very exited when I see that a book has no romance, as I find that those are very rare.
    Great discussion Beth! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See I quite like contemporaries because I find the romances are better developed in some cases. Possibly because there’s more time to develop the romance than in fantasy books where there’s so much else going on. Oh I agree books with no romance are really rare, and some of them have ended up being favourites of mine because even without the romance there’s still more than enough there to keep me interested.
      Thanks so much Anna! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have to agree that the romance in contemporaries is better developed. I just don’t have any interest in a book when there are no supernatural or fantasy elements to it. (Aside from a few exceptions that is.) Plus in most contemporaries romance is the main point of the book and I don’t care about it that much, so I tend to stay away from them. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Asides from a few notable exceptions when it comes to romance I’ve kind of come to prefer it in contemporary books than fantasy for that reason. Oh it’s a shame you’re not that interested in the genre. I guess the exceptions must be really exceptional books in that case. Also if you know you won’t enjoy the book there’s no point in picking it up in the first case. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Such a great discussion post and I totally agree with you. Don’t get me wrong, I am a hopeless romantic but the more I read now the more redundant relationships becomes and I keep asking myself if the romance is even necessary. I love when two characters share a friendship and there isn’t a push toward romance at all. It is a nice change.
    This post was great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, and that’s great to hear. Oh I’m a hopeless romantic as well but I think development is important and needed so romances in books don’t feel redundant. Definitely a nice change, and I think it’s something we need to see more of in YA as well, strong friendships instead of weak romances.
      Thanks so much! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I remember being SO excited about the Rowan and Aelin relationship in Heir Of Fire because it was NOT a romantic one! I was still aboard my Chaol/Aelin ship and loved the idea of a great friendship between Rown and Aelin. Things obviously turned out differently and I am 100% aboard Rowan/Aelin these days!

    I really hate it when friendships suddenly mean nothing because a love interest is introduced to a character! And I also want more books that have great friendships in them in general. I want a variety of relationships represented in YA!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed their relationship in Heir of Fire, and I enjoyed how it developed as well. That’s something Sarah J. Maas does really well, makes you ship characters seemingly completely out of the blue even when it goes against your previous OTP. I’m definitely all about Rowan/Aelin as well! πŸ˜€
      Oh I completely agree. I’ve said it more than a few times but I love reading strong friendships in YA, we don’t need those replaced by romances they can be powerful enough to stand on their own. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I love how like I do, you always use SJM books as the pinnacle example. WHY IS SHE SO GOOD???

    I definitely agree with you regarding Empress! The relationship between Aly and Kara was so manufactured and annoying, and seemed like it was there just because ALL YA have a romance. It definitely gets really tired (I had my own discussion a couple months back about this), especially when the couple being forced together totally sucks. I feel different about TMI just because Simon liked her before the timeline of the books started, and as the books go on, they do share a true friendship.

    But, yeah, I definitely get irritated when a romance takes over world-building or plot or character development, especially when a book has so much potential. 😝

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, yeah I’ve used her a fair few times but she’s an amazing author and it’s one of my favourite series so I can’t really be blamed! πŸ˜€
      I honestly thought for a while Empress to a Thousand Skies wouldn’t have a romance, because Kara wasn’t introduced until late in the game, and it made me interested to see where the story would go. Then she was introduced and it’s like all of Aly’s development just flew out the window. I get the whole feeling tired of it feeling though. πŸ™‚
      I haven’t got that far into TMI books so maybe when I do I’ll feel differently but it was just something that bugged me in City of Ashes more than any other book you know?
      Books don’t need romance, if it has amazing world building or an amazing plot it can stand on those can’t it? πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I do love seeing diversity in books, especially diverse romances because we need more of them in general. Development is important in any aspect of a story, authors wouldn’t include a poorly developed plot but sometimes you see poorly developed romances and it just makes me wonder what the point of including it even was! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I don’t mind romance in books but I do feel like people are paired up together just for the sake of it sometimes. I hate it when that happens. One thing I crave in books is solid friendships. Sometimes I’d much rather read about an amazing friendship than a romantic relationship just because it’s been done so many times. I think friendships are more interesting to read about a lot of times. Don’t get me wrong though I do love a romance if it’s needed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t mind it either, and actually I agree with what you’re saying because sometimes it does feel like romance is being added in simply for the sake of having it in the story. We definitely need more solid friendships, I wrote a discussion around that subject a few weeks back and strong friendships is something I want to see a lot more in books. You don’t always need a romance as long as there’s a connect there. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  19. One thing I hate about romances in books is when the author thinks they have to pair EVERYONE off. It becomes distracting to the overall. However, I of course don’t mind them in books as long as it doesn’t define their character (if that make sense).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes I know what you mean. That’s something that annoys me as well because real life isn’t like that, not everyone ends up with someone around the same time all their friends do. I think that does make sense, but still it’s got to be nice to see some variety in terms of the people who end up with someone and those who don’t at this moment in time you know? πŸ™‚

      Like

  20. I like it when romance is part of the story but not the whole story. I think authors sometimes feel like they have to include romance, and sometimes they are pressured by the publisher to include it (like in The Hunger Games). The lack of character development bothers me but not always… after all I’ve read 22 books of Stephanie Plum series that have almost no character development but I still enjoy them and a big reason for that is that I’m still hoping that the romance will end the way I want it to.
    To be honest, I kinda shipped Juliette and Kenji, but I loved them as friends and it’s good that nothing romantic happened there because there was already a love triangle and adding yet another person would be ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think adding a romance in between characters can be hard, and if it doesn’t fit in with the story then it shouldn’t be included. I didn’t actually know that about The Hunger Games but that’s a book that does romance well because it’s not the whole story and it doesn’t define Katniss’s character.
      I’m kind of the opposite, I need character development to keep me interested in a series. If not I won’t enjoy it as much as I maybe should have, and Empress of a Thousand Skies is a prime example of that.
      Yeah adding a love square into that book would have been a little too much, plus Juliette and Kenji had an amazing relationship, with or without romance. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I LOVE romance in novels! I actually recently did a post similar to this where I talked about the role f romance in books. I find that I tend to enjoy certain book more when there is a romantic relationship within the story but at the same time I don’t want the romance to overshadow the plot of the book or take away from the character development. For the most part I feel like romance can help encourage character development and doesn’t always take away from it. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For the most part I enjoy romance in books as well, but there have been more than a few times where it seems like introducing and developing the romance has taken away from the character development and I don’t like that. I agree there are occasions where romance can further character development but I haven’t seen many examples of that so far. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s