« books with little to no romance plot, because I’m a mean human being who hates love (I’m basically the Grinch). »
In truth, it’s not that I don’t like love (I love love), but it’s because I’ve learned the hard way that romance in books is, more often than not, something completely unbearable for me.
The day I discovered “instalove”
Being someone whose first language is not English, I first came across the term « insta-love » probably a year ago.
I had just finished reading Dorothy Must Die (and what a huge disappointment this book was), and I was reading the review on Goodreads (something I tend to avoid before reading a book, or else I just wouldn’t read anything, those comments are so harsh sometimes !) and one of the reviewers mentioned « insta-love » and it was like a revelation.
« Yes ! It’s not that I don’t like romance, I just fucking hate insta-love ! That’s it ! I’m not a monster with no feelings ! »
No, but seriously.
In terms of insta-love, Dorothy Must Die is, in my mind, the perfect example of everything I hate :
I remember that Amy is supposed to learn magic in order to defeat Dorothy, and of course, one of her teachers turns out to be the only male character in those books, a very attractive, mysterious male character, who’s very unpleasant to her, and whom she hates until wait- no she doesn’t.
I remember the absurd jealousy she feels when he goes to help one of his female friends, a friend he’s known for a very long time, a friend who’s been through a very traumatic experience, almost died really, and came back to HQ injured, for fuck’s sake ! And the only thing Amy can think about is how he didn’t spare her a glance, like she means anything to him, like he means anything to her !
This part was so ridiculous, I’m sure I had to stop reading for a few minutes, had to put the book down before I did something I would have regretted.
The part when I try to convince you that I’m not a monster
I don’t have anything against romance, if it’s well-written then there’s a good chance that I’ll get on board with it, but as a principle, I tend to avoid anything that sounds too romancy – whether it’s straight, gay, or lesbian romance, if it’s the main part of the story, I am not going to read it. It’s just not the kind of book I like.
Give me a great plot, with great characters, and a side of romance if you feel like it, that’s what I want.
And for fuck’s sake, don’t try to convince me that the main character is happy eventually, by writing an epilogue with kids playing innocently in a field. Like children are the be-all end-all of existence. Like a person/character can’t be happy unless they’re married with 2,5 kids. Can you be more heteronormative, I dare you !
(Can you guess that I’m still bitter about that Hunger Games epilogue ? Because I am !)
(I could also talk about the HP epilogue, but let’s not go there either)
And, the problem with books, and with YA in particular, a genre I tend to read a lot, is that everything seems romancy, but the reality isn’t necessarily true.
The summary of The Raven Boys exagerates so much the romance factor :
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
And the reality turned out to be so much more. There’s actually so little romance in these books, and even when there is, it’s by little touches, and I think it’s done so well that I don’t mind at all, I even like it. And I do have to like it. I have to see how those two characters are great for each other.
The author has to make me care. The author has to make me ship it
And that’s the real issue here. Most of the time, I don’t really care about the characters’ love lives. You know, when I want romance, fluffy feelings and domestic idiots, I just turn to fanfiction. I turn to characters that I love, characters that I already know and feel are perfect for each other. There’s no convincing needed, I’m already there. Which in turns, makes me very reluctant to look for romance in published books, because they always fall short, because I know that the kind of romance I want to read about, I’ll read it in fanfiction works.
The slowburn, the angst, the miscommunication, all the things left unsaid, the pining, the deep love and devotion. Those are things I constantly find in fanfictions, things that are so badly done in published works.
So when I find a book that actually makes me ship characters from the beginning and without making my eyes roll into their sockets, I want to latch onto this book and never let go, and just praise the author because « Yes ! You have done the impossible ! »
I’m always going to come back to The Raven Boys, but I’m just obsessed, and this story is so well done, and most of all, (among another special pairing) Maggie managed to make me love and care about the two main characters’ relationship. The slowburn is a magnificent torture, and even though I know it’s not going to end well, I’m on board every step of the way.