Here's the thing. The more books I read, the more certain things bother me. I'm not usually one to rant, but the love relationships in YA novels? Well, they're getting me all kinds of frustrated. Srsly folks. These things? These things make me want to throw a novel across the room and then hunt down the author with an unsanitized pitchfork. These things fall a little flat.
1. Lopsided love triangles
It seems like every novel these days has to throw in a love triangle. But see, here's the thing. Most novels? THEY DON'T NEED THEM! You know the drill ... the story starts with a Heroine who meets boy A. Let's call him Adam. They fall madly, desperately, make-you-sick-just-by-reading-their-kissing-scenes in love. Then Heroine meets boy B (Bernie - not an attractive name, but you know she's going to end up with Adam anyway). Heroine gets all conflicted because Bernie loves her too. The novel then focuses entirely on the Heroine's FEELINGS, completely ignoring the rest of the plot while she vacillates back and forth between the two boys like a ping pong.
Some people might claim this adds conflict, but I say it just makes the Heroine seem flighty and stupid. The argument here is that it makes Couple A's love stronger and more meaningful in the end when they've triumphed over their obstacles (aka, Bernie). To me though, it just puts a time limit on their love because I don't really feel it's real anyway. When you love someone, you don't start looking at someone else.
2. Instant love at first sight
I get the fact that people can get crushes almost instantly. I get the fact that you can find someone attractive when you first see them. In fact, this happened with me and the hubby. I met him and I liked him. BUT. Those novels where Heroine meets Boy and they instantly feel a connection sooooo deep that NOTHING can shake it? I don't believe it. They fall so madly in love (after one conversation usually) that the Boy can tell her he's a werewolf/vampire/fairy/some-other-crazy-half-breed with something evil out to kill them, oh, and Heroine has to forsake her family and give up everything else that she loves all for the sake of Boy-She-Just-Met? Then the Heroine says "No problem! I love you sugar pie!" Yeah ... not working for me.
3. Good girl falls for bad boy, who of course, reforms for her
Why, oh why, are there so many YA novels about a girl reforming the bad boy??? There are so many "bad boys" in YA I think we could man a whole planet with them. In these books, the bad boy always finds there's something different about the Heroine that makes him want to get all gushy and change his bad boy ways. Just a hint all you teenage readers out there? THIS IS NOT THE GUY YOU WANT TO GET INVOLVED WITH. Not only is this a silly trend in YA, I think it's damaging for young readers who think it's true to real life. Stalkers are not cute. Not even vampire ones who spy on you at night through your window. Boys who love you so much they'll go into a rage and hurt others when you're having a fight are NOT GOOD BOYFRIENDS.
And, DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED on books where all three of these relationship elements are combined. (Heroine meets Boy A, who of course is a bad boy with abusive tendencies and instantaneously falls outrageously in love with him. Then she meets Boy B who is good for her, the guy she should choose, and then she gets conflicted. But of course, true love *don't make me gag* wins out in the end and Bad Boy A reforms and they live happily ever after). *Snorts*
I'm sure there are books where love triangles/love at first sight/bad boy reformations work. I'm not saying these things are always wrong. But, these are not plot elements to just throw into your novel to "spice things up". They have to be handled with care.
What ever happened to love stories where boy meets girl and they fall in love? Is it because there isn't enough conflict for it to be an interesting story? Is it possible to have a good love story without all the relationship drama mentioned above? I'm seriously curious.
Am I being too harsh? I dunno. I've rarely seen a book where these elements are pulled off well. I'd love to be proven wrong though. Are there any books where you think these things actually worked and added to the story?