My Thoughts is a feature where I attempt to write bookish discussions. If you had spent any time with me in real life you would learn I have this habit of blurting out random thoughts from time to time when I allow my mind to wander. It’s from these random thoughts these posts emerge as I attempt to write some coherent thoughts about what’s been on my mind. I am trying to combine this with my attempts at participating in the Discussion Challenge this year.
I know that it is a big thing in YA about romance. It is hard to come by a YA book that doesn’t have a romance, or at least not the ones I’m reading. Now, I am a fan of romance (in case you couldn’t tell from my reading) and I will never complain at the fact there is romance in a book. I will complain if it is a romance that doesn’t feel natural, comes across as forced to give a book extra drama and expand a plot and I will complain if I plain old don’t like the chosen couple for said romance.
I don’t know, I don’t think romance is always necessary, and it can ruin a book for me if done badly.
The question is, does a book have to have a romance? Is it a bookish requirement?
I don’t think it is. I can think of three books off the top of my head where I either didn’t like the romance or felt the romance was unnecessary. Those books/series are Harry Potter, The Grisha Trilogy and the Throne of Glass series. Why these books? Let me explain.
In Harry Potter there are various romances (which I loved because characters deserve love and family) but the one I was bothered by was Harry and Ginny.
I know a lot of people are unsure on this one and the Ron/Hermione romance, but there is a simple reason for my being annoyed at this romance. It felt far too sudden. Don’t get me wrong, I can fully imagine various romances for our characters, they were hormone ridden teenagers who were spending a lot of time with a small group of people. I don’t mind the fact they got together. I was more bothered by the fact Harry and Ginny got together because it appeared out of nowhere.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually like them as a couple. I fully embraced their coupledom in the books, they were quite fun. You could see how they were friends and I liked that. It’s more the suddenness which bothered me. Some fans may claim they could see it coming, but when I was reading these books romance never even sprang to mind. I was genuinely shocked in Half Blood Prince when they got together. I accepted it quite willingly, they had made good friends after all, I just would have been just as happy if they hadn’t. That romance felt unnecessary when it came to the books, but it didn’t ruin the story so it’s an acceptable romance for me.
A romance which ruined the books for me is that in The Grisha trilogy between Alina and Mal. I could have liked that series if it weren’t for that romance (well… there were other complaints to be had, but I may not have disliked it as strongly).
That romance put me off the books as a whole because Mal was a terrible character nobody likes. That may be a bit dramatic, but I didn’t like him. I wanted to punch in the face with how selfish he was and I couldn’t keep reading a book about a girl who would love someone like that. I hate when terrible romances are allowed to continue. If Mal in some way redeemed himself and grew as a character I maybe could have accepted it. But he didn’t. he was just an absolute knob and the less said about him the better. Those books make me so annoyed, that is how much a bad romance bothers me in a book.
And then we have the romance of Throne of Glass. I have read only two books in this series and this is largely down to the fact I became fully invested in the ship of Celeana and Chaol and it looks like Maas has allowed that ship to crash and burn. Why would she allow me to love that ship so much and then trash it? I mean, I don’t know for certain that has happened as I am too scared to read the next two books, but the accidental spoilers I’ve picked up in the blogosphere imply this fact. I hate nothing more than when you are allowed to become invested in a romance which holds little hope of continuing. If there had been no strong romance in the series I would have continued reading, so to have a ship created, ruined and (if rumours are true) to have new ships developing instead, that drives me from a series.
This one at least isn’t a series ruiner. There is every chance that once the Throne of Glass series is finished I will read them all and I will either feel vindicated as my ship sails or mourn it’s passing, but either way I’ll know.
Anyway, my point is that romance isn’t always necessary and when done wrong it can greatly impact your enjoyment of a book. I am noticing this is more a trend in YA series than anywhere else, which is upsetting. I don’t mind a series having romance (or any book) because I love love. I am an unabashed lover of romance, but I don’t want it to be something which overwhelms the actual book. I want it be something which happens to the characters but doesn’t detract from the story as a whole.
What are your thoughts on romance in books? Is there a book or series which you’ve read where the romance has ruined the book as a whole?