Annoying Clichés in Young Adult Romance Fiction

O.k I am going to talk about my LEAST favorite genre in the young adult books. This is also the one I am pretty concerned about because there are some themes that are being retreaded over and over and over.
When I was a kid, if you wanted to read YA romance novels you usually turned to sweet valley high. They weren’t perfect- they are pretty darn close to pretty little liars- but it seems Ya fiction has come a long way from that former assessment.
I guess romance novels have become a beast in of itself, and while I was sort of expecting chick lit- which I don’t seem to mind reading from time to time- this seemed a lot more like harlequin romances than anything.
They are also trending number one in teen novels…beside fantasy/ sci fi and dystopian novels.Which have the same similar themes. As I started to read them a lot of them became blurred into the same darn plot albeit some key changes here and there.

Lover Boy as the Bad Damaged Distant Guy

He has penetrating eyes, and strong biceps tends to be a ladies man but doesn’t seem to connect with anyone. He is damaged , in some way or another. He has a dark past which usually involves sexual, physical or some kind of abuse. He has horrible parents or absent ones. He has no direction in life until he meets….

Wimpy Damaged Heroine

Our damaged heroine is a victim. She has been a victim of horrible parents/death/rape/incest/domestic violence… but somehow is still pretty wimpy. She shivers a lot and is unaware of her captivating beauty. That all changes when she meets ( insert ridiculous name here ) who awakens her and frightens her at the same time. Even though he is dangerous, and can’t stand having anyone talk to her or any men around her she feels ALIVE. She has no real ambition of her own. We don’t know any of her talents, we don’t know how she thinks and quite frankly she is pretty annoying. Despite people saying how great she is, she is pretty one dimensional

I hated these two themes more than anything else because it promotes the idea that if you fall in love, your pain and scars will disappear… if anything without therapy a relationship with two very screwed up individuals can become even more conflicted , toxic and codependent. It is not a cure, and romanticizing codependency is an extremely irresponsible thing to do . They very rarely really deepen on how this pain affects the characters. If you really want to know the effect of physical or sexual abuse go read i know why the caged bird sings, among other books. It’s really very dark and you do not recover just by some manly man cradling your weakened body into your arms.

Unecessary Conflict
After a lot of misunderstanding they get close… like fall- in -love- after- three- days -close. And then like there is some random stupid barrier that doesn’t allow them to get closer …. some misunderstanding

At the last minute
They realize their love until

Another unecessary conflict
Usually someone is about to die, is going to die or will die. Only they don’t …they make some miraculous recovery.

The girl is always a virgin
There is a lot of very steamy love scenes in this which surprises me because it is catered to teens where the stupid inexperienced virgin ( that everyone is surprised she is a virgin at 17 ….) gets experienced finally by the bad boy.

All Characters are white and American…
These guys don’t get around much in terms of diversity.

The characters get married
They get married without finishing school, having any ambition or even a view of the future. Most of these characters get married within six months of knowing each other.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Bad romance novels bad. I am not a romance novel expert so please school me but surely we don’t have to retread the same plot over and over to appease teenagers.


5 thoughts on “Annoying Clichés in Young Adult Romance Fiction

  1. Great article!
    As a writer of a romance novel, I appreciate you throwing these things out there. I’m relieved that my book does NOT fall under (most) these categories. For example, my main female character goes through abuse (AKA prostitution, etc), but she isn’t nessessarily better by the end just because the guy cradled her weak little body in his arms (lol). She has her issues, but it’s actually her friend and his father that helps the most.

    I AGREE. Bad boys are the most annoying characters of all. In my book, my main male character comes from a rich family and actually acts like he does. He doesn’t have a secret past, but he actually has opinions on his society like a normal teen does.

    As for the sex thing, I KNOW. Have you ever read anything by Simone Elkeles? Particularly Perfect Chemistry or Rules of Attraction? Oh, heavens. That falls straight under what you mentioned. The characters in my book don’t even kiss until the last chapter, and yet there is a sort of romance throughout. And I seriously don’t get how, in YA novels, the. Inexperienced virgin is so great at sex. And how it either doesn’t hurt or only hurts for a second, and then they magically climax together after about two seconds. And, of course, why wouldn’t it be awkward? The weak little main character is suddenly not self-conscious anymore? (As assuming she would be of she is anything like you described)

    Do you have any advice on character development? My main male character is great, but he could change a little from beginning to end.

    1. Ugh, perfect chemistry… I read that one yup. Let’s take out the fact that a) he is in a GANG and somehow he still has a perfect face still. Oh yeah and the spanish is badly used, she has clearly made things up on the way.
      Very true all things you said
      Character development is always a tricky area, but I think the journey has to be made because someone wants to and not just to please someone else or for love. I don’t think characters should have something easily resolved by the end, especially in terms of things like abuse, but to arrive to some sort of awareness of destructive patterns can be good , Hope that helps 🙂

  2. my book the characters go threw a lot of struggles that leads to better understanding of a every day yound adult relationship may not be the best but I got my thought out

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