When YA Romance is Done Right

I was going to write about the Happy Ever After Myth because I’m a cynical being and wont to do things like that. But then I thought, you have been writing a whole slew of negative posts all month (and I have no problem with that because things are problematic and my new resolution is to speak out about these problematic things) but contrary to what these posts may have led you to believe, I do like romance. I like well done romances, the kinds that make me swoon (because yes, I do swoon) and that make me cheer for the couple to make it through. So though I spoke a little bit about my favourite romances in one of the top tuesdays we did this month, I thought it would be nice to do an expanded post on the same thing and figure out what kind of romances I like.

  1. Andevai and Cat from The Spiritwalker Trilogy. Their romance is riddled with conflict but they meet as equals not withstanding Andevai’s superiority complex (borne of his origins). They grow as people as their relationship deepens and runs into trouble. The best part of the romance is that it does not give the readers an idealistic forever but shows that to attain that happiness, a lot of work is required. This is very much a crossover novel and we’ll be discussing that in much more detail in April.
  2. Lucy and Ed from Graffiti Moon. This novel spans the events of one night and does not mention insta-love. Ed and Lucy are very much teenagers going through the vagaries of adolescence and they explore both themselves and each other during the one night they spend (non-sexually) together. There are masks ripped off, truths finally being told and the story is a glorious look at what it means to love and be young.
  3. Briony and Eldric from Chime. Oftentimes, the love interest is just that. The love interest with the obvious good looks and charm but lacking any sort of personality that makes him/her a character you would want to read about were he/she not the love interest in a novel. However, Eldric is fascinating in his own right and like all the other couples I’ve talked about, matches Briony both in wit and eccentricity.
  4. Ananna and Naji from The Assassin’s Curse. Okay, so lots of people disagreed with me about this one but honestly, I really like the non-traditional end to this story. The climax shows that one need not follow everyone’s definition of happiness. I am trying not to spoil anything but Ananna and Naji find their happiness in unconventional ways; they define their togetherness in a different way and I appreciated that.
  5. Titus and Iolanthe from The Burning Sky. Titus is a fascinating character and so is Iolanthe. Both of them are fiercely individualistic and I like that even though fantasy coerces the characters to behave in certain expected ways, the two of them still manage to subvert the stereotypes and bring in a note of unpredictability to their romance.
  6. Riley and Gabe from Outcast. Dudes and Dudettes, this romance is sweet and completely heartbreaking. I loved how Kress manages to capture the vulnerability of first love and instead of making it melodramatic, she is able to balance the emotion with sincerity.

This is not an exhaustive list of my favourite romances in the YA genre but they are certainly revealing of what it takes to keep me engaged in the romance plot: both players in the relationship meet as equals without there being an awkward and obvious power disparity; a love that grows gradually because while insta-attraction is acceptable, insta-love is not; equally developed characters, I want to see why the protagonist falls in love with the person she falls in love with, I want to swoon with her, not roll my eyes at her and call her silly in my head.

There are probably more things that make me love romances but these will suffice for now. Are there things that you look for when reading romances in YA or any other genre for that matter? I’d love to hear your thoughts.