Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Romance in YA

Yeah, love is in the air. I’ve always loved romantic stories. I think it all started with those darn Disney Princess stories but it grew. As a teen I always loved to read about love – even when I read other books.


To be honest I believe a lot of YA books fall short on ‘romance’ but is heavy on heated love, sex scenes that are just blah or unnecessary and love triangles that are – lets face it, just plain unbelievable. I mean c’mon if there were two hot guys like Edward and Jacob at school – they would be chasing any girl that threw themselves at them and certainly wouldn’t be waiting around for a plain girl named Bella :-D

But we love those stories because – well, we wish that could happen.

I’d like to read a YA novel that actually had a scene filled with true romance (personally without the sex unless it is important to the character) and if they are going to put the sex scene in there, I wish they would be tasteful. But hey, that’s just me. I did however ask my daughter and she mentioned she thought they were just plain sleazy and didn’t add anything to the story for her so she would skip those parts.


I asked my daughter to take a poll of her friends (14-15yr old girls) and her response was that 8 of the 10 girls said they thought they were icky, and spoiled some scenes for them. The other 2 girls said they liked reading them. All girls agreed that it made sex less curious for them and didn’t paint the picture that it was something fun to do. Hmmmmm.

TONIGHT on YAlitchat (check it out on twitter at 9pm on Wed) we’ll be chatting about Romance, so drop in.


Kim Baccellia said...

As a teen I was fascinated by books that included sex in them. I read FOREVER by Judy Blume and EVERLASTING LOVE both that had sex scenes and were banned by our library.

As a writer I think it depends on the character and book. So far I haven't written any detailed sex scenes though my sekrit project does have glimpses of a first time that is important for the character and helps her with her faulty thinking/wound. But even then it's not in graphic.

As a reviewer I've read YA books with sex scenes and some I feel help the book and others feel like they're just thrown in. Like I mention before, it really depends on the book.

Tabitha said...

I'm with you on the love triangles. They irritate me because they're there to fulfill some random fantasy of having two guys fight over you. In most books I've read, the girl ends up treating both boys like crap, and doesn't really deserve either of them.

I like reading true romance with no sex. That means no foreplay, either, really. Too many books confuse lust and infatuation with love, and it makes me crazy. So when I do find a book with good romance, it's a real gem. :)

Catherine Stine said...

Both sex and romance have their places in YA. A couple of years ago when I was looking for an agent, I had two interested agents tell me that I should add more romance into a particular scene, before the couple totally gets together. That was an instructive moment. So, agents realize the importance of romance too!

Beth said...

I've read some books with sex scenes I found totally inappropriate for ya. I don't really think sex should be marketed at kids. (Teens are still kids). But I've read books that include a sex scene, where it's mentioned but not graphically detailed, and the way it changes a relationship shown and that didn't bother me.

Nicole Zoltack said...

For the most part, I don't think YA romances should have sex scenes unless the story needs it. It has to be called for and not just thrown in there for sex's sake.

Dawn Brazil said...

I agree with Beth. I don't like sex scenes in YA books, but I know they're there. I've read them done tastefully and I've read the trashy - way too much info versions.

I think romance in YA is essential but the romance has to be done right. Not rushed or the two just thrown together. Pacing of the romance is what makes it so special. Great post LM.

Shreyonti said...

I hate them sometimes because I feel the MS is making the worng choice. Sometimes, the sex makes the journey hard for the MS and I say, 'Hey, you asked for it'.

Kelly Hashway said...

Ooh, I'll be looking forward to chat tonight--although I always do. I just posted last week about crushes in middle grade so this is a nice sequel to my thoughts. I agree that YA could have more romance and less lust/sex. It is interesting though that your daughter and her friends said these sex scenes turn them off. As a mom, I'm happy to hear that. I was afraid they'd have the opposite effect.

Kim Baccellia said...

As a parent I do think it's important to know what's out there on the whole sex in YA thing. I still think if it's handled well, and is part of the storyline without manipulating the reader(I hate this!) then it works. For me that is.

I've read some YAs that I felt did manipulate the reader with forced sex scenes or language that really bothered me.

But that's just my take.

Maria Zannini said...

Sex in YA: I don't have a problem when the characters are older, but not while they're still kids.

Enough is enough. Let them act like kids, not rutting bulls.

Anonymous said...

Great topic. I write YA paranormal romance. There is tension between characters, but they don't always understand or know how to label it. Since I want to be able to look my kids in the eyes and not be kicked out of the PTA, I don't write sex scenes in my YA novels. That, plus, I think kids are already bombarded on this topic and don't feel the need to add to it.

Sari Webb said...

I feel like there's no correct answer to this issue, mostly because YA age range is from 14 to around 18, and there's a huge difference in maturity in that range.

I think YA written for the younger end of the scale should probably avoid the sex issue, but when it's written for 16-18 y/o I don't see a problem with the occasional sex scene, so long as it adds to the story.

What I don't like is the love triangle. They're my current pet hate. I've just been reading the House of Night series, and I'm now up to book 5 and have decided half-way through that I'm just not going to read anymore.

I hate the dynamics of the love triangle (or square, actually I think it's up to a pentagon now). And I hate the MC for not seeing that she is being selfish and hurting these people over and over again. And then she has the nerve to get annoyed when one of her boys looks or smiles at another girl. Hypocritical much?

Eleni Alexandraki said...

I think sex in YA is pushing it. It has to be tasteful. There is a place for it.

As for romance, people like Stephenie Meyer must be doing something right. You made a very good point- romance is not sex, yet in western culture, we often mistake it for being romantic. It's hard to write a romantic scene with the two main characters not even touching each other.

Carmen Esposito said...

Although YA books readers are usually 14 – 18 years old, there are instances when children as young as 10 years old have been known to read these books. When romance is written in YA books, the authors should consider the possibility of a younger reader buying his/her book. I’m aware that teens deal with serious issues like anorexia/bulimia, drug use, abuse, and sex. But unless the plot deals with these issues and shows in a tastefully written MS how the MC overcame her low self esteem and became stronger and wiser by making good choices then a non-graphic love scene could flow along with the story line.

What I’ve seen however, is gratuitous sex scenes in YA novels. There have been novels where the sex scene is on the peripheral e.g.: the MC is walking down a corridor and somewhere on the right there is a girl that goes down on her knees and pulls the boy’s zipper down to give him oral sex. The sex scene wasn’t integral to the story line and had it been removed it wouldn’t have affected the story.

I understand that teenagers engage in sexual activity but a 10 – 12 year old may pick this book up and now the author has inadvertently informed this child of a sexual activity a bit prematurely.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Fab post!

I love romance.

I don't write sex scenes in my books, but I do have characters falling in love and negotiating these new feelings. And lots of kisses, because they're fabulous.

BUT, I stayed well clear of the love triangle in book two because to me that kind of story felt like a reset. I wanted the characters to grow in a different way. They fell in love in book one, now they have to negotiate their lives and grow up. And try not to turn into a ferret too much.