Romance: Is it really necessary to have it in EVERY YA book?

I know in the month of valentine all my thematic post should be rooting for romance and spread the love, but I also want to talk about another important topic regarding romance in books. It seems like many books lately are forcing unecessary romance on the story.


Maybe because I’m not really a romantic type? I rarely reach for contemporary or watch chick flicks. But when I’m in the mood, I do love them! It’s just hard to read about saving the world, or maybe creepy and ruthless ghost, and then suddenly the story turn from dark and twisty into romance where the ruthless ghost became soft to safe the love interest. Or the hero/ine sacrifice her mission to save the interest. As much as “live in the moment” or “might not get another chance”, it just ruins the book for me.

I don’t mind if the romance is mentioned in the synopsis and it is necessary to set the plot forward. In Shatter Me, Adam is the first human contact Juliette had and therefore it’s logical that Juliette would do anything for him. In The Hunger Games, Katniss was stuck in the game of life and death with Peeta TWICE. It’s logical to say that she would do anything to get him back. Now to think about it, basically all dystopia relies on romance to move the plot forward, or backward, depending on the situation. And while they are frustrating most of the time, that’s how the plot goes. And usually it is mentioned at front about this “mysterious boy”, “inexplicably drawn” or “boy with secrets/demons/whatever it is”.


However, I read dystopia because I want to read about the world building, the struggle, and the rebellion spirit. That’s what I’m looking for from the books; I can tolerate romance as the protagonist tend to be teenagers and that’s the age we found our first relationship, right? Unfortunately, what I usually got is the couples getting ready to sacrifice the whole world to save their love. That’s just pretty unrealistic, considering there are a whole nation waiting for you to fight for them but I guess that’s just how it works in the books. You screw up for love and others who suffer for it, who loses everything, just supposed to shrug and “well, it’s all for love.”

This unecessary romance not only prevalent in dystopia/fantasy genre, but also contemporary. The genre become synonymous with romance because of the amount of romance-centric books in the genre. However, the word contemporary itself means “at the time”, meaning that the genre shouldn’t be comprised of romance only. I love how there are more diversity and political jab towards current state of affairs, whether you like it or not, YA contemporary helped to raise awareness in regards of current issue of racism, mental illness, disability, LGBTQ+, and more.

However, it is rare that the book focuses fully on the issue, most of the books will have romance and it will play a significant part on the book. One of the example is “love cures all” trope that is very prevalent in books discussing mental illness. Or the “manic pixie girl/boy” that makes the main character forget their problems and came out from their shell.

There is nothing wrong with the notion of romance during difficult times, after all, having someone to fight for probably give you a reason to live another day, or do things you usually don’t do, or toppling the government so you both could live in a better life. But my point is, can romance take the backseat and let our main characters sort on their issue? Let them develop their stories and characters, the problems they are facing and the choices they have, instead of half-developing the issue and use the romantic plot to conviniently solve all the problems. Often times, instead of resolving the problems and let the readers reflect on the issue the book represented, the romance create other problems such as romanticize mental illness and toxic relationships.

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My bottom line is, I really wish authors will stop incorporating romance when they have nothing to do will the plot or the characters. There are so many books out there that actually have amazing plot and characters, but fell short because the author choose to focus on the romance instead of developing the plot ideas and the characters. I know romance probably is a selling point in YA, but hey, there are many successful book that has ZERO romance in it and yet still be a best seller (cough VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab cough), so that may not be the case.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to do not do something mainstream and create a different story.

Me elsewhere

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Enough of me ranting, what do you think on the topic? Let me know in the comment below!



19 Replies to “Romance: Is it really necessary to have it in EVERY YA book?”

  1. Great post, and I’m definitely agreeing with you. It’s mostly why I tend to steer away from YA or dystopian novels nowadays, it’s too littered with unnecessary romance. Literary fiction however, are filled with more substantial stuff that doesn’t require any romantic plots.
    However there are YA/dystopian novels out there that aren’t romance-heavy. I would recommend More Than This by Patrick Ness and 1984 by George Orwell!


  2. I like a good romance in a book. However, I do find it tiring to have a romance in basically every single YA book that I read. I’m trying to think of YA without a romance and I’m struggling. This is part of the reason I’ve switched to reading more MG. Sometimes there is an implied romance (the reader can assume it will happen when the characters are older), but mostly the books focus on friendship. I find that important and refreshing.

    I don’t really know why every YA has a romance. There are plenty of teens who are not dating or have no interest in dating. (I didn’t date in high school and didn’t want to. There was no one in my high school I wanted to date and I was really more focused on figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do and how I was going to achieve what I wanted to do.) Why not write a book for these teens?

    Or why not just focus on the story? A lot of times the romance doens’t fit the story or it feels forced and I can’t believe the two characters would ever be attracted to each other. And, yes, if you are busy saving the world, can you stop kissing already and save the world before it burns down around you because you don’t have a grip on your hormones? ;b I can’t stand characters who make out in the middle of a crisis.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. love your comment haha! yeah I know a lot of people that doesn’t care about relationships at all and spend their teenage years trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do. i want more YA books to write more about that topic, and not in a superficial romantic kind of way. i mean, college is an important part of growing up and a lot of us are still undecided, yet it seems like all the characters in YA magically find themselves through romance. like, can i read one book that actually focuses on the mc instead of the romance??


  3. I love this post so much! I’ve done several posts on this issue myself – how YA books almost always include romance – that too over the top and unrealistic ones – and how its really unnecessary. There are some series which do it well, but I could really do with some purely platonic relationships in YA main characters now.


  4. I could not agree more. Sometimes the romance feels earned, is well incorporated within the book, and is so well done that you root for the characters, but almost as often it feels like the romance is an afterthought added by the author to check a box. I would love to see more YA books that skip the romance, particularly since it seems to enforce the societal belief that romantic/sexual love is somehow more valuable than platonic or familial love.


  5. I feel like there’s a distinct difference between Love and Romance in books – love between characters is fine, but when romance / lust or even worse, insta love comes in it’s difficult for me to look at. And strong characters suddenly become weak because of a love interest like… no thanks


  6. I know there are many readers out there who agree with you, because I see many lists of “romance free” books, but for me, bring all the romance. I had this discussion with one of my co-bloggers once, and she is not a huge romance reader like me, but she likes it being there as part of the story.


  7. I totally agree with you, I feel romance is shoe-horned into a lot of books, especially YA fantasy, because they think girls want all that swoony stuff. And there is a place for it, but when the main character is trying to save the world, I wish they would focus on the task at hand instead of on a potential love interest!


    1. Exactly! I get that most of the market are girls and I do appreciate a good romance, but it’s kinda degrading I guess because another thing is, most of the MC in the books are girls and it make us seems incompetent because all we can think about while we are supposed to interrogate this super dangerous villain is how soft his lips are, how good his physique are, etc :/


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