Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Charleen Talks Overdone Romance

Today, we welcome Charleen of Cheap Thrills for a special guest post.  She is talking romance and relationships on a different level.  Please read on and share your own thoughts in the comments section.

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Romance is overdone. 

Perhaps it's not a popular opinion to have around Valentine's Day (or maybe it is, I don't know). But I, for one, am tired of the romances, tired of the love triangles, and ready to see more non-romantic relationships featured in fiction! 

I recently read Code Name Verity. While I didn't find it as amazing as a lot of people did, it's great for one thing in particular: it portrays an intensely strong friendship between two young women, a relationship that's stronger and more real than most romantic relationships I read about. One of the characters even makes the comment, "It's like being in love, discovering your best friend." 

And that's so true, isn't it? We have this term -- in love -- that we apply to romance. But what about all the other relationships? What about other kinds of love? Do they not get as much attention in fiction simply because we don't have easy words to talk about them? Because we have to work for it rather than falling back on clich├ęs? 

Maybe that's unfair to authors, and certainly there are plenty of books in which a familial relationship takes center stage, or a friendship between men or between women. 

The one that I really miss, though, and want to see more of, is the platonic male-female relationship. These are practically non-existent. If there's a man and a woman, it's just easier to throw them together. Sometimes it's insta-love. Sometimes it's a will-they-won't-they scenario. But somehow, there has to be a romantic subplot. It's expected. It's what the readers want. 

But is it? 

I can only speak for myself, of course, but it's not what I want! Not all the time, anyway. It makes it harder to enjoy the story when I'm rolling my eyes and snarking to myself, "Hmm, didn't see that coming..." 

Which raises the question, do I really love seeing platonic relationships, or am I just so relieved it's not another romance? At this point, I don't care. I just want more. I want authors to push me to the point where I finish a book and think... 

"Another book without the slightest hint of romance?! Come on! These relationships do exist in real life! Why can't we see them more in fiction?" 

Here's to reading more books that celebrate all different kinds of love!


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Thank you Charleen for sharing your love of anti-love with us!  

Readers:  Tell us your thoughts on platonic relationships.  Do you want to see more?  Any book recommendations for those of us wanting more on the platonic front?

22 comments :

  1. I like some romance, but I totally agree that it does not belong in every book -- every story does not need that element thrown in. What's worse, if you ask me, is realizing two characters probably will end up together, but then it gets dragged out FOREVER, as if we don't all know how it's going to turn out. More books with strong friendships would be awesome -- or if they're already out there, someone point me in the right direction!

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    1. No, it doesn't belong in every book. I'd be a lot more excited about the occasional romance if it was in fact occasional!

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  2. I have to admit the books that I read and give five stars to tend to have more of the non-romantic relationships. Maybe part of that is because it's more rare (and therefore a bigger surprise when it's really done right).

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    1. samathatule ... Do you have recommendations on some titles? I would love to have you share them!

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    2. Absolutely. It's refreshing to come across a book that doesn't have a romance, but it's the ones that strongly feature another type of relationship instead - and, yes, do it well - that I get really excited about.

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  3. I totally agree. I like a good romance, don't get me wrong...but I really like to see other types of relationships, too. Siblings, male/female friendships without romance, but just a strong bond...I think sometimes, writers think the readers NEED romance, but they're underestimating us.

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    1. I feel like that too. It seems to be the only way to explain the over-abundance of romance in books that don't need one... and might even be stronger without one!

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  4. I'd love to see more books that deal with friendships as a valid and important kind of love. I thought Code Name Verity was great for that reason too.

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    1. It was great. The book as a whole didn't quite grab me the way I'd hoped it would, but I LOVED the relationship between those two.

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  5. Haha, I share your feeling about platonic relationships! I'm always excited to see a great friendship in a book, but that might just be because I'm exhausted by how many books have a romance.

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    1. I'm definitely exhausted by all the romance. I would love to get to the point where it's not a pleasant surprise to not have one.

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  6. I don't mind a bit of romance, but I don't think it is realistic to have it all the time. I too want to see more platonic relationships and the celebration of all forms of love!

    Great article Charleen! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us today!

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    1. Right, it's the fact that it's EVERYWHERE, at the expense of other possibilities, that I don't like. I do enjoy a good romance now and then, but there are so many cases where it feels obligatory... and the book suffers, because time spent on the romance is time not spent on other things.

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  7. Great post! I absolutely agree -- it seems like some books I've read recently have a romance you can see coming a mile away, like fulfilling some sort of perfunctory obligation to have a love interest. And sometimes, it's just not necessary!

    Lisa

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    1. Exactly! Is it crucial to the story that the characters have a romance? Often the answer is NO! And I wish authors would consider other options instead of treating the romantic sub-plot like a default.

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  8. One thing I really liked in The Seers was the platonic relationship between two of the characters. Although there is a sideline romantic interest, so it's not romance free. But it stands out as something different in YA, which is where I think the main problem lies. Even Roomies, which is about friendship, has these extra romantic relationships tacked on. People need to know it's OK not to have romance!

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    1. The overabundance of romance is the main reason I don't read more YA. So many of the stories sound fascinating, but I know the romance will bog it down for me.

      Divergent, for example. I enjoyed it (the first book more than the others), but I think I would have liked the whole series a lot more if Four had taken on more of a mentor/big brother role for Tris. I feel like the world-building and the rest of the plot can only develop so much when so much page-time is devoted to a romance (that may or may not work for me).

      I don't need a book to be romance free, it just frustrates me that it seems to be the default, when there are so many other options.

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  9. I think one of the best examples of a well done platonic relationship is Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. JK could have easily had them end up together, and a lot of people wished they did, but she didn't have to rely on the romance to show how much they cared for each other. Granted, JK has recently stated that she thought they should have ended up together, but I'm just going to ignore that and go with the real story. A perfect example of platonic love!

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    1. Harry and Hermione are a great example, pretty much the only one I can think of that doesn't turn into more in later books.

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  10. I would love to see more platonic relationships and less focus on romance all the time. We don't have romantic relationships with each person we meet so why does every book we read have them "tacked" on? I love romance when I'm in the mood for it but I'm not always in the mood... And don't want to have to read gory horror just to read something without romance... And that's not reliable LOL But I read over 200 books a year so it's not like I'm able to just not read and dry technical books can only "entertain" for so long. O_o

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    1. Exactly. I like a romance when I'm reading for the romance, but more often than not I just wish there were more options.

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