Instalove in YA (The Return to 2012)
Hey y'all!Today I'm here with a few of my fabulous soon-to-be co-bloggers from Lit Up Review. In case y'all missed the news, I was selected to be a writer for the Lit Up team along with Meredith, Willa, Emily, and Jessica. I met Willa at BEA 2012 which was absolutely wonderful but since then, I've just known her and the others as my blogger friends from Twitter. It's a really strange feeling to be such good friends with people you've never met, but I couldn't be happier to finally be working on projects with them.Lit Up'll probably be up and running around March! Until then, hopefully you'll be seeing a bit more of these ladies around the blog.Before Valentine's Day, Willa, Em, and I got into a discussion about love and specifically, love at first sight. When applied to YA novels, it becomes that eye-roll inducing, nauseating you've-known-each-other-for-two-hours-he-is-not-your-supernatural-destiny trope. (Throwback to 2012 when "instalove" was seen in EVERY YOUNG ADULT NOVEL EVER.)So I asked them to come by and talk about it a la my Real Relationships post from last year. Without further ado, real teens' thoughts on the trend:
Emily from Forever Literary
I don't believe in love at first sight. You—not fate and destiny—get to decide who you are and whom you care about, and you are not predetermined to fall in love with one set individual. You can be happy with multiple people; you simply have to reconcile your differences and make it work. When you meet a person, you cannot tell just by looking at him or her whether or not you are going to be compatible, and therefore instalove is not a real thing.However, there is no denying that instant attraction abounds in real life as well as fiction. I understand when a person or a character develops a crush after a single glance, and sometimes that superficial gravitation can grow into something deeper.Occasionally, it seems as if instant attraction is what authors are going for when they write relationships with rapid beginnings. The characters are not truly in love, but they feel enough chemistry to make them think they could be. As long as the author builds their romance after that spark and makes the characters realize what they felt at the beginning was not real love, I don't mind seeing a bit of initial allure. In many cases, you could argue that it is realistic because many real-life high school relationships start over physical attraction.Whether characters start out hating each other or admiring each other, the most important aspect of a fictional relationship is gradual development. I barely care how a romance starts if its path builds with each encounter. Instalove is not real, but so many other kinds of love are, and as long as a YA relationship crescendos to that four-letter-word rather than jumps there at the beginning, I am happy to cheer for the characters and their romance.
Willa from Willa's Ramblings
I’ve always been the addictive kind of person, so when I read and I like the characters, I fall head over heels and can’t stop reading. When insta-love is involved, a lot of times I don’t really realize it until after I finish the book and look back, and realize how insta-loved the relationship was. A lot of times in this situations, it makes my stomach turn and the book falls down a couple points in my eyes.It’s not like I don’t believe in love at first sight - I think it can definitely happen - but I believe it’s rare. Sure, you might think someone is attractive when you first see them and want to get to know them better and pursue a possible relationship based on what you find out about them, but that’s not love at first sight. That’s a normal progression of a relationship, in my eyes. Love (in my opinion) comes with time. It comes with time where you get to know the other person better and you both learn more about yourselves through your relationship. Love doesn’t happen in an instant.My favorite YA relationships are those built over the course of a book. Examples include: Mara Dyer and Noah Shaw of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Jonah Griggs and Taylor Markham of Jellicoe Road, and Juliette and Warner (not even going to lie that I totally ship them) in the Shatter Me series. These relationships build over time, and when the book ends, you see them lasting. You see the beautiful, deep relationship between people, which I think is what love is all about.That isn’t to say insta-love isn’t fun to read about, and isn’t something I love to read every once in a while, I think it’s just healthy to remember that’s not really how relationships happen. At least, not many. And not many that last.
I read Catching Fire as soon as it came out and I'm still fixated on the one detail that convinced me that Katniss and Peeta were real. In the early pages, there's a paragraph: one paragraph, where Katniss talks about Peeta's eyelashes. She says she's been fixated on them and she notices how they're so long they get tangled when he draws.That's love at first sight in YA. There's a difference between love at first sight and lust at first sight and a lot of books tend to get that confused. I believe in that, but I don't think it means love when you see someone for the first time. I think it means, when you notice something about someone that you wouldn't normally notice. Not about their attractiveness or the "smoldering gaze across the classroom" that seems to be so popular in instalove. Something you only notice because you want to know that person. A little quirk, a scar, eyelashes. I consider myself a romantic in most senses of the word but I'd rather read something that isn't fake and calculated so that I can't easily name five possible plot twists and guess the ending. We're not supposed to know how it ends; maybe it won't end well, and that's okay.I love hearing about awkwardness and details rather than what's seen as right. I'm of the belief that you never really know a person as much as you possibly can and so I'd rather characters learn about each other - slowly or quickly, it doesn't matter - and discover childhood memories, weird quirks, little observations.I distinctly remember throwing the book across the room multiple times in 2012 just because I was so frustrated with some of the passiveness of YA heroines at the time. For a lot of books, "instalove" substitutes itself for character. I love character, I love reading about messy relationships, I love reading love stories that start out as friendships (unless it's one of those books where you just know the girl is going to end up with the guy friend in the end - c'mon y'all, it's really not that difficult to figure out that they've loved each other since age six.) If a YA book throws together a "smoldering" guy and a girl who's just going to be just like any other character, I already know what the relationship looks like in the story arc and I'm tired of that.Give me best friends. Give me mistakes, and awkwardness, and confusion about what's supposed to be what. That's the type of YA I want to read. I want to read about the eyelashes.
What do y'all think? What are your favorite YA relationships?