Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Eh. All I care about is my 4-day weekend coming up. I have a date with my K-dramas, books, and video games. In no particular order.
Speaking of those three, they have very strong romance aspects. Well, not in all video games but have you played Final Fantasy? I mean, Final Fantasy X was fueled by that Tidus/Yuna romance. And don’t get me started on Final Fantasy VIII. Even the Disney-fied Kingdom Hearts had romance as its main drive. K-dramas are 95% romance. They’re like fan fiction on screen with its angst, tropes, fairytale situations, and of course, the ugly cry. Go watch Secret Garden (the K-drama, not the film adaptation of the book) and prepare to be destroyed.
And books? Well, like with those above, it’s like every book has romance. If not in canon, within the fandom. It’s not always that Fifty Shades kind of romance, mind you. Even sci-fi novels now have romance between androids and robots.
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday , we’re listing down the Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books.
I’ve read a couple of entries for inspiration. Majority of the answers pretty much mirror each other. And I won’t be any different. This is my chance to bitch and complain about love; seemingly bitter (hahaha…) but really, it’s an interesting peek into how people think. We list down some disgusting and cheesy situation on the page but when we experience it ourselves, we think it’s the sweetest thing in the world. LOL, I know I’ve gone through that crap. Have you?
LIKES (Short answer: anything in Outlander)
1. Well-written lines that don’t make me want to gag. I appreciate an author that can do exactly this. A good example is Diana Gabaldon. I’ve resisted highlighting whole PAGES of the Outlander books. Jamie Fraser’s words can make you MELT. I have not encountered many books or romantic scenes with lines like that. Most of them, I’ve read under the genre of YA, made me roll my eyes and (for some) literally gag. It’s like the author is the one who’s gushing the most vs the reader.
2. The Book Boyfriend. If a character in the book, doesn’t have to be the main one, makes me want to add him to my book boyfriend list, then it’s a YES. That means the author was successful in showing me why I need to root for this character and through just words, convinced me that he’s hot boyfriend material. I’m not asking for Darcy – #TeamRochester for life lol. But Peeta is a good example because while there is not a romantic bone in Katniss’ body, Peeta still emerged as a desirable good guy.
3. Sexual tension. The slow build. May I come back to Outlander, please. The main character herself says that she “married out of necessity”, and “was not in love with” Jamie. Claire eventually fell in love with him. (And how can you not?) She did feel attracted to him but LOVE came later. The sexual tension between these two characters – in both the book and TV show – is so thick, it’s addicting!
4. Equals. Not
just in looks. I love it when the male and female characters are on par intellectually. By now, you should be familiar with Jamie and Claire of Outlander. Even with the difference in ages and generations, they seem to find that common ground intellectually. Thank you, DG, for not making Jamie an airhead hottie. He’s pretty (and) witty. Claire never needed to talk down to him when explaining things. More often than not, authors portray the guy as bad, stupid, stubborn… while the girl is the straight-A, goody two-shoes. I’ve seen that before, next.
5. The Unexpected. I feel like every author needs every book to have romance. Yes and no. Some books do away with romance all together and the story still works. Some of them add it in as an afterthought. Those ones, I feel are added just for the heck of it; because we readers almost expect it all the time. But sometimes, that little bit of romance just… works. I can’t explain it well enough but there were times when out of everything in that book, I wanted that fleeting moment of love to be expounded some more, to the point of wanting a spin-off. Or fan fiction. 😉
DISLIKES (Short answer: a lot of YA.)
1. Let’s all say it loud and clear… INSTALOVE. I don’t care if you believe in love at first sight; I mean, it is possible. But in books, especially in those YA stuff that y’all like so much, it’s the extreme kind of love at first sight. I know that attraction at first sight is very true. That’s called a “crush”. Not the passionate, fiery, and obsessive kind of “love” that some male and female characters display on the page… it’s just awful. And what’s worse is that a TON of books are doing just that. I get it, it’s an easy way to introduce your romance. Just do it right. Again, author… make us the fangirls – show us what to love and not just because you are excited.
2. That irrelevant BFF. Your token whiny best friend in those run-of-the-mill romantic comedy films. Usually, the less attractive, less intelligent, annoying counterpart of the main heroine. Books have her too. And she’s equally annoying. Not only is she judgmental but more often than not, she’s the heroine’s biggest rival for the hero’s affection. While she seems to be looking out for our heroine’s best interest, she’s also working on ways to thwart our heroine’s plans. Trust me on this lol.
3. Stalker tendencies. One can argue that this is just the alpha male protecting his lioness. Nope. Some can be straight up stalking. Just look at these lyrics from Johanna:
I’ll steal you, Johanna,
I’ll steal you.
Do they think that walls could hide you?
Even now, I’m at your window.
I am in the dark beside you,
Buried sweetly in your yellow hair!
That’s from the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, by the way. That is the most blatant example that I can think of, while not in a book, the situation does happen. The latest romance book that I read, Stepbrother Dearest… Elec knew where Greta was and who she was with. Eh. I know clingy and suffocating but they weren’t in any kind of relationship to justify that kind of… tracking.
4. Super-duper hot male leads. I don’t exactly hate this in real life. Or in books that clearly fall under the ROMANCE genre (those with Fabio-esque guys on the cover). It’s just that in YA/NA, authors start gushing so much about the “oh so super hot boy-next-door, half naked while washing his dad’s Ferrari”… it makes me physically barf. We get it, YA authors. There is ONE hot guy in the book and he is automatically the male lead. Really, stop trying too hard. What use is it to have a hot male lead if his character is crap? It only makes us real life girls aspire for something unreachable.
5. The mere fact that an author feels that s/he needs that romance aspect to complete a book. I’m looking at you too, movies. I mean, yes, it’s a huge selling point. But sometimes, it doesn’t really do anything to push the story forward. Case in point, the Faramir/Eowyn romance. The movies show it more than the books. In the LOTR movies, the Aragorn/Arwen romance was pretty much the main love storyline in the trilogy. It fit in well because Aragorn is one of the main leads and his romance with Arwen gave him another layer to pick apart. But if you watched the extended edition of Return of the King, Faramir gets a bit of love too. No love from daddy Denethor but a lot from Rohan’s Eowyn. They were seen in the coronation scene together in passing but they have their little moment in the extended edition. Director Peter Jackson cut that out from the theatrical release. Maybe he felt that it was irrelevant? It wasn’t 100% needed to further the story, for sure. But it’s a great treat for fans.
I can’t fault authors for overusing cliches and plot lines. The challenge for them is to breathe new life in them.
While I admit that genres such as YA and NA can do romance right, I still prefer the Classics. Fairy tales staying within the realm of fairy tales. I think the reason why they work is because they include actual MAGIC in it. Not just the Sleepless in Seattle-like “spark” that real-life people talk about. With a magic wand and a little fairy dust, anything is possible. Head in the clouds much?
Anyway, I hope you have a good long weekend. Whether or not you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, just remember that you are loved… by yourself or by your imaginary book boyfriend/girlfriend!