In my most recent review, I wrote a line saying, “What’s YA without romance these days?” And the more I thought about it, the more I realized almost every book I read of the YA genre involves romance. Whether it be the focus of the book or not, it’s there. Romances are great! I do love them, but I think it would be refreshing to read something without it for a change. There is such a plethora of romance in YA, that they all seem to be the same or similar. They get to be predictable. And then of course there is the dreaded (or loved, depending on who you ask) love triangle or instalove. So, I began to wonder, is romance actually becoming a staple of the YA genre? An element of YA, just like ghosts or werewolves are in paranormal? Magic to a fantasy?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say yes. The fact that I’m even asking that question shows that it’s at least the norm. Oh, you read that YA? Didn’t you just love the romance?! When a book is released that doesn’t have a bit of romance, we all take note. That must be because romance is becoming a norm in YA, right? But why?
I think we can all agree that some romances are amazing, and give us all the feels, etc. But then aren’t there those romances in books that we wish just weren’t there? There’s some where I feel like the romance made the book cheesey, or would have even been fine without one. So why do YA authors feel the need to add romance to what could already be an amazing book without one? I’m not going to lie, I love reading romances. I get giggly and smile to myself pretty much whenever something romantic happens (cheesey or not), I’ll admit. But then looking back on the book as a whole, I realize that I could live without it. Some of my non-bookish friends read books here and there for fun, but I find most of them stick to mainstream titles, and they always have a romance. Is romance really that big of a selling point for YA readers that authors feel the need to include it in their storyline? I have to wonder if my friends would pick up titles at all, knowing there wouldn’t be an inkling of romance.
Am I the only one who has friends like this, or is this just me?
It’s definitely interesting to think about. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me — I’d love to hear them! But before I let you go, I (with a little help from my friends) compiled a list of YA titles without romances. This list is defining “romance” as any clear romantic relationship. Sexual tension, and some romantic feelings is OK for this list. Without those I don’t think we’d really find any book to put a list together! Now, a lot of these I haven’t read for myself, so don’t take my word for it.
YA Without Romances
I’ve separated them out by genre for your convenience! As a plus: they’re also all pretty highly rated on Goodreads, so no bad romance-lacking YA’s here! Some of these I thought of for myself, but a lot are from the brains of the lovely people that responded to my tweet. Thanks so much to Stormy, Cait, Mel, Brett, Sarah, Rashika, Jennifer, and Maddie for helping me come up with a bunch of these titles through my discussion on Twitter!
Yeah, there’s not that many here… I’ve scoured the internet looking for more examples, but I haven’t had much luck finding many more than these. One thing that did come up in the Twitter discussion was that Middle Grade books more often than not are without a romance subplot. So if you’re okay with reading a book that’s a little bit more youthful to get away from some romance, check out Middle Grade books. But my thing is, I want all the action, and more mature writing that comes with YA lit. So this is my call to you authors: WRITE MORE YA WITHOUT ROMANCES! You’d be surprised how many of us would love that!
Of course if you’re reading this and thinking, “I can’t believe she left out [insert book title here]!!” I urge you to share your recs in the comments! And what do you think about romance in YA? Too much, just enough?
P.S.: The amazing Cait over at Paper Fury has chimed in on the conversation and has even more books on her list of YA sans romance!