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Thread: YA books-- the new romance aisle?

  1. #1
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    YA books-- the new romance aisle?

    There's Firelight, Nightshade, Wings, Fallen, Evernight, Paranormalcy, Dark Elite, Hush Hush, Matched, Strange Angels-- even Hillary Duff's Ghostwriter's book, etc. All those hyped, publicized books basically have the exact same formula-- first person, some token element of other worldliness, a love triangle with a bad boy and a good boy, one of whom is the designated love interest.

    My question: is YA becoming the new romance aisle?

    The romance genre is a big money maker, but very formulaic. You pretty much know exactly how every story will end, and if any variation exists, it lies in how the protags get to that final goal of realizing their epic true love. You what the main dynamic's going to be, you know what man the woman will end up with, you know all the plotlines or potentially compelling subject matter will essentially be subplots to the goal of forwarding the romance. So much of YA now can pretty much be encapsulated in a formula just like this-- only slap on a Twilight-esqe cover.

    I rather wish these books were shelved separately from the rest of YA so I'd know what section to avoid.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW ceenindee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heatercat View Post

    My question: is YA becoming the new romance aisle?
    O.o I hope not. I really don't care for romances. I've accepted the fact that there's going to be a romantic subplot in just about any YA novel I pick up, but if this soul mate stuff starts taking over, I don't know what I'm gonna do.

    I've already admitted it several times around here--I enjoyed Twilight enough to give it a second read. It's the only love story I've read that I didn't have to make myself finish. But the last thing we need is more spin-offs of a story that was pretty formulaic to begin with. I can't say if the books you listed are any better written because I haven't read them, but it'd be nice to see a fresh spin on the paranormal romance genre. I recently read the back of a book, Fat Vampire, which gives me hope that there's still some original ideas getting through.

    I've gotten by for now by avoiding anything with a black cover and everything with a reference to the sky in the title (light, dark, moon, night, etc.). EDIT: Also anything where the MMC is named Damon, Damien, Aiden, or something else similar, because I've seen those names countless times and I feel like they're all describing the same brooding boy. (No disrespect to anyone here who uses those names, of course, because I'm sure just the fact that you're on AW proves you care enough to make your characters original. But the rest of the world...who knows...)
    Last edited by ceenindee; 11-02-2010 at 07:03 AM.
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  3. #3
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Teens like romance. They like love triangles. That will always be a popular element.

    Outside of the romance genre, there is still a lot of romantic elements to be found in fiction.

    The thing about YA is that there are many genres beneath it. Some books in YA are considered paranormal romance, including some of the ones you mention. Some are just straight YA romance. They are going to have some of the elements that adult romance has. But I bet you'll find that they have some differences too. The examples, you give, btw, could just as easily have been asked, "YA books--the new sci-fi/fantasy aisle?"

    Romance as a genre is VERY formulaic, but the books you list aren't all using the same formula. Paranormalcy is widely different from Hush Hush and Twilight.
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    blue rain, na'vi dances, color code True's Avatar
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    I second the hope not, because while I enjoy a romantic subplot in a well-placed, well-written, refreshingly original story, I don't like it when it's the main focus of the story. I don't care for love triangles at all, and barely have them in my stories, so I'm doubly against these kinds of stories taking over YA. I'm not much a fan of contemporary, so it does kind of suck that in the fantasy category (because that's basically the only genre I don't have to force myself to get through), there seems to be an influx of these formulaic stories. Honestly, I don't care that they're well-written or well-paced so much as I care that they're predictable and formulaic. For right now, I'm keeping my distance. Interesting post, by the way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    Romance as a genre is VERY formulaic, but the books you list aren't all using the same formula. Paranormalcy is widely different from Hush Hush and Twilight.
    I agree with this. Although I haven't read Paranormalcy and Hush Hush, I do know quite a bit about both stories since I've read excerpts from both and know practically everything that happens in the novels. I'd have to say that Matched also sounds different from Twilight, although there seems to be the whole soul mate thing going on.
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    practical experience, FTW deltay's Avatar
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    Let's hope not.

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    i luv you giant bear statue AW Moderator Kitty Pryde's Avatar
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    Last week I hit up my local Borders + my local indie bookstore who has a really cool book buyer. Indie bookstore had a very diverse selection--the most prominent YA book on display was the new Levithan/Cohn novel. Borders did have all those paranormal romances, but they were pretty mixed up with new releases in contemporary, literary, and non-romance fantasy, and dystopian SF. There's an awful lot of YA out there that doesn't involve girls with minimal personalities boringly falling in love with sexy dangerous supernatural critters.

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    you know, while I agree that a lot of YA paranormal romance and urban fantasy is formulaic nowadays, I also see a lot of really unique YA novels -- they just don't get the same attention as the above categories. formulaic or not, books like those mentioned are still selling hugely; readers love them, & when they love something, they seek out more of the same. so it's up to wider, more discerning readers (like most writers here!) to locate and help direct the spotlight toward more original, creative books.

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    Please, sir, I want some more. Jozzy's Avatar
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    Another Hope Not. My WIP is a YA boy book. I'd hate to have it shelved with all the Twilight clones, no boy would go within 100 feet of it.

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    Not that I know anything... but

    I think it's a huge market and publishers would be stupid not to tap into it. I know a bunch of people who weren't readers but caught the bug after reading Twilight and are now enjoying books with similar features (hot, paranormal, mysterious, romance-y). Also, here in my book stores it's often a section on it's own and not necessarily targeted to only YA - but to all ages who love that kind of stuff.

    In fact, my local has a YA section and at the opposite end of the store a paranormal romance section which attracts older women. Shiver and Hush, Hush, etc aren't shelved with the YA. It's almost as if it's a new marketing genre of it's own.

    My YA section is still rocking it hard with funky contemps and a lot of Aussie YA (about 50% of the YA section is Australian). I think it may be different in the US though? We have only just seen two Australian angel books out*

    one of the angel books - Embrace by Jessica Shirvington - is a debut and this time last year she just got the idea. In less than one year she wrote her first draft, did whatever with revisions, got a publisher and is now on the shelves. Which is insanely fast. She said publishers were keen to speed it up to cash in on the current angel thing.

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    Speling & grammer murderer, Sorrie! amlptj's Avatar
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    The whole new romance love truely does scare me. I write YA Horror, pretty much an non-exsistant genre i know, but i like to be scared so i write to scare. I have less then 10% romance in my series. It worries me that my series will be undesirable for that fact. When i stepped into a local bookstore the other day, that's all i saw in the YA section. Paranormal romance, supernatural romance, romance, conteporary romance, ect... There was barly anything, NOT revolving around romance of some sort. Its really driving me completely insane!!!
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    What you're pointing at is a trend. I remember back when I first started reading YA (ages ago) 50% + books were horror. It would make you think, that was all that sold... but trends pass.

    The main difference between straight 'romance' (shelved under romance) and... all other books, is that romance is meant to be the main point of a romantic novel. It's the be all and end all. The story is all about the hero and heroine getting together and finding a happily ever after (and the happily ever after bit is a MUST.), whereas in YA/ other genres, a book might have a huge romantic slant, but it isn't 'the point' of the novel. All the YA books you mentioned, the romance is a big part, but the point of the novel seems to be the protagonists finding themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heatercat View Post
    My question: is YA becoming the new romance aisle?
    I hope not, but my hopes are irrelevant as far as the market is concerned. This is pretty much what YA has become, and it will be for a long time, cos it sells. Don't hate the player, hate the game lol
    But really, these days, it doesn't bother me. I just keep writing my YA WIP in hopes that when I do want to publish it there will room for it. If there isn't, I'll just turn it into an adult book (I've designed my plot so that it can fit into adult or YA fiction). So, whatever happens, I'm ready

    Quote Originally Posted by heatercat View Post
    Having reconsidered the list, perhaps Paranormalcy is a poor example,
    Er ... no I dont think so. Paranormalcy does in fact follow the romance, love triangle trend - ex boyfriend who's a fae (or something) and new boyfriend who's a shape shifter. The fact that this is mentioned in the synopsis shows that the publisher wants readers to realise that there is a romance sub-plot going on in the book, something most YA readers want anyway. Plus it's the first book in a series, so even though the romance doesn't seem to take over the entire plot in this one, you never know what book two might be like.

    One thing to note though: Romance isn't a bad thing. There are YA books that do romance justice, and others that don't.
    Last edited by Glenakin; 11-02-2010 at 01:09 PM.
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    The coordinates keep changing... inkspatters's Avatar
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    Well, YA splits up into categories, imo. Contemporary, romance, sci-fi etc. Of course you often get romance combined with all those factors If you read YA romance, then yeah, it's going to read like romance. And yes, the stuff that's romance heavy is the current trend and is getting the spotlight -- I agree with everything wandergirl said, basically

    But there are great YA books coming out that aren't formulaic and don't have a strong romantic thread (Adios, Nirvana and Octavian Nothing come to mind as ones I've read recently). Or YA books with an extremely atypical romantic thread (I'm reading one called Beatle Meets Destiny now, and it's blowing my mind).
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    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    i hope not. but to be honest, I'm also getting a little tired of going into waterstones to find a wall of black covers in the YA section, which sadly seems dominated by the sort of stories you mentioned.

    I find that I'm really having to hunt sometimes now for something different in YA.
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    Benefactor Member TrixieLox's Avatar
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    YA books the new romance aisle? In terms of how people regard them then yes, sadly.

    An example: my 15-year-old cousin was browsing the paranormal romance aisle in Tesco (UK equivalent to Walmart I think) and someone passing actually said to her 'God, you don't read that crap do you?'. She was too shocked / upset to respond but what she said to me after is that she is fully aware of the formulaic ways of these novels but loves them all-the-same. This is the girl who just finished reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (and is now reading the follow-up to Shiver by Maggie Steifvater).

    I mean, ultimately, the target market for these books are people like my cousin right? I feel we forget this when we have these discussions sometimes.
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    practical experience, FTW JamieB's Avatar
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    The adult romance genre is huge though, outselling other genres year over year. It makes perfect sense for publishers to tap into a a younger demographic that will carry over to adult romance.
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    practical experience, FTW Kats's Avatar
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    I think it is the new romance aisle, in a way. Chick lit is out and YA is very in right now. That's not all YA is about of course but if I want romance, I'll get my fix from the YA section these days rather than the romance section and I know other women in their 30s who do the same. I love the romance of first everythings and find that YA romance tends to have other stuff going on at the same time other than just the romance, which I like (I personally prefer contemporary, like Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott, to paranormal).
    Last edited by Kats; 11-02-2010 at 06:01 PM.

  19. #19
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    Adult has it's romance aisle, why wouldn't YA have it's romance aisle? Romance is the highest-selling genre out there, but it doesn't mean ALL of adult fiction is about romance. It probably looks like YA is all romance since the actual shelf space is less, so the percentage looks more pronounced, but I'd be willing to bet the same ratio of adult to romance books exists in YA to romance books.

    ETA: Doh, I see JamieB said the same thing.

  20. #20
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danthia View Post
    Adult has it's romance aisle, why wouldn't YA have it's romance aisle? Romance is the highest-selling genre out there, but it doesn't mean ALL of adult fiction is about romance. It probably looks like YA is all romance since the actual shelf space is less, so the percentage looks more pronounced, but I'd be willing to bet the same ratio of adult to romance books exists in YA to romance books.
    True, they exist, but sadly it seems that shops stock what sells, and more shelf space is currently given to those sort of paranormal YA romances than anything else, especially in chain stores and supermarkets.
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    She of Many Names Irysangel's Avatar
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    Actually there was an article a few weeks ago that B&N is going to split the YA section into 3 genres? Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, and everything else. Let me see if I can dig up the link.
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    She of Many Names Irysangel's Avatar
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    blue rain, na'vi dances, color code True's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irysangel View Post
    Actually there was an article a few weeks ago that B&N is going to split the YA section into 3 genres? Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, and everything else. Let me see if I can dig up the link.
    Wow. I'm actually surprised it's gotten to this point, but I think it could be great. Just like the article said, now it'll be easier to filter out what you don't want to read and go straight to what you do want to read. Interesting.

    Thanks for the article.
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  24. #24
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    Wow. A thread that disses YA and romance in a one-er. Never seen that before.

  25. #25
    She of Many Names Irysangel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heatercat View Post
    I don't see how it's 'dissing' anything. Romance does rely upon the same formula over and over again.
    Well, they follow a formula inasmuch as mysteries/horror/urban fantasy novels do. There are certain elements the readership expects to have when they pick up a particular story. It's not a lie, but it's not exactly a formula...nor is it exclusive to romance.

    The paranormal YA romances are increasingly abiding by applying a formula of their own over and over again, which leads me to think at some point this needs to be its own genre.
    Well...it's kind of always been it's own genre? But it's been shelved with just "Teen" fiction for a very long time (kind of like Science Fiction and Fantasy have always been shelved together, even though they're two very different sorts of things). It's just that now there's enough demand to warrant separating out the particular subgenres into their own shelving.

    You have to remember that YA is a market, not a genre...at least, that is what every publisher in NYC will say.
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