I want your love and
I want your revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
I love romance. I love tropes across all categories, be it the enemies-to-lovers stuff or the marriage of convenience shindangle. I love the feeling of love and redemption and people finding both. I love shipping people, no matter what genders and rooting for a happily ever after. I love kissy-scenes and cuddling and yeah, smutty stuff is right up my alley too. The point is, romance is wonderful and I love having it in my books.
But at the same time, sometimes picking up a book without romance is refreshing.
I know a lot of readers out there don’t actually like romance in their stories, especially with scenes like fairy sex fiestas (I’m looking at you ACOMAF) just because they’d rather experience those things in their personal life. Then there’s me, a reader who sucks up all these shy glances and delicate feelings because there’s none in my own life and what better way to experience it than vicariously through fictional characters? And then there are readers all across the spectrum who may or may not enjoy romance in their fiction. However, no matter how much you like this genre, I also don’t think readers should discredit fictional books that don’t have romance.
It Leaves Pages to Deal With Other Issues
In a contemporary without romance, I think we’d see much more character growth and progression instead of being focused on a chiseled, teenage boy who’s the captain of the lacrosse team. Maybe we get to read about the main character recovering from a traumatic accident, or figuring out his/her path in life without the help of a significant other. Sometimes I’ll read good contemporaries that will actually be hindered by a forced romance in its pages. And I’m thinking, “Okay, if you take away the pages of the mc lamenting about the popular girl in his/her drama class, you’ll get more room for the mc to work out the complications between his/her family members.” Romance isn’t the only thing that can allow a character to develop, after all.
It Can Be More Realistic
My life is like a romantic comedy except there’s no romance and it’s just me laughing at my own jokes.
If you’re an mc trying to save the world from an impending apocalypse or start a revolution against the autocratic government or discover who you truly want to be when you grow up or is trying to mend the bridge between your sibling, you do not need a significant other to help. In fact, finding a relationship for the former two would prove quite detrimental! Sometimes romance can be such a distraction, which is why I don’t get why fantasy worlds favor these numerous love interests. Like, I’m all for girls and guys throwing themselves at each other because let’s be real: teenagers. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean the mc has to choose! I see it happen so much with female main characters: “Should I choose him or him or him? I like him but I love him but I care about him. I can’t decide!” My answer isn’t to jump onboard a ship, but to slap the girl and go like “YOU DON’T NEED NO MAN IN YOUR LIFE TO FEEL WORTHY.” Chances are, she’s probably more powerful than any of them.
Listen up, all you conflicted (in romance) main characters out there: YOU DON’T NEED TO CHOOSE. You are a flaming star all on your own, and no boy or girl out there can take that away from you. NOW SLAY.
On another note, I’m 17 and haven’t experienced anything – even holding hands – romantically. (Maybe I just really love myself okay.) I also have friends my age who have done the whole spectrum, so it’s nice to see some diversity in terms of romantic development. That’s why I can appreciate reading from sex scenes to the brush of hands. Each person, each reader, is different, and this wide range covered in YA really reflects that. Including a story with absolutely no romance.
It’s Different, Plain and Simple
Throughout all the books I’ve read across all categories in YA, 95% of them will either have a romance or feelings developed on the main character’s end. But on the rare occasions where there is no romance, it feels… refreshing. It’s definitely something different, just because for some reason or another adolescents always get caught up with one another in regards to feelings in YA. But seeing a book that focuses on something beyond the merits of a good signification other? That’s a reason that makes a book memorable to me.
Some Recommendations of Great Books Without Romance
Check out some books that don’t have romance, yet are still great reads!
(Although some may have a sprinkle of romantic feelings that may or may not be with the main characters but is not centered around romance nor has clear ships) ((It’s HARD to find books without romance!!))
- Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen | Fantasy
- Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley | Contemporary
- The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock | Historical
- Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman | Contemporary
- Paperweight by Meg Haston | Contemporary
- Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali | Historical
- Sophie Someone by Hayley Long | Contemporary
- Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge | Fantasy
- The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud | Fantasy
- Going Bovine by Libba Bray | Contemporary
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card | Sci-Fi
Do you like romance in your books? Would you skip a book without romance? Do you think I’ll grow into an old maid/spinster who spends her days reading books with seven cats by her side? I’d love to know!