Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why YA Realistic Fiction #3: Relationships

Aragorn with toy
Welcome to post #3 in my September Weekly Discussion Posts focusing on YA Realistic Fiction and why it rocks. Many times I feel like contemporary and historical books are overlooked in favor of the paranormal, fantasy, and dystopia around the YA blogosphere. This is just a little attempt on my part to bring to your attention some of the great things about YA Realistic Fiction. I'm going to have three weeks of posts and then the fourth week will have a giveaway so be sure to stop by!

This week I am thinking about the kinds of relationships featured in books. The main type that also seems to garner the most attention is the romantic and why not? Romance is great and I am drawn to books with a strong romantic element. However I have found myself becoming increasingly picky about my romance (and very anti-love triangle). Thus I hope for a book with strong friendships and ideally some parental involvement. Where do I turn? Realistic fiction.

Now I'm speaking very generally here about stereotypes but I feel like when I am looking for those kinds of non-romantic relationships, they are more likely to be found in realistic fiction. I feel like this might be for two main reasons. First, it is reflecting real-life where we tend to have those kinds of relationships. Everyone has parents although the involvement varies and most people manage to have some friends outside of a romantic relationship.

The other main reason I can think of is just the focus of realistic fiction. A lot of dystopia and fantasy have to introduce new rules of the world in addition to romance and that cuts down on the page-time for other relationships. The one exception I feel would be for mentors to the main character (I'm thinking of Orma in Seraphina and Kanin in The Immortal Rules particularly). When the focus of the story is defeating tyranny or just plain surviving, that cuts down on the time that can be spent developing other kinds of relationships. But realistic fiction already has rules established and usually lower stakes leaving more time for a girl to just relax with her friends (or obsess over schoolwork, activities, college, boys, etc. with friends). Because I remember how important my friends were to me in high school, I always like to mention when I feel like a book does a particularly good job capturing that.

What do you think? Do you think my ideas about the reasons have any truth? What other reasons can you think of?

Thus concludes my discussion posts for this theme. Remember to come back next week to enter a giveaway :) Honestly that's the best part of these discussion posts!

A peek at the week ahead: A lot of disappointment on my end. I wanted x from books and they kept giving me y. Expect 3 and 3.5 star reviews, on the lower end of the ratings (usually I DNF a book that would earn less).


  1. I think your reasoning makes sense. I also think that if an author can build a world AND develop strong realistic relationships within fantasy, then they are very skilled. I don't like when one thing is sacrificed for another, writing wise, like sacrificing relationships for worldbuilding or character for plot, etc etc.

    Great food for thought!

  2. I think you are right when it comes to dystopia or fantasy especially where the rules are so important that not a lot of time is devoted to establishing nonromantic relationships. In fantasy novels for adults though that isn't the case like A Game of Thrones (family relationships) or The Lord of the Rings (the Fellowship!). Of course there are examples in YA fantasy as well where friendship and other relationships matter and receive plenty of page space (Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson books) but anymore that isn't the norm.

    I think readers may want different things when they read YA fantasy/dystopia/science fiction/paranormal romance compared to when they read YA realistic fiction too. It is nice if there are strong friendships and other relationships in those genres but that isn't necessarily what readers are looking for when they pick those books up compared to realistic fiction.

  3. P.S. Aragorn looks like he isn't amused. Love that picture! He has a great expression :)

  4. YA contemporaries are definitely my favorite! Like you said, I think it has a lot to do with the time available to spend developing relationships. Hence, there tends to be less insta-love in realistic YA, which I like since I can't stand it when characters supposedly fall in love without having spent any time together.

  5. I ,3 YA contemps!! I agree with the point about the time taken to develop relationships and I think it is very important to have a well-developed relationship as I HATE when there is insta-love in a puts me off completely when I read about how a girl has fallen for a guy after five minutes of talking to him..:@@ Great post. x

  6. I think your reasoning makes sense

  7. I have thought about this quite a lot too. But I think the reason why dystopian and fantasy books have less dedicated to relationships is because they are more about discovering this new world/finding out about their powers etc, whereas contemporary's main purpose is exploring the different kinds of relationships of the protagonist. Don't know if I'm getting the point that I'm trying to make across though.. :P

  8. I do love a great YA book with friendships and positive parental involvement. You are so right about the relationships having more time to develop, as far as romance goes! I typically hate it when characters fall in "love at first sight".

  9. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of having non-romantic relationships between friends in books :) I've noticed paranormal books tend to have more of aspects I find very annoying in the romantic parts, such as instalove and love-triangles (I feel that love-triangles can be used as a crutch for tension/drama, so it has to be really well done for me to enjoy :)

  10. That's really interesting! I'd have to say I"m getting romance picky as well. :D And I love it when friends can have that strong non-relationship friendship, but I admit I do like it when they have a sweet - not stupid-caught-up-in-a-triangle - kind of romance.
    <3 Inky@ Book Haven Extraordinaire


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