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Pet Peeve #17: YA Relationships

I think I’ve mentioned this little tidbit before, but I happen to read a lot. At any given time, I’m reading at least one book, and sometimes will find myself pulled into several different books at the same time.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of young adult fiction, and I’ve noticed a pattern that seems to happen in nearly every novel, regardless of the author: the main characters find themselves in super-committed relationships in what seems like moments after meeting their “love” interest.

In most of the books I’ve read recently, the characters are either teenagers or in their early twenties, and while I realize that new relationships are fun and exciting, especially at that young of an age, some of the match-ups seem not only unnatural, but also very unhealthy.

I think Twilight was the first book that really irked me with how serious the relationship between Bella and Edward became, but at least they were given several books to work out their strange relationship. I’m pretty sure the intricacies of that relationship have been analyzed so many times by different sources that I probably wouldn’t really be adding anything new to the conversation by going on about a teenage girl’s willingness to become a monster for a guy.

In other books I’ve read, the relationships have progressed from “hey, you’re cute, wanna go out?” to “OMG, I would do anything for you– even die,” in what seems like milliseconds. When I see that happen in books, I just shake my head in disgust, because clearly that is not a healthy attitude to have in a relationship.

I recently finished reading Divergent and Insurgent (part of a trilogy) and it really irritated me that the female protagonist went to that extreme level a mere three weeks after just meeting her intended love interest. Those books are set in a not-so-far-away dystopian future, so maybe in that reality 16 year olds are different from 16 year olds now, but I’m pretty sure when I was that age I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted and people would have said I belonged in an institution if I went around thinking or saying I’d be willing to die to save a boy I’d just met. Heck, even at my old age of 28 I’d be hard-pressed to be that committed to someone after only knowing them for such a short amount of time.

I’m not completely against the idea of characters in YA books pursuing a love interest, or the story being moved forward because of a relationship, but it just worries (and irritates) me when I see book after book following the same plot of relationships accelerating at the speed of light with such young characters. It makes me wonder if the intended audience reading these books may end up rushing into insanely serious relationships that aren’t always healthy because they’ve read books that show characters going to such extremes.

Instead of making young characters fall in love  in the blink of an eye, I wish more authors would let the characters take a little time to get to know each other before going from a first date into a serious relationship. I don’t really have any great ideas on how to address this concern of mine, because simply listing out “dates” would be super boring to a reader, but at the same time letting characters rush into such drastic relationships seems like a bad idea, and has been so over-done at this point that I can’t help but notice and become annoyed when I see it happening in a book I’m reading.


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