I am a twister version of a person who only reads romance novels. That is to say, I only read young adult romance novels. That’s not entirely true, I do read other things: sci-fi, history, fantasy are in the current crop. However, the vast amount of what I read can be summarized as thus:
Female is strangely attracted to male (or male A and male B). She develops strange powers. As she comes to terms with them, she discovers she is at the center of some crazy plot that leaves the fate of the earth/universe/galaxy/species in the balance.
And I read this. Voraciously.
There’s no good reason. I could make some up. It could easily relate to my nearly encyclopedia love of the X-Files, my fondness for bad horror movies (not campy bad, but bad bad), and the works of J.J. Abrams–there’s a comfort in the familiar. YAR (young adult romance) is like the Friday’s of the literary world. It exists wherever you go and it’s guaranteed to be mediocre. There’s no need to take a risk in something that may be worse, and there’s something good about a menu with the same things wherever you go and a plot that always ends with love winning.
It’s not just about love winning, it’s about a nearly Hollywood methodical plot progression. Within the first few pages, Girl had landed her eyes on Boy and finds herself unnaturally attracted to him. Girl is fairly normal, she may or may not have a close friend, she may or may not be a little strange. She has had a boyfriend, or none at all, but no more than that. In truth, she’s never really been all that attracted to a boy before. Someone near her, a boy, wants her, somewhat desperately, and she doesn’t really know what to do with that.
After she meets Boy, something happens–usually he’s a jerk in some way. This frequently has to do with him being unnaturally attracted to her as well and not knowing how to deal with it. Their relationship progresses. Her unnatural tendencies come to light, she casts off her former life and former friends and embraces the otherness while Boy embraces her.
And that’s kind of how they go.
These have become wildly popular because, I believe, of the comfort they provide. We know what will happen and we know how it will end. We don’t have to fear what will happen, because we know what will. We know they’ll survive. Instead, we can get caught up in the ideas behind the story: that there is more to the world than we see, and that we don’t have to be alone.