(Satire ahead, just so you know.)
Every so often an enthusiastic friend will come up to me, waving a new teen romance novel in front of my face and telling me that this beats all the previous books they had forced me to read. And falling for the same trick over and over again, I take it and go through a couple chapters before proceeding to chuck it at my friend’s head the next day.
Because I’m certain that I had read that book already.
Different cover, sure. Some other author, maybe. But I vaguely remember reading before about the same pathetic just-turned-sixteen heroine who can’t do anything without her supernatural boyfriend – who incidentally has extremely good looks.
So either I’m mistaken or every YA author is writing Zero Shades of Imagination.
The stories these days that captivate my generation are as pitiful and illogical as the protagonist they are centered about. For some reason, the naïve young woman must be portrayed as a damsel-in-distress that can’t walk five minutes from their home without running into the bad guy – but still smart enough to be the top student of their class.
And because their lack of common sense is so blatantly obvious, stalking of their supernatural soon-to-be boyfriend is a must. Let this be a lesson, girls. Book-smart beats street-smart if you want to be stalked by a creepy yet handsome stranger.
Of course, it doesn’t matter if the two never had a single conversation together before a life-or-death predicament. It’s called love at first sight.
And where are the parents of this enthralling yet plain teen? Dead. Or at least killed off by the first half of the story. The lucky heroines get stuck with the distant single parent who is oblivious to the fact that their daughter is in mortal peril 24/7. It depends on whichever situation is most convenient.
Of course, I agree that there needs to be some way for the parents to remain out of the story. I mean, what’s more annoying than a parent who sincerely cares for the safety of their child and tries to prevent them from going on sketchy excursions to another realm, right?
But honestly, I have a hard time remembering the last time I read a book where the protagonist didn’t have at least one parent MIA.
And would this clearly normal, socially inept girl with dead parents have any friends? The author will most likely allow her to have one, close friend who will be a boy in order to create a riveting love triangle later in the story.
The craziest thing is, we love it. We love to read the completely predictable, formulaic stories that anyone could have written. Why else would these novels be flying off shelves? In the end, the only thing a teen wants to read are books that serve as distractions from the turbulent chaos of their real lives.
And is that so bad? Sure, a one-dimensional teen with silly problems may not be the greatest role model. None of that is important, though, as long as the story is absurd and impossible enough to escape the world outside the book.
For these types of heroines, you know they will get a fairy tale ending no matter the severity of the conflict. It’s certain, it’s expected. For us, we can only hope.
At least their problems get a movie adaptation.
(I actually wrote this back in high school for my local newspaper. It was pretty cool to have this in print! But yes, pretty cynical even back then 😉 )