If you ask “Is this a kissing book?” while pointing to a YA novel, the answer is usually: yes.
Finding a YA book that doesn’t include romance AT ALL is pretty much like spotting a wild faun and convincing it to make tea for you and nOT sell your soul to a random witch. It happens. But only to a lucky few of us. The rest get sold to the witch. Smh. Look at the state of society today. Witches will buy anything.
Now the conversation about whether this is good or bad comes up a lot. Which is fair! We bloggers like to gloriously dissect everything (insert happy flail) but there are SO many valid points to both side of the argument. And so I’d like to present to you one of my very lovely INDECISIVE LISTS where I talk about both sides to the kissing books and also use the word “nomance” because no one said I can’t. And even if someone said to stop, I wouldn’t. Because NOMANCE IS A THING. LET ME LIVE.
I must that I, for one, am about as romantic as a piece of bread. So it pleases me greatly to find nomance books. Yet that saying I have TONS of ships I would fight to eternity for. I ship ships that shouldn’t be shipped ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and would angrily throw a fig in a lake if an author killed off my favourite couples. Let them kiss and be hAPPY, you coward.
But the trouble is the ratio fo YA with romance vs YA without romance is…unbalanced. To say the least.
WHY NOMANCE BOOKS ARE IMPORTANT
➸ not all readers want or even need romance (and it’s really important, especially for teens who don’t want sexual romantic relationships, to know there’s nothing wrong with that)
➸ it’s actually heckin’ annoying to read a book where tHE wOrLD is ending and now we’re caught up in a pointless love square with lots of hormones and tension. It makes the stakes of the book seem flippant.
➸ some teens?!?! don’t have time?!?! for romance. Between school + jobs + being a druid idk what kids do these days = it’s hard to find time to find a decent human you don’t want to hit with a fork.
➸ not everyone meets their soulmate in their teens. (I personally have no interest in romantic relationships, but seriously all the boys I knew in my teens were gross??? How do all these teens in books find Peter Kavinskys and Blue Sargents???)
➸ books that put friendship first and foremost instead are super special and needed!! Without complicating them with unnecessary romances!!
➸ the amount of times romance doesn’t even fit with the book is unbelievable. Don’t stuff in romance. No one likes bad stuffing okay. Not even dead turkeys.
➸ it’s super important to have characters who are whole and happy and fulfilled without finding a love interest. You’re not “alone” if you don’t fall in love!! FRIENDS. FAMILY. YOUR PET PYTHON IF YOU ARE SLYTHERIN. All are important.
➸ look I’ll say it…sometimes society has an unhealthy obsession with romance. It would be nice if we could CHILL on thinking it is The Everything Of Life™. (I just came back to add this after seeing a post of people shipping their three year olds. And hearing someone discuss a male/female friendship duo and how they were clearly “in love” because they spent so much time together. BOTH of these are super problematic but yet not uncommon. ARgh.)
WHY ROMANCE IS ALSO STILL IMPORTANT
➸ lots of people absolutely love reading it! adore it with every fibre of their being! I’d hazard a guess that more people like romance vs people don’t like romance in stories = and this would show up in publishing stats and book sales too (which pretty much rule what kind of books get published).
➸ diverse romance representation is sooo important. Because the world has coded the POC/queer/disabled/ill people as “undesirable” for so despicably long that we NEED to see these people falling in love too. In romcoms and fantasy worlds!
➸ look it is a good subplot…wondering who will get together and if they’ll kiss or stab each other. We don’t KNOW. Exciting. And when people list favourite tropes, you better believe ones like “there was only one bed!” come up super fast. Often romance sucks IRL because there are no Blue Sargents in your vicinity to love (seriously what is wrong with real life) so people actually want to see cute couples get together and be happy!
➸ it’s good that now a lot of problematic romance tropes are being dismantled! There are WAY less possessive and gross boys in YA. We neeeeeed books with healthy romances to model for readers (especially younger teens) and good discussion on boundaries and being safe and communication etc.
➸ it’s also good to show messy romances in books too, because most teens don’t stay with their lover from highschool. So reading about a breakup or working through a tough issue can be helpful. Also probably like opening a papercut and pouring lemon juice on it bUT ANYWAY.
➸ sometimes? it just cute (seriously, I love reading soft cute and shy romances!!! I wrote one!)
also pet peeve?! I hate it when people ask for non-romance or very very mild romances, but phrase it as “i want clean books”… romance isn’t dirty. Can we lay that one to rest thanks. You can dislike reading romance or sex without making it sound evil.
But hey, since they’re hard to find…I’m going to merrily list some YA Books With NO Romance!
I did a list like this back in 2015 but we’re due for an update, right?! Also joining in the TTT prompt of: Platonic Relationships In Books.
All the covers link to goodreads too! Speaking of which, I have a goodreads shelf specifically for this.