Throwdown: Do the rules of romance apply in supernatural fiction?
It began simply enough yesterday when I tweeted that I was upset about something I read in a teen fiction book and asked: What’s the deal with our female protagonists falling for a guy who is clearly a jerk? People weighed in and the general consensus was that this happens in real life and they wish that they had this type of fiction when they were teens because it would clearly have saved them a lot of heart ache.
Then I asked: What type of responsibility do you think teen fiction has to make sure teens understand that the relationship being depicted is not a healthy relationship? Of course an author should be true to the story, and not overly preachy, but the general consensus was that teens tended to get the message. Then I brought up the whole Edward and Bella thing from Twilight. There are numerous online articles you can read (just google it) about the fact that Edward portrays a number of traits found in abusive relationships. I mean, he apparently falls in love with her because she smells delic and at one points he tampers with her vehicle to stop her from going someplace that he doesn’t want her to go. In the end, Bella ends up isolated from her family and friends and literally becomes a monster in order to be with him. None of these are the hallmarks of a healthy relationship. As a librarian who works with teenage girls, as a mom to two little girls, I ponder these things.
Then today I posted about the book Embrace by Jessica Shirvington and how I was deeply concerned because an episode of what happens in the book can basically be construed as rape and that maybe perhaps we should be talking about that. And this was Stephanie’s response:
But I maintain, part of the value of genre reading is that it helps us to view real world problems through a slightly refracted lens and gain perspective. For me, part of the value of Science Fiction is that we can discuss things like racism and environmentalism in the abstract and then apply it to the real world. And I would maintain that certain truths are just universal truths: like the fact that people deserve to be treated in certain ways and that there are hallmarks of good, healthy relationships. Just because you can manipulate my mind doesn’t make it okay for you to do so.
So, please, weigh in . . . do real world rules of romance apply to supernatural fiction? Discuss now in the comments. Go.
Join us Wednesday, May 16th as we have our first ever TLT Trend Chat and expand our discussion of Romance in Teen Fiction. Love triangles, insta love and more. We’re talking trends. (TLT Trend Chat: Romance in Teen Fiction May 16th at 3:00 PM Eastern, on Twitter #tltchat)
Please know, I love Stephanie as a friend, respect her as a librarian and value her as a blog partner. I think we all can learn from each other and there is great value in healthy debate and discussion.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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