Thoughts on YA ParaRom and a bit of Wicked Lovely

I’ve been talking books with people quite a bit lately. Like real, in person people I meet. Not that I meet so many people, it’s just that it’s unusual for me to, you know, talk to them.

The main difference is that I’m so out of the closet on this writer thing these days. Either people are introducing me as “an author” (!) or, when asked for my occupation, I’m actually owning it. This leads eventually to the polite question of what do I write, to which I generally answer Teen Paranormal Romance, which often leads to some discussion of Twilight.

At the moment, it seems, the Twilight saga defines our genre.

Did you know Amazon has a whole Twilight store?

Which is, like, really weird, because almost no one ever wants to own loving it. I find that I’m usually easier on it than whoever I’m talking to because I enjoyed the first book (except the end when the trouble started), I enjoyed Stephanie Meyer’s voice in that book, I don’t think she’s a terrible writer, and I actually read (mostly on audio) the four books so I got the closure there was to get. While I didn’t like the later ones, still found moments to enjoy and I was still committed to finding out what happened to the characters which I recognize as points for her.

Yes, this is me.

Last week I wore my “…and then Buffy staked Edward, The End” t-shirt to the Magic Kingdom and had at least 6 people take the time to stop me and tell me it’s the best shirt evar. It is, thank you Kait for sending it to me.

Anyways, I don’t hate the books, the story, the writing. I concentrate my dislike on Edward who cannot seem to come into this century and give his girl any kind of equality in the relationship. He’s completely dismissive of her thoughts and wants because he knows best. And the fact that this is a-ok with Bella makes it impossible for me to respect her, woman to woman. I think *spoiler, please scroll*

it’s good she became a vampire because maybe that will arrest her emotional development such that she doesn’t mature to a time when she no longer wants her lover to act like a father, wonders why she ever got into this relationship, and sees his behavior as manipulative and controlling.

*/spoiler* I mean, how often in real life are we seeing girls with weak or absent fathers who get together with much older and/or very controlling men at a young age to fill the lack, then they mature and don’t like what they chose? And yet, really, they’re the ones who have done the changing because they eventually grew up the way they’re supposed to. I see it a lot. I’m not bashing these girls at all, it’s just observation.

So what I saw in Bella, as these stories developed, was a character who was very realistic but, unfortunately, not one I could look up to and admire, which is something I enjoy in my reading.

Anyway, that was just a huge tangent. The real point was that I say I write Teen Paranormal Romance, Twilight immediately comes to mind, “Oh, like Twilight?” and then comes a discussion in which, usually, both of us like YA PNR and neither of us really likes Twilight.

And yet there it is, Twilight more or less defining the genre. Isn’t that weird? It’s come to the point where, when we discuss these books, the first descriptor is “not like Twilight.” Even though that means anything from “strong heroine” to “vampire free” to “no love triangles here.”

Not mad about it, I’m just sayin’: this has been my experience.

So while I was on vacation I read Wicked Lovely. It’s “not like Twilight.” I had this on audio from the library and while I was home I did have a little trouble getting into it. And this may have been because it felt like there might be a triangle and I run screaming from those (which is, like, the only reason I haven’t read past the first book of the Hunger Games). But if triangles are a problem for you, this book ended up getting my seal of approval. The way she works through the relationships of the story is good.

The whole book, really, is very good. The world is very dark and Melissa Marr’s construction, command, and descriptions of it are excellent. It’s imaginative, though it also feels solidly based in lore, and the writing is very vivid yet not drowned in detail.

Basically the story is about a fairy prince, Keenan, who has to find the right girl to break a curse that keeps him under his evil, queenly mother’s thumb. He sets his sights on Aislinn, a girl who, unlike nearly all humans, can actually see the fairies and is terrified of them. Her avoidance of letting the fairies know she can see them and staying below their radar has been the main focus of her life and has very much made her what she is. Which, luckily for us, is not a wilting ‘fraidy cat, but a tough, proactive, resourceful heroine who doesn’t want anything to do with the handsome prince. One of her resources is Seth, your basic solid rock of a male character who quietly cares for her. He’s pretty dreamy. He’s one of those guys who will always stand by her, but he lets her call the shots in her own life and problems.

I’d call this YA Romantic Dark Fantasy, I guess, which I enjoy and yet usually doesn’t grab hold of me and make me have to read it. So any lack of enthusiasm here is about me,  not because of the book. I think there was some foul language, but it was pretty minimal, if I recall. There was sensuality but it was handled extraordinarily responsibly–nearly too much so for my adult romance reading self. But as I listened to this in my car with my 6yo not paying attention to it in the backseat, it didn’t make me cringe and say oops. I think I’d be comfortable handing this to any middle school advanced reader.

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11 Comments

Filed under Superheroes, Heroism, and Romance

11 responses to “Thoughts on YA ParaRom and a bit of Wicked Lovely

  1. I *heart* Wicked Lovely. Like you, it took me a few tries to get into it, but once I did I gobbled it up in one good sitting. It’s an amazing book. And if you haven’t read others in the series, pick them up (or listen from the library). The stories are connected but take on varying lead characters. Though I admit, I haven’t gotten passed the 3rd book yet, I can’t wait to dive into more.

    As for Twilight defining our genre, yes it is sadly true. I, too, write YA PNR and “oh like Twilight” is the first thing out of their mouths – to which I respond, “yes, with a girl, vampire and werewolf, but this also has a curse and a ghost story.” Though Twilight and vampires are hugely popular and will forever be so, I have seen more angels/fallen angels, demons, faeries and other supernatural beings coming into play. So maybe Twilight just opened the door for more creatures to come flying out. 😉

  2. While this was a most lovely post, the biggest thing I got from it was…oh my stars, she FINALLY posted a pic of herself! LOL. Although I’ve met you IRL, I don’t remember you ever showing yourself to everyone. And it’s such a cool picture, too. And I LOVE the t-shirt.

    I’ll probably never post a pic of me, since I’m really trying to be incognito. 😦

  3. I HATE that everyone equates YA with Twilight. I just really do. I think because I’ve read so many other WAY MORE FABULOUS YA books with heroines that can be respectable. And I think part of what really strikes a nerve (in a sciatica kind of way) with me about Twilight is that I’ve been where Bella is at the beginning of New Moon when the guy I loved (at the time) more than anything else in the world decided what was best for me was him leaving. It gutted me, plain and simple. My beef with it is that I absolutely cannot respect or tolerate Bella’s response to that. YES it EFFING HURTS. But you don’t go get all suicidal and STUPID and act like there’s nothing left to life because that’s selfish and idiotic and short-sighted and WEAK. And I don’t care that it’s REAL. I think we should present characters that are good role models for readers–not in a preachy kind of way, but someone that kids can think “okay, I want to be like that. She’s strong/proactive/capable/whatever.” Let’s not perpetuate a gender stereotype where it is okay that some GUY thinks it’s okay to control his woman. Give me Meghan from the Iron Fey series or Aislinn from Wicked Lovely. I can RESPECT them and I’d be okay with my nonexistent daughter respecting them.

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  5. Pingback: Wicked Lovely – review « A Book A Day

  6. Wicked Lovely is the gateway drug of YA Paranormal Romance. I’ve bought every book in the series. I have read the last three yet because I’m saving them for when I’m really down and need a pick me up. Yes, I’m weird like that.

    It’s really interesting to read about why you have issues with Twilight and what initially made you hesitate to read Wicked Lovely. I disliked Edward for the same reasons, but I think I like PNR for exactly the opposite reasons in general (I LIVE for love triangles and only liked the last part of the first Twilight book with the action).

    I made my peace with SM’s writing a little while ago. While I have serious problems with the messages inherent in her work, I admire her for drawing in such a broad spectrum of readers and becoming successful. Ultimately, I think we have her to thank for a wave of women readers picking up YA lit today — and I do believe that the 25-40 female demographic is key to success in most genres, with a few notable exceptions.

    • Thanks for your comment, SV. Yeah, I’m totally a one true pairing sort. Sometimes, in a triangle, I’ll change my mind. Like okay, now that option B has entered the picture, I like him better. See also: Spike, Jacob. But whenever things don’t go my way, I get really ticked. See also: Kate/Jack vs. Kate/Sawyer. And now when I even smell a triangle I’m just like No! I won’t be hurt like that again!

      And I think your comments about the demographic are spot on. Yay! Thank you Stephanie!

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  8. I wonder if Twilight defining YA Paranormal will fade out soon, or if it will stick around for a while. I might have check out Wicked Lovely now. I’ve seen it in a few different places, and your review makes it seem really interesting!

    Also, side note: The love triangle in The Hunger Games is so not a big part of the book. It’s more of a subplot, and I didn’t feel like it was significant until the third book. I just adore those books, you should give them a chance 😉

  9. Tiffany

    Wicked lovely is a good book. Marr’s writing definitely gets better, but her writing is dark and gritty.
    As for twilight when people equate YA PNR with Twilight I either say ‘no’ or explain “Twilight is YA PNR but not all YA PNR is Twilight”. But I hope that Twilight fades away, soon. It would’ve been one thing if Bella fought against the abusive relationship that she and Edward were in, but she totally accepts. That sends out the wrong message and there are young girls or boys out there now who think that his stalking and his controlling are romantic and not creepy whatsoever.

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