Thursday, November 20, 2014

Insta-Love is Insta-Boring

We've all read those books. You think it is going to be a story about a young heroine, overcoming massive obstacles and fighting for what is good and right in the world.  And then they find the guy of their dreams and OMG he is so hot and I am already in love with him even though I barely know him and he may be a rapist or a murderer or have weird fetishes about feet and I don't know but he is perfect for me for ever and ever! 

In some ways, Disney sort of had the corner of the Insta-Love market for a while. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, Aladdin...all of them fall under the same balloon of the girl making her first impression of a man, mostly by looks or outward charm, and going "Yup! This is it!"

I never really minded it in animation.  It simplifies the plot for kids in many ways and the target audience is generally not looking for a long drawn out courtships.  Disney has even started to roll back this idea of falling in love with a guy as soon as you meet him with movies like Tangled and The Princess and the Frog.  It was refreshing to see these role models for girls more concerned with their future than some handsome guy who randomly pops up.  They are grounded girls who have goals.  Those are the kinds of characters that modern girls should be looking up to.  That is not to say that the old Disney movies are completely without merit because they aren't.  Many of them were revolutionary in the animation world but their plots are dated now and have been rejected by many because of their emphasis on a man making your world complete.

But insta-love has worked its way into books and it sucks. Not a fan. Will never be a fan.

Instant attraction is real. Once again, we have all been there and it is pretty much based on first impressions.  You are at a party and you see someone across the room and your first reaction is somewhere along the lines of "Hot damn!". That's normal.  People do that all the time and can be the start of a relationship but probably shouldn't be the basis for one.  It is not normal for your first thought when seeing someone to run along the lines of "MINE FOREVER!" 

I can respect books that have instant attraction but this whole falling in love with a guy you have talked with once or twice is ridiculous.  The words "lamb to the slaughter" come to mind.  Insta-love is often paired with a girl that "isn't judgmental" or is an outsider in some way which is even worse.  So not only are you dangerously naive, but you are a hypocrite and this is the one that is supposed to be the heroine and fix everything?

One of the few books where insta-love has worked for me is Shatter Me with the character of Warner.  You know why it works well?  It's because he is a broken and obsessive guy with human interaction issues.  He isn't normal and his immediate possessiveness of Juliette is a symptom of his problems.  Also, Juliette doesn't love him back instantly and he has to work for what he wants.

The stories where people have to work for each other are the ones that capture my attention and admiration and many of the classic love stories focus on that.  Pride and Perjudice and North and South are two stories that contain wonderful love stories that took time and energy to come to fruition.  Those are the stories that stick with you and should be examples for writers.  Other more modern examples include the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning even a book like Austenland where the idea in the long run is about making a connection and finding love but the kicker is finding the right love for you.

All of these cliched stories of people finding their true love and happily ever after are unrealistic in a way that makes me want to throw things.  What is the worst book for insta-love that you have read? Have you read a book where it actually worked? (Outside of fairy tales) I'd love to hear your opinions on it.


  1. I totally see where you're coming from here and I think that the majority agree with you--insta love gets the thumbs down from the community. The funny thing is, it's as popular as ever. As in, authors are giving it a lot of love. Which sucks for the rest of us who aren't exactly happy. Worse book for insta love? I can't answer that right now, purely because it'd probably be everything that I've read or something along the lines of 80%. But there was a book that I recently read with what others deemed as insta love. Personally, I thought it was a little more about attraction and power but to each there own. The point is, the love in The Young Elites just worked magnificently and it was desperate and sexy and it made the reader forget all about the instantaneous factor, you know?

    1. I've heard The Young Elites was wonderful and I was a little skeptical because of the instant thing. I'm glad to hear it is worth it!

      80% sounds about right and that makes me sad. I wish authors would challenge the YA community more with the relationships they choose to write about.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Like Jess, 70% of what I've read have insta-love in it.
    But I have read books that don't have insta-love.

    Some of them are:
    *Remember When trilogy by T. Torrest
    *The Gateway Chronicles by K.B. Hoyle
    *The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa

    1. All of those series look fantastic. I hate that these YA authors refuse to challenge their readers with more diverse relationships. 70% is a lot of low expectations for their audience, in my opinion.

      Thanks for commenting!