Friday, February 4, 2011

Contemporary Love vs. Paranormal and Dystopian Love: Which Do You Love More?

I love apocalyptic and dystopian stories. LOVE them.

I am not sure why it’s so fun to watch Los Angeles get destroyed by tornados in The Day After Tomorrow, considering people are dying and all, but any time this movie is on, I stop to watch it. Same goes for 2012 and Independence Day and Dante’s Peak and Volcano and…

I guess I’m an Armageddon whore. (pun intended)

But when it comes to the actual romances in these movies, I could care less. Jeff Goldblum is having problems with his lady friend in Independence Day? Who cares? Did you just see the White House get blown to smithereens? Who cares that Jake Gyllenhaal can’t tell Emmy Rossum he likes her in The Day After Tomorrow? A giant wave just took out Manhattan! And helicopters are freezing in midair!

When it comes to books, I feel the exact same way.
A lot of people loved MATCHED and TWILIGHT and DELIRIUM because of the longing.  The characters in these books couldn’t be together because of some outside force. Sure, I care if the guy and girl get together or not, but it’s not the main reason I’m reading and loving these books.
For instance, in I AM NUMBER FOUR, there’s a big romance, but I honestly didn’t care that much. I was more interested in how John had to change his life all the time, and the logistics involved with that. How did he get his money? How did he blend into society so seamlessly? How did he buy all new things every time he had to adopt a new persona?
In MATCHED, I was interested in the 100 poems, 100 books, 100 songs, etc. The government in this book decided that there could only be 100 of any given thing, and the rest would be destroyed. I thought, how did the government choose which books to save? Which books would I save? Which songs? I was way more interested in imagining those scenarios than whether the main character chose Ky or Xander.
And with TWILIGHT, which I still love of course, it’s not like any guy I’ve ever dated has thirsted for my blood. (I hope)
I guess what I’m saying is that “I’m Not Feeling It.”
I didn’t cry when I read DELIRIUM or XVI or ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, even though I loved the books. However, I bawled like a baby when reading WHERE SHE WENT and AMY AND ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR. Hell, I even cry when reading Elizabeth Scott’s books and Simon and Schuster Romanic Comedies.
I got really upset when reading PROM AND PREJUDICE for crying out loud.
I think I’ve realized that I relate more to contemporary love stories, and feel more for the characters, because I can relate. Because “that could happen to me.”
I could want to be with the hot Will Darcy of the nearby prep school, but because he told me he doesn’t like scholarship students, and I am a scholarship student, I’ll never speak to him again. Even though I want him.
Or maybe this guy wants to be with me, but I want to be with his brother, and then eventually come to realize that the first guy was the better choice. But he’s moved on to another girl. That could actually happen!

Or maybe I want to be with this guy who’s in a gang, but I live in the ritzy part of Chicago, and he’s involved in all sorts of life-threatening drama. That could actually happen!
Now compare that with MATCHED and DELIRIUM. The government won’t let two people be together? How can I relate to that? I highly doubt I’ll wake up tomorrow to find that the U.S. Government won’t let me date the guy I want.
I didn’t cry while reading MATCHED or DELIRIUM, but SWEETHEARTS by Sara Zarr? You best your ass I did. J
Don’t get me wrong – I did find the guys in these dystopian books very swoon-worthy.
On the flip side, I recently read and loved WITHER. I was most surprised when I actually started getting interested in the love story. I had thought I’d be more interested in the virus destroying Earth’s population.

What kind of love story do you prefer?
Did you feel more while reading these dystopian and paranormal stories than I did?
Do you all think I’m a nut now? J


Anonymous said...

I'm not a huge fan of the paranormal but I do love a good love story, regardless of the genre. But a love story without a compelling story wrapped around it is pretty pointless.

Dawn Embers said...

Interesting. I actually prefer the ones where the love story is on the side. It's nice when they get together and all but I want there to be more to the story than that. I haven't read many of the dystopian ones but I plan to read them because they are ones I tend to prefer. I don't care for Twilight nor am I a big fan of contemporary romance.

But what you said does make sense. Though I think I can relate in a way to the dystopian mentioned because I bet there are some in the government who wish they could control who people date to end same-sex couples from being together. Not all will, thankfully but I could think of a few that might want such to happen.

Margie said...

Interesting insight. I'd never really thought it like that, but you're right. When I read Dystopian--my category of choice, lately--I feel the same way. It's not the romance that propels the story forward, but the world that the author created and my interest in it.

Miranda Kenneally said...

Dawn - You are totally right about same-sex couples. Great example. I hadn't considered that. *short-sighted*

E. Kristin Anderson said...

Every story is better with an explosion. But is every story better with a romance? IMPORTANT QUESTIONS, MIRANDA!

Jennifer Wolf said...

Great post Miranda!

I like a love story in any genre. I found myself caught up with Katnis' choice of men although I was more worried about whether they would SURVIVE.

I read a great comparison between actual teen romance and paranormal romance. It was something like, all teens feel like their romance is meant to be forever and is being torn apart by some great and eternal force (like parents) so they relate to the paranormal romance. Maybe adults have a harder time because we're too real and literal, and have less restrictions. Just a thought!

Post a Comment