Does it have kissing?
This book sounds so cool! Too bad it doesn’t seem like there’s romance.
Where’s the romance?
Is there a love interest?
Is there a love triangle?
I would totally read it, IF there were romance.
These are some of the things I’ve heard lately re: The Archived (and in truth, re: many YA books). The reason these questions are being asked, I can only assume, is because–GASP–the romantic elements of The Archived are not billed on the jacket copy on the back of the book. The jacket copy focuses on Mackenzie, and the supernatural, and the mystery, and her personal struggle.
Are there boys in the book? Yes. Are there romantic elements? Yes. Is there instalove? No. A love triangle? No. I don’t think so. Someone will say yes. ANYWAY.
The point is, the RELATIONSHIPS in this book are extraordinarily important. The relationships in ANY book are extraordinarily important. But relationships do not need to be romantic in order to be important, and to perpetuate the idea that a book is only as good as it’s romance is depressingly limiting.
Stories are about relationships, both those between characters, and those between characters and their world.
And of course, romantic relationships CAN BE IMPORTANT. They can be the most important, but even when they are, they are never the ONLY important relationship in a book. And I don’t think they should automatically be the ones we value most.
As a writer, I am fascinated by siblings. By family. By friendship. By unhealthy–even toxic–relationships. By the cog versus machine of a character at odds with their world.
THESE are the relationships in The Archived.
I will say for the record, I love a good romance. I really do. And I like my books, both those I read and those I write, to have romance in them. It’s safe to assume there will always be at least a measure of flirtation, of lust if not love.
BUT I think it’s a disservice to books to assume that because one doesn’t bill romance at the very top, or at all, it is somehow inherently lacking. Maybe it doesn’t HAVE a romantic thread, or maybe it’s a complicated one, or maybe revealing it would spoil an element of the story, or maybe it isn’t front-and-center because it’s not the driving force in the book. Whatever the reason, the fact remains, books are about relationships, and those relationships come in SO MANY FORMS.
Or at least, they should. Think about how many people/elements you interact with. Think about the number of things and people that matter to you. Chances are, your romantic partner, if you have one, isn’t the only one that means something.
As readers, I think we should seek out relationships of all forms in books.
As writers, I think we should push ourselves to value every relationship, both the bold and the subtle, and to make each one–romantic, platonic, familial, environmental–as rich and important as the others.