Saturday, February 12, 2011

Looking for Mr. Perfect? Open a Book!

I read a one-star review for Twilight written by a young man who admittedly did not read the book; however, he felt led to give it the lowest rating because his girlfriend broke up with him after reading it. Apparently he wasn’t “Edward” enough for her. Hmm. Perhaps he didn’t smell heavenly? Or maybe he wasn’t projecting his intense, undying devotion to her? Shame on him. I will admit, during the time when I was wrapped up in that series I found myself giving my husband the stink-eye and thinking, “Edward would never treat Bella that way.” Well, yes, because Edward isn’t real.
Ah, the power of books. So who’s really at fault here? The author who writes a gorgeous fictional character that makes readers swoon? The parent who hasn’t taught their child to understand the realities of real-life relationships? Or could it simply be a matter of the reader’s life experience and maturity?
In books, just as in “real” life, we love passionately, we disagree, we get annoyed, we question our initial feelings, and we make hard decisions about whether to stick together or not. But when lovebirds in books argue it’s not so ugly and painful. Well, yes, because it isn’t real.
Readers escape into books momentarily, knowing we will eventually have to return to reality. We do know that, right? That life is hard and nobody is perfect? Because I have come across many negative comments concerning Young Adult literature, especially in the paranormal and fantasy genres, in which readers are disgusted by “too-perfect” lead characters.
What do YOU think? Are YA readers being turned into unrealistic mush brains?
Happy Valentine’s Day, YAtopians. If you are blessed enough to be in a relationship this holiday, I hope you’ll take the time to set down your beloved book and snuggle the warm body of the imperfect person in your life. They may not have superhuman powers or the looks of an avenging angel, but unlike fictional characters, your partner can put an actual kiss on your lips. Enjoy it. XOXO


  1. I always think it's kind of funny when girls (or boys, for that matter) break up with their boyfriends because they aren't "Edward enough". And then there are those who think Twilight give people wrong expectations. My opinion is that in some cases, Edward helps show peope in bad relationships that they deserve better and that's a good thing. I think it's natural for readers to raise their expectations based on their favorite fictional hero, especially since our expectations are already set by other aspects of our lives. Great post, Wendy!

  2. It's a scary thought! But good at the same time ... I'd rather have YA's with their noses in books than doing other things, but what if these books are creating an unhealthy view toward life? I guess it's like anything though-if it's not books, it's something else. And books are a heck of a lot healthier than most alternatives!

    Good topic, Wendy!

  3. Haha if some of the fictional guys were real, I wouldn't be single right now. Maybe that's why I'm being fussy with guys - because they're no Etienne or Patch or Christian!!

    I kid. Not even fictional characters are perfect so we should def be more considerate and understanding of our less than perfect male counterparts :D

  4. This subject interests me. In class the other day my tutor was talking about how the idea of romantic love in itself hasn't been around that long and how she believes it is something to do with fiction and fiction's use of romantic love.

    Anyway, I agree as above that it's good for us to have high standards. However, if we read about a truly real guy in a book would we want to read it? Or maybe we should remember the male characters in context of what is happening, because lets be honest, we're not likely to have a vampire and werewolf fighting over us. Maybe they're only so awesome within context?

  5. Morgan, I'd definitely want to see kids reading!!

    Jenny, context is huge. And, no, I don't want to read about truly real guy because I get enough of that "grump" from my own, haha.

    I think as long as readers don't internalize perfection and think it should be real, then it's all good. Each reader will be at a different stage of that understanding.

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  7. Giving your husband the stinky eye where you? LOFL!!
    I have to admit, my hubby got the stinky eye once or twice when I read the twilight series. (I'm giggling away to myself here).
    While the standards set in fiction are completely unrealistic, they do prompt our menfolk to up their game a little, and that has to be a good thing.

    Now if I could just teach my hubby 'the smoulder' I'd be sorted.

    1. Look at the ground, don't make eye contact.
    2. Do a long blink, look pensive.
    3. Shake head slowly fighting your inner battle.
    4. Close eyes again, give in, lose the battle with your desires.
    5. Dare your eyes to look up under your heavenly thick eyelashes. But DONT turn to face me... yet.
    6. Now, let them slowly meet mine. Hold the pained, lustful eye contact just long enough, then break it.
    7. Then, and only then, tilt head towards me.

    Now that's how you do 'the smoulder'.


    But in reality, he'd be doing all this just to ask you "would you like a cup of tea love?" I guess it's a bit to much effort.

    "Sure babes, and bring us in a cookie while your at it." *Chews on lower lip, looking enchanting*

  8. Leigh, you kill me! I'm in love with your smoulder. *sighs* If only, if only, LOL.

  9. For me, it didn't really affect me that way. Not even Twilight which I do consider the ultimate love story. If anything, reading romance stories has made me... I don't want to say helped my marriage because we've never had problems, but it's been a highlight for our relationship. It's been a good thing. I'm not sure exactly why. maybe because no matter how many of the boys I fall in love with, I know that there is a boy in RL, I love just as much.

  10. Aw, look at you, Kelley!!! xoxo

    (Okay everybody, on the count of three we grab Kelley and throw her in the YAtopia basement! One, two... yes, fine, fine, you can throw her husband in there, too. One, two...)

  11. Leigh!!!! ^^^^^^^^^^ Bahahaha!!!!!!!!!

  12. I actually don't think it's bad to give kids a hopeful unrealistic view of love through perfect characters. So many young people are coming from broken homes, and their parents' failed relationships are the only examples they have. That being said, of course someone should be helping kids to see the reality of imperfection we all live. I just don't know that it's the publishing industry's responsibility. Sometimes I think we should give kids more variety by providing some perfect lead characters and some imperfect ones, but I think that's already available... kids are just choosing to read the ones with perfect leads more often, so they're selling more and getting more attention.

  13. It's both good and bad. Raising YA's expectations and wants in a relationship? Not a bad thing, especially when I see some of the crap kids today put up with from their boyfriends/girlfriends. It's when those expectations get out of hand that it starts to worry me.

    "What? You want me to be sweeter? Well, okay... Wait, you want me to sparkle in the sunlight? Oh, uh, well..."

    That being said, my literary crush is so far from perfect I would probably hate him in real life. ;)