Book Review

The Problem with YA Romance

Oh lord. This is not going to be a popular review. YA Romance is not my jam. I just. I can’t do it. And it’s not even YA. It’s just Romance and chick lit in general that usually leaves me rolling my eyes instead of swooning.

Case and point:


When Dimple Met Rishi is definitely not my type of book. But, when my IG is blown up with all these people drinking ice coffee and saying “OMG RELEASE DAY FOR DIMPLE AND RISHI!” I’m gonna pay attention! I don’t remember who these authors were…I know Sabaa Tahir for sure and maaaaybe Veronica Roth (wait no, she only posts constantly about her dog), maybe Marie Lu or Leigh Bardugo? I don’t know. The point is, there was a lot of buzz about this book and the big seller for me was…it’s about an Indian American! Hey oh! You had me at it’s not about a white girl. I am in desperate need of some diversity in books and I’d never read anything about Indian Americans before! Yes! And I’d read some light hearted YA contemporaries recently, all this buzz has to mean this book is really great right?!

Wrong. It wasn’t terrible. I did finish it in a day but it wasn’t a binge to me. It’s such a quick read anyway it doesn’t really matter.

Ugggghhhh this freaking book. So many people love it but I had so many things that just…aaahhhhrrrggfgahgahhhhh.

My problem with this book is the problem I have with ALL ROMANCE BOOKS.

Romance is LITERALLY THE ENTIRE PLOT.

By definition, it is about romance. It’s primary purpose is to tell the story of how two people fell in love. This was literally the entire story: Dimple and Rishi meeting and making out. There’s always some weak plot in the background and in this case Dimple being part of this coding summer program. I was excited to read about all of the stuff her and Rishi were going to be working because I don’t know anything about coding! I’m imagining late night work sessions like they built this six week program up to be. But no. The actual project is talked about for two paragraphs and then never again. For all I know Dimple never works on her app because she’s too busy hooking up with Rishi. So to me it just seemed like the author was like “yeah I don’t know anything about code either! Ha!” And decided to leave that out of the book. O. M. GGGGGG WHHYYYYY.

And if romance is going to be the main plot, I like a slow burn. Maybe too slow. Falling Kingdoms (one of my secret faves that everyone I recommend it to hates but I love with all my heart) has a slow burn where the two characters don’t admit their feelings until F I V E books in. Don’t even care. The epic build up and chemistry was worth it for the wait! So many of these romance books don’t even do the romance part well.


And I don’t think that you can claim that you love a man you just met either. THREE WEEKS IS NOT A LONG TIME! (Unless you’re alone with this person in a barren wilderness and you’re working together trying to stay alive. In these extreme cases your excessive amount of time together in three weeks makes love plausible to me.)

Second problem.

THEY ARE SO FREAKING PREDITABLE.

You know that someone is going to fall in love and so you just spend the book waiting for it to happen. There’s nothing else going on so you know it’s gonna happen. And you know they’ll be together at the end. And if they don’t, what the eff are we doing reading this horrible book? (*Cough* Fault in Our Stars *cough sob*)

When Dimple Met Rishi was cute because all rom cons are cute. Was it gripping? Was I on the edge of my seat? Did the book take a lot of creativity and awesomeness to create? No. No. No. Just reading the title let’s me know where this book is headed. Such a bummer to start a book and already know the ultimate destination. But some people don’t need books to be thrilling and I get that, it’s not not my kind of book.

Here’s what I love about fantasy and sci fi, authors literally have to build a world from scratch. They have to build a history, maps, creatures, magic, technology, planets, languages, they have to explain how this world works separately from the one we know. And in order for it to be good the readers have to be able to buy in and really SEE the entire world they have created.

And then! They have to write an entire plot about wars, deception, courts, kings, queens, runaway princes, rogue wizards, broken governments, all these issues that none of us are familiar with now. They have to explain all of these complex issues without word dumping all of it right from the beginning. They have to tell us without just telling us. We are so disconnected to this world but we have to be able to relate to the emotions and the problems the mc is going through.

Writing fantasy and sci-fi is a freaking art. VE Schwab wrote The Shades of Magic trilogy with not one, but FOUR different worlds that were all distinctly separate and had different cultures and vibes from each other. Kell would go to White London and I instantly knew what that looked like seperate from Red, Grey and (AHHHH!!!) Black London.

And it’s all so vivid and beautiful and I get so caught up in the creativity and the effort that goes into building these complex stories and detailed worlds. Renee Ahdieh said in an interview once that she studied ancient Egyptian bathroom systems for six hours for a project she was thinking of once because she wanted to know how she should have her characters GO TO THE BATHROOM!!! Which she said she decided later was a little excessive, but OMG what is this world building where she has to figure out how her characters poop?!?!

Contemporary romance is not like that. Where’s the development? The world building? I really want to understand the effort that goes into writing these books and so many times I’m left unwowed because I think the story is unimaginative.

I’m not saying that there’s not a lot of effort that goes into writing these books. I’m not trying to discredit these authors. If you can write a book, I commend you. All I write are Australian study guides for university students and requires zero creativity.  There are just few contemporary romances that I’ve read that have really wowed me.

These are just not books for me. I like to read books and think, “Holy crap, how did someone even think of this? I could never in a billion years think of something this incredible and original.” How did Tolkien write an entire LANGUAGE for a race of characters for his books? That is some serious dedication and creativity!!

I think it takes a very skilled author to write a romance that has enough of an intriguing story with the romance that keeps me guessing in a genre that is already completely predictable (without a freaking love triangle-barf)

Maaaan I’m negative right now. Haha. I’m just so annoyed that I got sucked into reading this book that’s so entirely unoriginal. Man, I really loved the diversity of the characters. But that was basically it for me.

Yay for stories about Indian Americans. Boo for the actual plot.

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4 thoughts on “The Problem with YA Romance”

  1. I have to be in a very particular mood to read YA Romance. The plot tends to be predictable so I have to want a more fluffy plot. I agree that I prefer contemporaries where there’s more to the plot than just romance (I actually don’t think I’ve read anything that ONLY romance…) It gives me something to care about other than just if the 2 leads will end up together (tbh we know they will).

    PS. Love the slight VE Schwab fangirling in the middle of the post! XD She is my favorite!
    PS Part 2. I really need to branch and read more diverse books… got any good recommendations?

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    1. Just romance is the worst! I even have a hard time getting into regular contemporary too.

      I loved Shades of Magic so much I’m just gonna keep fangirling forever 😂

      So I recently read Nyxia with an American American mc that was…alright. Don’t know if I’m recommending that one or just telling you about it hahaha. Renee Adhieh’s Wrath and the Dawn and Flame in the Mist are amazing and diverse! Traitor to the Throne is another series that’s diverse too!

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  2. Well, I was excited for this book. I’m not a fan of YA Romance, but I was hoping When Dimple Met Rishi would be more. Sounds like ‘nope’ and all the tropes I dislike are here. Thanks for the review, definitely will rethink read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So many people really love it so maybe I’m just negative. I really need a contemporary romance to wow me to give it a good review. This one was a quick read, but it just seriously lacked for me. I also recently read Geekerella which I surprisingly LOVED so I’m measuring it against the love I had for that book!

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