Love Plus: YA Books with More Than Romance
The first day of spring isn’t too long ago and with the arrival of spring comes love. Ah, love, ain’t it grand? There’s nothing better than a satisfying romance where the couple gets together and your heart grows three sizes in one day. But sometimes, don’t you want a little bit more with your love? Something a little bit … weirder than your run-of-the-mill Nicholas Sparks sob-fest? I do. I like my genres to be mixed and mashed together like a perfect equation: sure solving for x is the goal, but you can still appreciate the distinct parts along the way. So if you’re looking for some great YA romances that mix up their genres, here are some picks for you. Check out my equations:
Love + a go-getter reporter in the Nancy Drew vein + demons + a witchy best friend = Prom Dates from Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore
I am of the opinion that Clement-Moore is one of the best writers of the paranormal genre out there today. All of her books are smart, funny, and have just the right amount of spooky. In this first book of her Maggie Quinn: Girl v. Evil series, our sarcastic heroine Maggie begins to suspect that something is not all together normal. The popular clique starts getting picked off one by one, and the evil, sulfurous smell pervading the school confirms Maggie’s fears: a demonic presence. With the help of a kind and believably interested college student, Justin, Maggie uses her paranormal girl sleuth skills on the case. Two equally hilarious and gently romantic sequels follow.
Love + shadow people + star-crossed lovers + Chicago + alternative histories = The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkowski
I love alternate history stories, but it’s not often that the alternate universe is placed parallel to our known, “normal” one. This is the case in The Shadow Society when Darcy Jones, an orphan bounced around to various foster families, finds out she’s really a Shade. Shades are citizens of an alternate universe that was shattered into being during the events of the Great Chicago Fire. Conn, a mysterious and handsome stranger, saves her when she is most vulnerable, but can Darcy trust him? He knows the truth about her and promptly arrests her for being a terrorist. Here is a story of star-crossed lovers that is a lot more winning and believable than others.
Love, but in an understated way + Celtic mythology + horse racing = The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
While not a strictly swooning, will-they-or-won’t-they romance, there’s still an amazing amount of love in this book. On the fictional island of Thisby, every year horses come from the sea. People capture the horses, and if the horses don’t escape and eat them or someone else, the residents of the island ride them in a big stakes race around the island. Sean Kendrick is a talented horse trainer with his mount Corr, and Puck is a girl just trying to save her family’s house with her plucky pony. The two are drawn together slowly and subtly, but the end result leaves the reader satisfied and yet wanting more.
Love + Facebook + oh my gosh the ’90s counts as “historical fiction” now = The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
In 1996, when Emma gets a new computer and a free AOL CD to connect to the Internet, she finds her own Facebook page. But Facebook (“Thefacebook” back then, remember that?) isn’t created until 2004. Emma becomes obsessed with it and finding a way to change her life and that of her friend, Josh. The book puts a contemporary spin on the age old question: what would do if you could see the future? The 1990s references may be lost on some younger readers, but those who remember constantly listening to the Dave Matthews Band and lightening our hair in the summer with Sun-In will get a kick out of it.
If those don’t strike your fancy, here are some other “Love plus . . .”
books you might enjoy:
- Love + graphic novels + paranormal beings of all kinds = My Boyfriend is a Monster series, written by various authors, published by Graphic Universe
- Love + fairy tale retellings + actual faeries + a heartrending LGBTQ angle = Ash by Malinda Lo
- Love + space travel + the creeping totalitarian dread of 1984 = Across the Universe series by Beth Revis
- Love + secret, occult libraries + Mary Shelley + raising the dead = This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
- Love + voodoo + ghost hunters + terror + a poor cursed girl = Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
- Love + bounty hunters + teenage samurais + zombies + villains that rival The Walking Dead‘s Governor in evilness = the Benny Imura series by Jonathan Maberry
— Anna Tschetter, currently reading Blood Red Road by Moira Young