I have often been asked why I like Ron and Hermione so much. I mean, they only kiss exactly once, after thousands of pages of them bickering and teasing and giving each other the silent treatment. But that’s not at all what I see. I publicly discussed my Potter fangirl love of Ron and Hermione the summer “Deathly Hallows Part 2” came out, and I stand by what I wrote. They aren’t the make-you-weak-in-the-knees type of couple with tons of steamy snogging scenes (after all, this series is more middle-grade than young-adult), but they are definitely an epic YA romance nonetheless.
The romance, you see, is mostly off the page. It’s passionate and emotional and intense, but it’s still chaste, and there’s something to be said for a good kiss rather than a full on “everything but” scene, or worse, pages and pages and pages of the protagonist (usually a young woman) going on ad nauseam about the object of her affection/infatuation/lust/love’s statuesque proportions, ripped abs, and rock hard — well, you get the picture. Of course, Ron and Hermione are an exception, because they aren’t the protagonists, so we’re not in their heads. But J.K. Rowling spent more than half a book describing Ron’s various snogfests with Lavender from Harry’s point of view, and they never once conveyed as much as Ron and Hermione’s one, mid-battle declaration of their feelings.
If I think about some of my favorite YA couples from the past couple of years: Sean and Puck; Tessa and Will; Anna and Etienne; Tris and Four; Frankie and Will; Lola and Cricket; Evanjalin and Finnikin — they’re all couples who have a heated push and pull with each other, who have more to say than how much they have the hots for the other. Even those who went all the way (Jonah and Taylor; Hazel and Augustus; Mia and Adam; Tessa and Adam; Sam and Grace; Katsa and Po) weren’t constantly thinking about their significant other in an overtly sexual way (except for Clary, who really does have a hard time not reveling in Jace’s body).
I’ve noticed that in many YA books the couple meets once, and all of a sudden BOOM, the person is IN LOVE, and ten pages later they’ve kissed and it’s true love forevah. It’s eye-rollingly lazy of a writer not to give the “why,” not to let love blossom, whether through friendship or circumstance. I’d rather read about the relationship growing, maturing, not just the physical stuff with a few high-stakes or life and death situations standing in for time and conversation.
I’m not saying fast and furious romances aren’t thrilling and fabulous; I loved Gayle Forman’s “Just One Day,” for example, but I want to see more connection not merely attraction in YA romances.