My thoughts on paranormal romance / urban fantasy.
Posted On July 21, 2015
Here’s the mix: Take one private investigator, add city, mix with magic, vampires, werewolves and three tablespoons of fae. Shake vigorously and let stand for three hundred pages. Sprinkle generously with interesting personalites and serve with a side of sweet violence and sexual tension. Feel free to substitute the first ingredient with a druid, necromancer, or whatever you have on hand. Add grimdark to taste. Enjoy!
Personally, I cut my teeth on Anita Blake, advanced to Harry Dresden (who just isn’t showing up as regularly as he used to), walked planes with Atticus O’Sullivan, with side helpings of anyone else who could keep my interest for a few books. While I wouldn’t say that my taste is indiscriminate, I have sampled pretty widely in the genre. Where there are series that I wait all year … sometimes multiple years (I’m looking at you Butcher!) for the next book in the series, there are others that just don’t catch me. Maybe its the tone? Maybe its world? Usually its the main character. We’ll get into that.
Then there’s … paranormal romance. On the surface it looks like urban fantasy. The book blurb on the back reads like it, but you probably know what you’re getting by the fifth chapter. I know, I know…plenty of people love paranormal romance… but thus far I haven’t been able to make it through one. I’m not saying that the genre’s bad. Just like the corset and lace romance genre isn’t bad, in and of itself. It just isn’t for me. But, I’m a human being, and as such, I have … opinions. And why have a blog if I don’t use it to toss an opinion or two out into the wild, where it can hurt some unsuspecting reader, here from WordKeeperAlpha?
So, paranormal romance, why can’t you keep my interest? Tropes. You are just drowning in your tropes, and they make a hot sticky mess. First and foremost: is the Perfect Female Protagonist’. I don’t mean strong, I mean perfect, also known as a Mary Sue character. Does the main character start off as a mousey nerd, but inside of six months is challenging established power houses within the world, making her a badass? Does she master the katana (has to be a katana) in a short amount of time? Win the instant respect of beings who are ages older than her?
This isn’t even about the protagonist being female. I LOVE me a kick ass woman main character. Like I said, I got my start with the first five novels of the Anita Blake series. All I ever wanted was Anita to stick around being a bad ass, killing monsters, taking names and … well, things got weird. I had to start reading other books. This isn’t a “I don’t like women as main characters thing” this is a “I don’t like main characters who are unrealistically perfect”.
If further fairness, Anita Blake both spoiled and ruined me. Ever since I hit that weird point in Anita Blake I’ve been looking for a main character who can take her place. As a result, I’ve looked into a lot of series that, on the book synopsis, looked like urban fantasy, but turned out to be paranormal romance. There is no disappiontment so harsh as expecting Anita Blake and getting Bella from Twilight. Does she have a last name? Bah! So, please, consider PFP to also be PMP, because I’m sure those are out there….probably angels or alpha werewolves of something.
Anita was great because she started off scared of so many things. She knew that, even though she was a badass, compared to what she hunted she was pretty weak. That means she had to be smart … or insanely brave … or have friends to back her up or just to scrape out no matter what. Dresden’s kind of the same way. He starts out a little fish in a very big pond, and some of the other fish that … ok, the fish metaphore is weird in this case. Both Dresden and Anita are both their best when they’re out of their depth and if they get any respect it is grudgingly given.
The PFP/PMP enters the world of the paranormal either already Wolverine (the best at what he/she does) or as little Annakin (look at the MIDICHLORIANS on this one!). Neither one of these is bad in and of itself…but when title character is already the best, there’s no where left to go. Unless you tear them down to their roots and let them start again (this statement is in no way indicitive of what I’m writing now). Its why I’m not a huge Superman fan, at least not classic Superman. He’s been too good. Too perfect. And that’s just boring.
Wow…ok. So that went on for a bit longer than I thought it would. I’ve got other things to talk about that seem to run rampant in paranormal romance, but if I went into them now, I’d be here all night. Sounds like we’ve got the makings of a series! Finally, something to talk about on my blog that’s actually writing related! **does a little dance** **falls** **dies**
So, I’ve probably angered some people. Here’s your chance to prove me wrong. Do you know a good paranormal romance book? Something with a great MC, male or female, who just makes the book or story for you? Leave a comment and I’ll try it out. Really, just because I haven’t found my cup of tea yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. Educate me.
Honestly, I just want someone to leave me a comment. I’m so lonely here. So quiet and alone.