You've heard of it. It's one of the biggest offenses in YA romance novels. If you're like me, you hate it. If you're not, you love it. Maybe you can tolerate it. Maybe you can't. You've guessed it: insta-love.
For all of you who don't know, insta-love is a situation in a book where one character meets another and they fall immediately in love. No, it isn't like love at first sight. An example of insta-love would be the relationship progression in Romeo & Juliet. Less than 24 hours after meeting one another, they're already madly in love and getting married and doing the deed. Another example would be Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. Even though I'm a huge fan of the Anna trilogy, the amount of insta-love in that last book was so stifling that it earned a two star rating. Seriously. An Anna book received a two star rating. That's borderline insane. (You can read my review of Isla by clicking here.)
In my opinion, (and that's just what this post is - a little bit of a rant on my opinion of insta-love), if a book contains insta-love, it's automatically ruined for me. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for love at first sight. I eat up the stories where the main character sees a boy and knows she's destined to be with him - which is what happens in insta-love stories, too.
But here's where is branches off.
In said story, if the plot progressed at a "normal" relationship pace, she would befriend this boy and get close to him and slowly but surely, piece by piece, their relationship would build into something magical and heart warming.
But if said story followed an insta-love progression, she would ask the boy out that night, get pregnant with his child, and get married in Vegas all by the next morning. And then never even acknowledge how crazy the concept is.
And if you've never read an insta-love story and you're laughing and thinking to yourself, wow, she's being totally ridiculous, no decent story has a plot like this, you're wrong. You're so very wrong. But I genuinely wish you were right.
Like I said in my Isla review, I know that stories don't always have to be believable. Books are supposed to make the impossible become possible. As a writer, you can make your book into anything you want. Trust me. I know that. I really, truly do. But when I pick up a book with insta-love it just creates such a massive mind block for me. Try as I might, throughout the whole book I can't get myself to ignore how fake the relationship sounds. It's just so unsatisfying. If a book contains insta-love, it's an immediate turn off for me. But trust me, I don't just abandon the book. I try. And odds are, I finish it. But I'm left feeling cheated and so dissatisfied.
I think people don't realize that there's a difference between love at first sight and insta-love. But there really is, and it's a fine line that needs to be acknowledged. Insta-love feels like fake love to me. The characters may truly believe they love one another, and maybe they do, but when you rush a relationship like that, what do you have left to look forward to?
I decided to reach out and ask some other readers what their opinions on insta-love are. Here's some feedback:
"I'm normally not an insta-love fan! I prefer slow burn romance or stories where the characters don't like each other at first. Insta love can be okay if written well, but sometimes the MC will get tunnel vision and that really bugs me!"
"I personally feel that in YA insta-love done well can work really well. Teens in high school think that after dating a week they are in a serious relationship and with how long they tend to last in HS it is usually instant. But sometimes it is just not something that makes for a great read even though it is reality. I do prefer more of the love/hate relationships in YA."
"I really dislike it. I just find it so unbelievable and fake."
"I don't like it. I value the build-up to a relationship - the friendship, the flirting, the getting to know one another. Icould never be with someone I'd just met and love them. Then again, I see "insta-love" everywhere with teens IRL."
"In most cases, I don't love insta-love. It just doesn't seem realistic to me."
"Do not like it! Gateway by Sharon Shinn was the worst instalove story. There was no reason for connection other than same age."
What are your opinions on insta-love? When's it okay/not okay? What books had good/bad examples of insta-love? Leave a comment down below! I'd love to hear what you have to say on the subject. :-)