Me, I'm a realism girl. I'm also kind of a cynic when it comes to romance in YA. I honestly don't believe that the majority of teens, at 16, 17, 18, have the emotional stability and maturity to form a healthy, long-lasting relationship. Most people don't find their soulmates this young because teens are constantly changing. I'm 18 myself, and I know I'm not likely to find my soulmate anytime soon. How can you expect to commit yourself fully to another person when you yourself haven't developed into the person you're going to be?
In any case, I understand why people enjoy the idealized romances of YA fiction. It's escapism. Something to yearn for. Oh, don't we all wish we had that perfect guy who complies to our every wish, showers us with love and affection, and, of course, looks incredible in a swimsuit. But when I read a book that sacrifices realism for this perfected vision, it jerks me out of the story. I find myself snorting and thinking, "Yeah, right. That's not how it works."
Take sex. I've read a fair number of YA books recently in which the female heroine loses her virginity to the guy of her dreams. It's perfect. It's everything she's ever imagined. He's kind, and gentle, and perfect, and it feels so good....
This is the kind of scene that makes me laugh. I'm not going to get into the anatomy of the female body, but suffice to say that for most girls, losing your virginity hurts. It's not perfect or amazing or even pleasant. There are girls who can hardly walk for a couple days afterward, yet in YA books the heroine always wakes up fine, exhilarated, and ready to go again (or something like that).
Maybe it's just me, but I honestly prefer realism. I prefer to read about characters who are like me. Who aren't perfect. I want characters I can relate to, and situations that mirror, in some way or another, the things I face in everyday life.
What about you? Do you like the grand, sweeping romances, regardless of their accuracy? Or do you prefer stark realism? Somewhere in between?