Book Boyfriend #4
@ Stuck in Books
It seems that my status as "Sensor Librorum" is still official. Someone at work who knows that I read YA novels recently asked me if the book with today's "boyfriend" would be appropriate for "a mature ten-year-old" girl. Not having been around ten-year-old children for a while, I waffled a bit before finally saying no.
"But I thought you said there was no graphic violence and that the most sexual word in the text was 'kiss.'"
As I explained that you don't even need to kiss if you can play mind games, this post began to take shape. But as you can already tell, I'm looking at today's book boyfriend not from the perspective of someone who might want to date him but from the perspective of someone who would like her daughter to stay away from him . . . for at least a few more years.
by Kiersten White
"Come and dance with me, my love." His voice was like the colour gold--bright and sparkling with the promise of warmth. So much warmth. I smiled, closing my eyes and letting myself be pulled up off the couch and into an embrace. He rested his cheek against mine and and the heat spread out, through my face and then down my neck, inching toward my heart. "My heart," he whispered. I nodded against his cheek. His heart.
My vid screen beeped, jarring me out of the trance. I jumped back and shoved Reth off me. The heat slowly drifted away from my heart. It had been close. Too close.
Reth looked disappointed. He held out his arms. I swore. "What is your freaking problem? Get out! Now!"
When the Paranormalcy series begins, you could say that Evie and Reth are exes. They had something really intense going for a while and Evie still has feelings for him, but something happened that made her decide to break it off. Unfortunately for her hormones and her peace of mind, Reth isn't taking "Back off," "Get out," "I don't want this," "You can't touch me," "Please stop," and the classic "No" (These are all actual quotations!) for an answer.
So what? you may be wondering. Yes, he's a jerk--but she knows it and is having none of it. Oh, if only it were that simple . . . First of all, as you can tell from the excerpt, the problem isn't that Reth is annoying Evie, but that he's conflicting her. While her mouth is saying no, other parts of her are screaming yes. What they have between them isn't physical, but that only makes it more powerful. The second issue is that Paranormalcy is just the first book in a trilogy. And if you know the post-Twilight YA Paranormal genre, then you've already guessed that the second book will present the compelling, controlling Reth in a better and more romantic light, which will conflict Evie (and therefore, the readers) even more.
Now, there are times when someone is justified in overriding another person's objections and refusing to take the time to explain things . . . such as when a bomb is about to go off and he might need to get you out of the building. We'd call him a hero then, right? It's a done deal that the next two books will make a case for Reth's behaviour being more courageous than creepy--and for Evie needing him to be there for her. All this is a strong psychic cocktail that I, an experienced reader, can liberally sip without any serious effects, but which an emotionally untried preteen shouldn't have to wrestle with on her own.
For a teenager, sure, I'll clear Paranormalcy. By that age, a girl would already be dealing with strange, powerful feelings of "warmth"--and Evie's struggles with Reth might even help her to manage them. First by seeing that as exciting as Reth's attentions are, there's a dark edge to them as well. Then (if I'm correct about the second book) by looking past appearances to what things really mean. And finally (if I'm also right about the third installment) by evaluating him as a potential life partner.
Image Source: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White