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YA Novels With Minimal To No Romance
I love a good romance every so often, but sometimes I just don’t want to read about teenagers falling in love. I’m okay with the ones that feel realistic, but there are some that make me roll my eyes and definitely ruin the rest of the novel for me. While reading over the course of these years, I have found a few YA novels that have minimal romance which I will list below! Either they have a romance that takes a back seat to the rest of the plot or there is no romance at all in it. Check out my suggestions below and feel free to add more in the comments below!
Please note that I am only discussing novels that I have read. If you have other suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication Date: May 11, 2004
Colie expects the worst when she’s sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast — first for being fat and then for being “easy” — Colie has no friends at home and doesn’t expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina.
But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along.
Why I Recommend It
This is one of Sarah Dessen’s earlier novel — and easily one of my favourites. The focus is on girl friendships and the way that people interact with one another. Sure, there is some romance, but if you think that is more important than Morgan and Isabel taking Colie under their wing, then you are completely missing the point of the story. This is one of my favourites and I hope you check it out. The majority of Sarah Dessen’s novels focus on either female friendships, family relationships, or learning how to be yourself with a splash of romance to keep you on your toes. If you want minimal romance in your YA novels, Sarah Dessen is the author for you.
This Savage Song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity #1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
Why I Recommend It
Schwab is a GODDESS and her work is brilliant. I love that she can write swoon-worthy romance and really great friendships (also toxic friendships re: VICIOUS). Kate and August have such a great friendship in THIS SAVAGE SONG and you can really see that fundamental aspect of how to be a friend.
Author: Jennifer Lynne Barnes
Series: The Fixer #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
This thriller YA is Scandal meets Veronica Mars.
Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather’s ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.
And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess’s classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.
Why I Recommend It
First of all, this was a fantastic book. There is politics, intrigue, and a great familial relationship plus great female friendships. And an awesome #GirlBoss to boot. At one point you think “oh man, there is going to be a love triangle” but there is absolutely no teen romance in this at all. There is a whisp of the adults being in love but even that is minimal to the plot. This book focuses on our characters kicking ass and taking names, that’s it. 100/10 would recommend.
Author: William Ritter
Series: Jackaby #1
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion–and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.
Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.
Why I Recommend It
Sure, there is romance in this one, but it is very, very, very minimal. It is more of a “crush” than a full blown romance. The focus is on Abigail working with Jackaby and solving the mystery and the crime. There is a dash of romance, but it is very sweet to see Abigail flustered over her emotions. The same can be said of the sequel BEASTLY BONES. So it seems as though the series is shaping up to be one of minimal romance!
Whisper To Me
Author: Nick Lake
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
A remarkable story of strange beauty and self-discovery from Printz Award winner Nick Lake
Cassie is writing a letter to the boy whose heart she broke. She’s trying to explain why. Why she pushed him away. Why her father got so angry when he saw them together. Why she disappears some nights. Why she won’t let herself remember what happened that long-ago night on the boardwalk. Why she fell apart so completely.
Desperate for his forgiveness, she’s telling the whole story of the summer she nearly lost herself. She’s hoping he’ll understand as well as she now does how love—love for your family, love for that person who makes your heart beat faster, and love for yourself—can save you after all.
Why I Recommend It
I know what you’re thinking: “But … it says “love” right in the synopsis for this one?” but the romance is actually sweet and the plot doesn’t revolve itself around this one. There is self love, an excellent portrayal of being mentally ill, and ah-mazing female friendships that you even FORGET that the romance is happening at the same time. There is so much more to the story than Cassie being in love and if you don’t see that, then you are reading through a different coloured lens.
The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Series: The Maze Runner #1
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: October 6, 2009
If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.
Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Everything is going to change.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
Why I Recommend It
There are lots of things I dislike about The Maze Runner series, but the lack of romance in the first novel is not one of them. Instead of bogging this down with a romance between Thomas and the ONE GIRL in this novel, there is an exploration of friendship between a guy and a girl and how guys are friends when there are no females around. I loved the friendships in this series and am very happy with them overall.
The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.
Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.
Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.
Why I Recommend It
Adelina does not have time to have a romantic interest. She is too busy trying to control her magic, save her sister, and not let creepy af Teren ruin her life. She’s looking at those pretty boys saying “Maybe in another life but not in this one” and I’m here for it.
Author: Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver Quartet #1
Publication Date: April 26, 1993
In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes ofBrave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.
The Giver is set in a future society which is at first presented as a utopia and gradually appears more and more dystopic, so could therefore be considered anti-utopian. The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth year of his life. Jonas’ society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness”, a plan which has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of “Receiver of Memory,” the person who stores all the memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. As Jonas receives the memories from his predecessor—the “Giver”—he discovers how shallow his community’s life has become.
Why I Recommend It
Contrary to what you may have seen in the movie (if you watched it), there is no romance in THE GIVER. This is just a tale about learning how shitty the world actually is. It’s like becoming an adult in book form.