When you walk into the YA section of any bookstore, you’ll find a sea of dark covers splashed with scarlet and other vivid shades, covers lauding romance with vampires, werewolves, even demons. So why is paranormal romance so popular? What does the genre offer–danger only or an opportunity for truth?
Before I share my thoughts, a quick disclaimer–I haven’t read paranormal romance in any form, so I speak to this from the outside looking in, not picking on any particular book (some of which may prove exceptions to these remarks), but commenting on the “mass” that I see any time I walk into a bookstore or hear online discussion of general market fantasy. For some time, I’ve refrained from speaking my thoughts, simply because of this lack of personal familiarity, but several recent blog posts and online discussions have brought it to the forefront of my mind again.
That said, observation alone makes clear one of the elements creating a passion for this genre. Women love the idea of pursuit by someone larger than life, someone who stands above the rest, someone immortal, with supernatural qualities, an individual who has everything yet still finds an ordinary girl desirable and and worthy of love and attention. It’s a craving for supernatural romance, pure and simple, and in itself isn’t wrong. In fact, we were created for it. Such a love story permeates the pages of Scripture. Fully God and fully man, Jesus already did what these individuals dream of–zealous in love, he counted nothing as too great a cost to win the heart and redeem the life of His bride.
Yet this desire that fuels the popularity of an entire genre has taken a dangerous form. By holding up as heros “fallen angels” or vampires still consumed with blood lust and barely restraining themselves from killing their romantic interests, paranormal romance encourages people to embrace darkness, to accept the idea of dangerous romance, and even to welcome the idea of romantic coupling with demons. In these ways, many of the books call evil good, and good evil, and praise the sweetness of forbidden fruit–all concepts contrary to Scripture. Coming in the form of story, these ideas woo the heart in a dangerous fashion.
However, I see a window of opportunity in paranormal romance. It ties into a desire planted by God in the human heart. And if handled rightly, say as an allegory of Christ and His bride, I believe it could point people to Jesus. Folklore contains many supernatural creatures that don’t stand as symbols of evil, darkness, and danger, so pulling from an entirely different tradition than that currently on the shelves, a writer might convey truth. I know writers out there with the vision to capture truth in this genre, and I hope they have the opportunity to break open the market and bring a change for the better.
Do you think this is possible? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment of this genre? I welcome your thoughts, even if they differ from mine!
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