I’ve been thinking about this for a couple days now, and I am going to open a can of worms. Something that I have to say here is going to fall under “unpopular opinion”. Not the first time and it probably won’t be the last. Anyway…
I have openly admitted I will read almost anything. I’ve even fallen down the werewolf romance rabbit hole. It started because, much like hockey romance, I want to know what the appeal is. It’s not FOMO (fear of missing out), it’s that I am genuinely curious why people like certain kinds of books. I have noticed that those making bookish content on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube rarely read outside of one or two genres. Nothing wrong with that. I am just curious what the pull is of one genre over another. Sometimes that curiosity is fueled by the obscene number of adverts – in this case, for werewolf romance books – that I get across social media or in app advertising.
I seriously see more adverts for these kinds of books than anything else. There is obviously a market for these books. I’ve read a few of them. Probably more than a few. After a time they all blend together. The largest bulk of these stories, both in book form and those written for reading apps like Dreame, GoodNovel, and others, have the same basic plot. Girl abused/bullied by parents and or pack finds out she is the fated mate of some powerful alpha wolf and pack leader who rescues her. She turns out to have some kind of special wolf, the reason she was abused is uncovered and resolved, and everyone lives happily ever after.
I get it. These are Cinderella type stories In folklore this is classified as ATU Tale Type 510A. The first Harry Potter book fits loosely into this category as well. I could go on forever about this, I spent a semester in undergrad studying fairy tales. It was a bright spot during the pandemic. Anyway, we all recognize a Cinderella story when we see one.
- Abused child becomes the hero/heroine of the story
- There is a supernatural helper – in the case of werewolf romances it’s the girl’s wolf
- At a certain age something magical happens – again, in the case of werewolf romances, at this selected age the girl gets her wolf, finds her mate, or both.
- Love at first site – the werewolf mate bond guarantees this
- The male figure is someone in a powerful position – in Cinderella it’s a prince, in werewolf romance, it’s an alpha wolf and pack leader and the girl learns she is going to be a very special Luna.
- There is a plot of some kind to keep the two apart.
- The evil doers are punished
- And everyone lives happily ever after.
I wouldn’t go as far as to call it troupe, but it is a formula that works rather well. We all like to see the underdog win, as it were. It gives us hope. Then there is the escapism of fairy tales.
I just have so many problems with how these werewolf books are written. The ones I have read have so much potential, but they also have so many problems. I am listing my grievances in no particular order.
App Stories: This applies specifically to app stories. First and foremost, they are riddled with typos, spelling errors, grammar problems, and sometimes the author even mixes up their own characters. On top of these problems, there are app issues. I did some research on what these apps demand of their authors. They want somewhere around 1000 to 1500 words a day. That’s 4 to 6 double spaced pages. It’s why the chapters are so short (it’s also shorter than the average undergrad writing assignment), and they want this turn out for a specified number of days. Naturally, you get X number of chapters for free, then you have to pay for each chapter. Often then books aren’t completed and you have to wait for updates. By time all is said and done, you the reader ends up spending $50 or more per novel. That will by me at least 2 physical books. $50 at my local used bookstore means I am bringing home a minimum of 10 books. The app stories I have read, I have found alternate free download sites. There is no way I am going to pay $50 or more for a digital book filled with typos that is seriously in need of an editor, no matter how compelling the story.
The changes of point of view is enough to make your head spin. Switching POV between the two main characters is understandable. Even adding a third POV from the view of the antagonist. But secondary characters who play an insignificant role in the story? I have seen stories written from no less than 8 different POV.
The Genre: I do not know if these are flaws of the genre or of the authors but there are a few things that really turn me off of this as a genre. The first is the abuse. Yes, abuse happens in real life. Life is messy and complicated and far from perfect. Some people have it harder than others. However, the depictions of abuse in these books is over the top. The heroines suffer an unnecessary amount. It’s almost like the abuse is there for shock value and the story veers into trauma porn territory. Withstanding abuse is used as some kind of proof of how special the female lead is. As part of that abuse, she’s also going to suffer even more, depending on the book (and if the author wants it to be a second chance romance), when she is rejected by her mate.
I’m not going to shit on the love at first site thing. This is a troupe of werewolf romances and wolves mate for life. Besides, William Shakespeare has seriously been the most annoying author ever when it comes to insta-love. At least with the mate bond of werewolves we can believe it. I am a bit annoyed that this bond is used to explain away the most amazing sex ever, especially between two inexperienced people. I choose to overlook this, for the most part, because I know that the smut in these kinds of books is part of what draws readers to them. It’s always about the spice rating with romance books.
And now for what pisses me off the most about these books. The heroine is supposed to have this strong special wolf, often picked by the Moon Goddess herself and marked with a crescent moon or the like, and yet, once she finds her mate she is turned into an insufferable co-dependent so-and-so. Often she needs her mate to come rescue her. I get it, the power of true love and all that but it’s unrealistic. First of all, anyone so traumatized by abuse really needs to be in therapy and not just dependent on some guy blinded by a supernatural love to protect them. Alpha men are a popular troupe in romance, I get that, but why can’t their women be their own people instead of so overtaken by a dudes eyes and 6 pack abs and turned on by being bossed around that she can’t think and act for herself? It’s maddening. I really want to blame the authors on this one because it is how they write the female character that she comes across like this.
Oh, I almost forgot. The drama. There is more drama in these books than a telenovela. At times the drama is turned so far up, it’s hard to believe.
I am currently invested in a story that I found via an add for a book app. I hate myself for falling for it. It’s distracted me from reading a book I have been impatiently waiting for. It has so much potential, but it’s unbearably obvious the author is uploading draft quality work. What the author has done really well with this story, despite all it’s problems, is making the characters, especially the heroine. The author has conveyed her pain and heartbreak so well you can feel it. I want to know how everything gets wrapped up, even though the author has said everyone gets a happy ever after. When I said I will read nearly everything, I wasn’t kidding. I will. Obviously it doesn’t have to be error free well written, or even believable.