July 5th: Books Without Romance
— A few (very, very few) people complained about the “shipping” topics lately, so I thought it would be good to talk about books that don’t have a romantic subplot! This is a really hard one, so if you can’t find any, you can talk about some where the romance is super super minor. Like barely mentioned… at all…
I like this weeks topic, I’m also not a big shipper, so I often struggle with romance related topics. Having said that, this topic wasn’t without challenge. Most of the books I find myself reading have a romantic plot-line, whether it’s the main story or a side plot. Romance is pretty difficult to avoid, that used to bother me more than it does now. I think I could write a whole post on romance in YA books, maybe I will. I certainly had an interesting conversation on the topic with my mum and sister just the other night. My mums opinions on sex scenes had me crying with laughter! I’ve gone off topic. Here are five books that I really enjoyed, with little to no romance in.
1 – Frogkisser – by Garth Nix
Garth Nix is on hilarious form as he spins his very own fairy tale, featuring Princess Anya, who, with her loyal dog, must embark on a terribly important (capital Q) Quest to acquire the ingredients for a reversal lip balm, the vital item needed to change a frog back to a prince . . . oh, and save her kingdom from her villainous step(step)father.
This wonderful middle grade novel has a main character who is more interested in learning magic than falling in love. Yes she is on a quest to make a magic lip balm to change a frog back into a prince, and yes kissing is part of that process. However, there is nothing romantic about this for Princess Anya, it’s more about saving her kingdom. This book is charming, enjoyable and incredibly funny.
2 – This Savage Song – by V.E. Schwab
Kate Harker and August Flynn’s families rule opposite ends of Verity, a grisly metropolis where violent acts summon real monsters: bloodsucking Malchai; clawing Corsai; and soul-stealing Sunai. The truce that keeps the families at peace is crumbling, and August is sent to spy on Kate. But when Harker’s men try to kill her and pin it on the Flynns, August and Kate find themselves running from both sides, in a city where monsters are real…
There is no romance here, and I found it really refreshing. The description sounded a little bit Romeo and Juliette, but instead this book focuses more on the monsters, and survival. I’ve not read the second book in the duology, but I am looking forward to getting back to this dark world.
3 – Defy the Stars – by Claudia Gray
Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up – they know that Earth’s settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.
When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth’s robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis’ salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her – even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He’s a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?
Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth’s various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer – both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world’s fate, and Abel’s.
There is so much to love about this book, it has space adventures, and great character development. I love the friendship that develops between Noemi and Abel. There are tiny hints of romance, but it’s mostly in the background.
4 – Spellslinger – by Sebastien De Castell
Magic is a con game.
Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage’s duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi – a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She’s difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen’s only hope…
Apart from a minor crush that the main character has on a side character, which is mentioned only a handful of times, this book is romance free. There are a lot of things going on, to be honest, a romance would have hurt the pacing. I loved this book, it has magic, trickery and a snappy talking animal, I can’t wait for the next book.
5 – Skulduggery Pleasant – by Derek Landy
Meet Skulduggery Pleasant. Sure, he may lose his head now and again (in fact, he won his current skull in a poker match), but he is much more than he appears to be—which is good, considering that he is, basically, a skeleton. Skulduggery may be long dead, but he is also a mage who dodged the grave so that he could save the world from an ancient evil. But to defeat it, he’ll need the help of a new partner: a not so innocent twelve-year-old girl named Stephanie. That’s right, they’re the heroes.
Stephanie and Skulduggery are quickly caught up in a battle to stop evil forces from acquiring her recently deceased uncle’s most prized possession—the Sceptre of the Ancients. The Ancients were the good guys, an extinct race of uber-magicians from the early days of the earth, and the scepter is their most dangerous weapon, one capable of killing anyone and destroying anything. Back in the day, they used it to banish the bad guys, the evil Faceless Ones. Unfortunately, in the way of bad guys everywhere, the Faceless Ones are staging a comeback and no one besides our two heroes believes in the Faceless Ones, or even that the Sceptre is real.
So Stephanie and Skulduggery set off to find the Sceptre, fend off the minions of the bad guys, beat down vampires and the undead, prove the existence of the Ancients and the Faceless Ones, all while trading snappy, snippy banter worthy of the best screwball comedies.
I reread this first book earlier in the year, and I loved it as much as the first time. It’s incredibly funny, and full of magic and mystery. I never finished this series, I’m trying to slowly make my way through it properly, but as far as I remember, there was no romance plot line.
There were a few more books without romance that I could mention, but these are my favourite. What books without romance have you read and loved? Please let me know in the comments, I would love to hear your recommendations.
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