Is the Love Affair Over?
Why M/M is Losing My Interest
As some of you might have noticed, I enjoy reading M/M books. That's right, Male/Male action. I found this genre after getting sucked into the world of Qhuay (Qhuinn and Blay), which transpired over several installments in the J.R. Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Many of my friends enjoy this genre as well, but I've started to feel like the love affair is over. The heady days of reading nothing but M/M have passed me by, and I'm feeling a bit disillusioned with the genre.
|The end of a love affair.|
You might ask why I feel this way, after all I've been through together with Ty and Zane and so many other exciting male couples. I'll explain my reasons for this sad turn of events after the jump.
Why was I attracted to reading M/M in the first place?Basically I found it hot. The idea of two or more guys together was pretty big turn on for me once I started reading. A year ago I was reading M/M almost exclusively. I was hooked, and like an addict I needed my next fix quickly. Often the darker, the better. Don't judge me—it was just what grabbed my attention more. Throw in some cops, law enforcement, spies, or military and I was a goner.
What is the issue now?Fast forward to 2013, and I've hit a snag. I'm not enjoying M/M as much. Part of the problem is it feels to me like they are becoming the modern-day version of Mills and Boons or Harlequin-style romance—formulaic and predictable. Two guys meet, they have drama, and by the end they get together. Sure, I enjoy this in a lot of the PNR/UF books I read, too. It's a romance, you say.
I know it's a romance, but the toothpicks I've had to use to finish some of these books are getting a bit old. Plus, do you know how much your eyelids hurt when you're using toothpicks all the time? I'm not naming names; there are some M/M books I do still enjoy, so I don't want to point any fingers at particular authors. We all enjoy different things, so perhaps I'm an island swimming upstream against the current of M/M reading tastes.
My biggest gripes...Quality over quantity. Yes, the author might have amassed 20–30 books that are all the same, but are they any good? Often I've felt like I'm reading the same book over and over, where the only things that have changed are the protagonists' names. It's almost that feeling you get when you are on a treadmill and you can't find an off button. (Yes, I have been on a treadmill before.) The M/M books I've enjoyed are largely ones where the author has actually done some research and really thought about what s/he is writing. The clear attention to detail becomes evident as you read the book. So the author churns out only 1 or 2 books a year, but they are 1 or 2 quality books. They are books I haven't wanted to put down from start to finish.
Spelling mistakes. I'm sorry, but sloppy spelling is just unacceptable in this day and age. I don't know whether this is a comment on the industry at large now, or whether, in the age of texting, people don't care. The problem is I do care. I can handle a couple of mistakes. I really can. But come on, some works are littered with them. I make my fair share of spelling mistakes when my brain thinks faster than my fingers can type, but spellcheck is your friend. Use it!!! Or make sure you have an amazing Wench Beta who will double check for you.
I'm bored. Often it's as simple as that. I'm not engaged in the story. I've been known to flit directly to the sex scenes to see if they are any good. For me, in a romance, if you can't write a good sex scene, then don't bother writing a sex scene. I have put down a lot of M/M books without finishing them because of poorly written sex scenes. Good sex scenes were one of the features that attracted me to the genre in the first place. I want hot sex.
|I can't keep my eyes open.|
My thoughts on my current state of mind...Am I jaded? Am I just ruined by the sheer number of books out there? Perhaps I am, but as I continue to search for quality books, I feel disappointed in this genre more often than not. Perhaps I wolfed down M/M too quickly and too unchecked? Should I have exercised some discretion when I started on this path? Am I just pickier? Maybe I am. Now I'm trying to weed out the gems from the prickles. There are a hell of a lot of prickles, I can assure you. I have the scars to prove it. I feel like it's too much effort anymore to find great M/M reads, and I move on to reading other things, other genres.
Then I have to question why are some of my favourite M/M reads either fan fiction and/or free? Are fan fiction writers more interesting? Are the writers of free reads simply trying to get attention and build an audience for later writings? Is it because fan fiction focuses on characters I want to know more about? I'm already familiar with the characters in fan fiction that is based on TV series I watch. Hence an association has already been formed, and I want to read stories about them. Sure we call the relationships in fan fiction "ships" and they aren't canon, but I'm interested in finding out more about them. Like anything, there is definitely very good and very bad fan fiction about TV characters, but some of the hottest M/M scenes I've ever read are in fan fiction. So it makes me wonder, is anyone really making much money writing M/M? I don't know the answer. I do hope my favourite authors are.
Is it that I feel like every wo/man and his dog (I know I'm a Zane addict, as I'm using so many puns) is writing M/M? Is it that I was so disappointed by a few highly anticipated books this year that I'm just over it? There is almost the sense, at least to me, that these days you don't even need to be a very good writer to write a book and somehow get it published. All you need is clever marketing and/or money.
|I need something to grab my attention.|
If I read one more story where both protagonists' parents are dead, I might scream. Is it just me, or does this seem like a really common plot device? Woe is me, I'm all alone and just need the right man to fill that gap in my life. I'm over how common it is in stories. Are we meant to sympathise with characters more when they are alone and have no siblings to speak of? I'm always quite curious on this topic, as amongst my friends I can think of only one family with an only child. None of my adult friends are only children. It's hard for me to feel for these characters because I don't really understand the concept of not having a sibling. This is just my opinion in regards to how I relate to the characters I read about, based on no frame of reference for this situation.
Looking at some of my comments, you might think I'm all about the sex. Perhaps I am a little... However, one of my all-time favourite M/M stories has no sex whatsoever. It's happening, but it's off page. The book is easily in my top 5 in the genre, so I'm not hooked only by the sex in a book, but if I'm not engaged in the first 50 or so pages, you can forget it. I'm not going to keep reading. FYI...that does not mean there has to be sex in the first 50 pages either.
|Wake me up when it's over.|
Romance is like my default setting. Nothing to read? Read a quick romance. I can usually read one in one or two nights. My default setting used to be Regency romances. This changed to M/M romances, and now I'm at a loss. M/M doesn't feel like my default setting anymore and I'm a bit saddened. It feels like the love affair is over, and I don't know the ingredient needed to get back to where I was. We had some great times, M/M, and I'll keep up with my favourite authors and those recommended to me, but I'm disappointed it has come to this. M/M is a great genre, but I'm finding my interest waning...okay, collapsing...under the burden of boring writing. So my plan for the future is to keep up with my favourite authors I've discovered, but I'm going to rely on friend recommendations before I try any new author in this genre for the time being.
Perhaps at the end of the day, I'm just moving on to other obsessions.
Do you read M/M? Are you feeling the same thing, or is it just me? Have you found a way to weed out the bad from the good? Do you feel like there are too many bad books out there to weed through? Do you have a default setting when reading?
* All gifs from tumblr.com.