Love at first sight is a personal experience and a common trope in literature in which a person, character, or speaker feels an instant, extreme, and ultimately long-lasting romantic attraction for a stranger on the first sight of them.
Alright, so that’s a pretty straight forward definition right? So what’s wrong with love at first sight?
Let me start off by saying that I am not against instant love, I’m more annoyed when I see it more often than not. Life isn’t easy, love even less so, but a large portion of books use this trope and it can work wonderfully or fail and make the reader feel cheated.
One place it works fabulously would be in a deus ex machina situation or divine intervention. An example would be a novel with a universe with gods/goddess as characters. Fate can be used as a plot device and in these universes it isn’t as abrupt or jarring because we have names and faces to to the gods. Granted these characters can still fall in love on page one, but mostly they fall into immediate lust, but that’s a different topic all together. I still classify this as instant love due to the unequivocal relationship that is evident on page one of the story. Using an external physical character, spell, or situation makes a difference instant love when used as a plot device.
Then there’s instances where instant love can feel like a copout, stale, or a weakness on the author’s part. When characters meet on page one and by page two one is stalking the other and just a few pages after that they are in love, why? Was there no other way to write the story so that the characters would end up together? It’s not just paranormal romances that use this though, contemporary romance is full of it. Car crashes, bumping into one another at a coffee shop, or even just the smell of the other person, I’ve seen it all.
So why exactly do I dislike this writing choice? I’m a character reader. I enjoy seeing characters grow and evolve and instant love cuts out that process, that’s the definition of instant. When I see little to no growth in a character I am underwhelmed and bored. There are other reasons that I read, so it’s not always a book killer, but if that’s the only thing going for the story… nope.
Another factor is my reading speed. This is a purely personal issue and I always take this into account when reading. I read very quickly, just shy of eighty pages an hour (the average is roughly sixty). I also tend to read a book in one or two sittings and this speeds up the entire timeline of a story. If a three hundred page book takes place over a five day period and I read it in less than five hours… it feels a lot faster than five days. As I said, this is a personal “issue” and I never fault an author for it.
So do I hate instant love? No. Some of my favorite series are based on fate intervention and the soulmate principle. It doesn’t always bother me in contemporary lit either, but if the main theme of a story is love and it all happens in the first chapter… then why does the rest of the book even exist?
What do you think, yay or nay on instant love?
Let me know what you think of instant love in the comments below.