As someone who’s been reading since learning how to pronounce words, a concept I’ve found ubiquitous is the trope of the immortal/long-lifespan love interest.
Face it: they’re always going to be there. From my first forays into the Young Adult genre with the vampires in Twilight (as well as the famous line, “How long have you been 17?”) to my exploration of lesser-known titles and the recommendations of my peers, there is always a presence of a character who is either immortal or has a tremendously long lifespan, usually male, who takes his female counterpart to discover “a whole new world” of some sort.
I’ve seen these kind of guys in book I’ve read about in class, such as the novel Tuck Everlasting. They’re included in obscure indie books, like the Relentless Trilogy by Karen Lynch. I know they’re particularly popular in Urban Fantasies (the only ones I’ve read include Darynda Jones’s Charley Davidson series and Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series). Oh, and even science fiction-y books like The Ward by Jordana Frankel manage to fit in these kind of characters. One of the reasons why I didn’t like the Darkling from the Grisha trilogy include the fact that he was way, way older than what he looked like. Don’t even get me started with how convenient immortal characters are for love triangles, as evidenced in Clare’s popular Infernal Devices and the retelling Splintered trilogy. Suffice it to say, I don’t actively seek out these type of characters, yet they still manage to appear in many books. (I’m sure many of you readers have a much longer list.)
The more I thought about this trope, the more I compared it to the popular term of this generation of “sugar daddy.” Of course, the term is certainly not a parallel to the popular “book boyfriends” out there. Sure, the characters might be rich after living for so many generations, and they might be ages older than their significant other, but they don’t necessarily fall under the category of what this popular definition expresses.
However, I want you guys to THINK ABOUT IT. Past the whole supernatural/fantastical aspect. If the males in these books weren’t described as having a perpetual five o’ clock shadow, or chiseled abs, or baby blue eyes that you find yourself lost in, do you think the main characters would be so lenient in giving them their hearts?
If Edward looked his age (which, if he were alive he’d be 115 years old according to a source), do you really think Bella would have been so attracted to him? All these dudes look like they vary through the ages of 17-30, when their actual ages vary between a hundred to infinity and I find that SUCH a turn-off.
When I imagine having a significant other who is immortal, all I see is me staring up at their eyes and thinking about their real age and then imagining wrinkles all over their eyes and getting particularly troubled by the large age difference. They might have a youthful face, but they’re not fooling anyone. Our society makes such a big deal about 10-year differences for couples in their prime, yet for some reason it’s okay in young adult books to have a male character who’s 10 times the age as the female character or vice versa. Even if it’s because of a supernatural element, does nobody find that frightening?
But I guess it really does put into perspective the whole “It’s what’s inside that counts” view. I’ve read before of older men (*snickers* as in hundred year old boys stuck in a 17-year old’s body) who behave like the age they look. First of all, how does that bode for the future of this relationship? Are they always going to act like a 17-year old, well in the future? And what about the opposite: immortal boys who are so “mature” and “wise.” It’s like dating your grandfather or someone from his era. How could anyone stand that?
I’m not sure why I’m making such a big deal about this trope, but it just frustrates me to no end. Even me from three years ago (as seen in this sporadic review) couldn’t handle these much, much older men.
In general, an unfavorable view is placed on “sugar daddies” because of buying favors and the noticeable age difference, but how is that so different from the three-hundred year old characters that find their significant other and drag them into a supernatural quest to save the world? Okay there’s a lot of differences but you get the point.
I just think immortality and characters with long lifespans are unattractive when pitted with someone who is significantly younger than them, okay? It’s hard to feel so swoony for me. Let’s just say that if I had the chance to be with an immortal vampire that had sparkly skin, striking cheekbones, chiseled abs and wavy, dark hair, I’d pass it in a heartbeat.
How do you feel about this particular trope? Do you think it’s done well in certain books? Or do you find it quite off-putting like I do? OR would you take that vampire I mentioned at the end? How did you think of my review from three years ago?