September 13, 2010

Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance

There has been a lot a buzz around the book community lately about which sub genre is better, Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance. Some even went as far as to say that they were one in the same. If you're part of any Urban Fantasy or PNR groups over in goodreads, the topic has come up. What's the difference between the two, why is one better then the other.

First up, I'll lay it out that if I had to choose it would be UF. I'm a long time fan, and it has everything I look for in a good read. Still, I love my paranormal romance too.

After skimming a lot of the group chats that I participate in, certain traits popped up when trying to distinguish the two.

  1. Lacks plot a majority of the time and focuses on the couple.
  2. High amounts of explicate sex scenes.
  3. The couples get a happy ending.

  1. Takes more focus on one character and world building.
  2. Sex scenes are rare, and usually not detailed too much.
  3. Happy endings are not guaranteed, and most relationships unresolved.

Now I'm not saying that some PNR don't have great plots, the Night Huntress series by Jeanine Frost, Richelle Mead's Georgina Kinciad books are a few that rock the plot world. It's true that I've also read a few UF books where I thought to myself this is so PNR. So it is agreed upon that those rules listed above do not make them unanimous across the board. There all always exceptions and this is just a generalization.

Besides great plots, questionable endings, and well thought out worlds, there is one thing that I love about UF. Sexual tension.

The more PNR I read, the more I realize that it's rare to find sexual tension, especially good sexual tension. PNR are pretty much all about tumbling into bed, so why is it that I feel this way? Simple, PNR is too easy. It almost seems by the end of Chapter 1 the characters are getting it on.

Even if huge transgressions take place, sex is still on the table. The couples are willing to forgive and get laid, or stay angry for a while ans still get laid. Where in UF, the characters grow. Relationships fight and struggle, which makes me feel more emotionally invested in the relationship.

Strong female leads tend to stay strong in UF books. Giving me more moments where I'm shouting out, "Heck yes!" to the latest ass kicking. Some of the PNR books I've read have strong leading ladies who know how to fight, but end up needing to get rescued again and again by the man. It's almost like the woman becomes dumber, just to feed that old age damsel in distress crap. Personally when I read about a strong female making some lame mistake and needing a rescue, I'm to busy yelling for being stupid. No, "Heck y!" moments here.

The Black Brother Hood series by J.R. Ward is a good example of this, all of the females are damsels and the women in the society are basically stuck in a world where women's rights aren't even a blimp on the radar. The one strong female lead is protrade so masculine that she gets referred to as guy a lot.

LethalLovely~When There's Nothing Left To Burn states:

I completely agree, Shera. Look at the BDB series for instance. I know I'm gonna get some crap for this but every single woman heroine in that series has little to no backbone & the one woman who DOES take care of her business is portrayed as masculine to the extreme. I like the series but I hate the message it seems to be giving that you can't be a strong, independent woman & still keep your femininity.

After posting my thoughts on many of the discussion boards, the opinions came up mostly unanimous with mine. PNR fans who were just being introduced to UF agreed that they liked the fact that there was more plot, and unanimously agreed that the world building was better. UF fans agreed that they enjoyed the happy endings and hot sex scenes were nice, but their hearts belong to UF.

What do you think? Do you prefer Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance?


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