Adam and Carly - Romantic or Dangerously Romanticized?

Use this forum to discuss the February 2020 Book of the month, "Opaque" by Calix Leigh-Reign
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Fi Zoraa
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Re: Adam and Carly - Romantic or Dangerously Romanticized?

Post by Fi Zoraa »

Nym182 wrote: 06 Feb 2020, 10:37 One of the biggest issues I had with this book was the relationship between Adam and Carly. It is my opinion that their relationship was dangerously romanticized.

Adam becomes obsessed with Carly almost immediately. Even though he has only known her for a month or so, he is willing to die for her.

He also expresses his "love" for her in dangerous ways. He washes her shower and becomes overly protective of her, even though her powers are stronger and she has more experience with them than he does. In addition, he eavesdrops on her private conversation at least 3 times and I don't feel like the author portrayed that as being a bad thing to do.

While I acknowledge that young love can be strong and passionate, I don't think a book aimed at teenagers should be taught or normalize these types of actions/feelings.
I totally agree. His obsession with his mother seems to transfer to Carly. A lot of romance novels aimed at young adults tend to feature this all-consuming idea of love. However, this book takes it a bit further in that their relationship progression happens so quickly. Let's not forget that Carly was willing to overlook Adam's obsession with his mother when she saw his den and didn't even bring up the death of Terry when she suspected he was responsible. His overprotectiveness also comes across as quite controlling but masked as love. I think that's a dangerous thing to teach young adults.
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Post by Fi Zoraa »

Twylla wrote: 26 Feb 2020, 18:04 Adam and Carly had a very dysfunctional relationship. But I have to give them credit, they abstained from sex. That took some commitment.

I didn't understand why she thought it was up to her to burn down the Den. That wasn't her business.
Yes, I was surprised by their abstinence too.

Her burning down the den was so wrong. For a relationship that had only recently begun, she was already willing to do too much for him. Also, he killed someone! How was she okay with that? That's clearly a red flag that warrants at least a conversation. At most, it calls for the end of the relationship asap.
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Post by Fi Zoraa »

Rwill0988 wrote: 28 Feb 2020, 21:33 This is a relationship based on genetic attraction. Once Adam falls for Carly it is startling how much his personality changes. This suggests that all a sociopath needs is the love of the right woman.

Also, it is repeatedly stated that without each other they would die. While saying this is plausible in an adolescent relationship, in this story it is acted upon (Dauma).

These are both incredibly unhealthy messages about relationship.
Very true. While this is understandable in fiction, it can be misleading for younger people who haven't fully formed their understanding of what a relationship is and isn't. The whole "dying without each other" plays into the idea that a partner is meant to fulfil you and you aren't whole without them.
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Post by AADavies »

gilliansisley wrote: 07 Feb 2020, 14:24 Oh. My. Gosh.

This was my absolute biggest pet peeve. And this is supposed to be for young, pre-pubescent readers, ages 11-17? HELL NO.

Their relationship is unhealthy as hell, but it's portrayed as totally normal, which is wildly dangerous. I liked Carly as a character, but completely detested Adam.

Apart from the most obvious concerning things going on in their relationship in general, the time when I was actually most upset was when Carly describes finding the Den. She describes how disturbed she is by the pictures of JoAnn, and the journal, and all that. She's overwhelmed, and yet she says "This isn't the time to be a weak little girl and run away". So she burns down the Den.

Yes. Because apparently, thinking your boyfriend is sick and perverted is WEAK. Because STRONG girls find evidence of their boyfriend having a f*cking scary-ass torture Den in the middle of the woods with CHLOROFORM, and WEAPONS, and SEX TOYS which "make it obvious what this structure was meant to be used for", and they burn down all of the evidence to protect their sociopathic, murderous and possessive boyfriend.

What an absolutely horrific message to give to young, impressionable girls.

And after burning down the Den, Carly says something along the lines of, "Adam deserves a fresh start, and I'm going to give it to him. He's made mistakes, but he's still a really good guy. I'm going to dedicate my life to healing and fixing him."

Horrifying. Truly, truly, disturbing. This is NOT a healthy example for how a relationship should be. If you find out your BF kidnapped and murdered (by accident, but still) some innocent girl just because he was uncontrollably horny, you take that sh*t straight to the police. You don't destroy evidence and cover it up in the name of "love".

In all honesty, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with a guy who sexually assaulted me, and this book was a trigger for me. Red flags everywhere. There are points in the book where Adam says, "I'm not a monster", and I was in my reading chair saying, "YES YOU ARE, you psychopath!".
I agree 100%, Adam IS a menace to society and absolutely needs to be in prison. That whole "switch" thing is particularly scary, because if it can 'flip' one way, it can 100% flip back to murder at any time. In any case, encouraging young girls to believe it's OK for boys to be violent (which is what Carly's reaction implicitly does) is just plain dangerous. Carly dedicating her life to 'fixing' Adam is such an outdated and ugly concept too. A book aimed at teenagers should not be perpetuating the myth that a woman's role is to serve a guy, or that a woman can/should 'fix' a man. Especially an abusive one like Adam.

I also agree that the whole 'romance' was one red flag after another. Like how Adam (hypocritically) guilts Carly for keeping secrets from him. How he invades her privacy, with the secrets and with the shower scene. Which made me SO angry. As if he's entitled to look at Carly's NAKED body, without her consent, any time he likes. Undermining and ignoring her boundaries. While claiming he'd never pressure her for sex. But it's OK because they're bonded/spiritually married. Sounds like marital rape/domestic abuse apologia to me. And then there's the complete double standard, with Carly respecting Adam's right to privacy while he has an emotional moment in the next scene. So, Carly's nudity doesn't deserve privacy, but Adam's emotions do?? And like you said, the whole scene with Terry is chockablock with trigger warnings. And is set up to blame Terry for her own death? Especially since Adam's 'future' is prioritized, over Terry's life and justice for her and her family? I mean, we get this enough from the justice system, we don't need to see it in fiction. And how is it OK to present this, without any warnings to vulnerable readers?

But, apparently, girls should just accept this nonsense and boys can do whatever they like. As you say, it's a horrific message to give young girls AND boys and the absolute worst thing about a terrible novel.
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Post by Radhika_puri »

They both got so early in relation maybe because of the cores and the being decendants. He never felt love for anyone for anybody other than his mother but early was the first person. So he just behaves that way as it was all new to him and no one teaches him how to take things. Carly also never said anything that was the thing I felt the things go wrong. If for once carly have told him about it maybe the things would have been something else.
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Post by Barbie_sidhu »

I loved their teen romance. Made the book more captivating. For me they were hopelessly in love.
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Post by Banette »

I was also deeply disturbed by their relationship. It didn't feel like Adam really respected Carly as an equal even after he was supposed to be a better person. For example he guilt tripped Carly for keeping secrets from him while he continued to keep secrets from her. I also really don't like the idea that they were permanently linked so Carly had no choice but to stay and fix Adam. It was a pretty abusive relationship and in the real world she should have just left him. But because they're linked, I fear that teens who read this may feel that they need to stay with whoever they think they're in love with first despite their flaws and abusive behavior.
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Post by nangel04 »

While I can appreciate what everyone is saying here, I cannot agree with it all. Yes, this book would be more appropriate for adults for many reasons, but mostly because most adults will realize that a relationship such as this is not an actual portrayal of what a real relationship should be like if taken literally. However, this book is not only fiction, but fantasy. There is a supernatural aspect which plays into the relationship that has to be considered. Take for example how romanticized the Twilight series was (and Edward was way creepier and possessive than Adam). But the extremity of the emotional relationship is heightened because of the fact that they are not “normal people.”
Granted the shower scene mentioned would be a BIG NO NO, but what I have not seen mentioned is that Carly had no objection to this. She could have responded, but didn’t. If she would have objected and he remained there staring, then there would have been a BIG problem.
So the relationship is not healthy if looked at merely through an “our world” view, but remember that there is something presented here that is supposed to put these characters beyond what is normal, including their relationships. So, again, maybe adults should be the target audience so that the younger generation does not miss this “make believe” aspect and get the wrong idea that this is how love should be because, in our world, it is definitely not appropriate.
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Post by Iris Marsh »

nangel04 wrote: 24 Nov 2020, 15:29 While I can appreciate what everyone is saying here, I cannot agree with it all. Yes, this book would be more appropriate for adults for many reasons, but mostly because most adults will realize that a relationship such as this is not an actual portrayal of what a real relationship should be like if taken literally. However, this book is not only fiction, but fantasy. There is a supernatural aspect which plays into the relationship that has to be considered. Take for example how romanticized the Twilight series was (and Edward was way creepier and possessive than Adam). But the extremity of the emotional relationship is heightened because of the fact that they are not “normal people.”
Granted the shower scene mentioned would be a BIG NO NO, but what I have not seen mentioned is that Carly had no objection to this. She could have responded, but didn’t. If she would have objected and he remained there staring, then there would have been a BIG problem.
So the relationship is not healthy if looked at merely through an “our world” view, but remember that there is something presented here that is supposed to put these characters beyond what is normal, including their relationships. So, again, maybe adults should be the target audience so that the younger generation does not miss this “make believe” aspect and get the wrong idea that this is how love should be because, in our world, it is definitely not appropriate.
Funny you should mention Twilight, 'cause while reading Opaque, their relationship kinda reminded me of Edward's and Bella's in a way. In the sense that both are very toxic relationships. But when I read Twilight as a teenager, I didn't see that their relationship wasn't healthy (hell, I was team Edward all the way); I just thought it was all very romantic that they couldn't live without each other and that Edward cared so much about her (even though he was completely obsessive and the watching her sleep thing was really creepy). So, I do think that Opaque would also give the wrong message to teens about what a good relationship should look like, as you also say.

But I don't agree with saying it's okay in fiction because it is fantasy. Stories, whether they're fiction or not, transfer messages to those who read it. It gives us a sense of right and wrong and that we can overcome even the worst obstacles in life. And it also definitely transfers messages to us about romance. Like Disney made us all believe there is a Prince on a white horse for all of us, only to figure out later that real life isn't a fairytale. So storytellers have, in a sense, a responsibility to society to give the right kind of messages.

A story can have problematic relationships such as Adam's and Carly's, as long as it's made clear that it is problematic. But what's problematic in Opaque, is that it justifies all of Adam's behaviors as 'it's just because of his powers'. It's like saying when someone beats their spouse: oh, it's just because he's drunk. It sends the wrong message, not just to teens, but to adults as well, especially those who are in an abusive relationship. It gives the idea that it's their job to fix them, and that their behavior's not their fault.
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