In honor of Valentine’s Day, Kate had the inspired idea of us telling y’all our favorite love stories in young adult fiction, which kind of morphed into our favorite couples to love. You’re more than welcome to include your favorite (or favorites, since I know it’s sometimes hard to choose) in the comments section.
It’s of little surprise that when asked who my favorite YA couple is, I went straight to Jace and Clary from The Mortal Instruments. I mean come on, what’s more romantic than your love transcending potential incest? No? What about possession? Faeries, vampires, werewolves, psychotic serial killer brother, a Hitler-esque Dad? These two have faced it all, and if COFA was any example, it’s only the beginning. Jace covers his tender heart with snark, a quick fist, and an icy veneer that only Clary is really allowed past. Clary, fiery tempered, determined, and artistic tries to be level headed, but when it comes to Jace, anything’s game. Their relationship is tempestuous, inevitable, and so full of angst I read the books with my heart in my throat. They’re the beginning and end to each others’ whole worlds, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the upcoming books, the whole Shadowhunter world depends on those two being able to bring the other back from the very brink of destruction. Now what says true love more than the apocalypse?
My other favorite couple is perhaps less well known, as I’m not sure how wide a following Rachel Cain’s Morganville Vampire series has among our readers. Nonetheless the two main protagonists, Claire and Shane are another badass, world saving couple that top my list. Claire’s all brains and cleverness, a girl-genius whose smarts has gained her allies and friends of humans and vampires alike. She’s ferociously loyal and yet pragmatic to a fault. Shane on the other hand is all brawn and action. He’s had a crap life from the start, has a vendetta against vampires, and would’ve burned the whole town down without Claire’s fierce, but kind support. They balance one another out perfectly, always supporting one another, covering their butts, and saving the day. What’s even better is that despite the chaos of the world around them, they’re relatively angst free. Their love is strong, lasting, and isn’t breakable by teenage hormones. You’ve known from early in the series that they’re going to be together for the rest of their lives. I adore the eternalness of their relationship in parallel with their tenuous mortality.
I love, love, love Sam and Grace from Maggie Steifvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series. I love them together. I love them when they’re apart and longing for the other. They’re the couple in high school everyone becomes sick of because they’re so perfect for each other and their relationship looks so easy, while you’re struggling to understand why your boyfriend finds your french fries more interesting than the latest episode of Vampire Diaries. (Seriously, does he not see how important it is for Elena to admit she loves Damon?!) You can see this most clearly in the first book, Shiver, when it’s more about them starting out in their relationship than it is later when they’re fighting to stay together. But ultimately, I think, it comes down to sacrifice. Because that’s what real love makes you do. It makes you sacrifice something, even if you don’t realize you’re doing it at the time. Be it your trust, your heart, your job, your hard-earned independence… when you’re in love, something is usually given up or pushed aside to make room for that person you want in your life. And Sam and Grace? They are all about the sacrifice in order to be together.
But what if two individuals are so broken that when they do find each other, they don’t fit like they one day could, so they just circle around each other, making us slowly go insane from the wait? A lot of couples in YA could fall into this category, but I’m specifically focusing on Natasha and Reyn from the Immortal Beloved series by Cate Tiernan. At this point, you should realize we love this series. More than love. If Cate actually does make it anywhere close to where I live during one of her tours, I’m not above telling her repeatedly, with a memorized bulleted list at the ready of course, of how much Natasha and Reyn belong together. Because they do. She brings out his “fun” and impulsive side and he grounds her. Even though Natasha is still largely selfish and has major issues with her past, she’s working through them and becoming a better person. And even though they have a bitter history, there’s a way for them to overcome it. There has to be. Nothing short of them being together forever will satisfy me when this series ends.
Taylor Markham and Jonah Griggs. If you’ve read [On the] Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, I’m sure no other words are necessary. At the beginning of the book these two are so broken. Their first few interactions mostly involve silence, violence (not towards each other) and intense staring. But there’s these hints of something that happened in three years ago between them. There’s the way everything Jonah does seems to involve with Taylor. Taylor is so broken for the majority of the book and Jonah isn’t exactly the picture of mental stability. I can see where their relationship could’ve been easily written as two broken people clinging to each other and becoming all the other ever needs. But what I love most about them is that it doesn’t happen that way. Taylor finds the need to fix her other relationships before she can even think of being with Jonah. There’s so much drama going on in both their lives, and I loved that despite the intensity of every single one of their interactions, Taylor especially, could not face the truth of their relationship until some of that was sorted out. Early on in the book is this great scene where the two of them of in different holding cells at a police station when Taylor starts to have an asthma attack. Jonah pushes himself up against the bars of separating them, reaches through, and grabs Taylor. This serves no purpose other than him being able to hold her and whisper “breathe” over and over again. It isn’t the most romantic scene between them in the book, and I don’t even think it’s the most intense but it’s probably my favourite. I guess I just like that their there for each other even when they can’t really do anything.
When I started reading Vampire Academy, the series was already finished and Bloodlines had already been announced. So, when I met Sydney in the fifth book I know she was going to be the star of her own series and I, and many others, had deduced that Adrian was probably going to be her main love interest. And there was just something about these two that caught my attention. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love me some Rose and Dimitri. They are excellent. But there’s just something about crazy, devil may care Adrian, and straight laced Sydney that makes me want them together…a lot…before they’d even met each other. I just wanted to see how her would draw out her passion and make her act a little wild and how she would point out how crazy he is and..they’d just be so perfect together. We’ve gotten to read a sixth of their story and there wasn’t any romance in it for the two of them but this just makes me more excited. I’m glad their relationship will be a slow building one. I feel like it’s going to be all the more intense because of it.
It was really hard for me to choose a YA couple that was my favorite. I like a lot of the couples the others chose, but there is a couple that has really stuck with me from my recent YA readings, and it’s a very non-convential one, Cas and Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood. Cas is a ghost-killer and Anna is a killer-ghost, awesome pairing, right? I loved how these two unlikely-to-begin-with characters found love with each other. It’s perfect in that they are supposed to want to kill each other, but can’t. *insert giant swoony sigh here* Cas finds love in the very thing he is supposed to hate and Anna is able to feel an emotion other than murderous rage, those are the makings of a very sweet, albeit kinda weird and creep, love story. I know Anna Dressed in Blood hasn’t been out even six months, so I don’t want to be more spoilery than I already have, but these two, and their love story, are worth checking out. More lies ahead for them in the second book that is out this fall and will test their love in ways I can’t even imagine, but I’m really glad author Kendare Blake can.
Choosing a second couple is even harder than picking one. I was going to go with Lola and Cricket (from Lola and the Boy Next Door), but then I thought about Fire and Brigan because a friend is reading Fire, and then I thought of Katsa and Po (from Graceling), but I think I’m going to go with Alice and Jasper. I know. I KNOW, okay, but these two were a couple that were done right. They love and accept each other for who they are. Can you really ask more of a “mate?” He’s broody and wants to eat people, and she’s a bit annoying, but they love each other so much. The southern gentleman thing is a big plus for Jasper and Alice has such a good heart, even if her attempts at helping slide into the obsessive/manipulative range. I will admit that my love for these two is probably colored by an amazing fanfic that focused on their Pre-Cullen life, but, eh, I’m still going with them. Regardless of any other Twi-feelings, these two are a couple I can truly say I love.
I love love stories in books. I’ve come to realize over the past few years that for me to love a story without a romantic element it has to be pretty dang near perfectly amazing. I’m a sap. And the thing I’m the biggest sap in the world for? Best friends to more romances. It shouldn’t surprise anyone, then, that one of my ultimate YA love stories is Ron and Hermione. I think my favorite thing about the pair of them is that they’re so different. But, they both balance each other out. I loved, too, how well their relationship’s progression played to both their strengths and weaknesses as characters (but especially the weaknesses). There was a passion in the books between Ron and Hermione that I don’t think can be denied. No one could make the other more frustrated or angry or annoyed, but I don’t think anyone made them as happy either. (My favorite part of Deathly Hallows was Hermione, not Harry guiding Ron back to them). And what I really love about them is that you love who you love and you love them as a package. Ron is short-tempered and has a tendency to be thoughtless and Hermione is pretty neurotic and a know-it-all, but they love each other with all of that. This wasn’t an easy road for them, or for me as a reader, but it made their culminating moment, THE moment in those books in a lot of ways for me, so much more incredible.
Picking another couple was hard, mostly because there were just so many and none popped into my head the way Ron and Hermione had. Puck and Sean from The Scorpio Races? Taylor Markham and Jonah Griggs from On the Jellicoe Road? Cassel and Lila from The Curse Workers? A lot of different couples popped into my head, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I have to go with Finnikin and Isaboe from Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock. In many ways, I love them for the same reasons that I love Hermione: they compliment each other. They’re not clones and they each have weaknesses that get in the way of their feelings. But what I especially love about the pair of them is the fact that, even with the power disparity that is built in between them, they’re still equals within their own relationship. Finnikin is happy to support Isaboe as his queen and Isaboe is happy to support Finnikin as her partner. It’s the kind of love that makes me want to have a daughter so I can hand her this and say, here, ignore the creepy bad boys and the terrifyingly co-dependent relationships predominating so much of YA lately, find a man like Finnikin and be a partner like Isaboe. It’s the kind of love story you want for every girl or woman in your life, and I can’t think of higher praise than that.