…because Valentine’s Day.
So this holiday is either underrated or overrated depending on your point of view, and I’m not one to take it too seriously. Growing up I mostly read fantasy/adventure novels, and didn’t really care about the romance aspect. And when it comes to romances in novels…well, it either ended up as cheesy or unrealistic or…
Dare I say Twilight?
But besides the famous ones (Harry/Ginny, Percy/Annabeth, Katniss/Peeta, etcetera), there were a few romances that I came across that were well written and/or well paired. Often, they were side plots to the novels I read, but they added comedy, character depth, or necessary drama to the main plot, and I enjoyed reading them. So, here are some underrated YA romances, for the under/overrated holiday.
(Note that these come in no particular order.)
Remus/Tonks – Harry Potter Series
One of (I think) the few underrated couples in Harry Potter is Remus and Tonks. I just love that scene in the infirmary where everyone is sitting around pseudo-werewolf Bill and Fleur declares that she will love him no matter what, and Tonks cries out, “See? She doesn’t care!” in front of everyone. And yeah, maybe it’s a little weird that Remus is in love with his best friend’s niece…but he’s a werewolf and she can have a duck bill purely on will. I think they’ll survive.
Alyss/Dodge – The Looking Glass Wars
Alyss and Dodge is a typical princess and servant story…one that is frankly very cliche. What was great about their story was that they were separated at a very young age, and when they meet again, they are very different people, and they try to make it work. Admittedly, I never finished the series, but it was the first time I read this cliche, and I liked it.
Hem/Zelika – Books Of Pellinor
This romance never gets to take off, but the whole “could have been” was well written. I loved and hated how Hem realizes he likes her right before (spoiler!) he finds out she dies. Both of them were outcasts, Hem being insecure and shy, Zelika being spunky and outspoken, and they complemented each other well.
Clarisse/Chris – Percy Jackson and The Olympians
If anyone in this series was going to surprise the readers by getting a boyfriend, it was Clarisse. She was built to be that out of the mould girl who wasn’t expected to fall in love with someone (let alone be best friends with a daughter of Aphrodite) and does anyway. My only problem is that there was no background for them, the relationship first revealed four books in. (Granted, I doubt narrator Percy would care about Clarisse’s love life.)
Maggie/Farid – Inkheart
I never understood the concept of love at first sight. It seems improbable to me, so you may be wondering why this pairing is on this list, since Farid seems interested in Maggie from the get go. The thing is, Farid leaves Maggie at the end of Inkheart. It was a good side plot to the series that explained that love can be fleeting, impermanent, and overshadowed by other passions and other people. And I liked that about their relationship. I also like how they parted on (somewhat) good terms.
Christian/Marigold – Once Upon a Marigold
I always thought of this novel as a spoof on regular fairytales. Many parts were cliche, but I couldn’t help but enjoy reading it. This book was like a basket of puppies when I was twelve, it was just too adorable. Christian and Marigold’s story takes up the main plot, and while the ending is kind of bland, what I liked most was their correspondence in the beginning of the book. He’s an inventor, she’s a dark horse of a princess, and they slowly learn more about each other, their faults, dislikes, and they form a real bond. This was probably the first “romance” novel I ever read, and it wasn’t a disappointment.
Jasper/Alice – Twilight
Do I even dare to put this on my list? Apparently, I do.
So Twilight had a lot of hype when I was in high school…right before it became a major bust. My friends and I had read the books in a flurry, more interested in something we hadn’t read before than what it was actually saying in terms of theme and (lack of) character development. The one couple I really respected, though, was Jasper and Alice. Both are broken, they’re devoted to each other, and their relationship is a beyond words–Literally. I recall Bella watching the two of them, and they simply looked at each other, and she felt like she was intruding on a private conversation. That the kind of love you don’t see often in YA lit, and I’m glad it appeared somewhere.
Deryn/Alek – Leviathan
I feel like not enough people have read this book. (Maybe I just haven’t found those people who have.) It is a beautiful, amazing, steampunk reimagining of WWI and I enjoyed it very much. I just loved the irony in this relationship, with Deryn posing as a male to stay in the British Air Navy and Alek wishing to be the man his best friend is. I like how they always put their friendship first and their romance second, how the bond they have always shared is the top priority. It was unexpected and expected at the same time, and it was a great read.
Quigley/Violet – A Series Of Unfortunate Events
I don’t remember much about this relationship, other than it was cute and a much needed break from all the terrible events happening to the Baudelaire children. And frankly, that’s all this relationship was: good, romantic relief between two well developed characters who seemed genuinely compatible.
Tashi/Ram – Dragonfly
Yet another hate-when-they-meet-but-later-fall-in-love-prince-and-princess scenarios, and I adored it. Their story is more than just falling in love, its about cultural differences. They tone each other down, they strengthen each other up, they learn about each other. While I’d seen their story a million times before, I liked their version of it. There was just something about the way their relationship builds that helped the story along. Definitely an underrated couple.
“He makes me feel like that. Like flying.”
― (Deryn) Scott Westerfeld, Goliath