Genre Kryptonite: Love/Hate Romances
This is a guest post from Marissa Meyer. Marissa is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles, which began with Cinder, the tale of a teenage cyborg destined to save the world. Marissa got her start writing fanfiction for the popular magic-girl anime Sailor Moon, and she thinks it’s kind of amazing that there is now fanfic based on her own books. Read more about Marissa and her works at www.marissameyer.com, and follow her on Twitter @marissa_meyer.
It started with Sailor Moon.
I was fourteen years old and my best friend introduced me to this awesome magic-girl anime about teenagers with elements powers and adorable sailor outfits.
I loved the empowered female vibe and the over-the-top villains, but what I really loved was the romance. Not the romance between Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask. Not the romance between Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion. Oh no. For me, it was all about the love/hate romance between Serena and Darien. (Or, for fans of the original Japanese, Usagi and Mamoru.)
They got off on the wrong foot in the very first episode, after Serena threw a crumpled-up test paper, marked with a big red F, at Darien’s head. He called her Meatball Head (in reference to her strange hairstyle). She yelled at him and stormed away, all the while wondering why this random dude was wearing a tuxedo in the middle of the day, and he stared after her with this little “I’m intrigued by her” smirk and…I was a goner.
I would watch that first season of Sailor Moon a billion times, picking apart every one of their interactions. Every time he called her a name, I would hear the subtext: I love you, but I’m too much of an idiot to do anything about it. Every time she complained about him, it was obvious to me that she was actually heartbroken because she didn’t think he liked her back. I was so invested in these characters and their true feelings, disguised beneath petty arguments and annoyed banter, that I started writing fanfiction, coming up with dozens of scenarios in which their love might finally be revealed.
I’ve had a weakness for love/hate romances ever since.
Is there anything sexier than Princess Leia calling Han Solo a scoundrel and him (rightfully) suggesting that she likes that about him?
Is there a more heart-fluttering moment in literature than when Mr. Darcy gets up the courage to ask Elizabeth to dance and she actually agrees, despite her resolve to hate him forever?
Give me sassy repartee. Give compliments-disguised-as-insults. Give me bull-headed stubbornness and the angst of “unrequited” feelings, and then give me that perfect swoony moment when finally, finally they begin to realize that all this so-called hate has actually been a cover for another emotion entirely.
I will eat it up like Bridget Jones and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
If you, too, are a sucker for the romantically-impaired, here are some of my recent favorite YA books that excelled with this trope:
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Aria sees Perry as an uncivilized Savage. Perry thinks that Aria is a spoiled, wimpy Dweller. But they’re forced to work together to survive the harsh wasteland after Aria is exiled from her home. They slowly begin to uncover each other’s better qualities, and gradually see past the biases that their two very different society’s have instilled in them. But before we get to any kind of apologies or kissing, we are given plenty of arguments, prejudices, and wonderfully executed misunderstandings.
Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
This is another example of a book in which the two protagonists—Sol and D’Arcy—come from different worlds. Although they inhabit the same city, Sol is a Smudge, meaning she can only be out during the night, while D’Arcy, a Ray, can only be out in daytime. Yet these star-crossed lovers manage to cross paths when Sol intentionally injures herself at the factory where she works (all part of a master plan), and she’s taken to the hospital where D’Arcy is a medical apprentice. They get off to a rocky start. Actually, they get off to a few rocky starts. But watching them change each other’s perceptions, and even uncover a secret shared past between the two of them, is nothing short of magical.
Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Amy comes from a bizarre family, full of witches, psychics, and ghosts. Whereas Ben is pragmatic and logical and refuses to get mixed up in the craziness involved with Amy and her relatives. (He also happens to be a ridiculously hot cowboy. Just, you know, as an added bonus.) Add to that volatile combination a supernatural mystery, a family rivalry, a couple of mischievous goats, and pages and pages of sexual tension, and this book is sure to have you swooning and laughing and swooning again. (Rosemary Clement-Moore accomplishes a similar feat in the companion book, Spirit and Dust—she is truly a master of the snark and verbal sparring.)
This list barely scrapes the surface of a long-held romantic tradition, and I’m always wanting recommendations. What love/hate romances have you fallen for?
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