I read and write YA for similar reasons. First and foremost, the excitement. The thrill of first freedoms. Unbridled discovery. It sounds cheesy, but it's so true. And I remember it so well. Me and my girls, we were always on the prowl. At least, we pretended to be.
Anyway, since I'm not sixteen anymore, I get my kicks by reading and writing. Writing emotion-packed scenes is my stand-in for the thrill of the real thing. And when I read a well-written, believable, smolderingly gradual YA romance, that same feeling gets me. In turn, it's one of the main forces driving me to write YA myself—to achieve the shivery, bouncy attraction I enjoy in outstanding books.
Call it a perpetual search for the love potion that makes us all go giddy. When masterfully mixed, it transcends genre, as well as the boundaries of commercial and literary.
And it's not always in straight YA romance novels. As my blog partner Michelle says, "I've always preferred the romance to be subplot rather than the main storyline… The pre-pubescent boy that apparently dwells within me can't go that long without seeing some sh** blow up, or a fight, or some ACTION."
LOL. Well, I can handle my romance in the foreground, or the background, or all over the place, as long as it's well-crafted, memorable and the characters are believable.
So what are my favorite YA love stories?
Hands down, my favorite YA romance was between Taylor and big, broody Jonah in Jellicoe Road. Read it and catch fire. I've read all of Sarah Dessen's books, and while she famously has a knack for creating crushworthy boys, my favorite was Owen in Just Listen—massive and musical, with a past. Melissa Marr steeps her whole trilogy with heat, but I prefer the electricity between Seth and Aislinn in Wicked Lovely. I had a huge crush on Po in Kristin Cashore's Graceling. And John Green makes us all long for Alaska Young, whatever our gender or persuasion.
I asked my YA highway blog partners the same question...
Kaitlin: "For me, the best relationship ever is between Lyra and Will in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, because their love is so natural, so innocent, and so perfect. There has never been another couple that I've been so moved by, and every single time I read those books, I feel just as much excitement as I did the very first time."
Michelle: "Kaitlin, you beat me to Lyra and Will. :) So cute... I also liked Marcus and Ange in Little Brother. Marcus was a great POV-- very likable, normal teenager."
Kristin: "Daisy and Edmond in Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now… They are soul mates in a magical realist kind of way. They become separated and the reader suffers tumultuous emotions wondering if they will ever be reunited again. It is an achingly beautiful love. And . . . can I mention Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe?"
Amanda: "I'd have to say my favorite YA love story so far has been Aislinn and Seth in Wicked Lovely; the bad guy gone good, all to win the heart of the unsuspecting best friend. I liked how Marr kept the relationship realistic in the sequel Fragile Eternity by showing the struggle of what someone wants verus what they need."
And now, we want to know yours. What are your favorite YA love interests/stories?