Happy Valentines Day to all those who enjoy this holiday. Personally, I’m not really one of them, but I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon anyway and introduce you to a few of my favourite love interests from YA fiction.
If you’ve been around this blog for any amount of time, you’ve more than likely heard me complain about the lack of decent male love interests. So many of them border on abusive–or actually are abusive–that I feel incredibly uncomfortable adoring them the way others tend to do. It’s possible I might just be overly sensitive, but its something that’s bothered me for years now.
Thankfully, I’m beginning to think that YA authors are getting the message that Edward-Cullen-esque love interests are no longer acceptable and I’ve been greatly encouraged reading about some of the love interests in more recent YA reads.
So today, on the eve of the holiday of love, I’m going to give you a list of my favourite YA love interests. Here goes!
Peeta Mellark (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)
Look, Peeta is just the best, okay? He can be manipulative, for certain, but he’s never abusive, and even in the moments we do catch him manipulating Katniss it’s always for her own good that he does so. Which I’m not saying excuses his occasional lies and half-truths, but it does give him a certain aspect of humanity.
Never once does he place his own life above Katniss’s and he is loyal to a fault. I mean Katniss is often prickly and downright horrible to him, but he sticks by her anyway, doing his best to cope with his own trauma and help Katniss cope with hers.
Rory (The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim)
This book doesn’t get nearly enough love! It’s a fairly new release and its set in Australia (whoo!) and I absolutely loved it. Rory, a high school dropout turned Chinese delivery-boy, is the love interest for Anna, our main character. Rory has made mistakes, which he openly acknowledges, he suffers from depression, which he’s also very honest about. He respects Anna, but he’s not afraid to challenge some of her thought patterns and beliefs.
He also loves dumplings, so how much better could he be?
Yuan Kai (The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas)
I just read this book last month and I really liked it. Not loved it, but it was a solid book which I enjoyed. One of the biggest reasons I liked it was because of the love interest, who is known by various names throughout the story, but usually as Yuan Kai. Mulan, the main character, and Kai, have been fated since birth to fight each other in a duel, competing for two matching swords. Unfortunately, their duel is postponed when war is declared and Mulan signs up for her younger brother, disguised as a boy. She meets Kai again and this time they fall in love.
What I liked about Kai is that he didn’t use his power as a weapon and that, despite his elevated position, he cared deeply about peace and he was plagued by constant insecurities. I feel like every YA interest ever is arrogant and cruel when they’re in positions of power, but Kai had a genuine love for his people, his family and for Mulan too.
Sean Kendrick (The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater)
The Scorpio Races could possibly hold the distinction of being my favourite YA book ever. And of course, most of that is due to the characters, particularly Puck and Sean. Since this is a love interest post, though, I’ll be focussing on Sean here.
Sean is just so introverted and so happy to live in himself. I also absolutely adore his love for his horse and his passion for the races and for his island.
My other favourite part of this book was how lowkey the romance was. Stiefvater allows Sean and Puck to speak for themselves, and there’s very little “romancy” stuff in it.
Edan (Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim)
Again, this is another book I was a bit “meh” about, but I did like Edan, the court magician and main love interest for Maia. He kind of fell into the trope of the “thousand year old” love interest who never ages, but it was more that he stayed physically and mentally a twenty-something year old for a thousand years or something like that.
Anyway, he’s fun, he’s humorous, he’s got a sharp, snarky personality. He’s also kind, though he tries to pretend not to care. And he’s willing to die for Maia so that’s another of my favourite things.
All the boys from the Lunar Chronicles (by Marissa Meyer)
It’s almost impossible for me to choose a favourite love interest from this series! They’re all really good and very decent. If I had to choose…I might say Thorne or Jacin. They’re opposites really–Thorne is rogueish, dishonest and a swindler, Jacin is honourable and driven by his sense of duty. But both of them love their respect woman (Cress and Winter) above all else and are willing to sacrifice everything for them.
Of course, there’s also Kai and Wolf, our other two love interests. Kai is fiery and regal, if a little bland, and Wolf is a biologically enhanced ex-soldier with a deep and fierce love for Scarlet, as well as the rest of his new “pack”.
The obvious fact we can take from this is that Meyer is really good at writing love interests!
What about you guys? Do you feel frustrated by a lack of non-abusive boyfriends in YA? Who are some of your favourite (male or female) love interests? Do you agree with my picks? And finally, are you doing anything for Valentines Day?