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Our Favorite YA Romance Tropes, Explained

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Our Favorite YA Romance Tropes, Explained

With the inimitable Lover in the air and so many love stories in motion that we can’t wait to see to the end, we are really hard-pressed to turn away from love right now. Luckily, YA has SO MANY LOVE STORIES of every type to remind us that everybody deserves an epic love story.

Since we do read so many love stories, we’ve come across just a few trends… so without further ado, check out the list we’ve compiled of some of our favorite YA romance tropes below! And make sure to check out Mitch and Lisa from Team Epic Reads in their latest episode of ‘Is This Real Life’, in which they passionately squeal about their ultimate OTPs and more!

 

IS THIS REAL LIFE, EPISODE 06

 

Our Favorite YA Romance Tropes

BECAUSE LOVE WINS, ALWAYS

 

ENEMIES TO LOVERS

Our Number One romance trope is always and will forever be the enemies to lovers trope. We will gladly stand on this hill no matter what. These hate-to-love stories are full of deliciously high stakes, crackling tension and twists so dramatic we can’t feel the whiplash because we’re so emotionally invested. Our hearts yearn for nothing more than to be ripped apart and sewn back together, obviously.

Check out these examples:

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage.

Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all.

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

 

FRIENDS TO LOVERS

Even though there’s not that hateful romantic tension, there’s an addictive will-they-won’t-they pull that pulls us into friends to lovers romances. In short, lines are blurred, timing is totally off, they don’t want to ruin the friendship, and a million other excuses keep the two characters apart …. The slow burn melts our hearts like nothing else!

Check out these examples:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

 

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.

She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.

It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

 

STAR-CROSSED LOVERS

We scream over this type of story because it speaks to the romantic inside all of us. These super romantic couples are just DESTINED to be together – some could say it’s literally written in the stars – but for some reason, the universe keeps pulling them apart. Yet they keep fighting for each other. Excuse us while we sob; it’s just so beautiful!

Check out these examples:

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

 

LOVE TRIANGLES

We can’t help but fall into the frenzy of love triangles, even as we cringe for all involved! Hopefully, everyone gets a happy ending. It’s the least everyone deserves after they’ve wrenched our hearts around so much.

Check out these examples:

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

“Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zerosupervision.

And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turnGone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.

But not every student is quite what they seem:

Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.

Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.

Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.

And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.

When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.

 

OPPOSITES ATTRACT

Because we dare you to name something more emotionally satisfying than watching two completely different types of people get to know each other and slowly but surely fall in love!

Check out these examples:

Like Water by Rebecca Podos

In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him.

Now she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.

That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend.

But caring about another person threatens the walls Vanni has carefully constructed to protect herself and brings up the big questions she’s hidden from for so long.

 

MEET CUTE

No explanation needed. We just love seeing two people meet in a cute way. Honestly, who doesn’t?

Check out these examples:

Meet Cute by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

 

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Tell us something cuter than meeting in a New York City post office and then getting interrupted by a full-on flash dancing marching band before you can exchange numbers. We dare you!!! This hilarious and heartfelt tale spun by two beloved YA authors is one of our fave YA books, period, and it definitely tops the Meet Cute category, too!

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What if it’s us?

 

STUCK TOGETHER IN A CONFINED PLACE

We’d like an official report on the statistical probability of getting stuck in a remote location somewhere with the only other person around being an extremely attractive, available and emotionally compatible romantic interest. But until then, we can live vicariously through books featuring this exact situation!

Check out these examples:

By Your Side by Kasie West

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her.

Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye.

As he and Autumn at first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

 

Love and Other Train Wrecks by Leah Konen

Noah is a hopeless romantic. He’s traveling home for one last chance with his first love, and he needs a miracle to win her back. Ammy doesn’t believe in true love—just look at her parents. If there’s one thing she’s learned about love in the last year, it’s that it ends.

That is, until one winter night when Noah and Ammy find themselves in the same Amtrak car heading to Upstate New York. After a train-wreck first impression between the two of them, the Amtrak train suddenly breaks down—in the middle of a snowstorm.

Desperate to make it to their destinations, Noah and Ammy have no other option but to travel together. What starts off as a minor detour turns into the journey of a lifetime, but come morning their adventure takes an unexpected turn for the worst.

Can one night can really change how they feel about love…and the course of their lives forever?

 

FAKE DATING

Call it what you want to, but faux relationships, fake dating – whether it’s borne of a bet, a dare, or something else – always has our eyes glued to the page, screaming: who will you choose once this blows over?!? Shortly followed by: HOW COULD YOU??

Check out these examples:

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

 

Frankly In Love by David Yoon

High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

 

Find the books featured in this #IsThisRealLife episode!

 


What is your favorite YA romance trope? Shout it out in the comments!

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