Monday, June 13, 2011

My Top Ten Favorite Book Couples

I love classifying things; I love making lists; I love deciding on my favorites – my favorite book (The Hunger Games), my favorite animal (zebras), even my favorite cereal (Froot Loops). There is little else I appreciate more in a book than a well-written romance, the kind that makes me alternately sigh, laugh, and cheer on the characters.

What is this intro leading to? My top ten favorite book couples, of course (with justification/swooning)!

Warning: some of these are definite spoilers, so read on at your own risk.

Now, on to the list:

10. Rose and Dimitri (Vampire Academy) - Rose is everything Dimitri is not: impetuous, flirtatious, and immature. Their shared sense of duty compensates for these differences, and their consistent dedication to each other cements them as more than a momentary fling. The fact that he's her combat teacher adds a - gasp - forbidden aspect to their relationship that, in the fictional VA universe, only increases the swoon-worthy qualities of this couple.

9. Yelena and Valek (Poison Study) - The realization of this romance is so gratifying given these characters' growing closeness throughout the book. I loved watching Yelena and Valek - a poison taster and an assassin, respectively - accept the inevitability of their (intense, compelling) connection. Ultimately, this is a wonderfully mature relationship that remains steady and strong despite the obstacles presented by Yelena's troubled past and uncertain future.

8. Clary and Jace (The Mortal Instruments) - There’s something very addicting about the way this couple is written; their snappy dialogue and drama and mutual attraction make for some serious reread potential, and it's obvious they're destined for a turbulent romance. Was anyone really convinced these two could be brother and sister?

No? That's what I thought.

7. Scarlett and Rhett (Gone with the Wind) - These two are not good for each other. When it comes to relationships, Scarlett is selfish and superficial and insensitive. (She’s pretty much the Blair Waldorf of the Old South - or is Blair Waldorf the Scarlett O’Hara of the Upper East Side? Anyway. I digress.) Clark Gable - er, Rhett - understands these aspects of Scarlett’s personality better than anyone else, which is ultimately to the detriment of their relationship. But that dramatic, doomed quality is exactly what I love about this couple.

On a side note, I refuse to acknowledge the ending of that should-never-have-been-made sequel that, like Voldemort, will not be named. (Hint: the title rhymes with harlot, which is oddly appropriate.)

6. Jamie and Claire (Outlander) - A romance riddled with obstacles to overcome - including Claire's prior marriage and, oh yes, the small matter of their living in different decades - and an equal amount of cute moments. It's just a bonus that their relationship subverts many of the tropes I’d come to expect of romance novels: the male lead, not the heroine, is the blushing virgin; Claire is older than Jamie too, which is refreshing. Also – and I feel unbelievably cheesy and cliché for even thinking these words – their love transcends time. Really.

5. Phèdre and Joscelin (Kushiel’s Legacy) - Kushiel’s Dart is a slow-building book that requires one to fully sink into its unique, well-developed world and meandering plot. The main romance is similarly complex and subtly-established. And sizzling. This is by far my favourite “opposites attract” romance: Phèdre is a courtesan. Joscelin is a chaste warrior priest. Cue sparks.

4. Katsa and Po (Graceling) - These two complement each other so well. Their relationship is a meeting of equals that encourage each other to mature and overcome their respective limitations. I love that there's no pressure here, as Po accepts Katsa's decision never to marry and their romance is not deterred by physical separation. (Also: their fight scenes are ridiculously awesome. Love.)

3. Kate and Curran (Kate Daniels Series) - The dialogue, the dialogue! The quips and bickering and endless back-and-forth! To demonstrate:

Curran: “You’re an interesting woman.”
Kate: “Your interest has been duly noted.”

Kate: “I want to assure you, Your Majesty, that I spend long nights lying awake in my bed worrying about your feelings.”
Curran: “As well you should.”

Curran: “How was it?”
Kate: “It was flat. No spark. Nothing. Like kissing a brother.”
Curran: “Really? Is that why you put your arms around my neck?”
Kate: “That was temporary insanity."

Curran: “Hey.”

Kate: “Hey. I was telling the people in my head to shut up.”
Curran: “They have medication for that.”
Kate: “I probably can’t afford it.”

2. Katniss and Peeta (The Hunger Games) - I must admit that I’m a fan of the fictional bad boy. There’s something so compelling about that toughness, those chiseled cheek bones (because he always has to have chiseled cheekbones), the vulnerability concealed beneath a veneer of arrogance. Peeta does not fall into that category. I mean, c’mon, his nickname is “the boy with the bread.” That moniker suggests neither fearsomeness nor the elusive sexiness of the Fictional Bad Boy. It does, however, highlight Peeta’s sensitivity and generosity. Those qualities, along with his quiet strength, are the perfect match for Katniss’s harshness and independence. And that’s why they’re #2.

1. Jacob and Renesmee (Twilight)

What? You didn't see this coming?

Okay, I kid. Couldn’t help it. Ahem, now back to seriousness.

The real #1 Couple of Awesomeness:

1. Alanna and George (The Song of the Lioness Quartet) - I love everything about this relationship: George’s acceptance of Alanna, flaws and all, and vice versa; the growth of their friendship throughout the quartet; the fact that he is the first person she trusts with her secret; their mutual respect and sense of equality. Everything!

Honorable Mentions:

Fire and Archer (Fire) - Though they aren't as healthy or thoughtful together as the main Fire couple, their romance is, in my opinion, the most swoon-worthy. They're friends first, lovers second, and they just aren't meant to be together - but their short time together is, ahem, as hot as a certain heroine's name.

Bella and Edward (Twilight) - Putting Bella’s whininess and Edward’s creepy stalker tendencies aside, the sheer epicness of this super-couple deserves props.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) - This couple did for love-hate, antagonistic relationships what Romeo and Juliet did for doomed lovers. And they did it while skirting around the machinations of Lizzy’s mother. That’s impressive.

Magnus and Alec (The Mortal Instruments) - These two are easily as compelling as Clary and Jace, but much less focused-on - which is a pity, because they're unlikely and brilliant and hilarious, together and as individuals.

Elena and Clay (Bitten) - Their past as a couple is revealed in gradual bits and pieces that make it utterly impossible not to root for a reconciliation in their future. Despite their issues, Elena and Clay share an amazing mutual understanding, even when they’re at odds with one another.

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