Sunday, March 16, 2014

When Opposites Attract

I love a good "opposites attract" romance. Sometimes this includes one of my other favorite tropes, hate-to-love, since opposite people tend to play off each other quite fabulously. There's something about very different people discovering what they have in common and learning how they compliment each other that thrills me. I suppose you can blame my lifelong adoration of Pride and Prejudice for that. I once heard someone sum up an opposite attract relationship like this:

You complete what I am not.

And that says it all, really. I love reading about characters who fit together like opposite puzzles pieces, filling and balancing out their respective personalities.

I decided to do a roundup of a few of my favorite Opposites Attract romances and explain what makes these couples so different but so perfect.
He's a sexinating playboy. She's a cynical single girl (cyngle girl? cynigle? Almost) who doesn't believe that teenagers can be in love. Every word out of his mouth is either charming or insulting, while she's generally cranky or insulted. Basically, they're perfect for each other.
She is a prodigy and a soldier for the Republic. He's a wanted criminal and despises the Republic. She is methodical, lethal, brilliant, and detail-oriented. He's a passionate, one-man rebellion. She comes from privelege and status. He comes from the slums. He's wanted for killing her brother. It's her job to track him down. Naturally, love blooms.
He's sensitive, giving, and easy to like. He has a way with words and very strong principles. She's prickly, resentful, and full of feeling. He's the boy with the bread. She's the girl on fire. These two are totally complimentary, like yin and yang.
He's funny but sometimes incredibly stupid, insensitive, and immature. She is anything but stupid and is hugely compassionate. She's a Muggle born. He doesn't even understand how Muggle money works. She has a cat. He has a rat. They fight like cats and dogs. But ultimately, they're both loyal friends and brave Gryffindors.
He's a wretched conversationalist. She sparkles with wit. He doesn't particularly care to dance. She adores it. He's rich and distinguished. She is poor and on the brink of genteel poverty. He is proud, and she is prejudiced. He is prejudiced, and she is proud. They're perfection personified.
 He's a science, math, and computer geek. She's flunking algebra. He's your average New York City teenager. She's a princess. He has a dog named Pavlov. She has a cat named Fat Louie. They both are really, really dumb when it comes to romance, but they're made for each other. It just, you know, takes them ten books to get everything settled.
 He's the town golden boy, a star baseball player and a closet writer. She's the town bad girl, with a troubled home life and a spiky attitude. He just wants to be loved, and she's hiding behind armor. They are the cutest ever. (My review)
 He's a guitar player, playin' in a rock and roll ba-and. She's a classically trained cellist. They call them Groovy and the Geek, and they have the saddest love story ever and it hurts. (My review)
 He's the steadfast, stalwart Captain of the King's Guard. She's a deadly assassin who's been imprisoned for the last year. She's tempestuous, vain, and full of presence. He's quiet, calm, and my future husband. I mean, um. Yeah. What were we talking about? (My review)
He's shy, nerdy, and blushes a lot. She's colorful, bold, and adventurously dressed. If she's the moon, then Cricket Bell is the stars. (My review)
He's rich, rich, rich. She is not. He is pleasant, charming, and many different people. She's slightly grumpy, practical, and always herself. They make my soul ache. (My review)
He's a tortured American bad boy with the worst family and magical powers. She's a plucky British-Japanese amateur detective made of unicorns and sunshine and glitter. They're too halves of a whole. (My review)

I'm going to quote directly from the synopsis here, since it sums it up way better than I would have: "Jesse cuts her own hair with a Swiss Army knife. She wears big green fisherman's boots. She's the founding (and only) member of NOLAW, the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos. Emily wears sweaters with faux pearl buttons. She's vice president of the student council. She has a boyfriend. These two girls have nothing in common, except the passionate "private time" they share every Tuesday afternoon. Jesse wishes their relationship could be out in the open, but Emily feels she has too much to lose."
Blurb, again (since I haven't actually read this book): "Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common."

More examples: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay, Alienated by Melissa Landers, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Meant to Be by Lauren Morill, The Distance Between Us by Kasie West, Cress by Marissa Meyer, These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund. Not to mention both of Katie McGarry's other novels: Pushing the Limits and Crash Into You.

Do you love when opposite attract? Why or why not? And can you think of any bookish couples left off the list?


  1. Oooooh! Great couples! I totally agree with you on the whole "opposites attract" kind of thing. (Partly because I may have had some past experiences with that in real life. Oh wait, scratch that). I feel like they interact better in a story and the chemistry would be undeniable especially when they both start to realize just how perfect they are for each other. It's like the soul of the book for me. That's where everything depends entirely. Generally, I'm not too keen when it comes to love interests because I'm a romance person (I can deal with anything. Even when the heroine falls in love with a hideous beast. Wait. Does that sound familiar to you?) but the deal with two opposing people finding their own paths to fall in love with the person they least expect is like the sugar in my coffee.

    Xander and Caymen from The Distance Between Us by Kasie West seems like a good option! :)

  2. Love all your choices above, Gillian! Now I realized why reading about them was so much fun. It's really interesting to 'see' how two people from such different background can merge their contrasting world together. The relationship will not get boring because they practically 'fill' each other's voids.
    Now I really want to read The Duff and Unspoken! I haven't read those two. :)

    Tirta @ I Prefer Reading

  3. Oh I love all the graphics you made! :D Great choices, Gillian! All my favorite couples are on this list especially Peeta/Katniss, Ari/Dante, Mia/Michael and so much more! I love opposites too, because it's just so boring to read about two very similar people falling in love. Great post! :)

    -Kimi at Geeky Chiquitas

  4. I love these graphics! So well done. :) With opposites attract, I like the push-pull of the romance. They constantly have to figure out how they're going to make it work and how they can fit into each other, yet it never feels like a chore. Plus, there's so much potential for the chemistry that just sparks.

    Darcy/Lizzy, Ryan/Beth, Adam/Mia, and Xander/Caymen are some of my favorites of those you mentioned. I'd also include Connor/Laila, Justen/Persis, Tarver/Lilac, Adrian/Sydney, Levi/Cather, and the ships in the Lunar Chronicles. :)

  5. You must teach me your graphic-making ways, sensei.

    I'd definitely add my favorite couple of all time: Gen and Irene. They're similar in ways with all their trickery and masks, but they're soooo different, too. Oh, and even though they're middle-grade and not REALLY a couple (yet), you can't forget Victoria and Lawrence from The Cavendish Home For Boys And Girls. Ultimate opposites.

  6. Ok, this was a fantastic post!! I skipped reading about the couples I haven't read the books for, but for those I've read... I couldn't agree more! Blue & Gansey and Cealena & Chaol make my heart hurt so much!!

  7. Ron and Hermione FOREVER!!!! And of course, Lizzie and Darcy.

    Anne and Gilbert would be on my list. They have the opposites plus hate to love thing going on. And Kate and Christopher from The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. (Great book AND great romance.)

  8. Ohhhh so many great choices! I couldn't agree more though, opposites attract often lead to a great romance. And this is EXACTLY why I think Ron and Hermione worked and would continue to work regardless of what J.K. Rowling has said. Also, gorgeous graphics m'dear. <3

  9. Great choices! I'm a huge, huge fan of opposites attract (when it's done well, not just for the sake of doing it). And I only know 1/3 of those books you listed, but they're spot-on. Well done!

  10. I think most great couples have some element of this--who wants to date themselves? Love the graphics.

  11. This is such an awesome post! I've only read about half of the books you mention here, so lots of good fodder when I'm in the mood for reading about a love-hate relationship.
    I'd say the romance between Cat and Andevai, the protagonists of Kate Elliot's Spiriwalker trilogy, fits this mold. As do the main couple in the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. And Finnikin and Evanjalin from Finnikin of the Rock! And for an somewhat older book, Mel and Vidanric from Sherwood Smith's Crown Duel.

  12. Ahhh so many of my favourite couples! I JUST watched North and South with Richard Armitage and ohmygod swoonz!! If you haven't watched it you need to, you will LOVE IT. I am also a huge sucker for the love/hate/opposites romance, and this is IT. I mean this is up there with Lizzie and Darcy, who are pretty much THE RELATIONSHIP for me. Mr. Thornton? Officially up there with Darcy. And Richard Armitage is officially on my top 3 actors list now. If you couldn't tell, I'm basically still freaking out about this miniseries hahah

  13. Hate to love, yesssssss. "I suppose you can blame my lifelong adoration of Pride and Prejudice for that." I HAVE SAID THIS EXACT THING BEFORE. Also, Benedick and Beatrice. Those two couples ruined me for romances between people who actually like each other from the beginning.

    I really badly want to reread The DUFF. Hmmm, I wouldn't really call June and Day opposites; they're quite similar, though their roles are opposing. I guess it depends on your definition. I'll allow it. (You're thrilled, I bet. :-p)

    Look at Ron's orange hair. BAHAHAHA.

    Also, these banners are so pretty. Show off! (Totally kidding. I am merely jealous of your art skills, but I am proud to have such a talented friend.)

    Look at Chaol's little shoulder doohickey!

    This must have taken you fucking forever. I can't even. Just wooooooooow. They're all so unique. You awe me, Gillian Berry.


Note: comments on posts older than 90 days are automatically moderated, so they won't show up here immediately. Thanks for commenting! :)