A look across a crowded room, a chance meeting, or an introduction through friends. These are the typical ways couples meet.
However, couples in YA novels seem to meet under the most unusual circumstances.
Having a boy you hardly know confess his love for you prior to entering a death match. Or, perhaps the boy you like is the country’s most wanted political criminal — who also happens to be accused of killing your brother. Awkward! No matter the pairing, they all meet under interesting circumstances and find a way to make it work.
We dug into our worn YA books and rediscovered the first encounters for several of our favorite couples.
‘The Fault In Our Stars’: Hazel and Augustus
I cut a glance to him, and his eyes were still on me. It occurred to me why they call it eye contact. – ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green
Being distracted from a boring meeting by the stare of a cute guy isn’t the most terrible way to meet. The only problem, of course, is that this was no dull meeting – it was a cancer support group. Hazel and Augustus do not meet under the best of circumstances, but their bad luck doesn’t stop this couple from embarking on a friendship that quickly becomes a sometimes awkward and sometimes whirlwind romance.
‘Harry Potter’: James and Lily
Lily sat up, rather flushed, and looked from James to Sirius in dislike. “Come on Severus, let’s find another compartment. – ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ by J.K. Rowling
Compared to many couples on this list, a chance encounter on a train heading to a magical school isn’t all that strange. However, the beauty of this relationship was seeing them grow up together. After all, how many people meet their soulmate at age 11? During their first meeting, they clash heads for the first of many times, and their love-hate dynamic makes their ultimate conciliation all the more satisfying.
‘Fangirl’: Cath and Levi
“Cather,” the boy said, grinning and holding out his hand. “Cath,” she said, feeling a panicky jump in her stomach. She didn’t ignore his hand. (She was holding a box anyway, what did he expect from her)? – ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell
College is the perfect place for meeting someone new. Levi is sweet, funny, seemingly perfect – and apparently dating Cath’s room mate. While Cath tries to hide her feelings (and remains oblivious to Levi’s), the two gradually build a friendship. Their transition from being friends to something more is unsure and often complicated, but the things that matter never come easily, and Cath and Levi work on it until it, well, works.
‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’: Simon and Blue
I mean, I just had to know him. Eventually I worked up the courage to post the only comment I could think of, which was: “THIS.” All caps. And then I wrote my e-mail address. My secret Gmail account. – ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli
If you’re a gay kid in school and you have a crush on someone, not only do you have to worry about if they’ll like you back, but you also have to worry about if they’re into your gender in the first place. If the unthinkable happens and you two have feelings towards one another, you have to figure out how to date while not revealing the romance to the rest of the school.
Dating the same sex in high school is brilliantly captured in Albertalli’s debut novel, which was adapted for film in 2018. Reading back this section where Simon and Blue make first contact, I can’t help but think about how relatable this is. We’ve all experienced that burning crush in which you wonder if they’ll like you back.
‘Cinder’: Cinder and Prince Kai
She was met with startled copper-brown eyes and black hair that hung past his ears and lips that every girl in the country had admired a thousand times. Her scowl vanished. – ‘Cinder’ by Marissa Meyer
Though their story is based on a fairytale, Cinder and Prince Kai are the opposite of your classic Cinderella story. Cinder is no charmingly soot-stained maiden; she’s an orphaned cyborg mechanic with issues to spare, and Kai is more concerned with the fate of his country than he is with being charming. But it’s because of their challenges and imperfections that Cinder and Kai find that they are kindred spirits – and the fact that Meyer continues their unresolved story through the entire quartet of The Lunar Chronicles makes us all the more desperate for the two to find their happy ending.
‘The Daughter of Smoke and Bone’: Karou and Akiva
And then his eyes came to rest on the blue-haired girl, some twenty yards distant. She was a calm, shining figure in the moiling crowd. And she was staring back. – ‘The Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ by Laini Taylor
Step aside, Romeo and Juliet; the Montagues and Capulets have nothing on the rivalry which separates Karou and Akiva. In this case, the two star-crossed lovers are on opposite sides of the other-worldly war of the monstrous chimaera (who raised Karou) against the stunningly lethal Seraphim to whom Akiva belongs. But Karou and Akiva’s connection goes beyond loyalty, beyond angels and monsters and even mortal bodies. Profound, intense, and unabashedly spectacular, this romance has everything a reader could wish for.
‘Legend’: Day and June
She stands deliberately, with a hand resting on her hip, as if nothing in the world can catch her off guard. I find myself pausing to admire her face. For a brief moment, I’m lost to my surroundings. – ‘Legend’ by Marie Lu
They say that opposites attract, and you would be hard-pressed to find a couple as different as June and Day – at least on the outside. Day is the country’s most wanted political criminal, and June is a military prodigy determined to bring him down. But thanks to the unusual circumstances of their meeting, June and Day discover kindred spirits in each other that they – and readers – can’t help but fall for. Punctuated by loss, war, and secrets, their journey together is never easy, but Day and June find ways around the overwhelming obstacles to touch your heart in ways you never expected.
‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’: Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky
I don’t know how long I’ve been sitting there crying when another car rolls up in front of me. I look up, and it’s Peter Kavinsky’s black Audi with the tinted windows. One of them rolls down. “Lara Jean? Are you okay?” – ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ by Jenny Han
Lara Jean is a bad driver. So bad, that an early accident plants her right in the path of Peter Kavinsky. Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky have known each other their entire lives and so their first interaction in the first of three, reveals the most about their relationship. Distant, yet concerned, their first kiss in middle school sent Lara Jean to writer one of her signature letters to a crush gone nowhere.
But her sign off “I bet if I did ever kiss you again, I would definitely catch something , and it wouldn’t be love,” wasn’t enough to keep Peter K away. Instead it serves as the catalyst to reunite them after years of polite nods in the hallway.
‘Percy Jackson’: Percy and Annabeth
He’s the one. He must be. – ‘Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief’ by Rick Riordan
Percy and Annabeth have a relationship that has lasted through nearly 10 books at this point, and there’s a reason why fans of Rick Riordan’s series love them so much. But to say their first meeting was under less than ideal circumstances would be an understatement.
By the time Percy killed the Minotaur and sent it back to the Underworld, he was nearly dead with exhaustion and shock. (No big surprise there.) Right before he passed out, he saw Annabeth for the first time, describing her as pretty, with hair curled like a princesses’.
Of course, after that, he fainted and she ended up feeding him ambrosia, which he so gracefully dribbled down his chin. But all the great pairings have to start somewhere, right?
‘The Hunger Games’: Katniss and Peeta
To this day, I can never shake the connection between this boy, Peeta Mellark, and the bread that gave me hope, and the dandelion that reminded me that I was not doomed. – ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins
Admitting you have feelings for someone is one thing telling an entire nation you have feelings for your opponent in a death match, entirely different. Peeta Mellark confesses his love for Katniss at the most inopportune time but to some extent it works in his favor. Katniss doesn’t know what to do with Peeta as they are meant to kill each other not fall in love. As the games get underway Katniss is asked to play up romance which leads to complicated feelings. Theirs is a love that started a revolution.
‘Divergent’: Tris and Four
I roll off, and I would have fallen face-first onto a wood floor if he had not caught me. – ‘Divergent’ by Veronica Roth
This is a bittersweet couple considering we know how it ends. Luckily this post is all about beginnings and in the beginning Tris and Four were amazing. Both were transfers from Abnegation into Dauntless. Four definitely tried to keep his feelings under wraps for fear harm would come to Tris and Tris, well she was kind of blind to the fact that Four had feelings. She preferred to believe he hated her which was probably a much less complicated path. We watched them grow as people and a couple through three books but Tris’ initial jump off the building kind of sums up their relationship.
‘Vampire Academy’: Rose and Dimitri
I didn’t want to fight her and held out my hands in a placating gesture as I took a step forward. “I’m not going to—”
She attacked. – ‘Vampire Academy’ (Dimitri’s POV) by Richelle Mead
Rose and Dimitri don’t start off on the best foot. She is a delinquent and he is her instructor. This doesn’t stop the feelings that build over time. Their relationship is built on respect as much as it is attraction. Of course one simple lust charm shows us how much attraction there is. Dimitri and Rose go through a lot during the series but their initial meeting definitely leaves an impression.
What is your favorite first meeting in a book?
Written by Jen Lamoureux, Karen Rought, Marama Whyte, Michal Schick, Andrew Sims, and Brittany Lovely. Graphics by Angelica Yap