Ever since Petruchio and Katherina sparred in The Taming of the Shrew, and Mr. Darcy enraged Elizabeth Bennett before winning her heart in Pride and Prejudice, readers have craved romances in which the main characters start out with less-than-fuzzy feelings for each other. Gnash’s 2016 song (“I hate you / I love you / I hate that I love you”) could find a place on the playlists of many YA novels. Here are some of our favorite books in which would-be couples turn searing hate into passionate love.
Seven Days of You, by Cecilia Vinesse
Sophia has spent the last five years living in Tokyo with her mother, but now her life is about to go off the rails: in one week, she’ll be returning to New Jersey and saying goodbye to her favorite city, not to mention her best friend, Mika, and long-term crush, David. So when Jamie Foster-Collins, a boy from her past, unexpectedly arrives in Japan just as she’s gearing up to leave, she’s furious. “Couldn’t he wait a week? Did he have to ruin my life? And, on top of that, did he have to steal all my leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder?” Turns out Sophia (“Sofa” to her friends) and Jamie have a fraught history, but in the next seven days, everything between them will change as they realize exactly what they mean to each other.
The DUFF, by Kody Keplinger
Based loosely on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and made into a film starring Mae Whitman, The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) of the title, Bianca, starts out loathing Wesley Rush, her high school’s arrogant playboy. But when they unexpectedly bond over their difficult home lives, and realize their caustic banter is actually verbal foreplay, sparks fly between them. (And over them, and under them, and in the janitor’s closet at school.) Best of all, Bianca discovers that every single person at school has felt like the DUFF of their social group, and learns to wear the title proudly.
The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions), by Amy Spalding
Every word of this endearingly hilarious rom-com is worth savoring. When Jules’s new crush, Alex, who happens to be a former boybander with a secret, joins up with the school’s new video journalism club, Jules takes it very personally. After all, Jules’ main jam (read: obsession) is the newspaper and her role as its editor. By siding with the paper’s “rival,” Alex has thrown down the gauntlet of war. Kissing and making up has never been so fun.
Legend Trilogy, by Marie Lu
In this bestselling dystopian series set in a bleak, illness-plagued California, Day is the Republic’s Most Wanted criminal, a “street brat” hiding from the government, and June’s the high-achieving prodigy sent to hunt him down. Convinced that Day murdered her brother, Metias, June is determined to bring Day to justice. But as she gets to know him, she discovers “a beautiful mystery” within the handsome charmer, who can flirt like a prince when it suits him. For his part, Day struggles with his own intense feelings for June, the only girl in the history of their world to score a perfect 1500 at Trial.
How to Break a Boy, by Laurie Devore
In recovery from her older brother’s sudden death, Olivia can no longer tolerate the all-consuming demands of her best frenemy, Adrienne. Their shared mean-girl antics have led Olivia to believe she’s an inherently bad person—the opposite of annoyingly perfect golf star Whit DuRant, her new SAT tutor. And Whit thinks Olivia represents everything that’s wrong and cruel-hearted about their small town of Buckley, South Carolina. But somehow, when they kiss, “everything’s as it should be.” You’ll be rooting for Olivia to summon her inner good girl to make things right after her battle with Adrienne threatens to ruin Whit’s future.
Forgive My Fins, by Tera Lynn Childs
Half-human, half-mermaid princess Lily Sanderson must find a mate by her 18th birthday or she won’t inherit her father’s ocean kingdom. During the three years she has spent on land attending a human high school, she’s carried a torch for swimmer Brody, whom she considers her perfect match. But that’s before Quince, the pain-in-the-fins bad-boy biker next door who “lives for her torment” steals a kiss. The action has dire consequences: according to custom, she must now present Quince before the royal court in Thalassinia, and say goodbye to her dreams of a life with Brody. Then again, maybe Quince is the real deal, if she can look past her previous assumptions about him.
Perfect Liars, by Kimberly Reid
As junior valedictorian of her exclusive private school in Peachland, Georgia, Andrea “Drea” Faraday appears to have the perfect life, complete with wealthy parents, European vacations, and royally good looks—dad claims to be descended from a Nigerian prince, and Mom from a Nordic king. Whether they’re lying, however, is anyone’s guess, because Drea’s parents are con artists and thieves whose rare antiques business is a front. Drea has no intention of emulating her criminal folks, so when she meets handsome Xavier, a juvenile delinquent, it’s hate—and attraction—at first sight. She and X aren’t certain they can trust each other, but teaming up is the only way to fight back against the kids trying to frame them. Slowly but surely their attraction simmers, eventually overtaking their hate. A slow burn, must-read romance paired with a clever mystery.