What is a trope? It is a recurring literary theme. From rags to riches to being the “chosen one,” it’s a popular device used in many stories. Whether you realize it or not, you probably gravitate toward books with similar story elements.
Some of my personal favorite tropes are the ones surrounding romance. Even if it’s cliche, I enjoy reading about characters falling in love in a variety of ways. Do you like reading about love triangles? That’s a trope, and there are countless books with this storyline for you to choose.
Here is a list of eight young adult books for some of the most popular romantic tropes!
Enemies to Lovers
It sounds a little weird if you are not familiar with the trope, but there is something so fun about reading about characters who HATE each other at first…. and somehow end up falling in love despite their differences. Tension builds as the attraction grows, and you’ll keep reading just to find out how it happens.
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Can love really mend centuries-old wounds or does it truly make fools of us all? Full of magic, danger, and secrets, Serpent and Dove shines a light on the imperfections humanity possesses — that no one person or group is always right, that we all have the ability to do good or evil, and that it is our choices and actions that reveal our hearts. A pleasure from start to finish, I couldn’t put it down! If you’re a fan of Sarah J. Maas, you will love this book!Ashley Conti, The Family Book Shop, DeLand, FL
Bound as one, to love, honor, or burn. Book one of a stunning fantasy trilogy, this tale of witchcraft and forbidden love is perfect for fans of Kendare Blake and Sara Holland.
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.
Set in a world of powerful women, dark magic, and off-the-charts romance, book one of this stunning fantasy trilogy will leave readers burning for more.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch… she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
Friends to Lovers
Just as it says, this trope follows characters who go from being best friends to something much more. You’ll root for these characters while also wondering whether it will end in heartbreak. Will they lose their friendship if they don’t make it as a couple?
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi Lee—Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.
Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This Printz Honor Book is a “tender, honest exploration of identity” (Publishers Weekly) that distills lyrical truths about family and friendship.
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. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
I first became a fan of this trope through To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a well-known book series and Netflix movie. I love watching two characters navigate the awkwardness of pretending to date, and reading the cute moments as they start to develop real feelings.
Frankly in Love by David Yoon
Frankly in Love is a breathtaking, sit-on-the-floor-sobbing, smile-till-your-face-hurts whirlwind of a novel. David Yoon’s writing is extraordinary: carefree and playful, yet deep and resonating. Embedded throughout are gems that encapsulate the humanity of being young, being in love, and discovering who you are and who you aren’t. Not only is this a compelling and engrossing story of love and growing up, it powerfully hits many notes regarding race, family, and biases. I know this will be a book that will continue to resonate with me for a long time, and I can’t wait to share it so that it will stick in other readers’ hearts, too.Tildy Banker-Johnson, Belmont Books, Belmont, MA
Two friends. One fake dating scheme. What could possibly go wrong?
Frank Li has two names. There’s Frank Li, his American name. Then there’s Sung-Min Li, his Korean name. No one uses his Korean name, not even his parents. Frank barely speaks any Korean. He was born and raised in Southern California.
Even so, his parents still expect him to end up with a nice Korean girl–which is a problem, since Frank is finally dating the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. Brit, who is funny and nerdy just like him. Brit, who makes him laugh like no one else. Brit… who is white.
As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he’s forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don’t leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen. Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he’s found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he’s left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love—or himself—at all.
In this moving debut novel—featuring striking blue stained edges and beautiful original endpaper art by the author—David Yoon takes on the question of who am I? with a result that is humorous, heartfelt, and ultimately unforgettable.
10 Things I Hate about Pinky by Sandhya Menon
The delightful follow-up to When Dimple Met Rishi and There’s Something about Sweetie, which follows Ashish’s friends Pinky and Samir as they pretend to date in order to achieve their individual goals, to disastrous and hilarious results.
Pinky Kumar wears the social justice warrior badge with pride. From raccoon hospitals to persecuted rock stars, no cause is too esoteric for her to champion. But a teeny tiny part of her also really enjoys making her conservative, buttoned-up corporate lawyer parents cringe.
Samir Jha might have a few…quirks remaining from the time he had to take care of his sick mother, like the endless lists he makes in his planner and the way he schedules every minute of every day, but those are good things. They make life predictable and steady.
Pinky loves lazy summers at her parents’ Cape Cod lake house, but after listening to them harangue her about the poor decisions she’s made (a.k.a. boyfriends she’s had), she hatches a plan. Get her sorta-friend-sorta-enemy—who is a total Harvard-bound Mama’s boy—to pose as her perfect boyfriend for the summer.
When Samir’s internship falls through, leaving him with an unplanned summer, he gets a text from Pinky asking if he’ll be her fake boyfriend in exchange for a new internship. He jumps at the opportunity; Pinky’s a weirdo, but he can survive a summer with her if there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
As they bicker their way through lighthouses and butterfly habitats, sparks fly, and they both realize this will be a summer they’ll never forget.
While not everyone is a fan of this trope, these two books are excellent examples of series with amazing love triangles. You’ll deeply care about all three characters and enjoy fighting for the couple you want to end up together.
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
When 16-year-old Tessa Gray journeys from New York to London to join here brother, she is kidnapped and trapped in a fantastical world of werewolves, shape-changers and vampires. Tessa is rescued by the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of these demons. Tessa soon discovers who she might really be — The Clockwork Angel — and how she personifies the link between the Shadowhunters and demons in Victorian England.Jack Blanchard, Fairy Godmother, Washington, DC
Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still. Discover the “compulsively readable” (Booklist) first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series—now with a gorgeous new cover, a map, a foreword, and excusive bonus content! Clockwork Angel is a Shadowhunters novel.
When Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks, and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The gripping first installment in New York Times bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series.
One touch is all it takes. One touch, and Juliette Ferrars can leave a fully grown man gasping for air. One touch, and she can kill.
No one knows why Juliette has such incredible power. It feels like a curse, a burden that one person alone could never bear. But The Reestablishment sees it as a gift, sees her as an opportunity. An opportunity for a deadly weapon.
Juliette has never fought for herself before. But when she’s reunited with the one person who ever cared about her, she finds a strength she never knew she had.