By Nyla Lee
Could you imagine falling in love with the person you despise? Considering them as a romantic partner in any sense at all? Does it fill you with passionate rage to think about it?
Many people say loving someone takes just as much effort as hating someone. They are both strong, passionate emotions.
This directly relates to the enemies-to-lovers trope, a trope about expressing strong, passionate emotions for people. Even unconventional emotions like hatred.
But there is more to the trope than passionate emotions. And this is why I’ve decided to deconstruct why readers love the enemies-to-lovers trope in YA fiction. Before diving into it, let’s get to the bottom of its meaning.
What is the Enemies-to-Lovers Trope?
The enemies-to-lovers trope is a trope where two characters who dislike each other develop romantic feelings.
This can also take the effect of the rivals to lovers trope, which has a similar background. Many popular books include the enemies-to-lovers trope. They include Divergent, The Hating Game, and These Violent Delights.
All three books take on the trope differently. These Violent Delights takes on a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story, with the addition of an enemies-to-lovers storyline.
The Hating Game takes on an office rivalry and longstanding personal relationship to emphasize the similarities between hate and love.
Divergent uses the difficult mentor and student relationship between its protagonists to structure an unconventional enemies-to-lovers subplot.
These stories either feed into or completely subvert the cliches among the enemies-to-lovers fiction trope, showing the diversity that the enemies-to-lovers trope has in terms of its use.
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Why Readers Love the Enemies-to-Lovers Trope in YA Fiction
There is no wrong way to structure the trope. However, there are ways to approach it so that it brings the element of surprise to readers– as there are still attributes that keep the enemies-to-lovers trope in the literary limelight.
Here are the three reasons why readers love the YA trope in YA fiction.
The Enemies-to-Lovers Trope is About Accepting Flaws
When someone is your enemy, you see their worst flaws. Loud, arrogant, passive-aggressive. You have experienced first-hand the worst about that person. Regardless, you fall in love with them anyway. This is the message that the enemies-to-lovers fiction trope conveys.
Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game depicts protagonists Lucy and Josh despising one another. Despite their active mutual hatred, both characters accept each other’s flaws. Even find beauty in those traits by the story’s end.
As a reader, the idea of someone accepting your flaws is appealing. Some flaws are minimal while others can haunt you daily. And reading a story that highlights flaws without devoiding someone of love is heart-warming.
The enemies-to-lovers fiction trope shows that you are more than your flaws. In addition, it shows that within those flaws is a person someone will find outstanding and fall in love with. That is the reason that having these attributes makes the enemies-to-lovers an enjoyable trope in the romance genre.
Another attribute that makes the enemies-to-lovers fiction trope enjoyable for readers is the attraction of the opposites, our next reason in this exploration.
Opposites Attract in the Enemies-to-Lovers Trope
Many romance tropes use alterations of opposites attracting. The enemies-to-lovers fiction trope uses its attributes to compliment two characters with opposing characteristics, as it unknowingly understands that people are not one and the same.
In Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Tris and Four are polar opposites in the physical sense. Lucy and Josh from The Hating Game are opposed in personality and lifestyle.
These differences are the pinnacle of the enemies-to-lovers trope. It is a refreshing take on romantic stories because the two leads are not destined soulmates. Like the found family fiction trope, the enemies-to-lovers trope thrives from combining individuals with diverse personalities and using differences to its advantage.
The enemies-to-lovers trope is about unexpected couples. It is not about the ones you assume would have the best chemistry. While in many romantic tropes authors construct characters to mold one another, though this is not entirely unrealistic, it gets old quickly among readers.
Many unconventional parts of the enemies-to-lovers trope contribute to people who you wouldn’t expect to become romantic partners. This leads to the last reason why readers love the enemies-to-lovers trope in YA fiction so much: entertainment value.
The Enemies-to-Lovers Trope Is Entertaining
Entertainment is the foundation of literature. If a book did not entertain you, something was missing from its text that did not scratch your entertainment itch. That said, the enemies-to-lovers trope is grounded in entertainment.
Take Pride and Prejudice as an example. The protagonist’s quarrel is entertaining and satirical. Elizabeth’s disdain for Darcy and the latter sharing the same sentiment brings entertainment and drama to the table.
As much as you would not want to admit it, drama is an entertaining form of art. In all its forms, it has a way of bringing creatives together.
Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me encapsulates this drama and entertainment preference. Not only is it self-aware in its understanding that you want to see drama, but it also understands the entertainment value of the enemies-to-lovers trope.
Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince also uses the enemies-to-lovers fiction trope as a means of pulling in readers with fantasy elements intermingled with modern entertainment elements. These elements include faeries, high fantasy, and the complicated relationship between the two protagonists.
These traits appear in YA fiction constantly. However, the enemies-to-lovers trope in this specific story amplifies the drama immensely, attributing further to its entertainment and success.
Conclusion on Why Readers Love The Enemies-to-Lovers Trope in YA Fiction
The enemies-to-lovers trope encapsulates the entertainment value of drama and messy relationships. Readers love the enemies-to-lovers trope in YA fiction because its entertainment and messages are appealing. From the ridiculous arguments to the passionate hatred, the enemies-to-lovers fiction trope thrives on messiness.
It also depicts an underlying message about accepting flaws and supporting opposites attracting. It teaches you to look beyond a person’s negative traits and see them for the person underneath the hatred.
Along with this, the trope also teaches you that the most unconventional couples can work with a bit of time. You can see semblances of real-world relationships through the cliches of the enemies-to-lovers trope.