By Julia Bergen
Sometimes the best duos are the ones you least expect, especially in YA lit. A huge part of the fun in YA is taking characters who should never get along, throwing them together, and seeing what happens. Sometimes they fall in love, sometimes they become best friends, sometimes they want to murder each other, and sometimes it’s a combination of all three. We picked out a few of our fave unlikely duos, but let us know your favorite characters who should not work together but totally do.
Marcus and Teriana from Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen
Pirate princess meets (not) Roman legionnaire. They’re not a match-up I ever would have thought to ask for, but one I desperately needed in my life. As head of an imperial legion, Marcus’s world revolves around order and duty. Meanwhile, Teriana grew up on a trading vessel, and though she has plenty of rules to follow (like NEVER telling ANYONE about the Dark Shores), she’s mostly used to doing what she wants and saying what she feels.
Safi and Iseult from Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
These two are so different, they could easily have wound up enemies instead of BFFs. Safi is impulsive and determined, while Iseult is more mild and likes to think things through before jumping to action. Together, they’re an unstoppable force—so unstoppable that if they hadn’t gotten separated the series would probably be over by now and they’d be sipping tea by a nice fire.
Jesper and Wylan from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Okay be honest, is it REALLY a YA list if it doesn’t have at least one book by Leigh Bardugo? Not that we put these two on here to stick to the rules, but how could we not include Jesper and Wylan? They’re the classic rich kid/poor kid combo, but the way that they’re constantly flirtatious/combative is pure 10 out of 10.
Athan and Aurelia from Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway
Spies falling in love with their targets is possibly THE best setup for romance in YA books. Not so much in real life, but who cares about real life when we have BOOKS? Athan is sent to spy on Aurelia’s family when his father suspects shenanigans involving his wife’s death. Even though they’re from rival kingdoms, they find they’re more similar than they realized, both determined to protect their families. Because that’s the great thing about Unlikely Duos; when you look closely, they’re not so unlikely after all.
Rain and the Nuaga from Stormrise by Jillian Boehme
Not all unlikely duos are human, making them even more unlikely. When Rain asks the local apothecary for a potion to help her blend in among the soldiers she needed to join up with, she does not anticipate that side effects would include a psychic connection to an ancient dragon (always gotta read the side effects). Rain is convinced dragons are evil creatures bent on destruction, so seeing her slowly forced to trust Nuaga makes these two such a fun pair to read about.