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Top 5 Wednesday: Hate to Love Pairings

This Wednesday’s prompt is couples who started out hating each other.  I didn’t realize I had so many contenders until I realized I had to cut this post into two: book couples and TV couples.  TV couples to come soon, hopefully.

 
tumblr_n2ngzh1iiL1qilgsoo2_r1_500Sansa & Petyr (A Song of Ice and Fire NOT the garbage show which takes a completely different and unwarranted direction with these two): Initially I thought this prompt indicated not pairings that went from hating each other to loving each other, but pairings that I love even in the face of blistering shame. Sansa Stark and Petyr Baelish fit that category rather well, because, well, have you ever seen a more messed up dynamic (well, there’s Jaime and Cersei, who happen to be my other favorite pairing from ASOIAF – do you see a trend here?)? Sansa is the daughter of the woman Petyr once loved.  She didn’t love him back in the same way, and ended up marrying someone else.  Petyr never moved on. Now, he has attached himself to Sansa, who happens to be the spitting image of her mother.  Petyr’s interest in Sansa alternates between fatherly love and lovers’ lust, a rather disturbing contradiction.  This bizarre combo is also interspersed with Petyr’s ambition: he claims to want to marry Sansa off in order to help her win back Winterfell, but whether he is doing this for Sansa or to further his own power (or both) is not quite clear, though he is certainly vocal about declaring his love (and lust) to her, and her consent to his sexual advances is dubious at best. Sansa’s feelings for Petyr are equally ambiguous – she admits she cares for him, but also recognizes that there are two sides to him, one kind and friendly, one scheming and ruthless.  She has trouble telling the two apart.  At the same time, he’s the only person she has left in the world, so she can’t help but rely on him. Their relationship is so bizarre, so complex and twisted, so multi-layered, so dark and creepy and inappropriate, that I can’t help but be utterly fascinated by it.

darklingalinaAlina & The Darkling (The Grisha Trilogy): Remember what I said about loving messed up pairings? Alina and the Darkling don’t start out hating each other either, not exactly, but their relationship certainly devolves into a complex interplay of hatred and attraction.  Initially believing that The Darkling is a force for good, Alina allows herself to be swept up into his seduction of her.  He beguiles her with his declarations of their similarities, their burgeoning powers, and how they are going to change the world together. Alina is drawn to his power and his stature, the fact that they are indeed two of a kind, but she quickly realizes The Darkling is bound to be her enemy. Despite this, I don’t think she ever forgets the hold he had on her.

22077289Jannik & Felicita (House of Sand and Secrets): These two are interesting because they didn’t start out hating each other at all.  In the first book, they’re friends well on their way to becoming more, but tragedy tears them apart. In the second book, they are in a marriage of convenience.  Even at this point, neither of them hates the other, but their relationship is fraught with their tenuous social status and Jannik’s precarious position as a hated minority.  Misunderstandings blossom like thorny flowers between the pair, leading each to believe that they are hated by the other, when in fact they are so in love with each other they can barely see straight.

11774295Hanani & Wanahomen (The Shadowed Sun): I always thought I hated romance until I read N.K. Jemisin’s Shadowed Sun.  In this book, she crafts a love story that I didn’t even realize was a love story until nearly the very end.  It starts with Hanani and Wanahomen on opposite sides of the spectrum in status and personality – Hanani is the only female Sharer-Apprentice from Hetawa, and Wanahomen is a prince-in-exile fighting to take back his kingdom.  Hanani is calm, level-headed, compassionate, while Wanahomen is rash, hot-tempered, and ruthless.  Their relationships starts out quite tense, as opposite personalities clash, but as they live together among the Banbarra tribe, both as outsiders, their feelings for one another intensify from intense dislike to intense love.  Jemisin’s talent shines through here; this is such an incredibly subtle and well-crafted romance.

tumblr_opnz18MwPY1toedf8o1_r1_1280Alabaster & Syenite (The Broken Earth Trilogy): Yes, another N.K. Jemisin example.  I swear, this lady is brilliant at everything she does, and if one day she decided to forego fantasy and just write straight-up romance, I would totally be there for it.  Initially, Alabaser and Syenite don’t like one another at all.  They have two competing worldviews, though Syenite’s is born more out of naivete and lack of experience than anything else (Alabaster is significantly older than her). The two are sent on a dual mission, to answer the call of a city that fears a geologic anomaly, and along the way, to get pregnant.  What begins as a fraught relationship burdened by mechanical sex blossoms into a we-only-trust-each-other type of thing.  As Alabaster and Syenite embark on a relationship with another man (yes, all at once) and have a child together, their bond strengthens and deepens.

Honorable Mention: Hades & Persephone

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Shout-out to the original hate-to-love pairing, am I right? Though there are many interpretations of the myth, the one I hold near and dear is that Persephone went to Hades of her own free will in order to acquire power, something she never had with her mother.  Though initially she and Hades were not so fond of each other, their feelings deepened into mutual love and respect, with Hades falling head over heels first.

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The Greek Gods Book Tag

My friend Rachel @ Paceamorelibri tagged me in this meme, which was created by Zuky @ The Book Bum! I hardly know anyone on here, so I won’t be tagging anyone myself, but feel free to do this if you see it!

ZEUS: KING OF THE GODS – YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK

7821892The Sweep Series by Cate Tiernan: Choosing a single favorite book is really difficult for me. There’s so many different criteria one could go by! In the end, I decided to choose my comfort series, the one that I go to when I just want to sink into a world and not think. Obviously, that’s Harry Potter, but I didn’t want to go with Harry Poter, because, what a formulaic answer! So, I decided to go with my second favorite series: Sweep.

Sweep is a weirdly obscure YA series of fourteen very short books about a teenage girl coming into her powers and heritage as a Wiccan. This isn’t your every day Wicca, obviously – Tiernan really, really embellishes (our heroine shapeshifts at one point) but somehow maintains realism by including many factual elements of Wicca.

Why do I love this series so much? I’m not sure. It probably helps that I started reading it at twelve years old, at the height of my burgeoning obsession with magic and witches and all things supernatural. I mean, I’m still tangentially obsessed with Wicca to this day – I have two books on it on my bookshelf! So, clearly, the Wicca element was definitely a significant factor.

Otherwise…I’m not sure I can put it into words. The books are…cozy, in a way. Most of them take place in the small upstate New York town of Widow’s Vale and revolve around Morgan as she discovers her powers and heritage. There’s teen drama, instalove, a love triangle (of sorts), but there’s also some cool subversion of those tropes. There’s road trips and theological discussions and battles between good and evil…there’s a lot.  I’m not sure I’m doing a great job selling these books, and I don’t even know if I would love them as much if I read them today and not as a kid.  All I know is they’ve been sitting on my shelves for years, and I reach for them whenever I need to sink into something familiar.

HERA: QUEEN OF THE GODS – A BADASS FEMALE CHARACTER

11388429When the Sea is Rising Red & House of Sand and Secrets by Cat Hellisen: Felicita Pelim comes from wealth and privilege – but when her best friend commits suicide to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita decides to trade privilege for freedom. She takes to the streets, joins up with a gang, and gets caught up in a plot to destroy the city. In the first book, Felicita isn’t badass so much as resilient, but in the second book, after her marriage and move to another city, her prowess grows.  She is every bit a lady, with all the selfishness and pride and willfulness that comes with growing up privileged, but she’s also compassionate, sharp, and snarky as hell.  In a city where her family name means little, Felicita fights fiercely to bring justice to members of an oppressed caste who are being murdered and whose human rights are soon to be stripped.

JANUS: GOD OF BEGINNINGS – YOUR FAVOURITE DEBUT(S)

6437061The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin: This was Jemisin’s debut as well as my introduction to her. I remember picking this book up at a time when I was just so, so tired of all the generic white male fantasy being recommended to me. I don’t recall how I stumbled upon Jemisin’s book, but I do remember reading that it was unusual in many ways for a fantasy novel, particularly a debut. I loved it completely – it was a totally original world, and the narrative style – though not everyone’s piece of cake – was fantastic. In this book Jemisin explored Gods and creation myths all though the first-person perspective of a young black woman, and it was mind-blowing.

ATHENA: GODDESS OF WISDOM – YOUR FAVOURITE NON-FICTION BOOK

6792458The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander: As a nerd who reads a ton of non-fiction, narrowing this down to one book was tough.  Eventually, though, it came down to The New Jim Crow.  Michelle Alexander’s book is incredible not only because it is written in accessible language and puts forth a resonant thesis, but also because of the sheer amount of eye-opening information it provides. If you think the United States justice system is at all fair to those who aren’t wealthy and white, read The New Jim Crow. This book will completely overturn any false narratives you hold about the United States as a champion of justice.

APHRODITE: GODDESS OF LOVE – A BOOK YOU ADORE AND RECOMMEND EVERYONE READ (OTHER THAN YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK!)

21414439Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: Okay, as a YA high fantasy, I don’t know if this book is necessarily for everyone, but I absolutely love it, so I’m including it on here.  Not only is Truthwitch is an absolute achievement in worldbuilding, it features two fully fleshed out female leads who love each other more than anything else in the world.  Their friendship is the thread that binds the plot together, even as they struggle against coups and political machinations.  The magic system is intricate and incredible, and Dennard can write action scenes like nobody’s business.

 

HADES: GOD OF THE UNDERWORLD – AN EVIL BOOK YOU WISH DIDN’T EXIST

Hmm, I don’t think I have a particular book in mind for this! “Evil” is a strong word, and I tend to shy away from books I think I won’t like. I can’t recall anything I’ve read that had a terribly strong effect on me.  I will, however, give a shout out to The Continent and The Black Witch, both unpublished books, both coming out of HarperTeen, which perpetuate some really horrifically racist narratives.  I haven’t actually read either of them, but I’ve read other folks’ very, very detailed reviews (including a chapter-by-chapter readthrough), and that was definitely enough to convince me that I do not want these books anywhere near me.

POSEIDON: GOD OF THE SEA & EARTHQUAKES – A BEAUTIFUL & GROUND-BREAKING BOOK

23444482The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson: I’ve read some of Dickinson’s short stories, and he seems to be fascinated by the concept of extremely difficult choices.  A Sophie’s Choice, if you will.  This whole novel is one big Sophie’s Choice, but you don’t really find out until the very end, in one of the most shocking, heart-breaking twists I’ve ever come across in literature.  The main character, Baru, is an accountant who has had her home colonized by a brutal empire. She grows up with the goal of dismantling said empire and winning her home back, but the choices she has to make to achieve that goal may just break her.  This book is utterly devastating. It’s a truly horrifying portrait of the brutal effects imperialism and colonialism has on people.

APOLLO: GOD OF THE ARTS – A BEAUTIFUL BOOK COVER

11774295The Shadowed Sun by N.K. Jemisin: I read a lot of YA, Genre of the Beautiful Covers, so of course I come to you with…a non-YA book cover. It’s another Jemisin book (she’s my favorite author, of course she features twice), from her oft-ignored second series. Most people nowadays praise The Fifth Season (rightly so) or her debut, but her middle series tends to be forgotten, which is such a shame. The Shadowed Sun (and its prequel) feature some truly fantastic and hella creative worldbuilding based on North African myth and culture. As a North African myself, you can bet I loved that. But The Shadowed Sun also includes one of my favorite romances ever, because it is real and raw and unexpected.

HYPNOS: GOD OF SLEEP – A BOOK SO BORING YOU ALMOST FELL ASLEEP

18077769Authority by Jeff VanderMeer: I read the first book in this series and liked it well enough. I thought the second book would begin to answer some of the question posed in the first book. How wrong I was. Basically, Authority is a literary rendering of bureaucratic routine with some occasional weirdness thrown in.  Pretty much nothing happens throughout this book; there’s a lot of meandering and asking questions, but nothing is answered or revealed.  By the last third of the book I was truly struggling, and I began to skip significant chunks just to get to the end.

HERMES: MESSENGER OF THE GODS – A BOOK YOU SPED THROUGH

29276588Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia: I finished this book in a day and a half.  I remember very clearly that I did not sleep until nearly four am the day I started reading this book, and probably would not have slept if I didn’t have to get up for work in the morning.  This book is a murder mystery/thriller, told in alternating perspectives and using flashbacks.  It also features one of my favorite tropes, but I won’t say what that is so I don’t spoil the book!