The long anticipated film adaptation of The Hating Game was released yesterday, and readers rejoiced! This novel has often been praised as a modern classic, a legendary rivals-to-lovers romance. Rivals-to-lovers is a specific type of romance that we don’t see enough of in YA today. Sure, enemies-to-lovers stories are everywhere, but rivals-to-lovers brings a specific type of delicious tension. Our two love interests don’t hate each other for any old reason–no, they are intent on destroying each other, because that is what they need to get what they want.
However, in the past few years, we have been blessed with some fantastic rivals-to-lovers YA romances. If you just saw The Hating Game and are dying for more, read on and add these great books to your TBR or Christmas list!
What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Instead of competing for a promotion like Lucy and Joshua, Ethan and Allison are fighting tooth and nail for a Harvard recommendation. These two have a history–they’ve competed in AP classes, at the school paper, community service–and they keep score. Unfortunately, that means they continue to be forced together. When the principal asks them to plan a ten-year reunion with the promise of a recommendation attached, they lose any hope of avoiding each other. But the more time they spend together, the more they find they actually… enjoy it? — Abby Petree
Recommended for You by Laura Silverman
Based on the number of rom-coms out there, readers LOVE reading about teens who work in bookstores, and I am definitely one of those readers. This story doubles the fun and gives us TWO teen booksellers. Shoshanna, a huge bookworm, loves the store, Once Upon, and resents her coworker, Jake, who doesn’t even read! When their boss announces a competition, a holiday bonus for whoever can sell the most books, Shoshanna is determined to beat Jake. But to her shock and disgust, he’s a much better salesman! This book also takes place at Christmastime, so it’s full of warm, cuddly vibes. Bundle up with some hot cocoa and watch these two fight it out! — Abby Petree
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
The rival-to-lovers romance at the core of this book revolves around grilled cheese, so I didn’t need much convincing to name it one of my favorite rivals-to-lovers books. Add in banter over social media (think Wendy’s and McDonald’s sniping at each other on twitter) and this is a charming and cravings-inducing read for fans of You’ve Got Mail or a Jenn Bennett novel. It won’t be long before your shipping Jack and Pepper as much as this fictional version of Twitter ships Jack and Pepper, delighted in their witty back and forth in person and virtually. Pair this book with your favorite deli sandwich and prepare to fall in gooey cheesy love with this pairing. — Brianna Robinson
A Pho Love Story by Loan Lee
In A Phở Love Story, Loan Le creates higher stakes in her rivals-to-lovers romance with a generational feud between two families. The Mais and the Nguyễns have clashed for years, with competing phở restaurants across the street from each other. But the rivalry has always seemed deeper than friendly competition. Consequently, Bảo Nguyễn and Linh Mai have always avoided each other. But when their paths finally collide, Bao and Linh experience an undeniable chemistry. And as deeper feelings develop, the two begin to wonder what exactly started the animosity that plagued their families for so long. . . — Sabrien Abdelrahman
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
If rivals-to-lovers who were actually always attracted to each other is your thing, than you need to read RWRB. Though, chances are, you already have. There’s a reason why this book is recommended all over. The love story with the backdrop of hopeful politics is endearing in the best way. And the push and pull of Henry and Alex’s romance, from grudging partners in a publicity set up to actual friends and more, is such a lovely progression that you find yourself falling head over heels, desperate for the two idiots to get their feelings together to admit it. Maybe its the public nature of their relationship, but the whole thing has an epic, once in a lifetime quality that makes me swoon just thinking about it. History, huh? will become your mantra long after you finish this book and you’ll probably be galvanized to make your own. — Brianna Robinson