When I first saw this week’s topic, I thought it would be really difficult to come up with enough examples to fill the list, but the more I thought about, the more I realized how many there are. Platonic relationships are something that I often find lacking in books, although that may be because I read quite a bit of YA so those are often rife with love triangles and romances in general. When a friendship does remain platonic, I often find that it’s in cases where the author has set it up so a relationship between the two characters is impossible (ie. one character is gay or lesbian, and they are friends with a person of the opposite sex). When I started to think a bit more broadly about different kinds of platonic relationships, I realized that there are so many. I would still love to see more YA books where the characters don’t have to end up together too, but it’s nice to see such a variety of relationships on the page.
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
1) Cory and Shawn from Boy Meets World
This is the one and only example on my list that really has nothing to do with books at all, but I didn’t think I could make a list like this without mentioning one of the strongest best friend pairs of my childhood. Cory and Shawn were lifelong best friends who, despite their differences, stuck with each other through everything. Even as they grew up, moved through school and college, and into their adult lives, their friendship remains as strong as ever. I also have to mention the special bond they both have with their teacher/principal/Cory’s neighbour Mr. Feeny, one of the most brilliantly written mentor characters I’ve ever seen. Although it’s a little weird how he is with them as their teacher literally every year that they are in school, it lets them form a unique and strong teacher-student relationship, to the point where Mr. Feeny is pretty much family.
2) The Addams Family
Gomez and Morticia’s relationship is definitely iconic in its own right, but the family as a whole is an amazing example of platonic relationships as well. This one at least somewhat ties into books because there is The Addams Family: An Evilution, which collects all of the original comics by Charles Addams, letting us see how the family evolved over the years. All of the members of the Addams family fully support and accept each other as they are, and genuinely enjoy spending time together. They have many shared interests and welcome other people, including their many relatives, to join in with them. They are tolerant of each others’ differences, and always willing to help each other out when needed. It is one of the few fictional families that really isn’t dysfunctional, no matter how weird they are.
3) The Scooby Gang from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I’m thinking mostly of the TV series to be honest, but it could also apply to the graphic novel series as well. There are several romantic relationships within the group, but I love the platonic friendships that also exist between everyone. I especially love the strong friendship between Willow and Xander, who are both protective of each other and look out for each other’s best interests (aside from the brief time they considered dating each other). They have such a great history together, and I love how we get to hear small snippets of it such as Xander’s Snoopy dance, the infamous “yellow crayon” story, etc. What’s also interesting about this group is how even characters who start out hating them often end up being a part of the group, including Cordelia, Anya, and especially Spike. The gang helps Buffy in her many battles against vampires and demons and do what they can to support her, but it is the character dynamics of the show that really caught my attention.
4) The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Again, going for an obvious choice here, but there are so many amazing relationships in this series that I couldn’t choose just one to focus on. There’s the Marauders, Dumbledore’s Army, the trio, Ginny & Luna, and the Weasley family in general, just to name a few. One of the things I love most about this series is the characters and the way their dynamics grow and change as the characters do. Harry, Ron and Hermione as a group of friends all influence each other. Neville grows and changes a lot through his friendships with the others, and so does Ginny. The Weasleys are one of the most amazing fictional families I have ever read because of how close-knit they are. Even when they irritate each other at times, it’s clear that it is all out of love and they still care and respect each other. Dumbledore’s Army is another unique set of dynamics that mean such different things to different people, especially Luna. Although there is a lot of emphasis on romances toward the end of the series, I thought most of them evolved quite naturally from a basis in a strong platonic friendship first.
5) The Baudelaire siblings in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
This is another series that I mention a lot, but it was another childhood staple for me. The Baudelaires are left in the horrible situation of suddenly becoming orphans with only each other to depend on, as they are shuffled repeatedly from one guardian to the next, many of whom put them in dangerous or at least uncomfortable environments. Through it all, the three children love, support and take care of each other and become a strong family all on their own. I especially love how each of the siblings have their own separate and complementary talents, and they often take the time to specifically acknowledge each other’s strengths and show their appreciation. Considering the amount of stress these three are under, it’s amazing that they rarely if ever take it out on each other. I’m sure at least some of that has to do with the fact that their siblings are now all they have so it would be especially risky to damage that relationship, but it is still a great example of a very strong sibling bond.
6) Katniss and Haymitch/Cinna from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
When most people think of The Hunger Games, they tend to focus mostly on the Katniss-Gale-Peeta triangle, but I was also very impressed by the amazing relationships between Katniss and her two main mentors. Haymitch, as a former Hunger Games winner himself, is one of the few people in Katniss’s life who can truly understand what she is going through as she volunteers to become a tribute in the games. I’ll admit I didn’t really like his character much as the beginning because of the alcohol, but once I started to see the bond he had with Katniss, he really grew on me. Cinna was Katniss’s stylist who played a major role in Katniss’s popularity in the competition and as a rebel leader. Their bond was completely unexpected both to me and to Katniss herself, who didn’t expect her stylist to be much more than a shallow hair-and-makeup person, so the bond they form is that much more special.
7) The Raven Boys and Blue Sargent from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
I just finished this series a couple of days ago, and it was amazing! One of the things that really stood out to me was the friendships between the four boys, and between Blue and the rest of the group. I especially loved the friendship that developed between Blue and Ronan, and the way they both casually teased each other by the end of the series. I loved how Blue developed separate and different bonds with each of the boys, and also how the boys themselves had such interesting and dynamic friendships with each other. I loved the interactions they all had as a group, but I also loved the individual scenes between any pair of characters. I also have to give special mention to Blue’s relationship with her mother and the other female relatives that she lived with, since it was definitely a unique and very different way of growing up, but it was obvious that it was a very loving and supportive family.
8) Rhysand’s Inner Circle from A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas
I think this group really became major players in the second book in the series, but they are some of the strongest characters I’ve read both individually and as a group. This is another case where there are some potentially non-platonic feelings among some of the characters, but ultimately as a whole group, I loved the way they all helped and protected each other. Amren, Morrigan, Cassian and Azriel were each strong and compelling characters in their own rights, and it was so interesting to read scenes that involved them all. I especially loved how the series allowed us to get a look back into Rhysand’s past to see how he had met and befriended Cassian and Azriel, and to see the lengths that he was willing to go to keep his friends safe. It seems to be a common theme that I tend to love very character-driven series, and this one was no exception.
9) Karou and Zuzana from the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series by Laini Taylor
Zuzana herself is part of one of the most interesting couples I’ve read all year, but her friendship with Karou also stands out. It was amazing to see the friendship between them and how that friendship survives so many revelations about Karou’s life and the hidden world she inhabits. Zuzana is extremely loyal and open to accepting Karou the way she is, and even to explore some parts of her world herself. She is also open to Karou’s other friends and easily befriends them as well. It is also clear that her friendship is integral to Karou, since Karou’s life begins to improve again once she is reunited with her friends. Zuzana brought a lot of light to what otherwise could have been a very dark second book, and I think that really shows her role in Karou’s life as well.
10) Bang by Barry Lyga
*Some may consider this spoilers, but I’ve done my best to keep it vague. It is also not the main plotline of the book*
I have to give this book credit as one of the only YA contemporary books I’ve read featuring an opposite-sex pair where the relationship remains platonic, even though both people are interested in the opposite sex. In this book, a friendship forms between two of the characters, including one who is new in town, based on a shared interest in creating a Youtube channel together. Although one of the characters ultimately confesses their feelings for the other, they are not returned and the pair are able to overcome this and continue their friendship anyway. It was great to see this in the story because it is realistic. In most YA books, as soon as someone’s feelings are confessed, it’s almost inevitable that the other person will like them back or eventually realize that they do. It was great to see another side to it, where people are able to admit they have feelings and have those feelings not be returned, and still manage to remain good friends (even if it is awkward at first).
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