When it comes to book, there are few things that could lure me in faster than well-developed friendships between the characters. Be it a budding friendship, or life long friendship I’m instantly more excited for any book that is said to have great friends in it.
Because of this, I decided to twist today’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) topic a tad bit – instead of listing characters I’d love to be friends with, I’m going to highlight friends and friend-groups I loved in books.
Want by Cindy Pon has, hands down, one of the best friend groups I’ve ever read about, and that’s no exaggeration. Even though the novel itself is spectacular, it is the awesome group dynamics that steal the show, and make me go all: 😍🥰. If you liked the crew in Six of Crows, you’ll love the Want gang, who function pretty much like a family despite not being related to each other. They have a deep love and appreciation for one another even though they are all so damned different from each other. I loved each and every one of them, but I did have a favorite – Lingyi, the purple haired, hacker boss of the gang who cares so much about everyone in her little family (she’s pretty much the “mom” in the gang.) It’s just all very beautiful and well-written and complex, and ASKQIJLKS you’ll want to experience this for yourself.
Jennifer Mathieu is one of my all time favorite authors, in part because she always does such a thorough job of portraying relationships between her characters – the happy parts, the sad parts… it’s all there. When Vivian starts a feminist revolution to fight against the rampant sexism she and her fellow female students experience, the responses she receives vary. Her new friend Lucy, coming from a more progressive high school and city, immediately becomes a proud and loud activist. Meanwhile Vivian’s best friend, Claudia, has difficulties when it comes to standing up for herself and others, and she feels uncomfortable challenging the sexism in their school, and even downplays it on occasions. You could say that Viv and Lucy click instantly when it comes to Viv’s activism, meanwhile there’re some conflict between Claudia and Viv over it. Even though Claudia frustrated me at times, she was such a valuable character that developed and evolved throughout the novel, and learnt so much. The friendship between these three girls wasn’t always easy, but it was strong at all times, and it was an absolute pleasure to see their patience and support for each other.
I feel like people tend to concentrate on the romance part of, well, romances, but they usually have a lot more to offer than that, which is the case in the Girl Meets Duke series by Tessa Dare. The Duchess Deal introduced us to three incredible women – Alexandra, Nicola and Penny – who become friends with the heroine, Emma, right after meeting her. Their support and friendship helped Emma a lot during her novel, and this awesomeness continued in the second book, The Governess Game, as well. Their conversations tend to be so entertaining and are filled with banter and snark, because despite being incredibly close, these ladies couldn’t be more different from each other. They all have their quirks and distinct personalities, and it is because of this that they are so entertaining and captivating to read about. I can hardly wait to read the third book, now featuring animal-loving Penny as its main character.
Oh man, I should 1000% reread Uprooted, because I forgot so much of the plot. 😭 But what I remember very clearly is that I absolutely adored the way the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia was portrayed. Novik dared to delve deep into this friendship, into its complexities; including its negatives and its positives, and did so in a beautiful way. The girls’ friendship wasn’t picture perfect- in their situation, how could it have been? – but it stood strong through every single obstacle they encountered, and their love for each other remained pure, no matter the things they went through. This was one of the best, most genuine portrayals of friendship I’ve ever seen, and I’m so pleased I had the chance to read it.
While I’ve always felt like the Bloodlines series went downhill after the third book, I still have so much love for the characters. And indeed, part of the reason why I found the final novel so underwhelming was because most of the squad was missing from it, or barely appeared. When the series starts most of the characters barely know each other, and the rest haven’t even met each other – seeing them getting used to having to act like a family is an absolute delight. There are a lot of clashes and disagreements, especially because keeping up with the romantic relationships of the supporting cast is, well, hard (not in a “why all the drama” way, rather in a “oh, these teens are charming, I am entertained” way.) Yet, at the end of the day, they do became a family, and will literally fight to death to save each other. IT IS BEAUTIFUL, I tell you.
The second and third novels in the London Celebrities series have such a fantastic example of female friendship that I had to share it with you today. Lily (MC of Pretty Face) and Trix (MC of Making Up) are long time best friends whose relationship took some hits when Trix’s emotionally abusive boyfriend tried to tear them apart. While Trix is out of this relationship when Pretty Face kicks off, the effects of it can still be felt. Lily has forgiven her friend, and loves her just as much as ever before, but Trix still feels terrible about what happened, and has a hard time forgiving herself. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a nuanced portrayal of what an abusive relationship can do to someone’s friendships – we usually only get the friends leaving – so this was simply exceptional to read about.
I loved The Darkest Minds trilogy from start to finish, but what captured my attention the most was the incredible friendship between the main characters. Ruby, Liam, Chubs and Zu form one of the best squads I’ve ever read about, and I loved to see the ways their relationship changes and evolves throughout the series. Entertaining friend-groups sometimes aren’t given enough emotional depth, but that wasn’t the case in TDM. The characters go through traumatic things which influence their friendship and their personalities, and add a lot of maturity and emotion to the text. Seeing them opening up to each other, or working conflicts and misunderstandings out was a delight to read about. I haven’t yet read the fourth novel, but I’m super-stoked for it, especially given that it takes place years after the end of the trilogy.
Girl Made of Stars is one of the most emotional, painful books I’ve ever read, as it deals with sexual assault and rape. Mara and her twin, Owen, are incredibly close, so she is shocked and mortified when Owen is accused of raping his girlfriend, Hannah, who is also a close friend of Mara’s. Immediately Mara finds herself stuck between the expectations of her parents – who want her to support Owen – and her own sense of right and wrong. Even worse, Mara’s own sexual assault trauma surfaces violently, which is something she’s never shared with anyone. Girl Made of Stars is a heavy book, but the friendship and support between Hannah, Mara and Charlie was fucking beautiful.
My love for the Cyclone novels, and for Courtney Milan, knows no bounds. Obviously, part of the reason for that is the romance, but there’s something more in Trade Me and Hold Me, the two novels published in the series. Every single part of these books is so fleshed out, so realistic and well-written, including the friendship between Tina (MC of Trade Me) and Maria (MC of Maria). There are tons of tiny instances that really show how deep their love and support and respect for each other runs. It really is sometimes the smallest things, the smallest acknowledgements and presents that can make someone’s day, and that was definitely shown here.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes has done an exceptionally good job of utilizing the found family trope in The Naturals series. The five main characters have been discovered by the FBI, who offered them an opportunity to use their outstanding skills – e.g. being able to tell when someone is lying. Cassie, a natural at reading people, decides to take the plunge and move into the house that was set up for others like her. There she meets four other teens – Sloane, Lia, Michael and Dean – and realizes that not everyone is happy to have a new girl joining their ranks. The Naturals is exceptional in the way it slowly builds up this tiny little found family, all of whom have their all problems and all of whom are very different from each other.
Have you read any of these novels? Were you impressed by the friendships we mentioned? Who are some friends/friend-groups you’re always excited to talk about? Or would want to join? Share, share! We’d love to hear your recs.