frenemies

Hey Jude(as): A Definitive Ranking of YA Frenemies

While I love to despise an obvious villain, there’s something deliciously disturbing about frenemies in literature. Chameleons of sorts, these pals with murky motives often drive the action of a story—with we, the bystanders, emotionally disoriented until a light-bulb moment unmasks their true nature. 

Today, I thought I’d give these players a shout-out. They run the gamut from criminal to spineless to just plain irritating (read: #3), but in all cases, they know how to stir the pot. (Or plot.)

Swooners, I present YA’s most memorable frenemies:

5. Jill from the Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

For a peripheral character (note: homegirl has no last name), Jill still managed to do some damage. Remember when she accused Mr. Everett of sexual harassment just because her homework was boring? From the early-onset superiority complex to her gold-digging grand finale, this chick was the epitome of sketchy.

4. Ruby from Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

Poor Ruby. She’s the Kristin Cavallari of this love triangle. There’s nothing innately evil about her, but juxtaposed with Gideon, the more down-to-earth contender for Kyle’s heart, it’s just plain hard to root for her. (Like, Genie-forced-to-cheer-for-Jafar hard. Don’t act like you don’t remember that scene.)

3. Cho Chang from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Listen, I was on board for an inter-house romance between Harry and a hipster Ravenclaw gal. But Cho Chang? She rejects Harry for pretty-boy Cedric (R.I.P.) and rats out the DA the second someone threatens her. Wow. God forbid you get a detention, Cho. Accio anyone else.

2. Arden from All the Feels by Danika Stone

The sorority stunner who snags this novel’s heartthrob is excessively perky and saccharine. Imagine the Energizer bunny making out with the dude you’re into—and that’s what our protagonist, Liv, has to endure. Sure, Arden’s “nice” in the way that Cameron Diaz is to Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding (enough said), but let’s not forget how aggressively she pushes Liv to ask out another guy—citing their friendship and Liv’s happiness as motives. LOL, okay. 

1. Lila Fowler from the Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal

Perhaps the poster child of YA frenemies is Lila Fowler, who’s described—in multiple books, I may add—as co-protagonist Jessica Wakefield’s greatest friend and greatest enemy. Uh…what? So these are BFFs who low-key hate each other 50% of the time? What kind of nonsense Gossip Girl world is this? Now, Lila’s not all bad—she definitely tackles some hard-hitting issues throughout the series—but her general ennui and disdain for Jessica makes me wonder, why not just make like Gretchen Weiners and join a new clique? Jessica’s kind of a dud, anyway.

Oh, frenemies. If it’s not clear, I quite enjoy all of these characters. They’re like the unpredictable folk we stalk on Facebook for mere entertainment, trying to figure out what their next move will be. A drunken rant? An arrest? A shotgun wedding? Both in real life and on the page, it’s a bizarre world these frenemies create—and luckily for us, we get to simply recline and watch the madness unfold.  

Share some of your favorite YA frenemies in the comments!  

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Kelsey M.

Publicist for Swoon Reads. LA native. Not ashamed to know all things Kardashian.

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