Shipping: (verb) To completely lose your shit via emotional investment in a fictional character’s romantic relationship(s).
An essential part for me in many fandom experiences is, perhaps predictably, the romance. A true fangirl’s gotta have her OTP. Until quite recently, I had successfully endorsed the ‘right’ ship. I would preen to myself: Oh, how well I understand authorial intent, how could opposers be so blind and obtuse. I sneered when Harmony sank (then pretended not to see when JKR revised her opinion). I rolled my eyes when my friends shipped Gale/Katniss, he barely had 10 pages of page time! Instead I clung to Peeta/Katniss and its god awful ship name. I was young and arrogant. Please forgive my past-self!
Then karma bit me in the ass and I got knocked off my high horse. Here are a few instances where I have been thwarted:
- The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo: Mal is so boring. Sorry not sorry. Alina isn’t much better, but her character certainly improves when she is around the Darkling. When I realised that the Darkling was never going to amount to more than the resident baddie, I bailed and never looked back.
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas: Rhysand >>> Tamlin. I based this on my engagement in the book: when Tamlin was at the foreground during the first half: snooze central. But when Rhysand appeared and played a prominent role, I woke up and bumped this read from a 2 to a 3.5 stars rating. I need the other half of the pairing to make one another interesting!
- An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: To be perfectly frank, Helene is the reason I am writing this post. Elias had a history with her, she understands him, would sacrifice her entire life for him… but destiny seems to be pushing hard for Elias/Laia. Helene doesn’t even get a PoV, but I adore her from what I saw through Elias’ eyes: always strong, always underestimated. She has to make difficult decisions in this book, but she walks away keeping her heart in the end. How could I not love that? How could I not ship it? So I was shocked when I was asked point blank by someone who disliked Helene why I liked her -it’s one of the first instances I’ve felt so strongly about a secondary character.
- A Song of Ice and Fire by GRRM: I disrupt this primarily YA book blog to mention one of my all time OTP: Jaime/Brienne. I love them because they’re the classic Beauty and the Beast narrative: Jaime is physically beautiful but a monster by most accounts. Brienne is no Belle, but she’s one of the only fundamentally good characters in the series. When they collide, there’s chemistry, banter, they change one another’s way of thinking. They’re on a mutual path of redemption. He entrusts her with Oathkeeper. They’re the best when they’re together, the reason why I love A Storm of Swords so much. But since GRRM’s favourite pairing is Character/Death-or-Permanent-Maiming, plus the last scene Jaime had with Brienne does not look promising, I am headed for a world of pain. WHY MUST YOU TRAMPLE ON MY HEART GRRM?!
The problem with shipping the non-endgame pairing (aside from the fact that you’re never gonna be pleased with the ending), is all the painful reading in between the line. Was that interaction intended to be romantic, or am I just a delusional fangirl? Is there hope for the couple, or am I just lying to myself? You’re always doubting, and it’s a horrible feeling to have. I am only human, I just want to be right, OK! But sometimes, when the shipping gets started – right and wrong does not matter – you just feel those feels and hope that you can find like-minded friends to join you. So, I’m sorry Team Gale, Team Cloti, Harmony, and all the others I have laughed at in my folly. I understand how you feel now.
Are you shipping any doomed pairings? Share the pain!