I was talking to a friend who’s a big reader, too, the other day and we came upon the discussion of romantic interests in several YA novels. I don’t even remember what books we were discussing but one thing became clear: she would always pick the bad boy while I rooted for the good guy.
And if you’re more into girls, I think this applies to them as well, though I think these two boy tropes (stock characters?) are more firmly established than bad/good girls or at least we love both of these while bad girls are rarely positive characters (hmm, there’s a discussion post somewhere in there…). I ended up listing mostly characters from YA though I suspect I could extend it to adult romances/fiction if I had the time.
Now, I think you know which types of characters I mean: THE BAD BOY runs hot and cold and is often rude but is very handsome, passionate, and ultimately madly in love with the heroine. He is usually bad for her and tells her that repeatedly, but cannot stay away (even if she’d be better off without him and he’s endangering her life – but hey, that’s love for you).
He is Raffe from Angelfall, Mycroft from Every Breath, Daemon from Obsidian, Cal from Book of Shadows, Edward from Twilight, Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle, Will from Clockwork Angel, Ignifex from Cruel Beauty, Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility, Four from Divergent and Jess from Gilmore Girls.
THE GOOD GUY knows how she takes her coffee, is often grumpy but never downright nasty, holds her when she cries and (this just ticks me off to no end) sometimes has to wait patiently for the heroine to
pull her head out of her butt decide he’s the better choice. He’s shy and doesn’t know how to go about telling her he loves her. He has a heart of gold and a great moral compass but isn’t above making tough decisions for the right cause. He may be just as mysterious about his life but doesn’t push the heroine away rudely. He’s strong and good-looking in a quieter way (you’ll find much less sharply cut cheekbones and sky-blue eyes here, that’s for sure) and he smolders rather than burns (can you tell I’m biased at all?).
He is Ziri from Days of Blood and Starlight (and also Mik, Taylor writes lovely good guys), Perrin from The Wheel of Time, Peeta from Hunger Games, Kell from A Darker Shade of Magic, Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility, Sam from Shiver, Chaol from Throne of Glass, Brand from Half the World, Jem from Clockwork Angel, Dean from Gilmore Girls, Park from Eleanor & Park, Sarkan from Uprooted, Sam from The Accident Season.
What I want to point out, most of all, is that while I like reading about bad boys sometimes, though they make me roll my eyes and cringe, I would always, without a doubt choose a good guy in real life. I mean – I already have, but THINK about it. Yes, bad boys are thrilling and exciting and swoony, but do you really, really want to deal with all that drama and angst in a long-term relationship? And I’m not saying that I disliked the bad boy characters I listed – I just sometimes wished they treated the girl better.
Ok so I know that I’m speaking from a very mature viewpoint of a 28-year-old, married woman (omg when did that happen??) but I don’t think my tastes were that much different in high school. Sure, I had a crush on a bad boy or two (Did I ever tell you all the guys I ever dated were musicians? Including my husband, that is. Not that all musicians are bad boys!) but I really preferred guys who had their head on straight.
This partiality for upstanding men (*snort*) translates to my love for good guys in literature, too. And let me tell you, I often want to shake the heroine and tell her that she should really look at the quieter dude because he’s a better choice for sure. But then they’re teenagers – prone to making bad decisions and being attracted to new, shiny things (and bad boys usually are that).
What’s your take on this VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION? Good or bad (guys or girls)?
And do you find that most YA romantic interests can be stuffed into either category?
I’d love to hear from you! :)