Friday Rants: Let’s Hear It for the Good Boys!

March 8, 2013 / 17 Comments / Uncategorized

Friday Rants is a new YA discussion series I’m starting here on Mostly YA Lit. It’s a discussion post, but it will start with a question or idea that’s been brewing in my mind for awhile, and I can’t get rid of. Thus, the rant! Come discuss with me and let’s get some of these issues out in the open!

Look, I get it. Bad boys are sexy. They smolder, they seem dangerous, and if you’re the one person who can change them…that’s something special.

Jordan Catalano, ultimate bad boy. NOT good for you!

Lately I’ve noticed a pretty crazy trend of bad boys in YA fiction. I know part of this stems from the whole love triangle thing that seems to exist in a lot of YA books – there’s a good boy and a bad one, and the girl protagonist has to choose – but what bothers me is that the bad boy is often the one chosen. He gets redeemed, you see another side to him, and in the end, he’s really just a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

But ladies, in real life, guys aren’t like that. I know that’s kind of a dumb thing to say, because we all know we’re reading fiction, but let’s think about this for a minute. People aren’t like that. Yes, in relationships, people change. If it’s a good relationship, that change is often for the better. But I really, truly believe that at our cores, we are the people that we project to the world.

Yes, people who seem mysterious or have tough exteriors can surprise us. But a tough exterior is different from someone who constantly manipulates, who lies, who makes bad decisions and then blames a bad upbringing or home life or just bad luck.

Edward Cullen is NOT good for you

Ladies, you do not want to date that guy. If he acts like he understands you, then steps on other people, that is a reflection of how he will one day act with you. 

In the end, don’t we all really want the guy that’s always there, the guy that is steady and doesn’t surprise (at least not in temperament – little gifts and romantic notes are awesome), who comforts you when you’re hurt and who doesn’t cause all the drama? The guy that isn’t a mystery in your relationship, but who you’ll always learn more about because he’s just an interesting person?

A bad boy does not automatically have depth. And a good boy is not automatically shallow. A good boy can have layers, and depth, just by being him.

I’m not saying all good boys are perfect. No boy actually is. In fact, some good boys are just idiots who haven’t realized that the perfect girl is right under their noses. But I am saying that we need to raise our standards of what we should want out of our relationships, literary or otherwise.

In books, I understand that there needs to be conflict. But man, does it always have to be the bad boy who gets reformed by the girl? Why can’t the comflict come from the girl, or, I don’t know, the actual plot?

Peeta is sweet and loving. AND he’s sexy. See?

I’m here, and I’m arguing for the good boys. These are the guys I go for in real life and these are the guys I want in the stories I read.

For the love of God, people, take a look at the good boys!

I’ve compiled a list of good boys in books who are just as awesome as the bad. It’s no coincidence that these are all some of my favourite books. Tell me you don’t love these guys.

1. Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
2. Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door (Stephanie Perkins)
3. Prince Maxon from The Selection (Kiera Cass)

A good boy like Nick listens and laughs with you

4. Nick in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Rachel Cohn & David Levithan)
5. Brian from The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
6. Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
7. Adam Eddington from A Ring of Endless Light (Madeleine L’Engle)
8. James from Unbreak My Heart (Melissa Walker)

Harry & Ron will always have your back!

9. & 10. Harry and Ron from Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling)

The very fact that I can’t think of that many of these just reiterates  that there need to be better and more good guys in YA. It’s not enough to just say, “Oh, girls will learn as they get older” or “Oh, this is just in books.” I think we all need a reminder that good boys can be sexy, and bad boys are often just that: bad for you, and toxic in relationships.

Let’s discuss: Are you a bad boy lover or do you like the good guys? Do you feel like there’s a danger in having so many bad boys in fiction? Are there good boys you would add to this list?

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17 responses to “Friday Rants: Let’s Hear It for the Good Boys!

  1. Oh my goodness, brilliant post! It drives me up the wall that even in books, nice guys seem to finish last. Especially when the "bad boy" is such a manipulative and verging on psychotic douche!
    I'd love to add Ed from Graffiti Moon even though he's not particularly squeaky clean, he's honest and he doesn't mess you around.

  2. Love this post! Peeta Mellark Is my favourite fictional male, I love his honesty and the way he doesn't want to change. I think that is the perfect example, because think about it if your reading as a boy, who do they have to look up too? Bad boys are no-good. Augustus Waters is another of my favourites, but why does it always happens to the good guys? And Ethan Wate from Beautiful Creatures would be someone I'd add-definitely!
    Fancy taking a look at my blog too?

  3. Stop having all of these awesome discussions!!! I want to talk about ALL of them. Lol.
    I agree. It's funny because I love a bad boy (most of the time anyways) in fiction but have NO patience for them outside of school because THEY'RE NOT SUBJECT TO CHANGE JUST BECAUSE WE LOVE THEM. We a guy says he's bad for you…he's telling you the truth and not putting on the star-crossed lovers schtick for you.
    I hate the expression "good guys finish last" because it's not the good guys that finish last. I'd totally date Peeta and Harry.

  4. I love good guys in both real life and in fiction. Heck, I married a good guy. I am glad that you wrote this post because I have been thinking the same thing for a long time now. Every time I read about one of those "reformed" bad boys the cynic in me thinks that it is only a matter of time before that boy reverts to his former bad ways after the end of the book. There have been very few times when I truly bought the redemption, and never has it been just because the guy met *the one*. It always involved some self reflection and something else that didn't involve *the one* at all.

  5. I like the occasional bad boy but for the most part, I really do love the good guys. They're the kind of guy I would want, and they're the kind I would want my future niece and daughters to want. I love Ron and Harry – they're so GOOD. They're loyal and caring and they'd do anything for the people they care about – those are the kinds of boys we need to see more of. I agree with quite a few on your list (haven't read some of those books yet), but definitely Cricket – what a sweetheart. I was also going to say Jase from My Lift Next Door, so I'm glad Kristan mentioned him. He's one of my favourite YA boys, and he's super sexy without having to be a bad boy. Hopefully more authors will clue in to this and we'll start seeing more sweet, kind boys in books.

    ~Marie @ Ramblings of a Daydreamer

  6. I get really sick of it myself. I love a bad boy, believe me. They are awesome. Guys like Noah Shaw and Adrian Ivashkov. Awesome bad boys! BUT, I like a genuinely good guy, too. And I don't really understand why you can't have a love triangle with two truly good guys. Still a love triangle. Still a really hard decision to make. So, yeah, I am ranting with you!

  7. Interesting post. I agree about the bad boy often gets redeemed in the end and that in real life guys aren't like that. I'm not one to go looking for a Patch Cipriano or a Christian Grey or a Travis Maddox in real life. I guess that's why I tend to read more of the books featuring them than of good guys. Because it's fiction. It's a guilty pleasure for me. And you know what? I'm happy that that's where they are…in a book. But, yeah, it does get tiring for it to always be Bad Boy:1 Good Guy:0 Maybe the tide will turn and authors start writing of the heroines picking good guys over bad boys =)

  8. I actually really love this post! I agree that in YA books, the girls always end up going for the bad guy! Rarely is it the god guy. Honestly, I would love to see that change. In real life, I'll admit I am drawn to the occasional bad boy, but it's always just a little crush, because I know that chances are he will not make a miraculous change as the bad boys so often do in YA lit. Good boys FTW!! 😀

  9. I get your points, Tiff and mostly I agree with you…but, but, but…. my IRL romance is with a redeemed bad boy so I am a little biased! haha and he actually turned out to be a pretty sweet and nice guy…surprisingly. Although I did get a lot of heat about my choice from the grown-ups…

    I DO draw the line with abuse and violence, though and I get that the bad boy trope comes in different forms.

    I agree that the bad boys WHO are really BAD shouldn’t be adored or even glorified. And sometimes, YA books tend to do this and think that it’s okay. Edward is not a good boyfriend material and I still can’t understand WHY a lot of readers love him. AAAND with ACoTaR and ACoMaF out….I’m not sure these books are sending the right message.

  10. Niomee

    Ok. I’ll have to say, most time I prefer bad boys. I mean, I would NEVER date them in real life, and most times I can’t even get why the hell the heroine does, but man, they are just my kind of character. If I chose a character to date, it would be a good boy, but I’m not gonna get anyone, so whatever. Seriously, I like darker characters so much sometimes my favorite one in a series is the damn villain. But most times is, like, the anti-hero temporally helping the good guys or something close to it.
    In another note, yes, I think the heroine choosing the bad boy is really bad. First, because you get like “WHAT THE FLIPPING F**K THIS DUDE IS A BASTARD WHATA THINK U DOIN” and that kinda screws with the story. Second: “you know, actually I’m a bastard with everyone cuz my dad beat me when I was a kid” I won’t even get started. Sometimes it seems like the author wants it to be ridiculous. Third: there’s always some (many, actually) teenage girl who has no common sense and starts to think that’s the perfect hellationship (ok, that sucks, sorry) and she HAS to aplly it in real life or she will be forever alone. Which is not that bad. I don’t absolutely understand why the female protagonist always has to choose one of the guys. If there is a love triangle, she probably doesn’t love none of them that much. And sometimes they are both trash, so why don’t she stay single? Or wait for a better option to show up in the future? Or end up with a girl, for a change, because all of this love triangle books are so heteronormative. I would like to see that.

    • Niomee

      (I meant that it’s not bad ending up forever alone, sorry.
      Teens thinking that abuse is an ok model of relationship is terrible, obviously)

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