24/03/2014

Bad Boys – Are They Yesterday's News? {The Birdie Musings}


For a long time bad boys have been all the rage. How many girls didn't swoon over the potentially murderous Edward? Who didn't love the dangerous and mysterious Patch? Or Alex Fuentes's accent?

But now it seems a new age is upon us. It is The Dawn of The Good Guy *cue dramatic, foreboding music*.

Authors like Sarah Dessen have always lobbied for the nice guys, with Dexter, Wes and Eli stealing all of our breaths. With Dessen's characters, we've been able to see the angst and depth normally reserved for just the bad boys, sneak it's way into the personalities of the boys next door. We've been able to experience romantic tension on a healthy level, with character relationships forming from real, lengthy interactions, rather than smouldering looks.

So did the dark pasts and questionable intentions of bad boys simply exist to add more angst? And have we now outgrown those so-called bad boys?

There are still books out there where bad guys are prominent; his smirking and shady past too much of an allure for our main characters *cough* Shatter me and Cruel Beauty *cough*. But it seems like those novels are a dime a dozen these days.

With books like The Statistical Probability introducing us to the charming, ever-smiling Oliver, The Fault in Our Stars letting Augustus take over our hearts, and My Life Next Door's Jase Garett swooping in, the good guys seem to be kicking their bad boy counterparts out of the spotlight.

And the genre most popular for the mysterious bad boys – Dystopia – is even changing its tune. Article 5 and the literal boy next door Chase, Cinder and the literal prince charming Kai, Incarnate and the sensitive musician Sam, and Under The Never Sky and the fiercely loyal Perry. Dystopia is ending its long-term relationship with bad boys and jumping on the good guy bandwagon.

So, what does this mean?

I think it's great that YA and contemporary authors are finally listening to their audience. The toxic relationships that so many of us cringed at; filled with violent outbursts, overly possessive love interests, and a lot of tears and confusion, are now being swept to the side in favour of boys who know how to treat a lady!

With YA's biggest audience being teenagers, I can't say this doesn't make me smile. For a long time the bad boy has set a pretty horrible example of what kind of guy girls should go for. Yes, Edward is good-looking and mysterious. But he's also a stalker who watches Bella sleep and told her he wanted to kill her. Perspective, guys, that's all I'm sayin'.

With books like Fifty Shades of Grey – which I think is so anti-feminist – advocating violent relationships and implying that being passionate and overbearing are the same things (they're not), it's nice to see more genuine, sweet boys stealing the hearts of our leading ladies.

I don't know about you, but I'm completely over the mysterious bad boy thing. Now, I'm much more likely to swoon over the happy-go-lucky, funny guy who shows our main character how to enjoy herself.

What about you guys? Do you think bad boys are a thing of the past? Do they still make you swoon? And do you think the growing popularity in good guys is as awesome as I do?



 



Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart. Stalk her on twitter, instagram or goodreads.



36 comments:

  1. I don't know. Bad guys never really made me swoon in the first place. I'd rather read about a cute adorable guy that is just too cute and makes you want to date him yourself. I don't think it's a thing of the past, as there are a lot of people that do still enjoy reading about them. Totally acceptable. I'm glad there are so many different books that you can choose what you want to read about :)

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    1. It's definitely good to have some variety! That's one of the things I love about books – there really is something for everyone :D

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  2. Patch was one of my first crushes. He was sooooo swoon-worthy in my eyes. I do like him still, but not as much as I used to. Ooooh, Cruel Beauty has a "bad boy"? Hmm. Haven't read that one yet, but the hardcover on my shelf is extremely alluring and I can't wait to read it. Heh, Oliver and Jase are so freaking adorbs and come on! Perry is my THE book boyfriend in YA lit. He's simply amazing. I'm glad that the good guys are finally getting their chance! Yes, I feel the same. We've been begging for good guys as love interest for so long and it's so good to see that we have good guys to show how a lady is to be treated. Exactly! I agree with you 100%. Same--Cander from The Distance Between Us, Trevor from Pivot Point, St. Claire and Cricket? They're all so fantastic and nice and sweet and incredibly swoon-worthy and I wouldn't want them any other way. Bring on the good guys, I say :) Great discussion, Allie!

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    1. Ohh I forgot about Xander from The Distance. HE WAS SO SWOON-WORTHY. I'm totally backing the good, solid, funny guys over the mystery boys now. They're just so adorable and sweet and YEP I could read about them allll day!

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  3. I've never been a fan of the bad boy for pretty much all of the reasons you talk about. I wonder if it's a trend in books to go away from that, and then will it swing back?

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    1. Ehhh I hope not. I actually think bad boys were the 'it' thing, and now literature is swaying away from having just one archetypal kind of guy and is branching out and exploring all the different options. Bad boys are slightly boring now, because it seems they're always exactly the same, whereas I find that good guys are varied and individual and all have different stories. It's a refreshing change!

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  4. Yes. They are (hopefully). The End.

    Patch? Hush, Hush, right? I've never read the series, but heard all the lovely things from a friend who has, and I just RAN FAR AWAY FROM THEM.

    But, ugh, so over them. There's some every now and then that I love but I really just do get annoyed most of the time. Having a dark past really doesn't make them a "bad boy" it just makes them troubled, and I prefer troubled because it does add depth to the character, unlike when it's used to make them more appealing as a "bad boy" <- Seriously, the term makes me cringe for some reason. But, "troubled" also doesn't make them a "bad boy" either, there's still good guys with troubled pasts, too. It's definitely all about the way it's intended and written, but I'm so glad that a lot of ones lately have good guy love interests. Just so much more fun and less annoying to read.

    Oh Oliver, how I loved thee <3 Waaaay underrated.

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    1. Hush, Hush was one of the first YA books I read. My friend at uni loved it and so borrowed me the first book and I really enjoyed it. But I read a few excerpts again recently and just . . . I didn't like it at all. It's weird how our tastes can change! Patch went from swoon-worthy, to suddenly seeing really cliche.

      Agreed – you can definitely still have a goo guy with a troubled past (Sam in Shiver, for instance). But it seems that a lot of the time troubled pasts are used to excuse the behaviour of a bad boy. Like, ohh he had a shitty childhood. See, it's OKAY that he's a jackass :/

      With good guys a troubled past definitely adds depth and can really make a story. With bad boys I feel like a troubled past is just a plot device used to excuse someone's douchey behaviour

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  5. I agree, the problem with a lot of the whole bad guy books is that it makes the girls seem desperate for a man *cough Bella cough*. I would much rather read about Red and his bananas and how all he wanted to do was be nice to Clem or Caleb from Heartbeat who just longs to be in the presence of Emma (if you haven't read this one yet, you HAVE to).

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    1. I haven't read Heartbeat yet! I wanted to, but then a bunch of reviews scared me off, talking about how bratty Emma was :(

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  6. YES! I'm so over the bad guy phase that was dominant in young adult literature. I never understood the appeal of being mistreated in the name of love. I'm all about the nice guys, my recent fave is Levi from Fangirl. I loved him and all of his smiles! :)

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    1. YES TO THIS COMMENT! Why was it ever sexy to be treated like a piece of crap?! This is why I did not get the Fifty Shades thing. Ignoring whether the book was well-written or not; Christian was SUCH a dick. And girls were swooning over this 'bad boy'?! Why is it sexy to have someone mistreat you? it's fricken worrying the way people think.

      Levi from Fangirl <333 oh, he was perfect!

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  7. Oooh, a fun discussion.

    Here's the thing: they'll never totally leave. But I would agree that the current trend moves more towards the good guy. Who doesn't love the good guy? Maybe New Adult genres are influencing it with deeper emotional connections, or maybe trends are changing for now.

    But we all love those bad boys. They'll never totally go away.

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    1. See, I'd kind of have to disagree with you on NA books influencing it with deeper emotional connections. Most of the NA books I've read (though I admit, I haven't read many), seem to sacrifice a real emotional connection or even character interaction, in favour of lots of sex and kissing. Plus in NA, I'd say the bad boys are still pretty dominant (i.e. Jessica Sorensen's books).

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  8. I've definitely noticed the good guys taking over, which I don't mind in the least. Who doesn't swoon over Augustus?! Seriously! Buuut, I have to say, I still always pick the Bad Boy in the love triangle. For me, I don't really care whether the guy is presenting as a prince charming or a gutter snipe: I just want him to be respectful. Of his girlfriend. Of her family. THE WORKS. I don't like guys that are jerky and rude, nope nope, no matter if they drive a cool car or what. I'm still kind of swooning over Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door. THat was good vs. bad boy, but for me, it was a no brainer. The second the bad boy starts being rude....he's out. Fabulous discussion!!

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    1. It's a fine line though, isn't it? Because authors like to create angst and drama when the bad boy is involved, and that usually involves a lot of arguments or the bad guy being a jerk in someway and then being magically forgiven because THE POWER OF LOVE.

      In love triangles I think the bad boy usually gets the girl because the good guy is made to look boring in comparison. But, I really don't tend to read love triangles (like, ever), so I can't comment too much on that. I will cite Shatter Me as an example though – when Warner came on the scene he made it a point to constantly call Adam boring and act as though Adam being a nice guy meant that he was completely dull. Which seemed really random and silly to me.

      I do have to admit though, in movies and TV I tend to go for the bad boy. It's so hypocritical since I can't really stand them in literature anymore lol. I htink maybe because in movies and TV we get to see more of the character, so sometimes the jerky moments can be explained away? Who knows.

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  9. I can't really say that I was ever all about the bad boys. In real life (and in most books), I would definitely prefer the sweet, sensitive, and/or dorky type. One of my all time favorite books is The Perks of Being a Wallflower, so I like the "Charlie" type of guy...though hopefully not as emotionally damaged, because that's just heart-breaking.

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    1. Oh, Charlie! I haven't read the book, but I saw the movie and my heart shattered. Logan Lerman did such an amazing job, and when it all came out it was awful and soul-crushing.

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  10. Hmm, while I like a bad guy every once in a while, say, Roth from White Hot Kiss, but he has a reason, he is a demon, and while he has a lot of tendencies that aren't the best, he puts Layla first, and treats her well, so that isn't the overbearing type thing.

    But I do think that the lengthy discussions leading to emotional connection is a trend that I like very very much.

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    1. I've heard so much about White Hot Kiss recently! That book has been absolutely everywhere. I'll have to have a read and see if Roth can sway me back to bad boys ;)

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  11. I would have to agree with you! I just read Where She Went and completely obsessed over Adam. Authors definitely need to start listening to their audience.

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    1. Oh Adam!! I loved him in Where She Went. I'm so fricken excited for the If I Stay movie!

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  12. I agree with you - most YA novels give us the wrong idea of young love.

    I'd love to see more good guys :)

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    1. Looks like you might get your wish - they seem to be invading :P

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  13. While i like bad boys i'm not one to love boys ala Mr. Grey either. For me compleixity is a BIG thing i like in my male characters (girls too but i feel like BOY complexity is much more entertaining because i'm a girl) and in a lot of cases some major complex characters in a lot of YA books have been bad boys. I have noticed though that a good guys are slowly but surely becoming a bit more mysterouis and complex too though so i'm liking this change in YA right now but i think it's the whole complexity issue that really settles it for me.
    Lily

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    1. I agree - characters need to be complex and it does seem that complexity is normally reserved for bad boys. But, I honestly think more YA good guys are becoming equally as complex and that's why they're growing in popularity - they're becoming real, fleshed-out characters, instead of just boring alternatives.

      Like, I mentioned above, Dessen's good guys are always so complex and deep and mysterious, and yet they're still always good guys. Take Eli from Along for the Ride. There's A LOT going on there, and he definitely has some issues, but he alway stays firmly in the good guy zone.

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  14. Hmm...this is definitely an interesting outlook Allie! I haven't really thought about it, but, yes, the whole "bad boy craze" is definitely dying down! (Yeah!) I don't mind a bad boy once in a while, but during the past year or so, it's just been too much; so I'm glad to see it's all finally dying down!

    Thanks so much for sharing, and, as always, brilliant post! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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    1. I think the main thing is that good guys are kind of a breath of fresh air! bad boy stories are always so similar and it gets a bit tiring. I can only read about the same character in so many novels so many times before I just get bored. Good guys are a lot more unique and original, which is why I think they're stealing the spotlight.

      Also, yay for showing guys who are always sweet and respectful. It's great to see healthy romances in YA!

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  15. Great discussion topic! I'm a pretty big feminist, and I hate the sort of relationships portrayed in things like Twilight - I think they're really problematic. Bad boys have always seemed so undesirable to me...like, why would you put yourself through a relationship like that? So I think promoting those toxic relationship is a definite step in the wrong direction. Yes to the good guys!

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    1. As am I :D I hope every person alive today is also a feminist! It kind of annoys me when people are like 'you're into all that feminist stuff, right?' Am I into equality? Uh, yeah, funnily enough ;)

      I think people like the allure of bad boys – that mystery guy who acts all deep and may just have a troubled past and that girl could be the one to fix him and change his ways . . . :/ It's just silly and, you're right, it promotes toxic relationships. For some reason all of the bad things are excused and forgotten about, because the guy is good-looking or something.

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  16. Yes. I like this post a lot.

    I don't know if I'm over over bad boys but I do know one thing. I want to read more about boys who are complicated (Re: Ronan), recovering from life (Re: Adam Parrish), still discovering themselves (Re: Noah), passionate about something (Re: Gansey), in love but don't know how to handle it (Re: Prince Kai), and artsy (Re: Trevor from Pivot Point). Anything but the good ol' bad because that just seems redundant. I would still read a book with a bad boy character but I just need it to be more layered than that. If everything is not about oh-I'm-so-bad-so-I-can-hurt-all-I-want, that'd be great.

    I love that the dystopian genre is actually doing something about it. Just hold off the extra cheesiness and I'm all for these guy characters. Also, I also think that the fantasy genre is also branching out because of all the great guy characters in Throne of Glass and The Raven Cycle series combined.

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    1. You naming the Raven boys just made me fall a little bit in love with you. Okay, A LOT in love with you! They're a perfect example of good guys who still have so much emotional depth and a lot of issues to be explored. They show that good guys can also be mysterious, but they don't have to be jerks. Bad boys always follow the same formula, but with good guys (especially ones as amazingly written as the ones in The Raven Cycle books), you get so many unique aspects and storylines to be explored.

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  17. Yes, yes, yes! I love this post! I don't know why anyone would read Twilight or 50 Shades and think, gee I'd like to be in a relationship with a controlling maniac. Sure, he's pretty, but the control is NOT healthy!

    I for one am glad this trend is winding down. Give me an accurate portrayal of a relationship. Yes, there are real people who could be considered bad boys irl, but instead of being drool worthy, they are insufferable human beings. I don't think anyone wants that treatment in real life, so I don't want to read about it either.

    I'm okay with dark characters, but not with women in books who say they like it/need it. Not a good message.

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    1. If any guy tried to control me like that, he'd be gone in a second. It amazes me how young women (and, actually, even older women) can think control and possession is the same as passion. Unfounded jealousy and being overbearing is not a sign of love, it's a sign of someone being a jackass.

      Dark characters can be great and interesting but, like you, I just don't think they're viable love interests.

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  18. You know I'm totally with you with the bad boys Allie! I hated Patch, Edward, Fifty Shades and the rest of them. I'm so pleased that authors and publishers are finally showing us healthy relationships. Lovely post Allie!

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    1. And it's good that healthy relationships are no longer being portrayed as 'boring'. It's nice authors are finally understanding that being a good guy is not the same as being dull!

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