Changing of the Seasons… In YA Love Interest

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For as long as I can remember, I always fall for the bad boys, the villains of the story.

Yep, you hear that right. And I think most of you fall for them too. At least once in your life, or at least during the ya paranormal phase in your life.

Or is it just me?

They don’t have to be the villains exactly, but they are the rebels, the angsty, brooding love interest. The twisted, manipulative and magnetic one. The daredevils, and the charmer. Some of the examples are Damon Salvatore and The Darkling. You can totally see that my type is the tall dark stranger right?πŸ˜‰

This post basically happened because I have sudden enlightement when I was reading Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas. Here we have love triangle and -you guessed it!- one of the love interest is twisted, manipulative, possesive, and β€œhot”.

I should’ve fall for him, looking at my past resume. But in reality, he raised all the red flags for me and made me so anxious I had to stop reading. And this, made me realize that I don’t like the bad guys anymore.

I don’t mean that I will never fall for the villains ever again, they are interesting to read and have the grayest moral I’ve ever read about. What I don’t like from them is often, they are manipulative and violent. They do twisted things but for some reason, we (me, other readers, and the heroine) keep falling for them.

Nowadays, I always fall for the funny guys. I guess I always have, but always overshadowed by the bad guys, and this time I just realized it for real. No matter how dire the situation is, how sad their friends are, they always managed to cheer others up.

Exhibit A: Nikolai Lantsov over anyone from the Dregs

Nikolai Lantsov has existed since the Grisha trilogy, yet I just realized the full extent of my love for him. In Grisha trilogy, my love to him was overshadowed by my love to the Darkling. But Six of Crows, for some reasons, have no guys that made me fall for them in “I LOVE YOU ” way, so of course, when Nikolai appeared I go all crazy.

Now, if it’s pre-2016 me speaking, I would certainly fall for Kaz. He’s totally my type. But the reality? No. If it’s the Dregs we’re talking about, my favorite would be Wylan, Jesper, Kaz then Matthias. Wylan made me fall by his naivete, and Jesper by his humour. I should’ve fall for Kaz, but what happened???

I didn’t. I chose Wylan, Jesper, and Nikolai instead.

Exhibit B: Kenji Kishimoto over Warner or Adam

Kenji is one constant bright spot of sunshine throughout this dark and gritty series. Again, if it’s pre-2016 me, I would’ve fall for Warner. I swear I would.

Actually when I first read Shatter Me, I did fell for Warner.

And then I mature and read the next 2 books and as much as I love chapter 42, I still love Kenji Kishimoto the best. I loveee the way he jokes and lighten up the situation, yet can step up and be leader when the situation calls for it. I love how he’s such a good friend he snapped at Juliette during her mopey dopey period.

In short, he’s the type of (boy)friend I would fall for.

Exhibit C: Leo Valdez over anyone from the seven

We have Percy (!!!!), we have Jason who is the poster boy, and we have Frank who has amazing heart and courage (bless him). And yet I fall for Leo. Again, his jokes really makes me love him, no matter what the situation he will always try to lighten it up and made his friends laugh ❀

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Does this mean that I have matured? I think yes, and I think I also started to see the problem with bad boys or alpha male or tough guy trope that exists widely in YA. It’s not necessarily about me, but if you think deeper, would you like those tropes as your boyfriend? Well, I’m not, and I don’t want anyone to have boyfriends like that. It might not happen to me or anyone near me, but literature provides some kind of “mirror” to our real life and can set unrealistic and harmful standards to young people. I don’t want someone who “growl” at me, or breaking rules at every turn, become aggresive and protective. I don’t want someone who “threaten” me in the name of love, angsty and dark and keep me wondering about him. I DON’T WANT SOMEONE WHO MANIPULATES ME, just because he loves me and wants the best for me. No thanks, we women are capable of deciding our needs and what’s best for us.

Or at least if someone want to make a decision for me, I would like them to talk things first with me. Making decisions without my consent just shows the lack of respect on his part.

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I mean, I’m pretty sure as much as you love Aaron Warner, you wouldn’t want him as your real-life boyfriend. Just because he’s abused and have terrible past doesn’t mean he can manipulates you and fill you with guilt for almost killing a child.

Bottom line is: I’m over them. And I seriously can’t believe those tropes are still exists in YA nowadays! Realizing the problems really help me realize how creepy they are actually, and how it can paint a picture that manipulation and physical things are okay because he loves you.

It took me really long to realize it (18 years!!!) but going to uni, being exposed to different things and being in a relationship really makes me see what’s wrong with these tropes.

this post is so messy and incoherent omg i’m so sorry. i’m terrible at writing discussions.

Do you prefer the villains or the heroes? And why do you think these tropes still exist in YA books?

On Growing Up and Letting Go

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31 thoughts on “Changing of the Seasons… In YA Love Interest

  1. Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity says:

    I usually fall for the “bad boy” in YA. I love Damon and the Darkling, too πŸ˜€ But I also know that I would 100% not date them in real life. Ever. Because they are manipulative and kill people and emotionally abuse people. And I don’t want people like that near me at all. But I also kind of think that’s why I like them? Because they are fictional, and I can let go of my standards when I know that they’re not real and that I wouldn’t willingly date them in real life. If that makes sense? Like, I can swoon over Warner, but I would rather be his friend to help him deal with his trauma than just make out with him because he’s attractive, haha πŸ˜„

    I haven’t had a book boyfriend in a while *sigh* Although I am currently reading the Angelfall trilogy and Raffe is pretty swoon worthy. He lets Penryn be badass and doesn’t control her at all. I like that a lot πŸ˜€

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    • tasya @ the literary huntress says:

      Oooh I get what you’re meaning. But as much as I don’t want to date them in real life, it sorts of seeps to my real life “perfect” boyfriend you know? I always thought that bad boys will be more fun to be with, etc, especially since I never have any boyfriend before and don’t know how relationship supposed to be like. And then I was like “oh shit if I can think like this than what about other girls?” πŸ˜• But same, I would rather be Warner’s friend that help him sort through his shit rather than making out with him and do nothingπŸ˜€

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  2. herbookishthings says:

    This is so funny because I’m the same! Although- villains still hold the trump card for me. EXHIBIT A (and the most important of all) – the Darkling. I got so happy when you mentioned him because .. ugh. I can’t even. But at the same time.. Nikolai… is just… I can’t even. They are a tie… in a way, but too different to compare!

    Omg. If you know other characters like the Darkling – please share. Seriously. Who is this Damon?!

    Like

  3. Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks says:

    Oh I loved reading this post so, so much! I did fall for the bad boys in books more than once, but yes, just like you as I grew up I realized how problematic they were and how easily we can be tricked into loving these particular characters. I guess it’s an overused trope at times, especially when they are paired with the nice, innocent girl. I realize I tend to enjoy sweet boys, nerdy ones even, lately, haha. And KENJI, YES!

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  4. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction says:

    As an older YA reader (I’m 42!), I often find that I’m rooting for the “good” guy rather than the brooding jerk of a love interest. Now, I won’t go so far as to say that I’ve never appreciated the bad boy with a heart of gold trope, but he actually has to be a good guy at heart—maybe someone who has been acting out of character due to life circumstance but who truly wants to be a better person. That I can root for. But the guy who’s just kind of a jerk or who uses girls and thinks that’s just fine—nope!

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    • tasya @ the literary huntress says:

      Yeah same, if the person has a bad past or something, I might fall for him. But there are still some behavior that I can’t tolerate/excuse him for, no matter how bad his past is! And yes, the important thing is the person want to change his life and be a better person πŸ™‚

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    • Wendy @ Falconer's Library says:

      I’m with Nicole, again as an EVEN OLDER YA reader. My husband is about as far from a bad boy as you can get, and it kind of ticks me off when that’s presented as boring or vanilla. Though I have a huge soft spot for Kaz, but that’s partly because his relationship with Inej is so balanced, and they are both so respectful of each other’s issues. I surely wouldn’t want him for myself!

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  5. Brittany's Book Rambles says:

    I’ve never been one to fall for the bad boy in books or in real life πŸ™‚ I’ve always been in love with Nikolai (a.k.a. my sun and stars XD) and cannot for the life of me understand how people can love the Darkling, and furthermore, how they could actually ship him with Alina, especially after all the terrible things he has done to her and the people she loves. Awesome post! And NIKOLAI FTW! πŸ˜€

    Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles

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    • tasya @ the literary huntress says:

      I am totally a guilty darklina shippers *hides* But now that I re-read a few quotes, the Darkling did raised some red flags for me. He was amazing though when I first read about him.
      But yes about Nikolai being sun and stars. Can we have a series about Nikolai please plase please.

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  6. yellowwpages says:

    Bad boys would still own a special place in my heart but still I can see your POV. And I totally agree about the bad boys not being real life boyfriend material. All in all it was fun post to read .

    Like

  7. Puput @ Sparkling Letters says:

    OMG YES! I was nodding along the whole time I was reading this post. I still like bad, brooding hero but only because they seem proper for the plot? Not because I like like them anymore, if that makes sense hahaha I’m getting tired of seeing this trope over and over again, especially when the bad boys are paired with a pure, nice, and soft heroine that’s just… no. And yes I hate it when guys think they know what’s best for girls hahaha fantastic post Tasya! πŸ˜€

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  8. Madalyn @ Novel Ink says:

    Love this post! I definitely have noticed this change in myself over the past four or so years. I love that people are starting to recognize the warning signs of abusive relationships and the weird power dynamics that these “bad boy” characters perpetuate. I’ve always had a soft spot for the funny ones, though! Fred and George were always my favorite HP characters. And I totally agree with you about both Nikolai and Kenji– I’d take them over the main love interests any day.

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  9. cw @ readthinkponder says:

    Hahaha, I loved this post!
    I *feel* like I’m too old to swoon over teenager love interests nowadays, but I do remember adoring the bad boys. It was just something about them, and how they were otherwise unobtainable?

    Though, I have to agree. Now when I look at those boys, red flags are everywhere for me too and I don’t enjoy it anymore. I think I’ve grown from them and have learned to appreciate genuinely nice people — regardless of gender! I won’t lie, when I read Not Your Sidekick’s romance, I swooned so, so, so bad.

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    • tasya @ the literary huntress says:

      Thank you! Yeah, there was just something about them that really swoon worthy to our younger self, right? πŸ˜‰ It’s unbelieveable how we couldn’t see the red flags when we were young, even after reading the whole series, and now when we re-read it we see it right on the first appearance of said love interest.

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      • cw @ readthinkponder says:

        Exactly! I think that’s good though. I learned that Twilight was bad because I somehow found these forums that discussed Edward’s abusive behaviour — I don’t even think I understood the concept of abuse when I was at that age, but BOY those forums taught me so much about red-flags. In hindsight, I am grateful for those forums.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Cristina @ Girl in the Pages says:

    I really love this topic! I think you’re right and the paranormal craze drove the “hot villain” phase for a long time. I’m really over a lot of books that have this trope where the villain/love interest is some abusive bad boy, but I also will say that I still appreciate characters who reside in the more morally grey area, and find them intriguing love interests when they’re sort of between sides, as long as it doesn’t lead to abusive tendencies.

    Liked by 1 person

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