To all young adult addicts out there: we all have our own "list" of book boyfriends. We all have a secret list of "harems', dedicated to the guys that we love the most. If you say you don't, either you haven't been in this genre long enough...or you're just flat out lying. If you have read enough YA books, you'll also start to notice certain recurring patterns within these guys, and sooner or later you'll start to categorize them just like what I am doing right now). This list is basically a summarization of the "type" of book boyfriends I've encountered (so far). Tell me in the comments below if you agree!
The guys allergic to shirts (stop showing off buddy. We get it, you're hot.)
We all know that book boyfriends are in great shape, and these guys are not afraid to show it. They may not necessarily be shoving it into people's faces 24/7, but it does provide great comic relief when people call them out (and is a great view in general). But despite their great appearances, these guys have great personalities too. The inside counts.
1. Daemon Black from Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Come on Daemon, everyone can see it: you're just taking those shirts off for Katy. Jeez, even she called you out for it. Oh well, I guess no one can complain about the view. If I am even remotely as fit as he is I would show it off too.
But to give Daemon credit, he doesn't completely overdo it. He only takes it off when exercising or swimming, but even then he makes sure Katy sees it.
2. Raffe from Angelfall by Susan Ee
Although both Raffe and Daemon aren't ashamed to "show off" themselves once in a while, unlike Daemon, Raffe have a legitimate reason for his shirt being off. Being an angel with giant wings, it's arguably a lot more convenient with your shirt off than on. So to summarize this in Raffe's own words: "I didn't hear any complains".
The Darklings (a.k.a the less-spproachable villains)
In the anime world, we call these characters "Tsundere". To summarize these type of characters, they are people who seem really cold and aloof on the outside but is actually anything but that on the inside. "Tsundere" can also be used to describe the character development of these initially cold characters to a warmer, more opened character. One of the reasons why these types of book boyfriends are so popular is because of how cool they are. They are incredibly attractive, incredibly bad-ass, and have great in-depth personalities of a painful past that made them this way, making their character so much more interesting. And let's just be honest here, it feels awesome to have a boyfriend how is completely cold to everyone except you ;).
1. Hideo Tanaka from Warcross by Marie Lu
Hideo is the epitome of a Tsundere. He was so cold and aloof in the beginning (even Emika didn't like him in the beginning). But as we get to know him (work our way down that icy shield), we start to see glimpses of Hideo's more warm self and melting the ice in the process. Hideo is one of the "darkling" characters because of how he has it all - he's a genius programming and business prodigy who is incredibly attractive and in shape with an unbelievable sense of fashion (one that I would further elaborate upon later in this list).
2. Darkling from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
The Darkling is a more controversial case - while all the other characters on this list are the legitimate end-game boyfriend (who temporarily had villainous roles), the darkling is arguably the ultimate antagonist of the Shadow and Bone series. He's handsome, powerful, manipulative, and definitely evil. He's also the least redeemable character on this list with a refreshing fact that he doesn't have the cliche "tragic past" most of the other characters have.
3. Kaz from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Kaz is a thief, and he gets his job done well. He's extremely successful in the crime business, a genius in the art of thievery. He even dresses his part - he looks like a human grim reaper magician himself. He sometimes is also heartless and damn calculating - but is he though? He's been through a lot of hardship, and when it comes to those he cares deeply about *cough* Inej *cough*...yeah, appearances don't' tell the whole story, does he?
The title summarizes these types of characters perfectly. These are characters who are deemed as villainous in their respective worlds, but in reality, they are actually just misunderstood. They either are too nice to try and correct everyone, no one would believe them anyway, or to enforce this facade to protect those who he cares about. This is why these characters definitely have a tragic backstory.
1. Warner (kind of) from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The reason Warner is "kind of" a misunderstood villain is that he is arguably one of the most messed up characters on this list - the only on that can even remotely compete with the Darkling in terms of evil-ness - but it's not really his fault. Unlike the Darkling, Warner actually does have a legitimate reason to be the way he is a.k.a tragic past. Also, he has realized the wrong nature of his ways and is trying to change largely thanks to Juliette.
2. Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Rhysand is completely misunderstood, it's not controversial. It's just a fact. Everyone thinks he is this evil man - the villain of the story - and he enforces this facade in order to protect the things he cares about. But he is anything but that. I really can't discuss more because it involves heavy spoilers, but anyone who has read this series knows exactly what I'm talking about. P.S. Go read this series. You will not regret it.
3. Aldrik from Air Awakens by Elise Kova
Aldrik was labeled the black sheep of the imperial empire's royal family, and it's not just because he's the only person who wears black. Despite being the legitimate heir, nobody accepts him and either hates or fears him because of his dark - arguably villainous - appearance and aloof characteristics. However, after opening up to Vhalla, he learned to open up to the world and start to heal for the wounds of being alone that accumulated all those years. He was truly misunderstood.
Bully turned romanic interest
These characters can be even more controversial than the Darklings because it's a thin line between "bad boys" and abusive relationships. Authors need to be aware of the dangers of romanticizing bullying, it is not okay and a lot of times it's not forgivable. Lines should be carefully set for characters like these.
1. Cardan from Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Cardan was really drawing the line I just mentioned in this book. He humiliated and bullied Jude despite the fact that he cannot help but be attracted to her. What he has done is really close to crossing the line, but Cardan's popularity definitely sets an example for this type of book boyfriends and how likable they are.
2. Darren from First Years by Rachel E. Carter
Darren, unlike Cardan, is not controversial at all. He doesn't push the line as much as Cardan. Yes, he had a shaky beginning with Ryiah, but even then their relationship was not even a quarter as toxic as Jude and Cardan's. But he is a good example of this trope.
The personal trainers
These are the guys who are usually assigned to our bad-ass protagonists to help improve their physical fighting skills. Usually, our heroines would be a really sassy and feisty girl and these guys would initially dislike the girl's attitude, but eventually, be drawn toward her as well.
1. EVERY INDIE BOOK EVER
I am not kidding, this trope is literally in every single indie book ever, especially in those paranormal/young adult books. The reason these kind of book boyfriends are so reassuring in genres like this is because of how these paranormal young-adult books usually involve the trope of our heroine being dragged (usually unwillingly) into a supernatural world, and they need to train. Chances are, they already met these guys and hates them - they are arrogant and rude. But since they are forced to work together to train together, they develop a relationship as they get to know each other.
Say what you want, this trope is insanely popular for a reason. I personally love this trope as well.
2. Dimitri from Vampire Dairies by Richelle Mead
Dimitri originally hated Rose's guts. I personally adore Rose's sassy don't-give-a-crap attitude, and I find it incredibly entertaining to watch Rose purposely make Dimitri suffer knowing how much he hates her messing with him with her sassiness. This made some great character dynamics, which is why their romance is so satisfying and cute.
3. Four from Divergent by Veronica Roth
Although Vampire Academy does have a more cliche scenario (it is a YA paranormal series) with the classic dynamic between the bad-ass heroine and aloof hero, Divergent was a little bit more different in this dynamic. The setting is different too (maybe that contributed to the differences), Divergent is a dystopian world, making the atmosphere more...depressing. Which perfectly fit Tris's more shy and timid nature - while still making her incredibly badass - and still throwing her together with the personal trainer. Now Four is just like Dimitri. Although he doesn't really dislike Tris in the way that Dimitri initially disliked Rose, he definitely had to come to like her, he was not very approachable initially. Another reason why he fits this trope is that he is in the mentor/trainer position for this.
The unbelievably sassy (and lovable) ones
This trait overlaps with a lot of book boyfriends. It's not either you have it or don't have it - it's a scale. The scale of sassiness the guy have. These type of book boyfriends are not as aloof, and they often tease/flirt with the heroine as comic relief, but of course, they genuinely feel that way for the heroine. Often times these guys hid their painful past behind this humorous shield, which give such meaningful depths to their character, making them even more lovable than they already are. Thanks to their humor, they are also incredibly charismatic.
1. Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Rhysand is such an embodiment of this trope - although he has a very villainous facade (one that I had previously elaborated upon earlier), he is also incredibly humorous. Remember how I said these type of characters love just trolling and teasing our heroines? It's one of Rhysand's behavior trademarks as well. Even after they married he still does this
2. Percy and Leo from the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
Oh my god, this pair. If they combined their respective level of sassiness they would make the world explode. I legit get third-degree burns when they get just a bit too savage. Well, maybe the world didn't explode yet because of how Annabeth and Calypso's respective badass-ness themselves are balancing it out.
The Nice Guys
The above categories can all fall under the "bad-boy" generalized category, but the category "nice guys" unfortunately is just one category because it's such a minority (I am so sorry). It's just that the above type of characters are so much more interesting and fun to read (and so much more shipable). But as readers, we should still acknowledge these "good guys", they're nice people too.
1. Maxon from The Selection by Keira Cass
Yes, Maxon is charismatic, charming, and incredibly attractive, but if you really think about it, he's not really a bad boy. You could say that he is one of the few examples of book boyfriends who is not a bad boy and is genuinely still beloved and popular with the fandom. That is so much more than what I can say for Mal from the Grisha Trilogy.
2. Mal from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Both Maxon and Mal can fall under the "nice guy" category, but that's where the similarities end. While Maxon is charismatic, lovebale, interesting, and popular with the fandom, Mal is anything but that. Mal is annoying, enraging, boring, and unpopular with the Grisha trilogy fans. Listen, we (the fans) are not irrational - we know the Darkling is not good for Alina. But the alternative choice could've been made so much better. It's such a shame.