What Exactly are 'Bad Boys' in Books?

July 13, 2017

 

For the longest time, all I cared about books is that the hate/love relationship is good (and that there is a hate/love in the book). If I really think about it, I had never really asked for 'bad boys'.

 

So what exactly are bad boys?

 

This topic popped into my head after YouTube suggested me a video of a booktuber talking about bad boys (thanks YouTube). So to answer the question, and for me to understand, I first used Goodreads to search 'Popular Bad Boys Books'. By looking at what kind of books are categorized as 'bad boys', I can get a better idea of what kind of characters are bad boys. 

 

 

And immediately a few familiar titles popped out. And then a few favorite titles popped out.

 

 

It ended up that half the guys that I liked, half the books that I read, half the hate/love relationships I had read involved bad boys. So it seems like I've already lied to half the population by saying I've never read bad boy books, and probably will never enjoy them.

 

Well, shit. 

 

The reason it never exactly occurred to me that these boys would be bad boys because...well I just assumed they're jerks. And not all of them are exactly 'playboys', so I didn't really think of them as bad boys. 

 

Dictionary Definition: a man who does not conform to approved standards of behavior, especially in a particular sphere of activity.

 

Although alpha bad boys are usually the poster people for the image of bad boys, a bad boy doesn't have to be a heart-breaker or an alpha. There are many kinds of bad boys. Of course, the lothario men such as most notably James Bond are only after the alphas as the most well-known bad boys for a reason. They are the true heart-breakers. They are men who are gifted with natural charms to swoon women to their bindings.  

 

 But even if the guy is not exactly a heart-breaker, he counts if he's the total package - and at the same time is a dickhead who speaks insulting sarcasm as a third language (Jace Wayland, Mortal Instruments). Sherlock Holmes actually counts as a bad boy as well. His unattainable and mysterious ways kind of make him sexy, and he always gave up with an image of a man who doesn't (or isn't suppose to) have any weaknesses.  

 

Then there's the group of guys who seem really tough on the outside, but is actually a really good guy with strong humane morals on the inside, and is only a wreck because of his past or what he still has to go through (Reed, Paper Princess). This category also expands to guys who are arrogant, sassy and flirty men (usually the 'second guy' in books, e.g Rhysand from Court of Thorns and Roses and Loki from Trylle Trilogy).  They are arrogant, but more jokingly than seriously. And often the sarcasm and jokes are just a mask to hide some of their brokenness, and what they had to go through in the past and present. It's characters like these that had actual depths and layers to their characters - depths that we often only get glimpses of. This category of guys to me are the more realistic ones, generally because their flaws make them real. 

 

But ultimately, no matter what kind of bad boys we're reading, what makes them the best is how we watch they don't ever start with the best intentions, but slowly evolve into the truly good person in them that was suppressed for so long through their growing love for the heroine. This is also why bad boys make some of the best have/love relationships.

 

What are some of your favorite bad-boy characters? 

 

 

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