Random Things in Motion #9: Bad Boys

If you know me, you’ll also know that I am not a fan of bad boys. Particularly in YA. Especially those kind of bad boys who have sad back stories that’s supposed to be a justification as to why they act like assholes and also the kind of bad boys who usually have their heads stuck up their asses. But I’ve been thinking: to what extent is this true? Do I feel like this about every bad boy or are there exceptions? What really got the wheels in my head turning was finishing Untold. Of course, I won’t spoil anything, but if you’re read Unspoken, you’ll know that Jared is kind of a bad boy. He’s not popular by any means, and most people would rather avoid him, but he definitely has the bad boy vibes. He’s got the background sob story; he can be a huge jerk too; but at the heart of it all, he’s also a huge softie. Sound like an annoying character? Yeah, I’d definitely think so. Am I annoyed by him? Nope. In fact, I love him. To bits and pieces. So I wonder, is there a way to get bad boys right? Is there a way that won’t make you roll their eyes and will instead make you take them seriously?

I think it all comes down to character development and that is vital to making characters likeable/tolerable. In the case of Jared, the number one reason I love him so is because I can relate to him. I understand him even though there are only a handful of scenes in his POV (his novella aside). I understand his actions which makes it easier for me to forgive him for some of the douchebag moves he has pulled. His character has a lot more depth because the author doesn’t just tell us that he has a sad background story, she SHOWS how it’s made him who he is today. She doesn’t excuse his actions, but instead explains, and I believe that is the key and perhaps that would also explain why I’ve loved plenty of other love interests that could easily be classified as douchebags.

With all that said though, you might have noticed that bad boys done well are actually hard to come across (at least I think so). Or perhaps it’s because they have become such a commonly used trope that it’s hard to take them seriously. Which is perhaps why it becomes harder to like them.

Case in point; I love sweet guys. Love ’em to bits and pieces. Sadly though, they aren’t featured all that often as main characters. Which is also why my not liking them is rare. I think it’s only happened once or twice. And the more I think about it, it becomes clear to me that there have been times where I’ve liked the sweet guy just because he was sweet and not because he had much else going for him.

It makes me wonder…

What are your thoughts? On bad boys? On sweet guys? On commonly used tropes and how they affect the way we view things as compared to tropes not used as often?

 

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Rashika

Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).

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  1. says

    I’m not a fan of bad boys either… There was a time when I could love them but it gets really old. It’s such a cliché, the guy who’s an ass to the heroine and/or to everyone else but because of his sob story his actions are acceptable. No, just no. There are so many characteristic one can give to a person why do so many authors have to use the same scheme again and again? There are situations when I can still love bad boys, if I find their reasoning good enough or if I can understand them completely.
    This isn’t relevant but there’s one thing I hate more than the clichéd bad boy characters. Love triangles when one of the boys is a nerdy guy and the other is the jerk. Horrible just horrible.
    Great post! :)
    Veronika recently posted…2014 Summer Book AwardsMy Profile

  2. says

    Lol, there is no way that we’ll talk about this and not mention Will (from The Infernal Devices) He’s one of those ‘bad boy’ that I tolerate and because, yes, in a way I relate to him, too. Maybe that’s why I like him so much even though he is douchey.

    I think it does depends on how the author handle her/his bad boy character, there are a lot of lovable bad boy characters out there, I just know it. Though yes, sweet guys are always in and always wanted.. it doesn’t hurt to be in the wild side once in a while. And I guess even how douchey the guy is, as long as he undergoes a character development and the reasons are valid and it’s reasonable, there’s no reason to not give him some love.
    Paula M. @ Her Book Thoughts! recently posted…ARC REVIEW: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost a.k.a unexplainable love + Giveaway!My Profile

  3. says

    Ok I have to say bad boys definitely have their moments. Sure sometimes they are awful and obnoxious , but there are some occasions where they are just fabulous. Part of it is the situation and the bigger part of it is how they were written and how they (and their bad boy personalities) fit into the story.

    You should link up with Skylar and I for Sunday Swoons some time! We have a blast writing posts on stuff like this for fun every Sunday! Let us know if you have topic ideas too!
    Briana (Reader Writer Critic) recently posted…Sunday SwoonsMy Profile

  4. says

    Oh, I am so, so NOT a bad boy person! Even in life I dislike “bad boys”. I just want nice boys, all the time. The more polite and compassionate and chivalrous, the better. I can sometimes feel some empathy toward the bad boy, but it is so, so rare that I root for one (exception: Warner in the Shatter Me series. I adored him!). Great post!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…ARC Review: Falls the Shadow by Stefanie GaitherMy Profile

  5. says

    Like you said, it definitely depends on how the author develops them as characters. If they’re well developed as characters and they have intricate, realistic backstories, definitely it’s easier to relate to them as characters. If they don’t have much development or are just there for no particular reason other than to reimberce the romantic subplots, than they almost don’t feel as genuine and it’s harder to take them seriously or fall for them.

    Thanks for sharing Rashika, and EXCELLENT discussion post! It really got me thinking! :)
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  6. says

    I’m definitely a sucker for sweet guys, but seriously, if an author writes the characters well I don’t mind what their personality is. I really loved Morpheus in Splintered and Unhinged, but he’s the exception rather than the rule, I think. Maybe because I don’t like the bad boys in real life? Who knows. Everyone’s different :P
    Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer recently posted…Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas – JUST. WOAH.My Profile

  7. says

    JARED LOVE JARED LOVE LETS ALL JOIN IN JARED LOVE
    But I also like Rusty sooooo much.

    Frankly, I don’t think of the contrived bad boys as such. They’re poseurs. They’re not bad because I know a bad person when I read about them, and troubled teenage boys have troubled stories to tell, not the sappy mess they present. Fucking poseurs. FUCKTURD-IN-AN-OVERGROWN-POSEURS. I get really riled up when I think of such boys in books. Noooooo. Ugh I can feel myself starting to scream but before I start to hulk out: bad or good, I’ll take them so long as they aren’t bullies/enablers and ARE FUNNY.

    Funnies iz vair important to me, hence Rusty.
    Stuti recently posted…Six Signs of AgingMy Profile

  8. says

    There’s bad boy cliché and then there’s bad boy that is his actual personality. I think when it’s done right, it’s going to be stand-out from the rest. I think as a reader we like to see the characters that have visible flaws. Personally, it’s easy for to relate to a character that is flawed & genuinely portrayed, not something formulated to elicit some female reaction because ‘he is bad boy,’ which I think happens in the books I read most of the time. I think, it all boils down to how the character was developed in the story, you can easily pinpoint which ones I just want to fit into this trope and there are characters that weren’t ‘bad’ per se but sincerely has this character.

    Personally, I don’t have any inclination, a good character doesn’t not need to belong to some trope to get me interested. I just know when I can genuinely relate to him. ;D
    Mitchii @ The Aeropapers recently posted…August in a nutshell!My Profile

  9. says

    LOL Girl it’s not strange that we’re fighting over Kai as I totally agree with you. I don’t like bad boys with some sad story from the past. It’s really not enough to justify his behavior. So yeah sweet boys rock the show! :) But then I have read some books where bad boys were really nicely developed and I loved them. I guess I’m off to meet and steal Jared soon ;)) Great post, hon ;)
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  10. says

    I have two types of bad boys: the ones who are only bad on the surface but is actually selfless and pure of heart. And the ones who are actually bad inside and out. Second, are we talking about bad boys here as a boyfriend material or just an interesting and unforgettable character?

    If we’re talking about bad boys being a boyfriend material, I am definitely rooting for the baddie who is innately good. I am not really into sweet guys because I feel like they’re hiding something and I am always anxious when they would crack up. Hahaha. They’re more likely to disappoint me compared to bad boys.

    If we are talking about being an interesting and unforgettable character, I’ll definitely go with the bad bad boys. They are interesting and I like to follow the workings of their mind. Of course, I don’t like them as a book boyfriend but I love to study them. My most favorite bad bad boy of all time is Prince Jorg of Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire Series. He’s one MC that I really want to punch, slap and kick in the nut because he’s an unrepentant rapist, murderer and all things evil. He’s absolutely despicable and yet, he really caught my attention. Sometimes, the regular bad boy and the sweet, selfless farmboy MCs/ heroes can be exhausting, hence, I seek for those bad boys who are already beyond redemption.

    Nice discussion, Rashika!
    Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens recently posted…Book Review: WitherMy Profile

  11. says

    Bad boys are ehhhh. Like really, I find humorous and sweet guys much better as love interests. When you put a bad boy in the love interest category they tend to become that “bad boy but not really but yes” cliche and it really does make me roll my eyes. For a bad boy to work as a love interest I think there needs to be something more to the character than the fact that they’re “bad.” I like the ones who have that underlying complexities and inner conflicts. I don’t like the ones that are just complete jerks because they have some sort of sob story which they use as a excuse. When a character becomes a walking and talking cliche it becomes hard to enjoy their narration or personality at all.

    Lovely discussion post Rashika <33

  12. says

    Absolutely! It IS a matter of character development and to what extent a character can be redeemed. Just think of Froi from the Lumater Chronicles. He started out as a thief and an almost rapist and ended being one of my favorite characters ever. Or, and this is an extreme example, Stalker from the Razorland trilogy. Hardly forgiven, but definitely redeemed to some extent.
    Compared to them, sometimes rude bad boys like Jared and Daemon are easy enough to tolerate and perhaps even love. :)
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  13. says

    *whispers* “Rashika, come over to the dark… err… I mean bad boy side. You know you want to!” Then, you & Jared can be together. Hehe I think you’re right though, it really does come down to character development. I like bad boys because, you know what they say, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and I married a sweet man, so…
    Carmel @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review and Giveaway: Evernight by Kristen CallihanMy Profile

  14. says

    Bad boys bore me to tears now. I love the sweet funny guy these days, because sweet and funny does not mean boring. So many nice guys have great background stories and a lot of plot lines of their own. It’s good that they’re starting to take a lead and being fleshed-out a little more.

    Bad boys are all the same, whereas nice guys vary a little! I’m sick of the mysteirous loner dude with a shady past who blah blah blah. NO THANKS. And when he treats the heroine like sh*t and we’re supposed to swoon? UHM, NAH
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  15. says

    you know, you might be on to something there! i think its very hard to portrait a lovable bad boy but it might be that we are so overwhelmed by them at this point. i always root for the sweet guy (they are def. my type of boy) and i cant be sure if i liked them just because they were sweet. i have to think about that one some more…
    Great post!
    Boyanna @The Bookmaidens
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  16. says

    I agree Rashika, it all depends on the development of their character. If I’m given pieces of their perspective or enough glimpses of their life outside their relationship with the heroine that I can understand why they are the way they are, then I tend to love then. Give me the broken, damaged, tortured hero any day and I’m happy, but only if I know how they came to be the way they are:) I don’t care for the boys who blow hot one minute and cold the next or the girls who find that behavior intriguing and/or acceptable. O.o
    Jenny @ Supernatural Snark recently posted…Review: Shifting ShadowsMy Profile

  17. says

    Lol! I’m team Jared. I don’t really like Ash. Though I haven’t read Untold so can’t 100% claim I won’t switch teams, but nope. I love me some Jared. I wouldn’t say that Loren Hale is a badboy, but he’s hated by a lot of people he has met during his life except for his father, his close-close friends, his girlfriend and her parents. And it’s the same with him! We get his backstory and the reasons behind his actions and reading from other POVs, he can come off as a huge douche, but from his own POV, you understand him and feel and relate to him. So maybe it’s that we need the insight to a character’s mind? I love both guys: the badboys and the sweet ones. I love Cricket and Levi for instance. They just need to have a personality that clicks with me so yeah. I love all guys :D LOL

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imagination

  18. says

    I definitely love bad boys.. but I think i’m more of a sucker for the ‘nice guy’ type! Although.. I feel like in YA especially the bad boys often have a good combination of ‘bad’ but ‘nice’! I definitely agree with you, I think good character development is crucial to me falling in love with a character! A character needs to be semi-likeable or tolerable for me to want to root for them!
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  19. says

    I totally agree, Rashika. Loving or hating bad boys comes down to character development. If you can understand and relate to why their being a jerk you can make allowances and even fall for head over heels for them. I still need to read the Untold! I had so much fun with the first one, but I wanted to wait until all the books were out until picking it up. Great post here! :)
    Rachel recently posted…Review: Shatter by Erin McCarthyMy Profile

  20. says

    I’m exactly the same! I hate bad boys whose only good quality is that they’re hot so we should swoon over them. Um yeah, no. I’m not into the craze for romanticizing the villain that I was seeing a lot last year. But a bad boy with a reason for his bad boyness and a reason I can sympathize or understand or whatever. Then maybe! I love the bad boy with a heart of gold. I’m a cliché, but whatevs! :D And yes, character depth and development can make all of the difference! Don’t just give us a bad boy and expect to like him without reason ya know. I read Unspoken but it was so long ago I’ve no idea who Jared is hahaah. This is how terrible my memory is >.< Also I gave that book a 2 star I think *runs away*.

    *comes back*

    PLTPLTPLTPLTPLT

    *walks away silently*
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  21. says

    Oh my goodness, I think this post contains the best gif I have ever seen. It’s official. That panda is my all time favourite. IT’S SO SUAVE!

    I find the clichee pretty frustrating, but I suppose I also have room to like it when it’s done well, which, in memory, has happened with Sirius Black (I think he probably was a bit of a “bad boy” character) and Jared from Unspoken, because those characters have so much to them, you love them and want to know why they are how they are, and they bug you and can do awful things, but they can also be incredibly important and do incredibly important things. Wonderful post! xx
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  22. says

    That bad assed teddy makes me laugh.

    It really depends on the ‘bad boy’, if they’re a complete ass then no. But more of a bad boy revolutionary that fights the system, then I’m in swoonytown. One of my favourites has been Warner from the Shatter Me series, he seemed bad, but he was just so incredibly good at it. I think NA more often falls into the ‘bad boy’ trap than YA does, it’s all the broken men that use it as an excuse to either get their rocks off or treat women like shit.
    Kelly recently posted…Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa KeilMy Profile

  23. says

    I almost certainly agree with you, sweet guys are just the best. I definitely vote we need more. However I think bad boys can be done right and they hold a certain allure, although the whole tragic past, feel sorry for me I’m abused and demented can be annoying. However it depends how the author does it and the style in which they write the story that depends on the bad boy. Especially depends on how they bring them around. I do not like to see a whole change in character, but I am unfortunately a sucker for a bad boy romance! I wish I was not.
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  24. says

    Well, I think you need to separate “jerks” from bad boys. Bad boys are boys who can do bad things and go against the flow and the acceptable (Assassins, for example. Bikers. Boys who do drugs. Boys who fight. stuff like that). And they CAN indeed be jerks. But not all of them are jerks. Some of them are just people who push others away, not necessarily in a jerky way.
    That’s why, I can definitely enjoy a Bad Boy romance – as long as he’s not a jerk. There are a lot of stories where I can’t STAND the love interest because he’s a complete a-hole and I can’t understand why they hell the girl would even WANT to be with him. And having a sob story doesn’t excuse that. Most murders come from broken families, or abuse, or stuff like that. Does it excuse them killing people? NO! (I know, I took it a bit far…)
    But there are also a lot of stories where I completely understand, because while there’s a few jerky moments (in real life, everybody are a little jerks too lol), for the most part they’re just a little brass, never intend to hurt, only to keep distance.
    Another point to think about: I love sweet and “good” boys and in RL I would go for them (as long as there is more to them than sweet and good, because one dimensional characters are never interesting to me, even if they are sweet and good). But literature doesn’t lack of jerky “good” boys. Those who act all nice and sweet but are actually using the heroine for something such as fame, or standing. Those who actually think they’re way better than her, and they’re doing her a favor. They act nice – but they’re jerks inside.
    So, it could go either way.
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