I’ve pondered this question several times throughout the years, but it wasn’t until I read part of the Demon’s Lexicon that I started to become concerned about what I’m attracted to in books.
Let me start from the beginning. A couple of months ago (some time during the school year) I participated in a chat on twitter with a whole bunch of YA authors. This was the first time I was able to ask people like Cassandra Clare and Holly Black questions. It was great! It was so fun that I decided to be a part of the after party chat held at the Mundie moms website. This after-party chat was more for authors to talk to each other. Non authors would also make comments, but unless it was something really significant or someone was saying goodbye, we were more like the audience.
Among the many (funny and interesting) things that were discussed, one thing that all the authors would talk about were their favorite guy characters from different books, like Jace from TMI, or Po from Graceling. One character that was discussed over and over again was Nick from The Demon’s Lexicon. When fighting over fictional hunks, many people, author and non-authors alike would choose Nick. At that time I had only read the first chapter of The Demon’s Lexicon online and didn’t know much about him.
Once I did get the book, I was immediately ready to see what people were talking about. I don’t want to give any spoilers but until the last part of the book, I couldn’t understand why he was so positively appealing. In most cases, since the book was told from his point of view I was able to quickly determine that I didn’t like his attitude. It seemed like he didn’t like anything or anybody. Now I admit that once a secret was revealed near the end of the book, everything made sense and I ended up liking Nick, but before that point I became concerned about the kind of male characters I or other readers are attracted to. The truth is if the author had taken away a couple of pages that revealed his nature, I would have liked Nick from the beginning. That’s when I wondered, why do I, and other readers like the fictional characters that we do?
Why are bad guys appealing, especially over the “good guy”? I’ve found that in many books with love triangles, a girl finds the bad boy more appealing and unique, (even if he treats her like dirt at first) but sees the good guy (who is normally an old or best friend) as a representation of security and dependability. (even if it’s just his nature to be dependable).
But how much of this attraction to character is based on what they represent instead of who they really are? Do girls like bad boys or do they like adventure. Are we attracted by the chip on a character’s shoulder or are new and strange behaviors appealing? I personally love dark characters (not like suicidal or anything…just..dark) but rarely do I find myself having a literary crush on a guy who hasn’t realized yet that life isn’t fair and that not everyone is going to bow down to them because their gorgeous or deadly. And if I do like those kind of guys, I’m hoping that I’ll be more careful with how I assess a character. I can’t fathom how many more YA books I’ll read in the future, but I know I’ll fall for multiple good and bad guys as time goes on. I’ll just have to make sure my intrigue isn’t unhealthy. I wouldn’t want my attraction to literary bad boys to switch over to real life, because real life is full of more than just happy endings and people that will change their ways because they’re in love with me.