May 14, 2013

The Bad Boy Motif: Overdone?

Yup. I will be the first to admit. What is it about the bad boy that makes us puddy in their capable (even if fictional) hands?

  • They are so wonderfully tortured. What is it about a guy with a haunting past that makes him so friggin' sexy? Maybe it's the strength they've had to build to endure, or the experience they've had with what life can bring. I can't quite nail that one on the head, but it is definitely a selling point, even without an explanation.
  • They're confident. (Sometimes on the verge of cocky, but let's not take that too far, okay boys?) They don't care what others think or believe about them, and there's nothing hotter than a guy who knows who he is. 
  • Bad boys seem to feel more deeply. You ever notice that they only care about what's real, what truly matters? Not saying they don't indulge in matters that skim the surface, but when they do come into contact with their emotions, it's usually in a big, dramatic way. I don't know about you, but raw emotion snags me every time.
  • Non-conformative. Different. Whether it's YA, New Adult, or Adult Fiction, I'll take the combat boots or plain black t-shirt over the suit or popped collar (gag) any day. 
  • Package that all together, and you've got mysterious, bold, and dark wrapped up with a bow of rebellion. What's not to like about that? 

Now that I've gushed over my admiration for the bad boy, I'm going to digress a bit. There are good bad-boys and there are bad bad-boys. What I mean by that is that, in the fictional world, the bad boy is becoming a dime a dozen, and some of them are giving the whole persona as a whole a... well, bad... and slightly annoying reputation. (Let's see how many times I can use the word "bad" in this post...)

Is the bad-boy being overdone? Maybe not overdone, but he's being done in all the wrong ways. Umm.. wait... Where was I? ... Remember when Twilight came out, and then BAM, there were so many vampire novels that you could hardly tell them apart? Some were awesome and original with no parallel to Twilight whatsoever, while others were basically just a retelling of the mega hit, which was, to put it in a word, "lame." The unoriginal retellings were the obvious "look at me" novels, riding on the success of a popular idea to make money and maybe gain a little fame.

Same goes with the character personality of the dark, rebellious guy. (Notice I'm trying to refrain from using the "b" word.) These characters can be amazing, incredibly captivating, and will seriously steal your heart. Examples? Noah Hutchins from Pushing the Limits. The slightly-over-cocky-but-it-works Dante Walker from The Collector. And how could I forget Daemon Black from the Lux series? All wonderfully created "bad-boys" that make room for a soft spot.

Lately, though, almost every book I read incorporates this personality, and lately, the appeal is beginning to fade. I'm currently listening to Alice in Zombieland, and while the idea of Cole Holland is nice, something about him just doesn't work. Maybe it's his insistence that he has the right to be overbearing and tell Alice what she will and will not do. Or maybe it's his instant obsession with Alice. I can't exactly put a finger on it, but there's a lot about him that has me wishing I had the ability raise one eyebrow (how do people do that?) in disbelief.

Others include the difficult-to-understand Daniel Grigori from Fallen. Or the pushy and vague Reed Wellington from Inescapable.

I wouldn't say these are underdeveloped or artificial characters per say, it just feels like they're trying to be someone they're not ~ like they're trying desperately to be mysterious and dark (either with a leather jacket or vague, witty, and slightly cryptic statements), but despite their best efforts, they just can't pull it off.

Moral to the story? Forcing bad-boy status on a character is like trying desperately to fit in with the flighty popular crowd. It doesn't make sense. If you're gunna use one of these amazing guys in a story, dig deep, let them tell you who they want to be, and don't push it too far. Too much, as with Cole Holland, will have readers (readers like me, anyway) wondering why the heroine still follows him around like a puppy dog.

And it just ruins the warm and fuzzy idea of the bad-boy. I don't know about you, but I never want him to get old.

What do you think? Do you think the bad boy is becoming a fad?

Happy Reading Everyone :)


  1. It does seem to be more of a "thing" at the moment and it sucks when the author can't quite pull it off.
    Noah and Daemon are two of my ALL-TIME favourite badboys because they have depth and as the reader, you get to see that :)
    Have you ever read Everneath? A lot of people loved Cole (maybe there's something in the name?) but I just couldn't see what all the fuss was :S
    Great post, Keely!

  2. @Rebekah Campbell Two totally swoon-worthy guys that should be in the "bad-boy hall of fame"... :) I haven't read Everneath, but I will definitely check it out!

    Maybe it was Cole's purple eyes? I don't get it either...

    Thanks for stopping by! and the recommendation!


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