YA Friday: Tropes Spring Eternal – The Brooding Bad Boy

The words Tropes Spring Eternal in front of YA books.

Black leather is the color of his soul

Everyone loves a Bad Boy—right? Even if Bad Boys make you run screaming in the other direction in real life, they’re hard to resist in fiction, especially in young adult novels. Take one part leather jacket, one part motorcycle, and one part tattoos, and you’ll have readers falling in love even before your Bad Boy looks up from under the hair falling in front of his eyes.

There are different levels of Bad Boys, obviously. Like, there's a difference between the Bad Boys who are really villains, who actually murder people and stuff, and the Bad Boys who just brood or get detention. Warner in Shatter Me, Damon from The Vampire Diaries, the Darkling from Shadow and Bone, are prime examples of the bad boys who have done completely inexcusable things, but still make me want them to believe in themselves, in the good inside them, and be transformed through the power of love.

Or not. They do some pretty awful stuff...

But it's all about potential. Where there is a whisper of redemption in a character, there is allure. An effective Bad Boy has layers (like an onion), and beneath those layers there’s a good heart. Getting to that heart and watching it come alive drives the story. Finding out if the protagonist will coax a softer side from him and reading their spitfire dialogue, roguish behavior, and swoon-worthy moments just heightens all the delicious romantic tension. Love stories where both characters have to take long personal journeys to be together, both have to improve themselves, or discover something about themselves that they never would have were it not for the other person are the most entertaining. Because one thing’s for sure, a good Bad Boy is never boring.

The list of books below contain some of our favorite YA Bad Boys. Who is yours?

Shadow and Bone, book cover

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life -- a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha -- and the secrets of her heart.

A Court of Mist and Fury, book cover

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

This book picks up where A Court of Thorns and Roses left off, Feyre is engaged to Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court, whose kingdom she went to great lengths to save under the mountain. The Spring Court is grateful for the sacrifices she made, but Tamlin is all too happy to lock Feyre up in his castle and protect her from the many dangers of his world. Struggling with her own depression, Feyre sets her needs aside to make Tamlin happy, but when his overbearing tendencies go too far, Feyre nearly breaks. She is rescued by Rhysand, the feared High Lord of the Night Court, with whom she struck a deal and to whom she has been bonded ever since in ways she can't explain. He shows her a new life and, with the assistance of his Fae friends, helps Feyre learn to control her newfound powers and tap into the strength she forgot she had, which may just be the key to saving Prythian from the evil King of Hybern.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, book cover

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer, 16, and three of her friends were in an abandoned building that collapsed; the friends died, and Mara escaped with no memory of the accident and, other than a bad case of PTSD, no real injuries. Her family moves from Rhode Island to Florida to help her heal, but that doesn't go very well. Mara is having nightmares and increasingly frequent horrifying hallucinations. Or are they? Her private school is populated with mostly snotty rich kids, with the exception of her one friend, Jamie Roth, and Noah Shaw, a gorgeous guy with a British accent who has both a dangerous attitude and reputation. As Mara tries to figure out whether or not she is crazy or if there is something more to her strange connections to people who have died, she and Noah become closer, causing other students to assume that he is using her like he supposedly used other girls. As her love life heats up, Mara remembers more about the night of the accident and learns more about her abilities.

Wicked Saints, book cover

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

For a century, Kalyazin and Tranavia bled great gouts of men into a holy war that served no greater cause than one country’s fear, and one empire’s hubris. Nadya, a Kalyazi cleric who can commune with an entire pantheon of gods, is training in secrecy in the holy mountains by priests who sought to wield the power that sheltered inside her into the one thing that could save Kalyazin from sinking to its knees. But a sudden Tranavian attack on the monastery sends Nadya’s destiny spilling out into the air, the storm of it no longer a far future to be reached, but a typhoon here and now. All this mayhem is like blood in the water, and Nadya isn’t the only one swimming in it: Serefin, the High prince of Tranavia and a powerful blood mage, has scant interest in anything unless it involves alcohol but now finds himself forced to constantly look about him in trepidation for those who might be in a position to oppose his succession, including his father, the king. And there’s Malachiasz, a Tranavian defector whose real intentions are shrouded in secrecy and with whom Nadya forms a reluctant alliance while they’re both on the run from the Tranavian soldiers. Nadya soon discovers that unknown forces are scheming to carve a new avenue to power and fulfilling her destiny of helping the gods reclaim their hold on the world might prove harder than she'd thought.

Crossing the Line, book cover

Crossing the Line by Simone Elkeles

To escape his abusive stepdad, bad boy Ryan Hess runs from his tiny Texas border town to Mexico. But his plans to keep his head down and stay out of trouble are shattered the minute he meets the beautiful and totally out of his league Dalila Sandoval. Dalila Sandoval shouldn't even know someone like Ryan Hess. The daughter of one of the wealthiest lawyers in Mexico, Dalila is focused on studying and planning for her bright future. Ryan is only a distraction from her dreams, but she's never felt more alive than when she's by his side. Ryan and Dalila are wrong for each other in every way. And yet they can't resist the sparks that fly when they're together. But their love is like a flame burning too close to the fuse. Something is going to explode. Will their love be strong enough to survive? Or will it burn them both?

Say You'll Remember Me, book cover

Say You'll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

When Drix was convicted of a crime--one he didn't commit--he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor's newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while. Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor's daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn't may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means. When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle's parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix's messy life. But sometimes love can breach all barriers. Fighting against a society that can't imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves--Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence--and each other to finally get what they deserve.

Further Reading

Cruel Prince, book cover
City of Bones, book cover
Pushing the Limits, book cover
Hush Hush, book cover
Sweet Evil, book cover
Red Queen, book cover
Fallen, book cover
Obsidian, book cover
Nevermore, book cover
The Vampire Diaries, book cover
Vampire Academy, book cover
Perfect Chemistry, book cover