Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Are Book Boys Dangerous?

So, I was reading A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas  (which I loved by the way) the other day, and it got me thinking about book boys. Then, I started reading some not so positive reviews about the relationship in the novel and then I was really thinking.

Why do readers tend to be drawn to book boys
that they would never date in real life?

Now, Tamlin, the love interest in ACOTAR has all of the qualities of a sexy and intriguing book boy; he's attractive, mysterious, physically strong, powerful, protective, and he makes that "low growl in the back of his throat" when he kisses the heroine. Now I'm a fan of that growl just as much as the next girl, but there is no way I would enjoy dating someone who is as protective and overbearing as some of the most popular book boyfriends out there. So, why are they appealing in book form? What does that say about readers and women as a whole that we are drawn to characters like this? 

Here's a list of book boys (and men) who fit this description, I would be interested to know if you were drawn to any of them (because I know I was)

  • Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas- He's actually the least over-bearing and protective on this list in my opinion. 
  • Edward Cullen from Twlight (duh!) 
  • Matthew from A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness- This is THE most over-bearing and protective book boyfriend I have come across so far, but I still enjoyed this novel.
  • Jace from The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare- I'm not a fan of Jace.
  • Damion Black from The Lux Series by Jenifer L. Armentrout- So much time spent protecting Katy from every possible element the world could throw at her.  
These bad book boyfriends are even present in classics! The moody, brooding, over-protective love interest has been around (and popular) for many years. 
  • Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte- Nothing about Heathcliff makes me think he would be a good real-life boyfriend
  • Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- So many left-handed compliments and he doubts Jane quite a bit. 
  • Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- While he isn't over-protective, he is rather unpleasant for a good majority of the novel. 

I think it's a case of fiction vs. reality. While I would never enjoy dating a man who lives to protect me and always throws himself in danger to save me, it is Fun to read about them. I really don't think that these boys are making any real statement about what women subconsciously look for in men, or what culture has done to us blah blah. As long as you can separate fictional romance from real-life romance, your preference in fictional men doesn't reveal the type of romance you will look for in real life.

There's also a lot of book boys that would make great real-life boyfriends! Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Peeta from The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzane Collins- He is sweet, soft-spoken and more emotional and vocal about his emotions than the more "manly and tough" Gale.
  • Mal from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo- Mal understands Alina's power and allows her to use her power and endanger herself for her cause. I had such a sweet spot for Mal while reading the series! He works with her, instead of always trying to stand in front of her and shelter her. 
  • Ron Weasley from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling- Ron is my ultimate book boyfriend! He is funny, sweet, has so much respect for Hermonie, and most importantly,he is a red head. 
  • Mr. Knightly from Emma by Jane Austen- I loved Mr. Knightly as he is so different from the typical brooding love interest of classic novels. He's sweet, considerate, shy, and calls Emma out when she is being unreasonable.   
Now I would love to hear your thoughts on book boys (in any genre) who do you love? Who do you hate? Do you fall for the bad boys in fiction? Let me know! 


  1. Great post, Mallory!

    Honestly I'm VERY fussy when it comes to book boys. As much as I totally agree with you that these guys can sometimes be fun to read about and pretty much everyone knows to distinguish between fiction and reality, a lot of them still leave a bad taste in the back of my mouth. I think my problem with a lot of book boys is that I want to read more of them that actually feel like real people. So many book boys, particularly in YA, are either possessive, dangerous, frightening men like Heathcliff or Edward Cullen, or they're 'nice guys'; which means they're actually not that nice at all, but think that they deserve to 'get the girl' because they didn't act like one of the 'bad guys'.

    In fact in terms of book boyfriends one of the ones I dislike most is Peeta, because I don't think he respects Katniss's boundaries.

    But to be honest nowadays I don't find myself reading many books with these kinds of love interests in them anyway, because I always end up feeling too frustrated with the love interests to enjoy the book.

    So that's my long rambling answer. ;)

    1. Yes, all good points! I sometimes feel like there is too much of a power imbalance between the male and female characters and that is when I start to get really annoyed. I think that it is unnecessary for there to even be a love story in The Hunger Games! Katniss has got the entire world to save!
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Jess!

  2. I don't have a problem with a bad book boy, as long as they change in the end. It also depends on how rude they are, if they cross the line or not. Very few book boys annoy me.

    1. Very true! Sometimes I have to roll my eyes when book boyfriends are too protective of the female character. It's just like, "Back off bro!"
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I have to admit I'm not very attracted to "bad boys" in fiction, at least not more so than I am in real life. I think what factors in with a lot of people is that when reading, there are no consequences. It doesn't matter if the love interest is a bit of a dick, because he won't stalk you and kill you in your sleep (something I can totally see a real-life Edward do).

    Heathcliff. Ugh. I was definitely not attracted to him while reading Wuthering Heights

    1. Haha Great point about consequences Celine! I always tell myself that I prefer the "nice guys" in literature, but sometimes I catch myself getting a little swoony-y over a not-so-nice one.
      And yes, Heathcliff is so grumpy and dramatic!
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  4. I have to admit I'm a sucker for a bad boy or a really damaged dude. I like intense guys in my fiction. But, I agree. I'd never go for that in real life. I think it is the fantasy of the whole thing. If you can fantasize about a character like that without having to deal with the negatives, like you would in real life, it can be fun and sexy to think about a guy who is powerful or protective. In a book you get to have the drama and the electricity of that type of relationship but you never need to worry about the downside.

    Cayt @ Vicarious Caytastrophe

    1. So true! And that is one of the great things about reading! You can experience situations that you may never get the chance to experience in real life. And I totally agree, sometimes the over-protective, emotionally damaged bad boy is just plain fun to read about!
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!