Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nice guys

I understand the appeal of the bad-boy love interest, the arrogant guy who can toss off the perfect snappy remark. At least, I understand it in fiction.

But in real life, arrogance just turns me off. I have a higher tolerance for it in fiction because 1) in books, we often get to see behind the arrogant facade into a better, more vulnerable person; and 2) fiction has an element of role-playing or fantasy to it (even when it's realistic fiction) where we can explore people and situations that we wouldn't necessarily choose in life.

Sometimes, though, I just want a nice guy, even in my books. So I thought I'd recommend four YA books where the love interest is a nice, decent guy. And appealing. There's no reason a nice character can't be interesting--nice can include a complicated past, a sense of humor, some unexpected vulnerabilities, some quirks and foibles. Here are a few of my favorites:

Gavin in Shrinking Violet (by Danielle Joseph). Not all musicians are guitar-smashing bad boys.

Guy in Willow (by Julia Hoban). He sees the main character, Willow, through some horrific experiences. But he and Willow don't just talk about themselves and their troubles--they're interested in the wider world around them.

Otto in The Order of the Poison Oak (by Brent Hartinger). He's musical too. And he's not into head games: how refreshing.

Michael in Some Girls Are (by Courtney summers). Okay, he has some issues and some angst, but for good reason. And overall, he comes through when he's needed, and he's incredibly loyal.

Nice guys don't have to finish last.

Source of recommended reads: bought


  1. I agree totally with you! I LOVE bad boys in fiction, but in real life they're just annoying and aggravating.

  2. I think you just gave me a reading list . . . even though, *in fiction*, I do like a bad boy sometimes ;)
    in real life the nice guys are the amazing ones <3

  3. Love this post. The main character in my WIP is a nice guy...something I don't see very often especially in YA fiction. I would also add Nash from "Waiting for You" by Susane Colasanti to your nice guy list.

  4. Hey, I saw the link to this post on Nathan Bransford's blog and had to check it out. I'm a sucker for nice guys in books and in real life, so I'm definitely adding these books to my to-be-read list

  5. Hannah, Sarah, and Jennifer:

    Thanks for weighing in! I'm glad nice guys have some fans out there. :-)

  6. Personally I prefer a nice guy. There can still be enough conflict to hold a reader's attention. After all, "nice guys finish last."

    Although my MS isn't YA, it's encouraging to see these nice guy protagonists selling.

  7. Backfence:

    Anything can be overdone, including the dangerous bad boy. So we definitely have room for nice guys!

  8. And don't even get me started on the vampire craze! LOL

  9. But what if they're *nice* vampires? LOL!