Your Guide to the Types of Book Boyfriend in YA Books

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To all young adult addicts out there: we all have our own “list” of book boyfriends. We all have a secret list of “harems’, dedicated to the guys that we love the most.

If you say you don’t, either you haven’t been in this genre long enough…or you’re just flat out lying.

If you have read enough YA books, you’ll also start to notice certain recurring patterns within these guys, and sooner or later you’ll start to categorize them just like what I am doing right now). This list is basically a summarization of the “type” of book boyfriends I’ve encountered (so far). Tell me in the comments below if you agree!

The guys allergic to shirts (stop showing off buddy. We get it, you’re hot.)

We all know that book boyfriends are always in great shape, and these guys are not afraid to show it. And when they are shoving it into people’s faces 24/7, it provides great comic relief when people call them out (still a great view though). But despite their great appearances, these guys have great personalities too. The inside counts just as much as the outside – the outside just…adds to it.

Daemon Black – Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring… until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something… unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

Come on Daemon, everyone can see it: you’re just taking those shirts off for Katy. Even she called you out for it (multiple times too). Oh well, I guess no one can complain about the view. If I am even remotely as fit as he is I would show it off too.

But to give Daemon credit, he doesn’t completely overdo it. He only takes it off when exercising or swimming, but even then he makes sure Katy sees it.

Raffe – Angelfall by Susan Ee

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It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Although both Raffe and Daemon aren’t ashamed to “show off” themselves once in a while, unlike Daemon, Raffe have a legitimate reason for his shirt being off. Being an angel with giant wings, it’s arguably a lot more convenient with your shirt off than on. So to summarize this in Raffe’s own words: “I didn’t hear any complains”.

“The Darklings” (a.k.a the less-approachable villains)

In the anime world, we call these characters “Tsundere”. To summarize these type of characters, they are people who seem really cold and aloof on the outside but is actually anything but that on the inside. “Tsundere” can also be used to describe the character development of these initially cold characters to a warmer, more opened character. One of the reasons why these types of book boyfriends are so popular is because of how cool they are. They are incredibly attractive, incredibly bad-ass, and have great in-depth personalities of a painful past that made them this way, making their character so much more interesting. And let’s just be honest here, it feels awesome to have a boyfriend how is completely cold to everyone except you).

Hideo Tanaka – Warcross by Marie Lu

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For the millins who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Hideo is the epitome of a Tsundere. He was so cold and aloof in the beginning (even Emika didn’t like him in the beginning). But as we get to know him (work our way down that icy shield), we start to see glimpses of Hideo’s more warm self and melting the ice in the process. Hideo is one of the “darkling” characters because of how he has it all – he’s a genius programming and business prodigy who is incredibly attractive and in shape with an unbelievable sense of fashion (one that I would further elaborate upon later in this list).

The Darkling – Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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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.

The Darkling is a more controversial case – while all the other characters on this list are the legitimate end-game boyfriend (who temporarily had villainous roles), the darkling is arguably the ultimate antagonist of the Shadow and Bone series. He’s handsome, powerful, manipulative, and definitely evil. He’s also the least redeemable character on this list with a refreshing fact that he doesn’t have the cliche “tragic past” most of the other characters have.

Kaz – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz is a thief, and he does his job well. Very well. He’s extremely successful in the crime business, a genius in the art of thievery. He even dresses his part – he looks like a human grim reaper magician himself. He sometimes is also heartless and damn calculating – but is he though? He’s been through a lot of hardship, and when it comes to those he cares deeply about *cough* Inej *cough*…yeah, appearances don’t’ tell the whole story, does he?

Misunderstood villains

The title summarizes these types of characters perfectly. These are characters who are deemed as villainous in their respective worlds, but in reality, they are actually just misunderstood. They either are too nice to try and correct everyone, no one would believe them anyway, or to enforce this facade to protect those who he cares about. This is why these characters definitely have a tragic backstory.

Warner (kind of) – Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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One touch is all it takes. One touch, and Juliette Ferrars can leave a fully grown man gasping for air. One touch, and she can kill.

No one knows why Juliette has such incredible power. It feels like a curse, a burden that one person alone could never bear. But The Reestablishment sees it as a gift, sees her as an opportunity. An opportunity for a deadly weapon.

Juliette has never fought for herself before. But when she’s reunited with the one person who ever cared about her, she finds a strength she never knew she had.

The reason Warner is “kind of” a misunderstood villain is that he is arguably one of the most messed up characters on this list – the only on that can even remotely compete with the Darkling in terms of evilness, but it’s not really his fault. Unlike the Darkling, Warner actually does have a legitimate reason to be the way he is a.k.a tragic past. Also, he has realized the wrong nature of his ways and is trying to change largely thanks to Juliette.

Rhysand – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.

At least, he’s not a beast all the time.

As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it, or doom Tamlin―and his world―forever.

Rhysand is completely misunderstood, it’s not controversial. It’s just a fact. Everyone thinks he is this evil man – the villain of the story – and he enforces this facade in order to protect the things he cares about. But he is anything but that. I really can’t discuss more because it involves heavy spoilers, but anyone who has read this series knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Go read this series. You will not regret it.

Aldrik – Air Awakens by Elise Kova

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A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war. Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all–the Crown Prince Aldrik–she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

Aldrik was labeled the black sheep of the imperial empire’s royal family, and it’s not just because he’s the only person who wears black. Despite being the legitimate heir, nobody accepts him and either hates or fears him because of his dark – arguably villainous – appearance and aloof characteristics. However, after opening up to Vhalla, he learned to open up to the world and start to heal for the wounds of being alone that accumulated all those years. He was truly misunderstood.

Bully turned romanic interest

These characters can be even more controversial than the Darklings because it’s a thin line between “bad boys” and abusive relationships. Authors need to be aware of the dangers of romanticizing bullying, it is not okay and a lot of times it’s not forgivable. Lines should be carefully set for characters like these.

Cardan – The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Cardan was really drawing the line I just mentioned in this book. He humiliated and bullied Jude despite the fact that he cannot help but be attracted to her. What he has done is really close to crossing the line, but Cardan’s popularity definitely sets an example for this type of book boyfriends and how likable they are.

Darren – First Years by Rachel E. Carter

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Before the age of seventeen the young men and women of Jerar are given a choice –follow tradition, or pursue a trial year in one of the realm’s three war schools to study as a soldier, knight or mage…For 15-year-old Ryiah the choice has always been easy. Become a warrior and leave the boring confines of her lowborn life behind. Set to enroll in the School of Knighthood on the eve of her next birthday, plans suddenly shift when her twin brother discovers powers. Hoping that hers will soon follow, she enrolls with Alex at the Academy instead –the realm’s most notorious war school for those with magic.

Yet when she arrives Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Every “first-year” is given a trial year to prove their worth –and no amount of hard work and drive will guarantee them a spot. It seems like everyone is rooting for her to fail –and first and foremost among them Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived.

When an accidental encounter leads Ryiah and Darren to an unlikely friendship she is convinced nothing good will come of it. But the lines become blurred when she begins to improve –and soon she is a key competitor for the faction of Combat… Still, nothing is ever as it seems –and when the world comes crashing down around her, Ry is forced to place faith in the one thing she can believe in –herself. Will it be enough?

Darren, unlike Cardan, is not controversial at all. He doesn’t push the line as much as Cardan. Yes, he had a shaky beginning with Ryiah, but even then their relationship was not even a quarter as toxic as Jude and Cardan’s. But he is a good example of this trope.

The personal trainers

These are the guys who are usually assigned to our bad-ass protagonists to help improve their physical fighting skills. Usually, our heroines would be a really sassy and feisty girl and these guys would initially dislike the girl’s attitude, but eventually, be drawn toward her as well.

EVERY INDIE BOOK EVER

I am not kidding, this trope is literally in every single indie book ever, especially in those paranormal/young adult books. The reason these kind of book boyfriends are so reassuring in genres like this is because of how these paranormal young-adult books usually involve the trope of our heroine being dragged (usually unwillingly) into a supernatural world, and they need to train. Chances are, they already met these guys and hates them – they are arrogant and rude. But since they are forced to work together to train together, they develop a relationship as they get to know each other.

Say what you want, this trope is insanely popular for a reason. I personally love this trope as well.

Dimitri – Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies…

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires—the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger… and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever…

Dimitri originally hated Rose’s guts. I personally adore Rose’s sassy don’t-give-a-crap attitude, and I find it incredibly entertaining to watch Rose purposely make Dimitri suffer knowing how much he hates her messing with him with her sassiness. This made some great character dynamics, which is why their romance is so satisfying and cute.

Four – Divergent by Veronica Roth

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One choice can transform you. Beatrice Prior’s society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions.

Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she’s determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous.

Although Vampire Academy does have a more cliche scenario (it is a YA paranormal series) with the classic dynamic between the bad-ass heroine and aloof hero, Divergent was a little bit more different in this dynamic. The setting is different too (maybe that contributed to the differences), Divergent is a dystopian world, making the atmosphere more…depressing. Which perfectly fit Tris’s more shy and timid nature – while still making her incredibly badass – and still throwing her together with the personal trainer. Now Four is just like Dimitri. Although he doesn’t really dislike Tris in the way that Dimitri initially disliked Rose, he definitely had to come to like her, he was not very approachable initially. Another reason why he fits this trope is that he is in the mentor/trainer position for this.

The unbelievably sassy (and lovable) ones

This trait overlaps with a lot of book boyfriends. It’s not either you have it or don’t have it – it’s a scale. The scale of sassiness the guy have. These type of book boyfriends are not as aloof, and they often tease/flirt with the heroine as comic relief, but of course, they genuinely feel that way for the heroine. Often times these guys hid their painful past behind this humorous shield, which give such meaningful depths to their character, making them even more lovable than they already are. Thanks to their humor, they are also incredibly charismatic.

Rhysand – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.

At least, he’s not a beast all the time.

As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it, or doom Tamlin―and his world―forever.

Rhysand is such an embodiment of this trope – although he has a very villainous facade (one that I had previously elaborated upon earlier), he is also incredibly humorous. Remember how I said these type of characters love just trolling and teasing our heroines? It’s one of Rhysand’s behavior trademarks as well. Even after they married he still does this

Percy and Leo – the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

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Oh my god, this pair. If they combined their respective level of sassiness they would make the world explode. I legit get third-degree burns when they get just a bit too savage. Well, maybe the world didn’t explode yet because of how Annabeth and Calypso’s respective badass-ness themselves are balancing it out.

The Nice Guys

The above categories can all fall under the “bad-boy” generalized category, but the category “nice guys” unfortunately is just one category because it’s such a minority (I am so sorry). It’s just that the above type of characters are so much more interesting and fun to read (and so much more shipable). But as readers, we should still acknowledge these “good guys”, they’re nice people too.

Maxon – The Selection by Keira Cass

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For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Yes, Maxon is charismatic, charming, and incredibly attractive, but if you really think about it, he’s not really a bad boy. You could say that he is one of the few examples of book boyfriends who is not a bad boy and is genuinely still beloved and popular with the fandom. That is so much more than what I can say for Mal from the Grisha Trilogy.

Mal – Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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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.

Both Maxon and Mal can fall under the “nice guy” category, but that’s where the similarities end. While Maxon is charismatic, lovebale, interesting, and popular with the fandom, Mal is anything but that. Mal is annoying, enraging, boring, and unpopular with the Grisha trilogy fans. Listen, we (the fans) are not irrational – we know the Darkling is not good for Alina. But the alternative choice could’ve been made so much better. It’s such a shame.

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