Friday, 8 March 2013

Stalking in YA: Why This Isn't Romantic

So myself and my lovely friend Katie were discussing YA boyfriends yesterday, and how we're sick of the typical trope they usually represent. 

Yes, I'm talking about the possessive, controlling and stalker-y boyfriends who often get labelled as "bad boys" so they're easier to swoon over. The best (and only) example I will give to you is... and this shouldn't surprise anyone... Edward Cullen

Check out those eyes, they're the ones that will watch you sleep at night! The reason I am only mentioning Edward Cullen (and I mention him because I can't hurt Stephanie Meyer's sales and he's been discussed to death anyway) is that I don't think it's my job to publicly "out" the other restraining-order worthy YA boyfriends. You all know they exist. They cut car cables to keep you from seeing other people, they pin you down forcefully to exert dominance, they muse about how they could kill you in an instant if they wanted to. 

And boy do readers SWOON over these potential psychopaths. Now let me be clear. I am not insulting the readers of YA. If you think Edward Cullen is the perfect example of chivalry, that's fine, you're allowed. The potential dangers behind characters such as Mr. Cullen to perceptive and impressionable young girls is not my topic to discuss. Seriously, there are about ten thousand articles out there about that very subject. This blog post is more of a lighthearted look at why I'm 100% over the stalking-is-romantic-because-it-means-he-cares plot device in YA. 

So to make this potentially unending post a bit more concise, here's a list:


1. They are not the "bad boys" we'd like to think they are

Seriously, "bad boys" exist, and they come swooping in on motorcycles and have the boy version of daddy issues. Think Jess Mariano from Gilmore Girls. They are bad at expressing their emotions so they come off as mean. But they can be healed, so to speak. Reformed bad boys are so much sexier than the near-criminal YA "bad boys."

2. They are not honest

Have you ever met a sixteen year old boy? Anyone who has been through high school can tell you that teenage boys (and girls!) are awkward. They're at an age of uncertainty. An age of questioning. An age where the mere thought of aggressively pursuing the mysterious new girl at school should send them into a sweaty fit of nerves. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but keep your weird possessive boyfriends out of high school!

3. They are not appealing

Okay full disclosure: I had a slew of clingy boyfriends in high school and I hated them all. Okay, I didn't hate them but I sure didn't keep them around for very long. So what I'm saying is when I was a sixteen year old girl, I was turned OFF by clingy, possessive and obsessive behaviour. I wasn't keen on keeping those guys around. So why is Bella so into Edward? Well, my friends, it is a work of fiction.

4. They are, in fact, abusive

I don't need to go into the myriad of reasons why secretly watching someone sleep is not okay. Same goes for casually implying that you could hurt your girlfriend in an instant because you are so strong. Ladies, it is not endearing when a guy ensures that he alone occupies your world. 

5. Good guys, the ones who don't stalk you, are SO MUCH SEXIER

Let's hear it for the good guys, the ones who are partners in healthy relationships. The ones who support their significant others, the ones who help their partners grow. Let's hear it for the guys who have interests/hobbies/passions outside of their girlfriends, and who support their significant other's interests/hobbies/passions. 

So to end this post, let's hear it for my favourite "good" guys in YA: Ron Weasley (Harry Potter), Peeta Mellark (The Hunger Games), Tobias Eaton (Divergent), Augustus Waters (The Fault in Our Stars),  Prince Po (Graceling), Mal Oretsev (Shadow and Bone, I'd consider him a reformed bad boy) and Sean Kendrick (The Scorpio Races). 

So, fair readers of my blog, who are your favourite "Good Guys" in YA? 


  1. You had me at Tobias and Sean. I would also like to add Roar and Perry from Under the Never Sky as well as Julian from Pandemonium.

    And now I'm going to go back to swooning over Four.

    1. I'm pretty much in actual love with Tobias and Sean. I mean, Ron Weasley is my soulmate, but those two... oh boy! (I hope my real-life boyfriend doesn't read this!)

      And my jaw just dropped at the fact that I neglected Roar and Perry! Under the Never Sky was one of my favourite read of 2012! I'm a bad person for leaving those two swoon-worthy boys out! Thanks for reminding me!!

  2. TOBIAS! Oh man, he's like the ultimate good guy. *swoon*

    1. I'm DYING for book 3!!! I <3 Tobias! Even though I can't read the name and not think of Tobias Funke. I can get over that.

  3. Gansey Gansey Gansey Gansey. Go team Raven Boys!

    1. Gansey! <3 Maggie Stiefvater really has a knack for writing well-rounded and loveable characters!

  4. This is such an interesting topic! I am completely over the whole stalking ya romance that has been labelled as the "perfect relationship." I would rather read about a slow building romance with some awkward occurrences than possessive instalove. It's just not real.

    Also I have to admit I adore Ron Weasley and Augustus in the way they went about their relationships. Nothing was forced and it was all natural. I find that so much more attractive than instalove. It's just over done now.

    1. The slow burn with awkward occurrences is so true to life! I'm with you on that. I'm trying so hard in my own writing not to make my main characters have some sort of unrealistic soulmate-dream-love type relationship. They're 17!

      And come on, J.K. Rowling took 7 books to get Ron and Hermione to kiss. Talk about a slow burn ;)

  5. YES! THIS!

    I'd never judge another's reading tastes, but these downright abusive YA "heart-throbs" are really, really getting on my nerves. Don't these writers/publishers know that pre-teens are reading this? Are we really telling our daughters and sisters and neices out there that it's okay to fall for and trust the guy who climbs into your window every night to watch you sleep? I get the allure of a little danger in fiction, but there's a difference between a little danger and full-blown stalker/harrasser.

    I've really been loving Etienne from Anna And The French Kiss, Derek from The Summoning, Jack from Everbound, Lucas from Easy, and a few you already mentioned for kind, supportive, "good-guy" characters. Oh, and I feel compelled to add Akiva from Daugher Of Smoke And Bone because I absolutely ADORE him, but their situation is very...unusual, so I'm not sure he'd fit in this list.

    Again, FANTASTIC post. One I couldn't possibly agree more with!

    -Kelly @ Paper Fantasies

    1. Thanks for your compliments! :)

      You've just added a lot more books to my TBR pile because I haven't read any of the ones you mentioned! Except Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

      And you're right about the allure of danger. There's a fine line, and all too often, authors cross it. "Bad boy" doesn't have to mean stalker and "good guy" doesn't have to mean spineless and un-sexy. There's a balance that you have to find!

      Thanks for reading!

  6. I think there is a category between bad boys and good boys. You know, the ones who are slightly bad, but still attractive with a sweet side to them. Not the manipulative, lying, cheating, abusive and controlling freaks. One I can think of is Jace. He can act like an ass, but deep down, he is loyal and caring. As long as they are in balance, I don't mind it if they have some dark sides to them. In books, though. I prefer my good guy in real life :D


    1. You are definitely right! There are sexy/mysterious/rough-around-the-edges guys who are not inherently psychopaths. Jace being one of them!

      I prefer good guys too, though my boyfriend might like to think of himself as a "bad guy."

  7. Wow. You listed all my favorite YA boyfriends! Haven't read Graceling yet, so I'm thinking that's next based on your list. Great post.

    1. Graceling was beyond fantastic! I can't recommend it enough!

      Thanks for reading! :)