In an earlier post I tackled YA heroines, and since I’m in a ranting mood today I’ve decided to talk about their hunky, boring, and clichéd counter parts. The average YA male.
To begin I’d like to start with a profile of said YA Male:
Eyes: sparkling deep pools (usually of a color that doesn’t exist in the real world like gold or turquoise) with lashes like a girl (why? who knows apparently that’s normal)
Build: muscular but lean (whatever that looks like, I think it’s just a cop-out so the writer doesn’t need to decided)
Occupation(s): stalker, body-guard, and/or best friend of the female in question (but most usually stalker).
Weaknesses: over protectiveness????? (does that count?)
Every time I read a YA romance I just want to cry. I want to lay my head down and cry, because these guys/men/boys/werewolf what have you, have no personality. Some how they all boil down to slightly obsessed stalker types for no reason other than the fact that as a werewolf/vampire/radioactive super something they have a freakish fascination with pale, plain Jane girls who have nothing better to do than sit around and be sullen. Or complain occasionally about not having anything interesting to do.
I’m not sure why a guy being a stalker is attractive, because having a stalker in real life (no matter how long his eyelashes are) would creep me out. And they aren’t even GOOD stalkers. They suck at stalking, and eventually get caught. Which, is pretty sad if you really think about it, because Jane isn’t the brightest bulb in the bunch to begin with. I guess that’s used as their character flaw since they don’t really have any others.
The YA males of today are rather vapid, attractive, and completely and utterly obsessed with keeping their Jane Doe’s tucked under their protective wing and little else matters. They don’t ever break down, they don’t stumble, or fail, or fart or get stuff stuck in their teeth, or do anything that would cause them to be little strange, or abnormal. Or, you know, Relate-able! Why teenagers continue to insist on reading this stuff absolutely amazes me!
I’m not sure why these YA guys are so attractive. (other than the fact that they are attractive in the aesthetic sense) Where is the substance? Remove the stalkery obsession, and you have a mannequin with less personality than the cut outs from those Old Navy commercials and little else. All I’m asking is that these ‘guardians’ (if that’s what you want to call them) also be PEOPLE.
I think that’s really easy to forget when you are writing. Every character you write needs to be a PERSON, and PEOPLE care about more than just their significant other. Even if that is a big part of their life it isn’t the ONLY part. That gets lost a lot of times in YA romance because writers become so focused on the plot (which is about the characters relationship) that they forget about everything else their characters need to care about. Especially the male love interest, because the book isn’t told through their eyes it’s easy to just let them fall by the wayside and pretend that they can live off their lovers presence alone.
That is not the case.
An excellent example of finding this balance in a YA male lies in Suzanne Collins’ book THE HUNGER GAMES. Even though I am team Peeta all the way I think Collins’ did an excellent job of writing Gale. Sure, Gale loves Katniss, but that is only one part of him. He takes care of his family, he loves to hunt, he is a soldier in later parts of the book, and he is outspoken about resisting the oppression of the government. His world doesn’t revolve around Katniss, even if she is a large part of it! If one of the cookie cutter guys from another YA romance had been put in his place things would have been a lot different. For instance, instead of staying behind to look after his family and Katnisses during the hunger games, in a blind fit of protectiveness he would have flung himself onto the stage to go into the games with his dearly beloved. Dumb move. Gale just proves that you don’t need to be a stalker to be a successful YA guy!
Please, if you are writing a YA novel, or ANY novel just PLEASE don’t put a stalker in your book unless it’s a mystery. No more creepers! Anyone have a theory about why young women like them so much?