The “Good Guys” of YA Literature

Posted May 6, 2010 by Emily in Uncategorized / 27 Comments

We all know the Edwards and the Jacobs. The Patches, Adams and Jaces. The “Bad Boys” of YA Literature.

But, what about the good guys? The ones that are fiercely loyal and sweet. They aren’t dangerous and won’t kill you, and yet they steal our heart anyway.

Maybe it’s because I tended to date the jerks in high school and even into college, but I can’t really fall for the bad boys in literature. But, it probably has a lot more to do with the fact that I married a very good guy.

Here are my favorite Good Guys from YA Literature:

1. Gilbert Blythe: Anne of Green Gables
  You knew from the very beginning that he was meant for Anne. He’s there for her through everything. He gives up his teaching position at the Avonlea school for her so she can still live at Green Gables and take care of Marilla. He works hard through medical school so he can support her once their married. (Because we all knew they were going to end up together).

2. Laurie: Little Women
I think that one of the biggest disappointments in literature for me was that Laurie and Jo didn’t get together. Of course, I can understand why Louisa May Alcott didn’t write the story that way, but I every time I read that book I hope it will turn out differently.

Laurie is handsome and smart, albeit a little lazy. But, he’s a comfort to Jo and a protector of her and her sisters while their father is away at war.

3. Peeta: Hunger Games
Team Peeta or Team Gale? Well, officially, I’m team Katniss. I want her to end up with whoever she wants. (Cop out answer, I know).

Peeta is such a fantastic character. He’ll do anything to make sure Katniss gets out of the hunger games alive, even though he knows that means sacrificing himself.

4. Nat: Witch of Blackbird Pond
For those of you who haven’t read this book, here’s a synopsis from Goodreads:

A high-spirited teenage girl rebels against the narrow-minded ways of Puritan Connecticut and befriends a lonely old woman who is subsequently accused of being a witch.

This romance is probably a little lesser known since this is an older book. But, I remember reading this book in middle school and then reading the ending over and over again because I loved it so much.

Yes, I picked Matthew McFadyen over Collin Firth.

5. Mr. Darcy: Pride and Prejudice
Who didn’t love Mr. Darcy? There just aren’t enough good English gentlemen to go around, is there?
Mr. Darcy’s love for Elizabeth Bennett and what he does throughout the book to win her love is the stuff dreams are made of.

6. Calvin O’Keefe: A Wrinkle in Time
Calvin and Meg’s relationship is really awesome. Calvin is one of the popular boys at school, and is on the basketball team. He doesn’t hesitate to join Meg in finding her father and Charles Wallace. He ends up loving Meg’s family even more than his own. (Not surprising given his home life)

I haven’t read the rest of the series, but I probably should some day since I know that their relationship continues in the subsequent books.

Who is your favorite “Good Guy”?

27 responses to “The “Good Guys” of YA Literature

  1. Mel

    From my recent reads, I have to say I really liked Jay in Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder. He was sweet and the romance in that book was very sweet. It was nice to find a book where the character wants a romance with a "good" guy.

    I also have to say that I love Puck from Julie Kagawa's The Iron King. He is charming, sweet, and playful. I know I am Team Ash, but part of me still hopes that she will choose Puck in the end, just because he seems like he could use some love.

  2. Wonderful post! And I must agree with Mel that Jay from The Body Finder really was a wonderful good guy. And I think I could classify Jinn from Jackson Pearce's As You Wish as a good guy…good genie, that is.

    Thank you for showing love for Gilbert, who was one of my first book-loves. And Laurie & Jo were meant to be! Alcott even got angry letters from readers begging her to let them end up together, but she wouldn't budge–that was probaly the first ever Team war in reader history. 🙂

    Peeta forever! I love beta heroes.

    Also, pre-werewolf transformation, I'd call Jacob Black a good guy, but the bad-boy vibe just shows up naturally when you're capable of turning into a wolf.

  3. Kay

    This was a fun post. I had forgotten about Nat from WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND, but he was great. I loved Edward from SENSE AND SENSIBILITY and also Mr. Knightley from EMMA. Jay from THE BODY FINDER is wonderful as a current pick and I agree about Jacob Black as well. Good topic, Emily!

  4. Great post. My favorite is Gilbert! I just love Anne of Green Gables, and Anne and Gilbert were seriously a match made in heaven. They just HAD to be to together. Gilbert was always my literature crush.

    Laurie and Jo were a huge dissappointment to me too. So frustrating.

    I don't really like Peeta. I think Katniss should not end up with anyone. I think she should be an old maid.

    Good Guys that I would add to the list: Aarogon from Lord of the Rings, Bean from the Shadow series, and Galen from Princess of the Midnight Ball

  5. Jared Sapiens from INCARCERON. He loves Claudia, but they can never be together — she's destined for a dynastic marriage with a prince, and he's "only" her tutor (albeit the youngest and most brilliant Sapient ever to graduate from the Academy). But he is intelligent, perceptive, resourceful, has a wry sense of humour, is Claudia's dead-loyal best friend and co-conspirator, and furthermore he has dark hair, green eyes and long sensitive hands. Reader, I swooned.

  6. I love this post! I haven't read a lot of recent YA, and you picked some older reads that I actually have read! 🙂 Good choices–and I'll forgive you for picking Matthew over Colin because he is so dreamy. I love them both as Darcy. 😉

  7. LOL to what RJ said. I have really got to get a hold of INCARCERON!

    So happy to see Nat and Calvin on this list. I've loved those two for so long. They really are the nicest of nice guys.

    Even though I'm Team Gale, I am able to recognize the appeal of Peeta. I just don't trust him, somehow…we shall see in MOCKINGJAY. 🙂

  8. awesome, Emily! I HATE bad boys in YA books – I get on my soapbox and think that they send the wrong message about what girls should look for… anyway… I actually think Jacob & Edward are "nice guys" in their own ways – the only "bad boy" thing being that they're some sort of dangerous fantasy creature. I totally agree with Patch and Jace. Jace was just OBNOXIOUS, and gah I really hated that!
    Great post 😀

  9. Great topic and excellent choices! I so adore Gilbert, Laurie, and Peeta. Love all the awesome Jay shout-outs here in the comments! Wasn't he awesome? I love best friend romances like the one in The Body Finder. I also agree with the mention of Jared in Incarceron. He is so devoted to Claudia & truly has been her best friend & closest companion for years. Can't wait to read Sapphique and see where Catherine Fisher takes that relationship. Finn's feelings for Attia make me hopeful on the Claudia/Jared front. Another nice guy I adore is Silas in Sisters Red.

  10. Wonderful post, Emily!!! This brought back memories of my fav book-crushes, past and present. I, too, re-read the ending of Witch of Blackbird Pond over and over, and broke my heart over Jo and Lauri. *sigh*

    My fav books then and now are still the Williamsburg series by Elswyth Thane Beebe. They are hard to find now, but are full of romance with good guys.

    We may age on the outside, but we are all still girls at heart. 🙂

  11. I love this post! Hope you don't mind if I "borrow" the idea for a post of my own (giving you full credit, of course!) MY top "good guys" are bookish Mac instead of fast Charlie from Alcott's Eight Cousins/A Rose in Bloom, and Phillip Ammon from Gene Stratton-Porter's A Girl of the Limberlost. Thanks for the great idea!

  12. What a great post! And I like both Matthew McFadyen and Collin Firth. I can't choose only one of them! 🙂

    Hmm, one of my favourite good guys would be Mr. Knightley (Jeremy Northam) from Emma.

    And I've gotta get the Anne of Green Gables DVD set! I miss Anne and Gilbert! My sis is a fan of the show and books. I was still a kid but I watched it together with her.

  13. You know, I swoon for these guys more than the bad guys. Gilbert – oh how I love him! I'd almost forgotten about Nat! He was my first love. Yes to them all. And hooray for the good fellas!

  14. Excellent post, and I was glad to see Nat on the list. I only read that book for the first time a couple of years ago, but thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog as part of the book blogger hop.

  15. (Here from the Book Blogger Hop.)

    I totally agree with Gilbert Blythe and Calvin… man, I love Calvin O'Keefe.

    I would also add Zachary from the Green Rider series… Even though it seems hopeless, I REALLY hope he gets to marry Karigan!

  16. I was so incredibly disappointed that Jo and Laurie didn't end up together and really upset that he ended up with Amy whom I couldn't stand. Gilbert Blythe has been a favorite of mine since my own teen years.

    In more recent teen fiction I really liked Yann Margoza from The Red Necklace, James from Lament and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater, Kent from Before I Fall, and George from Sucks to Be Me. When it comes to YA fiction you can't find better "good guys" than Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. Great post!

    By the way, I gave you an award on my blog.

  17. Gilbert. Gilbert. Gilbert. Gilbert.

    No competition. Ever. I even love his name. I've told people I'm going to marry someone just like him.

    Part of me (the part that believes fictional characters are real… wait, that's all of me) wants Gilbert to love me, but I also ardently believe that he and Anne are wonderful. It's such a tough world. 😀

  18. Anonymous

    In my opinion, I have no problem with 'bad boys', so long as there is more to them than being dark. I respect writers who know how to create a dark/tortured, bratty, male lead, etc. and give him personality and something about his character that makes me want to root for him and hope things work out for him. Sadly, some writers today just don't know how to bring the cardboard-cut of the bad boy and make him have a real personality with flaws and strenghts.

    Gilbert Blyte was always a great literary crush in my book becuase he is such a realistic guy. How many little girls have this boy in school who is their academic rival and who loves to tease/flirt with them, and they claim they can't stand, and lo and behold, when they grow up they realize they are inlove with them and they get married? Gilbert and Anne had such a classic romance and I love that.

    Mr.Darcy is great too, because both him and Elizabeth showed that sometimes we have to acknowledge not only the faults of those we love, but also our own flaws, and work to become fit partners for other people. They gave a great message that couples can learn from their mistakes and be better together, rather than apart.

    I'm also glad someone mentioned Yann Margoza from "The Red Necklace" and "The Silver Blade". To me he is a great guy because not only is he talented, mysterious, clever, and yes, very hot in a dark, exotic way, his is also a great person. He does what he needs to do and doesn't let fear rule him. Also, he is has this quiet, mischief to him that I just love.

    I also think Zack Greenfield from Allison Weir's "Impossible" is great love interest too. Not only did he love Lucy, but he also had the strenght to be a father to her unborn child and help her and her family defeat the Elvin Knight's curse; basically he was just there for her 100% and that says a whole lot in my book.

  19. Three cheers for Calvin! Such a good sport, considering the epic freak show that is Wrinkle. <3

    I have to agree with R.J. (of course), because Jared is the awesomest thing to ever awesome. But really, his love for Claudia is palpable, especially in Sapphique, and his love is reciprocated. That's why I actually think the end of Sapphique was very out-of-character for the two of them. It's like suddenly Fisher realized they were about to get married instead of Claudia and Finn, so she had to scramble to get things in order. Really, "Queens don't need tutors"? I know he has, to put it mildly, a major paradigm shift at the end, but that line was still utter blasphemy. Jared is a gentle spirit who wants to do the right thing, but…. something about the end was just so wrong.

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