I’m not sure it necessarily started with Team Edward versus Team Jacob, but I know that the idea of crushing on and favoring certain male fictional characters really peaked with the popularity of the “Twilight” books. And then, of course, there was the big question…are you a fan of Peeta or Gale? I think the fact that both the “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” series were turned into movies really muddied the waters on the whole literary crushes thing. Thanks to the movies and their choices for lead actors, it became a Robert versus Taylor feud and a question of Liam Hemsworth being cuter than Josh Hutcherson, at least as viewed by the teen girls in my house. As an adult who enjoys YA fiction, I prefer when the books don’t get turned into movies so I can languish in my own vision of what these characters look and sound like. And then, of course, when Hollywood completely messes up by choosing the wrong actor, it makes me apoplectic. I mean, I have nothing against Theo James as an actor, but casting him as Four in Divergent was so wrong! Four was bi-racial in the book and should have been portrayed by a bi-racial actor. Sigh. I know this brings up an even bigger issue with regard to the lack of diversity in Hollywood. And that is a topic for another day.
On that note, I’d like to return to the world of YA fiction and the beautiful, flawed, outspoken, heartthrobs that reside within those pages.
My teenaged daughters and I loved Jace Wayland in Cassandra Clare’s “Mortal Instruments” series. His name may change in the series as he finally finds out who his father is, but the truth remains…Jace is a shadowhunter, rough around the edges, but still smolderingly hot. Again, don’t get distracted by the actors from the movie or TV series. Jace is best dreamed about as he is portrayed in the books. His dialogue may be clipped and sarcastic, but he is a tortured soul, and a leftie, and therefore our number one YA crush.
I am a sucker for fallen angels and completely starry-eyed over Joe Strong on the TV series, “Midnight Texas.” If you too go weak in the knees over heavenly heartthrobs, you must read Becca Fitzpatrick’s series, “hush, hush.” Patch is the broody fallen angel that Nora meets in her high school Biology class. She thinks he’s a stalker trying to kill her, but after he saves her numerous times, she must face facts as he ultimately becomes her guardian angel. This is kind of a dark series, so better for adults and older teens.
If you heart goes pitter patter for bad boys with hearts of gold, you will want to read Katie McGarry’s series, “Walk the Edge,” featuring Thomas “Razor” Turner. This series was perfect for me as a fan of the TV show, “Sons of Anarchy.” Razor’s family has ties to the Reign of Terror motorcycle club. As Razor tries to find out more about his mother’s death, he is aided by the smart, quiet girl from school. This is one for every smart girl in love with a bad boy. There is a little Tara Knowles in us all.
Now, if a little country boy charm makes you swoon, pick up a copy of “Dangerous Lies,” also by Becca Fitzpatrick. Chet Falconer calls Thunder Basin, Nebraska home. Stella is there living a lie and trying to survive as she is in Thunder Basin courtesy of the Witness Protection Program. As Chet breaks down all of Stella’s walls, there is one he can’t pass or she will put both of their lives in jeopardy.
I am such a sucker for the lovable, but lost. R is a zombie trying so hard to build relationships and become human again when he meets Julie. First he keeps her as his captive, then they become friends, and as their relationship blossoms, love has the potential to not just save the day, but save the human race. While “Warm Bodies,” by Isaac Marion has also been turned into a movie, you simply must read the book first. It truly is an elegant, well-written book that turns the whole “zombies in literature” thing on its ear.
Finally, this one is a contentious topic at my house. Gena Showalter has a new series in YA, “Firstlife.” It’s a total page turner about a society where you must choose where you will spend your afterlife before you die, and two factions compete for people to choose one over the other. Seventeen year old Tenley (Ten) has spent a year living in an asylum as punishment for not making her choice. Two young men are sent by the warring sides to try to convince Ten to choose. Archer is from Troika and Killian is from Myriad. My daughters are Team Archer. He is all balance and good and golden light. I am Team Killian. He’s the dark, velvety-voiced, edgy, bad boy. Makes for fun discussions as we eagerly await the third book in the series due out in February 2018!