Recommend A… Book with a Bad Boy

Look!  A new meme!  I definitely didn’t have enough memes going on.

So, I’m starting off with a doozy of a prompt, because if there’s one thing in books that I hate, it’s the bad boy.  Okay, actually, it’s a love triangle, but those usually involve a bad boy.

Here’s why I don’t like the bad boy:

1) The heroine is supposed to tame him, hence feeding into the already screwy psychology of girls wanting to “save” boys, which is all kinds of unhealthy.

2) The heroine is consumed by him.  He’s a figure of obsession, or he’s a plot point for unfurling the heroine’s secret naughty desires.  He’s rarely a fleshed-out person, just an idea that the heroine latches onto.

3) He’s a jerk, okay?  Sure, he’s smoldering and mysterious and a rebel or whatever, but he’s also a jerk.  He’s afraid to get close to the heroine because he’s omg damaged, so he treats her like crap.  Somehow that’s attractive?  Come on, Heroine, you can do better.

That said, there’s one bad boy I wholeheartedly recommend reading about, and it’s Dream from Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” books.

Dream is not your typical literary bad boy.  First of all, he’s not human.  You could call him a god, but that’s not quite accurate either – he’s the embodiment of dreams and the ruler of our dreaming sleep.  He manipulates his own reality and handles conflicts on all planes of existence.  This makes him proud and arrogant, but he’s also clever, gentlemanly, and generous (when he feels like it).  He’s theatrical and handsome in a gothy sort of way.  Being nearly all-powerful tends to overwhelm his good characteristics (in true bad-boy fashion), and when he he has to interact with humans, he comes across as egotistical, detached, and callous, to the point where he announces that he’ll be coming back for a woman’s baby in the future simply because he wants it.  He’s so dissociated from our human problems that he doesn’t even see them as problems.

And if you ever insult him, wow, you are doomed.  Seriously and completely doomed.  Dream’s pride is definitely his greatest sin.  Books 2 and 4 explore Dream’s doomed relationship with Nada (there may be more to it, but I’ve only read the first four books).  Nada was a queen who became the object of Dream’s affections.  She turns him down, but in true godlike fashion, Dream gets so offended that instead of just letting her go, he condemns her to hell.  Charming.

But he can be so cool the rest of the time!  When demons steal his stuff, he marches straight into hell and challenges the demons to a battle of wits to get it back.  When he discovers his ex-girlfriend, a Greek muse, has been held hostage for decades, he drives her captor insane until he releases her.  And (slight Book 4 spoiler) once his sister points out that he was actually kind of a jerk for condemning Nada to hell, he just goes to get her back, regardless of what it might cost him.  He even commissioned Shakespeare to write “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for the actual king and queen of the fairies, and scolded an entire convention of serial killers when he stopped by to rescue a damsel in distress.  All this, along with his tall-dark-and-handsome schtick, can make him very appealing.

Just don’t break his heart, ever, or you’re facing an eternity in hell.

Do you have a favorite literary bad boy?  (Mr. Darcy goes without saying.)

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5 thoughts on “Recommend A… Book with a Bad Boy

  1. So I couldn’t resist this meme either, and I also started with the bad boy prompt! And I hate bad boys! I have zero weird rescue redeemer complex. We went with Marcus Flutie. But it was a tough prompt. The only bad boys in books are the kind of boys who don’t exist in real life. I think maybe Mr. Rochester actually counts as a bad boy. He doesn’t seem to do anything redeeming (and yet I love him), but that’s as far as I got.

    I’ve never read this Neil Gaiman… will add it to my growing TBR pile! Sounds interesting!

    • Oh, Rochester is definitely a bad boy! Good call! Talk about treating the heroine like a jerk. I mean, I love Jane Eyre as a character and I think her whole proto-feminist thing is awesome, but Rochester is such a dirtbag!

  2. Oh blech, bad boys. Gimme a break! I will admit that Morpheus gets something of a pass, but even so. Let me go stare at my bookshelves and have a think…

    I just read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin and Nahadoth actually fills some of the same space that Morpheus does. He’s a god–the god of chaos, specifically–and definitely has that dangerous/lusty thing going on with the heroine. good thing is, it only made me roll my eyes SOME of the time, not all of the time, so at least that’s an improvement! And the book was quite excellent otherwise.

    • Whoa, Hundred Thousand Kingdoms sounds AWESOME! I mean, that’s an awful lot of kingdoms, and romances between mortals and gods are always kind of weird to me (case in point: Zeus), but mmm, courtly intrigue and prisoner gods! I might give that a shot.

      Have you read “The Magician King”? There’s a seriously messed-up scene in which one character is essentially raped by a god/demon she summons, and…yeah. That kind of ruined god/mortal romances for me.

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