It’s no secret that I am no longer a YA. I am all grown up, even heading off to my 20 year high school reunion this weekend (gasp!). So why is it that I and so many like me (that’s right, there are others) swoon over fictional YA leading men? I have my own theory, and I’m sure I’ve said it before somewhere in the blogosphere, but here I go again. Though I do not ever want there to be some sort of cosmic hiccup that alters the space-time continuum that brings me back to my teenage years and therefore back to high school, there is one experience that is worth reliving–falling in love for the first time. That is what I get to do, again and again, in YA literature.
Like I said, it’s not just me. I had a virtual meeting with some good friends and fellow adult YA fans and asked them why they thought we gravitate toward these love stories. They’ve got some great answers as well.
Stacey: I agree with you, but I think it is also a time that is more pure as well.
Stacey, I love this answer. So true.
Linda: I have a theory. Teens and Moms like these books. Why these two groups? Teens read them because they are reading about what is to come in their lives…love. They are excited to read about what hasn’t happened yet, discover, through the characters, how they are going to feel. Moms, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, are reading about and reliving the past through the characters. Remembering the feelings we had when we were young.
Absolutely, Linda. Like I said, it’s the only part of my teen years I want to relive.
Jen: I think F. Scott Fitzgerald said it best: I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again. haha.
Thank you, Jen, for quoting Fitzgerald. Love you for that!
Thanks, ladies, for weighing in on why YA love stories make us swoon. And now, on to the really fun part. Which characters are most worthy of our swoon? Our little group weighed in on some of our faves to come up with a top 14 list. We tried to do 10 but couldn’t narrow it that far down. Keep in mind, we are choosing from books we’ve recently read and loved, so if you’ve got someone else to add to this list, please comment and let us know. We’re always looking for our next read, and there is no reason to limit the number of fictional characters over whom we can swoon!
Finally, while there is no particular order for the rest of this list, I will say that the number one name ismy all-time favorite thus far.
14 and 13. Ky and Xander from Matched by Ally Condie
Xander is Cassia’s best friend, the one she was meant to be with. But Ky is mysterious and can show her a type of love she never knew was possible. Who should she choose?
12. Jace from City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I am taking this one on faith. I have not read Clare’s Mortal Instruments series yet, but I am so in love with the prequel, The Infernal Devices, and so trusting of my good friend Jen who is reading them as we speak, that I am including Jace on this list and adding the series to my TBR pile! Besides, Jace is a Shadowhunter. That’s really all I need to know!
11. Sam from Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
When you experience the first love and heart break that Anna does, you need to meet someone like Sam.
10. Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater
I will admit that having listened to this on Audible.com, Steve West’s voice played a huge role in making me swoon over Sean. Listen to the sample, and you’ll understand why. Stiefvater’s magical story does the rest.
9. Alex from Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Soon Lena will be cured so that the deliria does not take her as it has others. She’s even looking forward to it. Love is no longer a good thing but a dangerous disease that robbed Lena of her family. If there is anyone who can show Lena how wrong her safe little world is, it is Alex.
8. Julian from Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
I don’t know how to post on this one without spoiling. Just read the trilogy!
7. Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
Really it is this book that makes me swoon, not just Augustus Waters. Just read it. It’s beyond beautiful.
6. Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
He has a French name and can speak the language fluently, speaks English with a British accent, and is technically American, which is why Anna even gets to meet him at SOAP (School of America in Paris). And as Jodi puts it, “I just love their friendship, and that’s dreamy to me.”
5. Adam from If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Adam would give up anything not to lose Mia, even their relationship. His love for her is beyond what anyone could ask for.
4. Four from Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth
How do we not swoon over Four. He is mysterious. He’s tortured. He has power that he does not abuse, and he believes in Tris even when everyone else discounts her.
3. Joe Fontaine from The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
“Bat. Bat. Bat” is all I can say. Anything else would spoil what for me is one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve read in a long time. LOVE.
2. James Carstairs (Jem) from Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince, by Cassandra Clare
I am going to hand this one to fellow reader/lover of The Infernal Devices, Jen, because I could not say it any better. “ He’s so sick, but puts himself on the line every day for his friends. Jem is quite the character foil to Will. But his understated love for one of the main characters is what makes him stand out. Whereas Will subjugates his desires because of this horrible thing that happened to him, Jem does it because he just cares more about other people than himself. Love him!”
1. Will Herondale from Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince, by Cassandra Clare
Again, going to hand this one over to Jen because we share Will Herondale as our current all-time fave, and I just LOVE LOVE LOVE her description as to why we chose him. Thank you, Jen! “He’s the ultimate brooder. He’s sexy and smart and pushes everyone away, and you identify with Tessa and want to help put the Will pieces back together again. Plus, he quotes some pretty heavy literature. That, for me, seals the deal.” Seals it for me too!
Thanks Jen, Linda, Stacey and Jodi for helping create this list, for taking my book recommendations, and for loving the books I love. It makes me love them even more when I get to share them with you!