A while back, I posted an open letter to the world's non-fictional boys, providing them with some tips on how to be more like the marvelous fictional boys I read about in YA books every day. But they don't seem to be listening, so I guess I'm going to have to be a little more specific. No problem. I can do that.
ATTENTION, BOYS OF THE REAL WORLD! Below, please find descriptions of some of my fictional boyfriends. I suggest you acquire the books in question and spend some time reading, then come back when you're ready to emmulate the following people. Thank you for your cooperation.
(NOTE TO GIRLS: Many of my female friends will look at this list and say, "But where are all the dark, hot, tortured, arrogant, mysterious loner dudes? Why do you like all these GOOD boys? Where's the fun if you don't have to work to crack them?" To you I say this—I've dated dark, hot, tortured, arrogant, mysterious loner dudes in real life. And you know what? It was really, really hard and not very rewarding. If someone says he loves you, he shouldn't make you fight for his honesty or his forthrightness or his ideas and opinions. In books, those mysterious loner dudes always open up eventually and show the heroine his soft, squishy, emotional underbelly. But that often doesn't happen in real life, so you're just left with a totally unfathomable person who gives you nothing back. It's a lot like banging your head against a wall. So from here on out, I'm sticking with good boys like these:)
Prince Po from GRACELING, by Kristin Cashore
The best part about Po isn't his lean, muscular fighter-body. It's not his hypnotic graceling eyes, one gold and one silver. It's not even the fact that he can literally read your mind in the bedroom—though I'm not going to pretend that wouldn't be a bonus. The best part about Po is that he helps Katsa become the very best version of herself. All her life, she has been told that she’s a killing machine and that her usefulness lies in her power to hurt and destroy. But Po sees that there's much more to her grace than the ability to fight, things she can be proud of. He sees a woman who is willing to make enormous personal sacrifices to do the right thing and to protect the ones she loves. And he sees Katsa as an equal, not as a curiosity. One boy who teaches you to see your own value is worth a million hot mysterious loner dudes. Because even if he's not always around, that knowledge and confidence is something you can keep forever.
Cricket Bell from LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, by Stephanie Perkins
Before I say anything else, let's just get this out of the way: Cricket Bell has excellent taste in pants. Pants that actually fit him. (Are you listening, real-world boys? The top of your pants goes around your hips, not halfway down your butt.) Lola isn't always the easiest person to love—she's eccentric and a little erratic, and up until this point, she's had pretty terrible taste in boyfriends. But Cricket is always there, standing by to pick her up when she needs him, to help carry pies and construct complicated costume pieces and deal with serious hair malfunctions. He loves her for being herself, flaws and all. That's the kind of boy I want to come home to every night. So feel free to crawl in my window any time, Cricket. Unlike Lola, I have a fire escape, so it'll be nice and easy.
Lord Hector from GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and (especially) CROWN OF EMBERS, by Rae Carson
It's tricky to talk about Hector, because CROWN OF EMBERS doesn't come out for another month, and I really don't want to spoil anything for you. (It's truly spectacular, you guys. Get ready.) Hector isn't the love interest in GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, but there's just something about him that slays me right from the start. When Elisa arrives in Joya de Arena, a young and confused and reluctant queen, Hector is the one who's always there for her. He shows her around the city when her own husband is too busy to give her much of a welcome. He's extremely clever, and he helps her navigate tricky political and military situations. He guards her with his life, and he makes her feel safe—something she often isn't in the tumultuous landscape of these books. Hector is a bit of a mysterious loner dude, but that's just because he has a highly developed sense of decorum. And it doesn't hurt that he's tall and swarthy and muscled like crazy and has lovely, deep, soulful eyes and smells really good and... *swoon*
Augustus Waters from THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, by John Green
Augustus is the boy who asks to read your favorite book in order to understand you better. He's witty and brilliant and big on metaphors, which captured my writerly affections in a matter of moments. He's unbelievably brave—he'll conquer his fears to give you what you really need, and he's able to joke about the most terrifying and depressing things. (This may not sound like a plus, but trust me, it is. I only have one friend who literally makes inappropriate jokes in the face of death, and she's the one who's always best able to help me through crises. Sometimes you have to laugh so you don't cry.) But really, it only took one sentence for me to fall in love with Augustus Waters. The minute he told Hazel, "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are," he had me by the heart.
(Note to non-fictional boys: there is no need to emulate all of Augustus's physical characteristics. I am totally okay with you having two complete legs.)
I hope this helps, boys. Now go study up and make me proud.