Sep 11 2013 1:00pm

Author Elisa Nader on Broken Boys in Young Adult and New Adult

Escape from Eden by Elisa NaderToday's guest author is Elisa Nader, whose Escape from Eden features the “rebellious and sexy” Gabriel, who helps the heroine in her journey. Gabriel, like all of the boys Elisa lists below, is broken in some way, and she's here to talk about why she finds these boys so alluring. Thanks, Elisa!

I’m a sucker for broken boys in books, especially in Young and New Adult titles. I’d call them “tortured heroes,” but that feels a little off to me. Broken boys are struggling, like tortured heroes, but they’re not quite adult enough, or not quite mature enough, to make us completely aggravated with them. Sure, we get frustrated, but their occasional bouts of self-pity, brooding, and assholery are, most times, understandable. They’re young, and trying to find their place in the world. Even when you guess they must be acting out, you suspect there’s a very good reason.

I set out to write a broken boy in my YA book Escape from Eden. Gabriel’s broken, but covers his pain with sardonic quips and *sigh* a bad attitude. Why did I want to write a broken boy? Because they compel me to keep reading, keep discovering what makes them who they are and why they act as they do.

Here they are, in no particular order, some of my favorite Broken Boys in YA and NA:

• Jace in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare: Abused, arrogant, angsty.

“I don't want to be a man,“ said Jace. ”I want to be an angst-ridden teenager who can't confront his own inner demons and takes it out verbally on other people instead.“ —Jace, City of Ashes

• We should probably add Will Herondale to this list, too, from Clare’s Infernal Devices series, because talk about broken! Cursed not to love! Drawn to a Downworlder! Trying everything to save his best friend from certain death! Love. Love. Love.

• Josh in The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay: Emancipated, somewhat nihilistic teen woodworker who interacts with practically no one. Meow-za!

• Four in Divergent by Veronica Roth: He’s called Four for a reason, folks. A reason that makes him all mysterious and—yum—broken.

“I’m not sadistic.” [Four] doesn’t yell. I wish he would yell. It would scare me me less. He leans his face close to mine… And says, “If I wanted to hurt you, Don’t you think I would have done that already?”—Four, Divergent

• Warner in the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi: You think he’s psycho, but is he psycho or broken? And, in book 2 we meet his dad, who seems to be a full-fledged jackhole. (I’m team Warner, obvi).

• Gabriel and Nick in Brigid Kemmerer’s Elemental Series (Hot twins!): One thinks that everyone blames him for his parents’ death (and deals with it by being an arrogant ass), the other is harboring a secret. (Did I mention Hot? And Twins?)

She glanced between him and Gabriel. “You do his homework?”

“Just the math. It’s a miracle he can count to ten.”

“I can count to one.” Gabriel gave him the finger.

• Lucas in Easy by Tammara Webber: Tattooed, artistic, mysterious bad-boy. And he’s all glance-y. Which means plenty o’ charged eye contact between our heroine and Lucas! Oh, and he’s got a secret, too.

• Lazar in the Otherkin series by Nina Berry: A whack-a-doodle dad + isolated, strict upbringing + tortured soul + needs love = broken boy hotness personified.

“Pain wrote lines on his face, but he made it and stood, swaying. He was a murdering bastard, but he had guts. With his high cheekbones, broad shoulders, and tousled blond hair, he looked like a bloody, vengeful angel. Only his eyes gave away the poison inside.” About Lazar, Otherkin

• All three Fuentes Brothers in the Perfect Chemistry novels by Simone Elkeles. That’s right. I said ALL THREE!

“Makin' mistakes ain't a crime, you know. What's the use of having a reputation if you can't ruin it every now and then?”—Alex, Perfect Chemistry

• Matt and Finn (more brothers!) in Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park: One is awkward and nerdy, the other hot and perfect. Both broken, one well-beyond repair, the other still able to be saved by Julie, our fair heroine.

“I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else. It's the way I take them OFF that makes me better than you.”—Finn, Flat-Out Love

• Sam in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater: Uh, yeah. I mean, damn. If your parents did what his parents did you him, you’d be pretty broken, too.

• Daemon in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series: Hot and arrogant? YES! Alien? DING, DING! Total douche? Maybe not entirely. Humans are dangerous to him and his family? Yeah-ya. Is there so much sexual tension in this series you can bounce a coin off it? Oh damn, yes.

”You jerk.“

Grinning, he backed down the steps. ”I'll see you at noon, Kitten.“

”I hate you,“ I hissed.

”The feeling's mutual.“ He glanced over his shoulder. ”Twenty bucks says you wear a one-piece swimsuit.“—Daemon, Obsidian

• Travis in Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire: Anyone who acts like that—jackassiness and all—has to have some issues lurking behind his eyes. Right?

• The Darkling in Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha series: I like to think he’s not totally evil. *squeezes eyes shut* *crosses fingers* *repeats to self, He’s not evil, he’s not evil, he’s not evil.*

“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, "is that it makes us weak.” —The Darkling, Shadow and Bone

• Henry in the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen: Not your typical party boy from 1899. He falls in love with the wrong girl while he’s forced to be with another girl he can’t stand (She’s totally evil, BTW).

“You love her,” Teddy observed quietly.

Henry replied with an uncharacteristic lack of irony: “Yes.”

Teddy’s eyes shifted to the plaster interlacing that decorated the ceiling in curlicues. “Lord, you never make anything easy, do you.”

“No.”—Rumors, Anna Godbersen

Help me with my list! What broken boys in YA and NA books do you love?

To enter for a chance to win one of three copies of Elisa Nader’s Escape From Eden, make sure you’re a registered member of the site, and then simply leave a comment below.*

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Hi. I'm Elisa. I like cheese and reading and TV show marathons. Writing is scary, but not as scary as, say, Civil War amputations. I'm an Aquarius. Uh... let's see... I'm not very good at writing my own biography. Or autobiography. I guess this is reading more like a slightly incoherent personal ad. For more incoherent-ness follow me on Twitter: @elisanader

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Excellent choices! My #1 from your list would probably be Four. I love that you don't know what to make of him and his treatment of Tris at first, and that you slowly learn more about him throughout the first two books. I hear there will be Four POV in Allegiant, which will be interesting.

Flat-Out Love was a fascinating book. I wasn't sure through most of it if I liked it (figured out what was going on pretty early in the book and didn't get why it was being dragged out for so long), but I had to keep going (in large part because of Matt and his sister) and I quite enjoyed how it was all wrapped up.
Heather Martin
2. CrystalMirror
Griffin and Sam from The Steanpunk Chronicles are good ones. I like your list. With girls becoming the heroines of the story more and more, we are seeing more vulnerable male characters. They are still very Alpha, just not invisible. I think it's good for girls and boys see. (Just as long girls do not confuse psychotic behavior as romantic, i.e. certain nameless vampires.)
4. Mo
Pax, of course, from Courtney Cole's If You Stay. Pax and Tate converted me into a NA reader.

Jared from Penelope Douglas' Bully. Talk about broken. Ouch!

And CrystalMirror, that parenthetical is the one issue I have with NA romance.
Elisa Nader
4. ElisaNader
@Free Four?

@CrystalMirror I agree! And I fogot about Griffin when I was making this list! Ugh.

@lasvegasnv - OOOH! Excellent suggestion!
Elisa Nader
5. ElisaNader
@Mo - I'l have to check out If You Stay and Bully. I've heard good things about both - but especially Bully (as far as Broken Boys go). Thank you!
7. Mo
Sorry, Pax and Mila (Pax's last name is Tate) got me into NA.
9. wsl0612
Shane from Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine, I love this series!
Elisa Nader
10. ElisaNader
@red_tigergirl2 - thank you!

@LadyAnubis - awesome. I did something right, then!

@wsl0612 - excellent choice. *scribbles Shane's name down*
11. Kareni
Lots of titles here with which I'm unfamiliar -- new reading fodder! I did enjoy Perfect Chemistry and Beautiful Disaster.

Would Colton Calloway from Jasinda Wilder's Falling Into You be considered a broken boy?
Elisa Nader
12. ElisaNader
@Kareni totally! His brother died! *adding to list* And I think you'll like Sea of Tranquility and Easy - give those a try!
13. Katelyn Broad
What a great list of awesome (broken) guys!
I would add Chris from Left Drowning, Andrew from Edge of Never, Vince from Fate, Day from Legend, and Sawyer from Vincent Boys.
Elisa Nader
14. ElisaNader
@KatelynBroad - thanks! You know, I was going to include Chris from Left Drowning! I have a soft spot in my heart for Flat Finn :) I'll check out Andrew & Vince. And I know Sawyer - he should have been on this list!
denise smith
15. denise226
would love to read this one sounds so good
Jennifer Cunha
16. Mrs.JennAnn
sounds interesting! I would love to read this (
Angela Born
17. weresanctuary
I really want to read this book. I haven't been so excited about a book in some time.
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