Google+ YA Romantics: Bad Girls of YA

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bad Girls of YA


Here's what Rizzo from Grease has to say...

"There are worse things I could do than go with a boy or two.
Even though the neighborhood thinks I'm trashy and no good.
I suppose it could be true, but there are worse things I could do."

From There Are Worse Things I Could Do, written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey


When I saw that one of my favorite blogger friends, Heather @ The Flyleaf Review, was planning to do a Bad Girls of YA post, I asked if I could join in.

I did a Bad Boys of YA post a while back. In that post, I talked about the difference between a Bad Boy (a charming rogue) and a Bad Guy (a villain).  The best part about the discussion in comments were the real differences of opinion about what made a Bad Boy. It was fun!

I think the idea of a "Bad Girl" is even more complicated. Being a Bad Boy is mostly seen as a positive thing. But when we call someone a Bad Girl, there are a whole lot of moral judgments that go along with the label. 
I think one of the main characteristics of a so-called Bad Girl is that she doesn't care what anyone thinks -- which is, of course, exactly what gets people talking about her. Here's to the bold, fearless girls of YA -- they're not afraid to lose their tempers, tell it like it is, or follow their hearts... 

1. The Girls Who Get Around 

Nothing gets a girl slapped with the Bad Girl label faster than treating romantic relationships the same way a guy would. Guys who play the field are admired, while girls who do the same get whispered about. 


Midsummer's Nightmare This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen pic name

Whitley from A Midsummer's Nightmare loves parties and doesn't have a problem with one-night-stands. 

In This Lullaby, Remy's relationships all have an expiration date, like a carton of milk. 

Audrey from Good Girls doesn't know she's being photographed in a consensual moment with a guy, and when the photo goes viral, she has to deal with the fact that her friends, family and teachers now see her in a completely different way.


2. The Angry Girls

Anna Dressed in Blood pic name pic name

Death -- their own or that of a loved one -- has made these girls pretty pissed off. Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake,  Velveteen from Velveteen by Daniel Marks, and Harper From Saving June by Hannah Harrington are all really angry, and they don't care who has a problem with that...

3. The Guilty Girls


Chime by Frannie Billingsley pic name If I Lie by Corinne Jackson

Good Girls are supposed to be perfect. In Chime, Briony insistently tells the reader that she's evil and deserves to die. Chelsea in If I Lie makes a terrible mistake and tries to make amends. Everyone thinks that Quinn from If I Lie cheated on her Marine boyfriend while he was stationed in Afghanistan.

Give me your thoughts about the Bad Girl label or tell me about your favorite YA Bad Girls in comments. And then be sure to head over and check out Heather's post - I loved it!

38 comments:

  1. Rizzo, YES! Great example of a bad girl! When I was little I loved Sandy. But come on! Rizzo had way more fun:)

    This was so much fun, Jen! Let's collaborate more in the future:)

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  2. I've brought her up a lot but Courtney Summers does the best Bad Girl in my opinion. She has a wide range from The Easy Girl, Angry Girl, Super Depressive Drinker and many more subtle and not so subtle varieties.

    Bad Girls in books are lucky that the reader wants to see their soft underbelly and in the end redemption for the character (if they are not the villain or maybe even if they are). In real life, Bad Girls(aka-a lot of talk) usually get the short end of the stick.

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    1. Love Courtney Summers. She's not afraid to write complicated female characters. Which is a great point that Heather brings up in her post!

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  3. I love this post a lot Jen! I agree with Speechless and A Midsummer's Nightmare! And I agree with Courtney Summer!

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  4. Rizzo was so wise. Is it weird that I can't even think of a bad girl? I think many times its because we see inside their head and that they are not bad, but just made mistakes. That and I haven't read most of the books you listed above. LOL

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    1. Exactly. In the end, those kind of labels aren't very helpful because people are complicated. And flawed. And honestly, being called a Good Girl isn't much more appealing to me. It sounds like you're talking to a dog...

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  5. I'm so either the guilty or angry girls. Depends on the situation. Loved this post :)

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    1. I understand -- I agonize over my mistakes and have a hard time saying what I think sometimes!

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  6. I never thought of Remy as a "Bad Girl" but under that criteria she would certainly fit. I'm sure I would have been intimidated by her in high school. Since This Lullaby is one of my favorite books of all time, I'm going to have to pick her as my fave!

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    1. Remy is one of my favorite YA characters because she's so tough -- I wish I could be that tough and not care what anyone thinks. I just love that book so much!!!

      Yeah, and I'm sure I was not cool enough in high school to be friends with her either!

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  7. I LOVE THIS POST. Bad girls are the characters that interest me. They are the characters I relate to the most. They feel real to me. They make me love them and want good things for them. And there is a TOTAL double standard for bad girls and bad guys. It really frustrates me the way society views and judges women. Did we talk about the whole Kristen Steward cheating scandal and how she is villainized even though the man she had an affair with was A) older and B) in a position of power over her in the work place. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

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    1. Agree -- complicated characters interest me. I find the Good Girl label just as problematic as the Bad Girl one.

      You probably saw the HuffPo article about the Kristin thing, but in case anyone else missed it, here's the link:

      Trampires

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  8. Bad girls are fun. Even funner to write.One of my secondary characters in my WIP is a bad girl and I love writing her. She has her own agenda and isn't afraid to stomp on someone in the process, but at the same time she's very protective of her twin brother.
    I was a bad girl in HS, middle school too, so I have plenty of resources to pull from!

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    1. I'm sure you weren't that bad. I was way too worried all the time! If I could go back, I'd tell myself to relax already....

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  9. You always have the best posts, they always entertain me and make me ask...Why didnt I think to do that!!

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    1. If anyone wants to do their own post, just let me know and Heather and I will link you up. There is so much you can say about the whole Bad Girl thing!

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  10. I just read 34 pieces of you, and the girl in that - Ellie was labeled as a bit of a bad girl. Nobody really understood that she acted the way she did because she was depressed. I kind-of agree with 'there are worse things i could do...' I often think a lot of these 'bad girl' images are a bit unfair.

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    1. I want to read that one -- have heard good things!!

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  11. Awesome post chick! I like the bad girl because it's realistic. I mean yes, there are a lot of girls who stay out of trouble, get good grades, behave for the most part... but there are a lot more of the girls who sneak out of the house, have a catty attitude, want one boy after another, or are just angry at life. I don't like when the bad girl stays bad though. I like it when she is able to learn and grow.

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    1. I agree -- I like characters that grow in the course of the book...

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  12. Great post, especially considering the double standard for men and women. I really want to read If I Lie, I keep seeing the best reviews!

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    1. Great contemporary --I really enjoyed it -- reviewing it within the next couple of weeks!

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  13. I agree with Courtney Summers and Hannah Harrington creating really good bad girls. Although, I'm not sure how "bad" they really are. I'd also like to add Alona Dare from The Ghost and the Goth series by Stacey Kade. That girl is like a Regina George level mean girl. And I totally have a girl crush on her because of it :)

    Jesse @ Pretty in Fiction

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    1. I've never read that series, but I've heard great things about it!

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  14. This is just like the Bad Boy label where most likely the girl is misunderstood or a loner and somehow just gets the reputation that she is way worse only because no one wants to get to know her. There are definitely some girl characters that are actually bad and you seriously hate the character but most of the time the girls are good. You just gotta dig a little to find the real person.

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    1. Exactly -- which is what makes characters like that so interesting!

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  15. Yeah, Anna is really a bad girl! Though I dunno if "bad girl" is an appropriate name... It kinda sounds like a "bad guy" instead of "bad boy" to me, but it sounds good! :P And you should have added the kickass category for awesome fighters, like Allie from Immortal Rules, Dru from Strange Angels, Rose from VA, etc. :)

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    1. I thought about doing a badass girl category, but my list got too long!

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  16. LOL Yeah Anna was quite a bad girl until her curse lifted then she was just hanging out all normal. I think a lot of girls get labeled bad girls for sleeping around which is totally unfair since so many boys do it. I think slowly society is trying to get away from slut shamming which is good cause girls have every right to do with their bodies as they chose and as guys do. I think party girls and also girls that speak their mind like Rose from VA get a bad girl rep. Also Dez from Touch! Love her and Kale and that series!

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    1. I had Rose on the list, but I didn't know where to put her. She's in her own category of Girls Who Do Whatever They Want :)

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  17. The Bad Girl label can have unsavory connotations. Which is not fair, but just the way things are. We need to change this. I wish I knew how. Sisters unite!!

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    1. I agree that women are always judging each other. It's not a good thing!

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  18. I loved Leah from Such a Rush; everyone had formed their own opinions of her without even trying to get to know her. Man, I still need to get to Velveteen...I've been saying that for weeks now. I've also got A Midsummer's Nightmare on my shelf. Sounds like I'd like both of those "bad" girls. :)

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    1. Great suggestion -- the girls judged her and the guys judged her too!

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  19. So Friday when I was out hurricane shopping (stay safe btw!) there was a couple of 11-12 year olds in Target in costume and one of them was Rizzo! She had her pink lady jacket on and her hair was all done, it was so cute!

    Angry bad girls are my favorite, especially when they have good reasons for it, like Anna!

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    1. Thanks! Did my hurricane prep Fri and Sat and now they say the storm is coming a day later. We keep eating all the food I buy.
      Hope it's not as serious as they say!

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