Wow am I a sucker for a misunderstood bad boy with a heart of gold. Literally walked out of the theater after watching Thor 2 and couldn’t recall anything about the movie that was not Loki-related. And while I’m absolutely not ok with the male lead being cruel or abusive, I’m definitely all about mystery, troubled pasts, and redemption.

YA Bad Boys You’ll Fall in Love With

1. Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Rowan is such a bad boy in the best way possible. Rowan has been trained to be the ultimate killer and everyone is trying to tell Citra he’s past redemption. But Citra knows that deep down the boy she fell in love with is still there.

2. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Christian Kane from The Summer of Chasing Mermaids may not be the stereotypical bad boy, but he is an insolent, arrogant playboy with a past (ok yeah, he’s so a bad boy). He also happens to be completely charming and totally won me over.

3. Cursed by Thomas Wheeler and Illustrated by Frank Miller

Arthur is such a bad boy, but he also has a heart of gold. The first time Nimue meets him he’s literally flirting with her as he sings. But his tendency to run off without saying goodbye makes him very mysterious, especially since it’s all in the name of becoming an honorable knight.

4. Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao

Chase Yu, is the new kid in school and after initial resistance, chemistry begins to spark between him and Ali over their mutual competitiveness at martial arts. He’s not the stereotypical bad boy, but he’s got those moody vibes that we totally love.

5. Wake by Lisa McMann

Cabel has dark, dangerous secrets, but he helps Janie when she needs it most. He is surrounded by rumors about what he’s done and where he’s been, but the things he’s survived don’t define him and when it counts, he’s still able to treat Janie with a delicate touch when she needs it most. 

6. The Diabolic by S.J. Kinkaid

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Tyrus is kind of a jerk sometimes, but he accepts Nemesis, despite what she is, and he helps her. He sees the best in Nemesis and isn’t afraid of her even though she could literally rip him to shreds. In fact, he applauds her strength while also showing her that she has the capability of being gentle and caring. He also has no qualms about killing people but they mostly deserve it. 

7. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Will is infuriating in the best way: flirty and sometimes distant, has the obligatory troubled past, and is above all else fiercely loyal. Um…did I mention he’s also incredibly dreamy?

8. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Jace might have a tendency to knock on trouble’s door, but he’s a fiercely loyal friend and an incredible Shadowhunter. It’s actually pretty easy to overlook his tendency to cause trouble when he loves so truly and learns to let his vulnerable side show. 


Looking for more? Check out this list of YA books with strong female protagonists.