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Sexy villains (and why you should be scared of them)

As readers, we clamor for sexiness in YA. The brooding, handsome boy with a dark secret. The girl-next-door who grows into gorgeousness overnight. The young adult genre is fraught with hotness, because that’s what sells.

So why is this genre strangely lacking in sexy villains?

I’m not talking about the bad boy who wears leather or the girl with tattoos and piercings. I’m talking about honest-to-God villains – the kinds who want to take over the world, who poach baby seals, who commit arson and theft and murder. Why do all the dark wizards of YA have greenish-gray skin and snake-noses? Why can’t the irredeemable bad guys be charming and charismatic and – dare I say it – hot?

Probably because there’s something decidedly creepy about being attracted to evil.

Oh, we can walk the fence all we want – we can read about bad boys who seduce their girlfriends to the point of near-rape; we can read about the stalkers with hearts of gold; we can read about the jocks on steroids who beat up boys on their teams, but really they just want to make their dads proud - but when it comes to outright villainy, we shy away. We turn the really bad guys into withered witches or hulking monsters. Leave the sexiness for the good boys, or at least the baddies with a few redeeming qualities.

But the thing about evil is that, sometimes, it’s a little bit attractive – and that is scary. There’s nothing more terrifying than the knowledge that someone or something is twisted, wrong, wicked, harmful…but you want it anyway.

And that, my friends, makes for some darn good literature.

~Kristin O.

(I know, right? I DIDN'T fall off the face of the earth.)
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  1. I have one of these in a current WIP, but I find myself wanting to pull my punches ... like, maybe he's not sooo evil. But he is. SO I'll keep this in mind!

  2. @Sarah- Ooh, I know how you feel!

  3. I agree! i would love a smexy villain would definitely spice YA up :D

  4. I've almost got a sexy villain in my wip. It's just that I'm trying to force some moral dilemmas on him to make the reader question how evil he truly is, but I think in the long run, he'll be evil.

  5. How 'bout Sylar in Heroes? All the episodes he was in, I was conflicted by how remorselessly evil he was--and yet I'd totally do him.

    I know, TV show and not a book, but still . . .

  6. Great post! Definitely that a sexy villian will add much to the novel. :)

  7. Sarah - totally. I had one of those in my last WIP too. It was a love/hate relationship. :P

    Blueicegal - write one! :D

    Trace - OMG such a good example!!

    Becca - I think moral dilemmas add a lot of depth to the character, personally. Villains that make you think are just as important.

    Angelica - oooh, yes, DEFINITELY Sylar.

  8. I gotta say, sexy villains are my favorite kind. It adds a layer of complexity to the plot as the protagonist has to fight through attraction to pull out a victory. When the protagonist is a girl, I see really attractive female villains a lot, because then there's a lot of jealousy and other stuff going on. Maybe I'm reading different books, but that's my take.

  9. People are scared of the idea of putrid beauty, I think.

    There's a natural inclination to steer toward the beautiful. To desire and trust it. Through genetics and conditioning, we're taught that beauty = better. So when you turn that on its ear, people get squicked.

    But deadly beauties are a classic - Sirens, for example.

    It happens in nature, where the most beautiful snakes are often the most deadly.

    Anyone who's ever gone to Sunday school knows that Lucifer was the most beautiful cherub of the bunch before he fell.

    And history gives us men like Joseph Mengele who were almost handsome in their features, but demonic on the inside. Or those who relied on charisma like Jim Jones.

    There's safety in using only ugly villains. Ugly villains keep the idea of evil in fairy tale territory where the bad guys can be picked out on sight.

    Those who can use their beauty and charisma like a weapon are too close to true evil for most people to stomach.

  10. Haha, maybe YA should go the way of mangas and anime. There's nothing but sexy guys in those, it doesn't matter what side they play on.

  11. Great post! Glad to hear that someone else thinks villains can be sexy. People always think I'm strange when I tell them Draco Malfoy is my favorite Harry Potter character...

  12. Oooo, pick me, pick me! My villain is TOTALLY sexy, and it causes all sorts of inner conflict for the MC when she meets him and finds herself totally attracted to him.

    Enough about me, though--that was a GREAT post! :)

  13. That is a totally good point! I would love a sexy villian :) the first author to write one will be my favorite just because it's an awesome idea

  14. Two words: Valentine Morgenstern. *Drools* He is sexy as Hell and evil as they come, and he's about 50% of the reason why I love The Mortal Instruments.

    And the villains in both of my published books are sexy, now I think of it. One of them is a shapeshifting immortal mother-chewing enchantress and the other is an insane tyranical King who wants to get it on with his own sister. I see the first one played by Rose Byrne and the second by Orlando Bloom in his elf-wig (if they can age him twenty years with CGI). *Drools again*

    So apparently I'm not turned off by sexy evil at all. Huh.

  15. LOKI. Loki is a freaking norse god (although technically he's a frost giant) and this is from a movie, but still. Loki.


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