12 of the Most Irresistible Bad Boys and Girls in YA

by Dena McMurdie

Let’s be honest, imperfect people are fun to read about. My favorite characters in young adult novels are bad boys and girls. Whether they’re the moody protagonist or the mysterious antagonist of the story, I can’t get enough of them. I love main characters with a dangerous side, but I’m also a sucker for a full-blown villain. From the bad to the super-bad, these are my favorite bad boys and girls from young adult literature.

  • Tina from City of Saints & Thieves

    by Natalie C. Anderson

    Tina is a girl who knows what she wants and will do anything to get it. And she wants revenge for her mother’s murder. A gang member and a master thief, Tina is strong, smart, and determined. She has the soul of a fighter and is fiercely protective of her loved ones.

  • Ashton from Gilt Hollow

    by Lorie Langdon

    This bad boy comes with a motorcycle and a major chip on his shoulder. His parents disowned him and he spent four years in juvenile detention after being convicted of murder. Trouble never leaves him alone for long, but with his sense of chivalry and amazing looks, it's no wonder readers love him.

  • Dally from The Outsiders

    by S.E. Hinton

    Dally is a rough kid with a history of gang life and jail time. He routinely uses cruelty to keep everyone at a distance, but when his fellow greasers need help, Dally doesn't hesitate to give it to them. His street smarts and reckless behavior help them time and again. Dally may be bad news, but he's also a loyal friend and an unpredictable enemy.

  • Elias from An Ember in the Ashes

    by Sabaa Tahir

    There’s nothing ordinary about this bad boy. He’s a highly trained and skilled member of the military, but he has the heart of a rebel. Though he acts the part of an arrogant and cruel servant of the Empire, he dreams of desertion and freedom.

  • Manon from Throne of Glass

    by Sarah J. Maas

    Manon is as bad as they come. She is the heir to the Blackbeak clan of witches and even has her own fleet of deadly, dragon-riding warriors to command. Iron teeth and iron nails are only half of what make Manon a fearsome witch. She's stubborn, cruel, and fights with everything she has. But she also loves underdogs and has a strong sense of honor.

  • Cam from Fallen

    by Lauren Kate

    I'll admit, I'm team Cam all the way. And who wouldn't be? He's got a sunburst tattoo and the whole mysterious bad-boy vibe going for him. Not to mention his wicked grins, confusing loyalties, rock-star kissing abilities, and obvious chemistry with Luce simmering just below the surface.

  • The Liars from Pretty Little Liars

    by Sara Shepard

    Whether you're into the books or the TV show (or both!), there's no denying that these girls run with the worst of them. Masters of manipulation, lying, and keeping secrets, the liars aren't afraid to get their hands dirty — and hide the evidence afterward.

  • Shahrzad from The Wrath & the Dawn

    by Renée Ahdieh

    A girl that plots to kill her new husband and end his reign of terror is worth reading about. Shahrzad may be small, but she’s a force to be reckoned with. This feisty girl is smart, sweet, and willing to sacrifice herself for the chance to deliver retribution.

  • Ignifex from Cruel Beauty

    by Rosamund Hodge

    He may be a beast, but he's a beautiful one. Ignifex is dark, dangerous, and oddly unconcerned with his wife's attempts to murder him. Something sinister hides behind his swaggering confidence, hinting at a mystery as dark and confusing as Ignifex himself. His complex nature and obvious desire for Nyx make him irresistible.

  • Lada from And I Darken

    by Kiersten White

    Lada is both simple and complicated. She has a taste for violence and is unable to show kindness, yet she's also smart, capable, and strong. She uses cruelty to get what she wants, but she's a natural leader with the talent for instilling fierce loyalty in her followers.

  • Ismae from Grave Mercy

    by Robin LaFevers

    As a daughter of Death himself, it's no wonder Ismae doesn't back down from a challenge. A trained assassin, this bad girl doesn't blink twice before jumping into the fray. With her talent for poison and ability to wield a weapon, she's an effective killer both on and off the battlefield. But what I like most about Ismae is her strength, her faith, and her ability to self-correct.

  • The Darkling from Shadow and Bone

    by Leigh Bardugo

    Beautiful and mysterious, the Darkling is the most powerful Grisha in Ravka. He leads the elite class with precision and charisma, not to mention his mad magic skills. His hunger for power and his relentless efforts to expand his control make him both frightening and fascinating.

Who are your favorite bad boys and girls from YA?