For a while now, I've been noticing a trend in popular YA/New Adult (and some adult books too): Alpha male/douchebag love interests and the girls who put up with them because they are hot. It's everywhere.
Now, I appreciate a misunderstood, imperfect bad boy, but only if he has redeeming qualities and is a decent person at heart. These days, a lot of teens and women seem to be swooning over guys who I think are total psychopaths. I'm sorry, but if the love interest is a total jerk who treats his girlfriend like crap, I don't care how hot he is. I will not swoon.
I can't help but recall what I was reading as a teen and how I might have reacted to the content in books today. I mean, I remember being scandalized when Michael told Katherine she was acting like a bitch in Judy Blume's Forever (even though she kind of was acting like one, being all jealous of whats-her-face for no reason). And would Christopher, the nutcase who stalks Jessica in Two Boy Weekend, be considered more sexy than scary today? Even though he doesn't have fangs?
Considering my undying love for Sarah Dessen, perhaps I've adopted a different view of what love interests should look like in a typical YA book. Take Wes from The Truth About Forever, for example. He's my favorite YA book boyfriend ever. He's the measuring stick against which I hold all my own boy characters. He's the kind of guy every girl--real and imaginary--deserves.
In my opinion, the YA world could use more a little more Wes.
(By the way, the first four books listed in my Indie Gems post all have amazing, yummy, mysterious-and-troubled-but-incredibly-sexy, non-douchebaggy love interests. That's part of why I enjoyed them as much as I did.)