The Many Types of YA Characters : the good, the bad, the ugly

When reading a book, I’m am honestly, more than anything else, here for the characters.


I love connecting with them. I love seeing how they’re mind works. And I love love love character dynamics and large banter-filled squads.


And in YA, like any genre, some familiar tropes become evident – and I have made it my mission to track the ones associated with our beloved characters.


Why? Not for a noble, smart reason, as you might imagine. Nor for research purposes. Rather, it just so happens that I finally caught up with all my to-do list for the day, abruptly missed some of my all-time fave characters, and BOOM! – that’s how I end up at my laptop in my pajamas typing up a blog post that is totally just an excuse to gush over my faves.


Yeah, I’m SO subtle.


Anyhow! After much sifting through my Goodreads shelves, I’ve devised ten categories that our dear MCs fall into – and sorted some into each. (By the way: this has been so. much. fun to type up, and I hope you like reading it as much as I loved creating it). So here goes.



The Sheltered, Sweet, and Naïve


This is group has typically been cooped up and protected for most of their lives before all hell breaks loose and they suddenly have to come out of their shell.


Personality traits include: being quiet, being too honest, and pure, and adorable, and sensitive.


Notable examples include:

– Cress, Cress

– Wylan van Eck, Six of Crows

– Ember Hawkweed, The Hawkweed Prophecy

– Hastra, A Gathering of Shadows

– Radu Dragwyla, And I Darken



The Snarky, Sassy, and Stabby


This group is .. well, the title says it all. They carry 2+ knives on their person at all times and their cause of death would probably be sassing the wrong person at the wrong time. They make for excellent banter scenes and action scenes, and bonus points if they’re a girl. Because there’s nothing scarier than a girl armed with a dagger and sass, I tell you. #ActualGoals


Personality traits include: being ridiculously skilled, and smart, and brave.


Notable examples include:

– Kate Harker, This Savage Song

– Emma Carstairs, Lady Midnight

– Frankie Vega, Frankie

– Lada Dragwyla, And I Darken

– Alice Proserpine, The Hazel Wood

– Lila Bard, A Darker Shade of Magic 

[Lila, though, is QUEEN of this group, let’s be honest]


The Cute, Adorable, and Violent


Now, these characters are the sweet, quiet ones who can transform into a brutal killing machine in 0.00005 seconds. AKA my faves. They are what I like to call the Trojan Horse characters because they may look all sweet and harmless, but get on their bad side and they shall kick your butt so hard, you won’t be able to sit for two weeks. Or they’ll just kill you.


Personality traits include being calm, adorable, but hella protective of those they love.


Notable examples include:

– Wolf, Scarlet

– August (<3) and Ilsa Flynn, This Savage Song

– Alys, The Beast Is an Animal




The Whiny Whiners (AKA Nina’s Source of Headaches)


This group is the Reluctant Special Snowflake group that is waaaay to clichéd and boring, but they’re a group nonetheless. They’re the ones with superpowers, or the subject of the prophecy destined to save the world from the Ultimate Darkness, and they don’t want this responsibility and voice their opposition strongly.



Can they be interesting? Sure. But it’s becoming increasingly uncommon for me to find some I like.


Personality traits include being whiny, angsty, a show-off, and naturally excellent at everything of ever because, again, they’ve got that Special Snowflake Status.


Notable examples include:

– Mare Barrow, Red Queen

– Ruby Otrera, Frostblood

– Meira Dynam, Snow Like Ashes

– Scarlett Dragna, Caraval


The Too Noble, Too Pure



Now this group, I really really like. Typically level-headed, courageous, pragmatic, and protective, these are the characters with a strong moral code and an obligation to do what’s BEST for everyone. Basically, they’re heroes.

They also typically have a hard tike understanding jokes and puns, which makes the explaining them both hilarious and tedious.

You gotta love the Pure ones, honestly. They’re adorable.

Personality traits include being honest, moral, brave, and unflinching. [And ticklish on the inside].


Notable examples include:

– Arin of Herran, The Winner’s Curse

– Matthias Helvar, Six of Crows

– Pete Wyatt, All The Crooked Saints


– Cian, The Beast Is an Animal

The Pretty Boys With Tragic Backstories


Oh gosh, this group. This group is possibly the most trite (tritest??) ever because of the sheer amount of times it’s OVERUSED. Like, I get it. Your sob story + handsome face = great love interest. But spare me the cliché-ness of it all, and have the other, slightly less-attractive side have the tragic backstory. Shake it up a bit. Because I’ve honestly seen it all.



Personality traits include being broken on the inside, having the ability to brood in a corner for impressive amounts of time, and sharing this story with the other love interest as a sign of trust after meeting for only, like, a day or two.


Notable examples include:

– Julian, Caraval

– Nate, Frankie

– Jace, City of Bones (and Will, Clockwork Prince)

– Four, Divergent #ThrowbackSaturday [yes, it’s a thing]

– Arcus, Frostblood



The Introverted Masterminds


This group keeps to itself. They’re quiet and shy and talk little, but they are the GENIUSES of the book. They conjure up plans like there’s no tomorrow (because if they screw up this aforementioned plan, there might not be a tomorrow). It’s super fun to try to guess what they’ll think up, and awesome to see how everything plays out.


But just trying to see things like they do ends up looking something like:




This is honestly THE group I want to see more of in YA, because they are my absolute favorites.

Personality traits include: being reserved in speech, being a great listener, being an awesome problem-solver, and being excellent in sassing people back with the perfect comeback waiting.


Notable examples include:

– Kaz Brekker (<3), Six of Crows

– Kestrel Trajan (AKA my actual role model), The Winner’s Curse

– Beatriz Soria, All the Crooked Saints

– Lumikki, As Red As Blood

The Funny Dorky Comic Relief


This group is the light in dark, stabby books. They’re the ones who like to keep the banter going and ALWAYS need to have the last word. They’re typically great at being funny, but that’s not their only talents. And honestly, not every author can pull these characters off.


Personality traits include being very self-confident, funny, kind-hearted, and optimistic.


Notable examples include:

– Rhy Maresh, A Darker Shade of Magic

– The Entire Cast of My Lady Jane

– Jesper Fahey, Six of Crows
– Theo Santos, Wonder Woman: Warbringer
– Nikolai Lantsov, Seige and Storm
Also known collectively as The Bardugo Comedy Boys





So, add to my list!
Are there any large groups I missed? Did I mis-categorize
some characters? Do you belong in any of the groups?
Because if so, I envy your YA character-ness. 



1 thought on “The Many Types of YA Characters : the good, the bad, the ugly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *