Today, we’re talking YA fantasy novels. Did you notice most MCs in YA novels are hot? I like to call them eye candy. Well, since they’re in books, let’s call them mind candy.
The definition of mind candy is something intended to be attractive without being demanding or contributing anything deeper than what’s left to the imagination.
Think of a fantasy character that brings to the plot their stunning superficiality. Ready? So many options to choose from… Yum.
Many YA fantasy and paranormal novels use the mind candy concept to lure the reader into falling for a cute character. That character has some issues, but mainly he/she’s good looking.
A recent example that comes to mind is Beastly. The modern take on Beauty and the Beast left me longing for my teenage years where looks, and not substance, played a major role in my life.
Who doesn’t like the perfect hairless torso, six-pack abs, strong arms, steady legs combo? Add a two-day stubble and cigarettes, and you even got yourself a bad boy. Now my thoughts shifted to Noah in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.
I know what a man looks like. Yet I still squirm like a twelve year old when I read a YA fantasy story where the male MC is so cute, he makes you forget what brain cells are for. Well, for the first part of the novel at least. Then he turns out to be really smart. Definition of perfection? Almost.
The mind candy element is used to lead to a darker outcome. Beauty fades. Beauty isn’t everything. The beautiful MC must now sacrifice his/her looks to become a gentler/meaner soul. Even if it wasn’t a novel, my thoughts go to Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars…
But I like the idea of a character who isn’t cute to begin with. Picture a plain looking guy/gal who’s given the choice to improve his/her life by altering his/her perception of the world. Does it sound appealing to you? Or do you prefer to know that MC is cute to begin with?
Do you even care?
I’m a hypocrite. I say I don’t care about the MC’s looks. I’m all for the internal struggle. But despite my best intentions, I still picture a character who’ll be to my liking because I enjoy beauty in all shapes and forms.
In YA stories especially, I focus on the MC’s looks more than in a regular adult book. I guess the side effect of reading YA is the automatic reversal in teenage mode. And as a teenager, it’s all about looks.
I picture myself wandering the high school hallways, searching for this unrealistic guy behind the open door of my locker, dropping my books on the floor when he suddenly passes by and my eyes follow every one of his movements… I bite my lower lip, call myself stupid, get depressed because I know he’s never going to like me the way I like him, and I end up sinking my head in my pillow at night because I can’t stop thinking about him.
I’m hooked. YA fantasy stories take me back to a time where I didn’t have much freedom, and yet, I felt freer than I sometimes do now. I guess being independent and having loads of responsibilities take a toll on day dreams of boys mixed with evil visions…
It enchants my mind to sugarcoat my imagination with lots of handsomeness. I feel like a princess lost in a magic world. I hold supernatural powers that will be the key to my development as a hero or as an anti-hero. YA fantasy gives me the tools for a journey far away from my commute, my office and my chores. So please, give me tons of mind candy, because I never can get enough.