L.J. Smith ďBad Boys"
Okay. Iíve seen a lot of people comparing the characters in L.J. Smithís books, specifically the male characters (Gabriel, Damon, Ash, Nick, Julian) and because I feel so connected to these characters, I would like to express why I believe that they ARENíT the same, and why each one is near and dear to my heart.
First of all, Iíll admit thereís a reason for these comparisons. These guys all seem to have certain things in common, mainly the bad boy persona. Each of them seems to appear, at least at first, as tough guys. They have this in common, and one other thing of course which is that their toughness is usually a mask, a tool used to hide them from hurt. And yet I cannot see their characters overlapping. Here Iíll explain why each of them is special and why they appealed to me. You are, of course, free to disagree.
Nick Armstrong: The Lone Knight
Letís start with Nick. The Secret Circle books were the first books that I read by L.J. so Nick was the first to make it into my heart. One of the things Iíve learned is that Nick doesnít seem to be as popular as L.J. Smithís other male characters. Why? Maybe because he never seems as tough as the others. Nick is a loner and kind of quiet. He asserts himself when he feels the need to but the rest of the time he more or less leaves people alone. To compare, heís actually VERY different in this aspect from the other LJS ďbad boys.Ē Another thing that separates him is the ďladies manĒ aspect. Nick is never shown to us as the kind of guy whoís always chasing girls, unlike Ash and Damon where this aspect of their personality is clear from the start. Nick also doesnít act as if he thinks the world revolves around him. I loved Nick though. His insecurities are more quickly revealed than any of the others and that endears me to him. My heart was captured immediately. Nick, in my mind, is the Real LJS knight in shining armor, always doing the right thing when it needs to be done, from the first time he saves Cassies backpack from the other guys.
Gabriel Wolfe: The Tortured Soul
Gabriel. The Dark Visions trilogy was the second one I read by L.J. and Gabriel was just the kind of guy I love reading about. Gabrielís got that sort of dry sarcasm and tough demeanor that make you hang on his every word, his every move. From the minute he tells Kait that ďsheĒ can come into his room, you know this guyís going to be interesting. Like Nick, Gabrielís a loner and not a ďladyís man.Ē On the other hand, while Nick seemed a natural loner, you get the immediate feeling that Gabriel didnít get a choice in the matter. Gabriel is so outwardly insulting that itís clear heís hiding something, in this case a painful past. Gabriel does NOT come off as honorable at all. In fact, he does all that he can so that he wonít be seen as a good guy. Unfortunately for this attitude, he ends up in a couple situations where, during the spur of the moment, some inner decentness manages to wiggle its way out (like when he saves Kaitlin from being attacked behind the institute.) Gabriel is the guy you want to help. You wish you could just tell him that everythingís all right and that he can open up, that itís all right to be vulnerable. Luckily, because I couldnít jump into the book and do it myself, Kait was nice enough to do this for me. Gabriel, the original tortured soul.
Damon Salvatore: The Competitor
Damon. Damon is a definite ladies man. Heís gorgeous, mysterious, always has something intriguing to say, can recite poetry, and is Italian to top it all off. Once you are introduced to Damon youíll never be the same again. Damon is overconfident and competitive. In my mind VD wasnít so much a story of romance as of sibling rivalry. Damon has to have whatever Stefan has. While he may be interested in Elena, my feeling is the initial interest had more to do with Stefanís interest in her than in Elena herself. Damon just has to feel as if heís on top of everything. No matter what the game is, Damon has to be a winner. He also glories in attention and in the mysterious persona of himself that heís managed to create. So much about Damon isnít explained that itís difficult to say a lot about him. Let me say this though: No matter what game weíre playing, if itís important I want Damon on my side. He plays to win.
Ash Redfern: The Teenager with Fangs
Ash, like Damon, appears to us as overconfident and full of himself. He loves to be in the spotlight. He likes to appear as dangerous and though Iím sure heís acted on it in the past (like with Poppy in Secret Vampire) heís not inherently evil. Ash is basically your average teenage boy but with fangs and more power. He struts his stuff and shows off. He canít stand to show insecurities. And he whines if he doesnít get his way, maybe not out loud but I get the feeling that after they put him in his place in Secret Vampire that he went off and sulked somewhere. When he meets Mary-Lynette in Daughters of Darkness, heís meeting the one person whoís not afraid to put him in his place, to tell him when heís being a jerk. At first, like any guy, his pride is hurt. He realizes though that sometimes itís all right to be insecure. In my mind, it wasnít a huge change for him in Daughters of Darkness. Heís always wanted to please people. The people heíd been trying to please just happened to like the dangerous persona. When he falls in love with Mary-Lynnette, her opinion becomes more important than those people and he begins the process of working to please her, and I believe at the same time being truer to himself. Thereís nothing all that mysterious about Ash. Heís the regular guy learning what it means to grow up.
Julian: The Spoiled, Pampered Prince
Julian hardly needs an explanation here since his character is so well explained in The Forbidden Game trilogy, but I didnít want to exclude him so here goes. Julian lives in the shadow world where he can manipulate things, basically having whatever it is that he wants. Heís intrigued by Jenny and I believe in the end truly in love with her. He doesnít know how to deal with situations like this though. Julian is used to getting his way. Jennyís love might very well be the one thing in his life that he couldnít have simply because he wanted it. Julianís also not been taught better. In his world what heís doing to Jenny and her friends is perfectly normal. He hasnít been taught to see it as wrong. Heís sheltered and spoiled and seems to be the most childlike of the guys Iíve talked about here. While the other guys had some understanding of reality, Julian literally lives in his own world. Heís not trying to be tough like the others. He just doesnít know any other way.
Well, now you have my amateur psychological analysis of each of the L.J. Smith ďbad boysĒ All of which I wish I could just grab up off the page, or jump into the book with them, to praise, help, or straighten out as needed. Nick, Gabriel, Damon, Ash, and Julian. What would I do without them?
Reflections on LJ Smith