We here at FYA are great connoiseurs of the perpetual YA creature known as the mysterious loner dude. (We are also connoiseurs of using the word ‘connoiseurs’. And apparently, employing the royal “we”. OK, I’ll stop.)

While the eponymous Daddy-Long-Legs from Jean Webster’s novel — aka this month’s FYA Book Club selection!* — technically fits the MLD criteria of 1) mysterious, 2) loner, and 3) dude, he ain’t exactly a swoonworthy MLD. (Y’all who have read DLL will know what I mean.**)

*If y’all haven’t checked out the FYA Book Club yet: you totally should! Come hang out with us IRL!

**If y’all haven’t read DLL yet: omg go read it RIGHT NOW.*** It’s a fast read and it’s FREE! and Judy is your sister from a nineteenth-century mister.

***Errm but you should keep reading this, too. Read this while you’re downloading DLL! (With dial-up, apparently.)

ANYHOO. FYAers past and present assembled for champ cans to cull through all the mysterious loner dudes, angels, and faeries we’ve encountered to bring you the Literary MLD Hall of Fame. So put on your favourite emo angst jam, and check out the inductees!

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The Taylor Kitsch All-Stars

For longtime disciples of FYA, this triumvirate should come at no surprise. (After all, they also made the list of most swoonworthy YA couples of all time.)

The Taylor Kitsch part comes in because hello, it’s not like we’d bestow that Casting Call honour on just anyone! OK, we’ve actually bestowed it upon nineteen other characters. But none with the panty-melting smoulder of the following three gentlemen.

Cover of Sloppy Firsts, with a girl shown sitting on the couch, from the legs down, reading a magazine

Author: Megan McCafferty
Series: Jessica Darling
MLD: Marcus Flutie
Votes: 7 (3 from the same person, but allegations of ballot-stuffing have been dropped. Along with our inhibitions (LOL, as if we had any left) when discussing the hotness that is Marcus Flutie.)

Why He’s Such an MLD:


Here’s just a FEW of the 4,691 reasons why Marcus Flutie is a god:

  • His t-shirt collection includes the Backstreet Boys as well as shirts with ironed-on letters to correspond to the day (Monday, etc.).
  • He drives a cadillac with a “Sexy Grandpa” bumper sticker.
  • He works at a nursing home (and loves it).
  • He has the highest IQ in the school but did a lot of drugs because he “got bored.”
  • He is v. experienced when it comes to sexy business.
  • He rocks the surprise muscles.
  • He is one enigmatic mothercusser.

In summary, Marcus Flutie is the Mr. Darcy of YA. YEAH I JUST WROTE THAT. -Sarah

Supporting Evidence: 

There was the time Sarah conducted a Google Image search for Marcus Flutie, which yielded disastrous results. Or when she put together a Jessica Darling mixtape with more than a few odes to Marcus Flutie. (And how about the fact that I can’t refer to him without using his full name, like any true MLD commands.) Don’t forget about the Marcus Flutie puns from our resident “chef” Lee, and how basically all the FYA Book Clubs had a Marcus Flutie question during our Sloppy Firsts Q&A with Megan McCafferty. And finally, we once combined the powers of Marcus Flutie and Taylor Kitsch to bring you your favourite greeting card of all-time.

Cover of Sweethearts, with a pink iced heart-shaped cookie that has a bite taken out of it

Title: Sweethearts
Author: Sara Zarr
MLD: Cameron Quick
Votes: 5

Why He’s Such an MLD:

I hereby make this proclamation: Cameron Quick is the ULTIMATE mysterious loner dude. They really don’t come any more mysterious than this, or any more vulnerable, or any more true, or any more heartbreaking, or any more frustrating, and GAH!!!! Cameron Quick, where are you? Call me!!!! -Jenny

Supporting Evidence:

While the internet failed to find Cameron Quick for Jenny (and she nominated him for mayor and made a Valentine’s Day card, too!), Erin was more successful at spreading the gospel of Quick among the future generation.

Red cover of Jellicoe Road with pink and red flowers

Title: Jellicoe Road 
Author: Melina Marchetta
MLD: Jonah Griggs
Votes: 4

Why He’s Such an MLD:

Jonah Griggs is totally the new Cameron Quick, you guys. AND YOU KNOW I DON’T SAY THAT LIGHTLY. He’s brooding, he’s fit (thank you, military push-ups!) and most importantly, he’s a total enigma. Other boys fear him, while girls constantly offer up their phone numbers, but Jonah remains an island off the coast of Super Hot Mystique. And, unlike Jordan “I can’t read good” Catalano, Jonah’s secrets only made me fall in love with him more. Warning: you should consider every page that he’s on to be highly flammable. -Sarah

Supporting Evidence:

Is it any wonder that Jonah Griggs also warranted a Picture Pages? But per yoohz, the photos were undeserving of our subject.

Cover of The Truth About Forever with a gray blue tree trunk background and a red leaf paper heart

Title: The Truth About Forever 
Author: Sarah Dessen
MLD: Wes Baker (Honourable Mention)
Votes: 1

Why He’s Such an MLD:

OH WES. I can’t say your name without sighing and placing a hand on my… STERNUM, PEOPLE. GAH. Don’t be pervy!

Now, I’ve reviewed a couple of other books featuring my future YA husbands, but Wes gets to be his own bonus factor because HE IS PERFECT. He’s a reformed bad boy! He takes care of his little brother! He creates amazing sculptures from scrap metal! He drives a truck! He’s smart! He’s ridiculously good looking! And, most important of all, HE HATES THE SMELL OF PATCHOULI.

As Kristy likes to say: “SA-WOON!” -Sarah

Supporting Evidence:

Jenny’s first time with Sarah Dessen was with The Truth About Forever, and Wes definitely helped turn her into a believer! And Sarah’s The Truth About Forever mixtape has its share of Wes-inspired tunes.

First Ballot Hall of Famers

Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent
MLD: Four
Votes: 3

Why He’s Such an MLD:

Things we don’t know about Four: his real name*, which faction he came from, anything about his past, what his feelings toward Tris are. Pretty much the stuff of classic MLDs. That, and he is deadly handsome and totally dangerous, clearly. -Megan no h

*We do now, but I think we were all better off not having known, amirite?

Supporting Evidence:

There was the time we got the scoop from Veronica Roth on the Divergent movie, Allegiant, and of course, Four. (We know our priorities, y’all.) Four also received the Picture Pages treatment, and that went about as well as you’d think it would. As for the movie casting of Four, Sarah had an inspired suggestion that sadly went unnoticed by The Powers That Be. But she can take solace in that time his actual portrayer Theo James charmed the pants off of her.

Pink cover of How To Say Goodbye in Robot, with a black phone hanging by a cord

Title: How to Say Goodbye in Robot 
Author: Natalie Standiford
MLD: Jonah
Votes: 2

Why He’s Such an MLD:

Jonah’s totally a mysterious loner dude! Only, instead of looking/acting like Jordan Catalano, he looks and acts more like Brian Krackow. Hey, maybe he’ll proof-read my love letters! -Erin

Cover of Just Listen, featuring the torso of a girl in a tank and jeans listening to her iPod

Title: Just Listen 
Author: Sarah Dessen
MLD: Owen Armstrong
Votes: 2

Why He’s Such an MLD:

In Sarah Dessen’s swoon factory, the most highly coveted item is definitely her formula for mysterious loner dudes. Other writers dream of it, less ethical ones scheme to steal it. I’m not sure how she does it, but here’s what we can deduce based on Owen:

  1. Muscular, manly physique
  2. Secretly sweet heart
  3. Scarred, slightly dangerous past
  4. Witty intelligence
  5. The ability to make mix CDs for a girl without seeming like a pussy

Put all that together, and you’ve got a smokin’ hot guy that Annabel needs to GET WITH ALREADY. -Sarah

Black paper cutout with intricate details of a silhouette of a person with a long ponytail tied with a bow and wearing a ballgown, with a giant red heart instead of their chest,against a gray monochrome sky and grass background

Title: Paper Valentine 
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
MLD: Finny Boone
Votes: 2

Why He’s Such an MLD:

Finny Boone (Finny Boone!!!! I mean, how MLD is that name?!!!) deserves a place in the MLD hall of fame, right alongside the Cameron Quicks and Owen Armstrongs of the YA world. From the Billy Idol ‘do to the missing digit, Finny was the epitome of dangerous, delinquent, mysterious, and oh-so-lonely. -Jenny

On the Cusp

A girl's face, in black and white, covered by a bright blue feathered mask

Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
MLD MLA: Akiva
Votes: 1, plus 1 ‘maybe’

Why He’s Such an MLD MLA:

YA essential, mysterious loner dude…now in angel flavor! -Megan no h

Cover The Beginning of After: A girl holds her legs close as she looks off into the distance

Title: The Beginning of After 
Author: Jennifer Castle
MLD: David Kaufman
Votes: 1, plus 1 ‘maybe’

Why He’s Such an MLD:

He’s emotionally distant and difficult to read, and with his recently acquired tragic past, he’s total Posh bait. -Sarah

Next Class of Inductees

Two people in toques and long coats, with their backs to the viewer, walking while holding hands against a backdrop of snow and coniferous trees

Title: And Both Were Young 
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
MLD: Paul Laurens
Votes: 1

Why He’s Such an MLD:

Paul’s my kind of mysterious loner dude — he’s mysterious, and a loner, but he’s not a druggie or criminal or jackass. He’s rather lost and sad, and definitely has a mysterious past and is rather an anarchist, but he’s also kind and playful. -Meghan

A teal background and the book title stenciled in yellow spray painted over dark bricks

Title: How to Lead a Life of Crime 
Author: Kirsten Miller
MLD: Flick
Votes: 1

Why He’s Such an MLD:

Um, Flick is OBVIOUSLY a Grade A MLD, and being in his head makes him no less mysterious. -Sarah

Close-up of a boy and girl's faces as they are about to kiss

Title: When You Were Mine 
Author: Rebecca Serle
MLD: Len Stephens
Votes: 1

Why He’s Such an MLD:

LEN! Oh Lenny (can I call you Lenny?), you dazzle me with your cryptic hotness!! You’re not the typical MLD, but that’s what I like about you. And I really wish you were real, so I could run my fingers through your curly hair and stare into your blue eyes and… do… other things… with you. -Sarah

Those were our picks, but who would y’all nominate into the Literary MLD Hall of Fame? Place your votes in the comments!

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.