Friday, March 7, 2014

Discussion: Love Triangles

This may be a very cliched topic to write about, but I still think it's worth discussing: love triangles.

So what is a love triangle? I think that a love triangle requires one character, who has the affection of two other characters. Does this love have to be reciprocated by the protagonist? I think it does. I think that, in order to be a love triangle, both love interests have to be a possible outcome. No unrequited loved. This is not a "rule", but merely my opinion.

So many readers, these days, complain about love triangles in YA books. Have they lost their charm? Back when Twilight was published, I don't remember anyone complaining about love triangles. Then again, there weren't a lot of YA books, and those YA books didn't feature love triangles. Twilight's success made the triangle trope famous, and whether intentional or not, more love triangles followed.

Like many YA book bloggers, I am getting tired of love triangles; I am getting tired of being on a "team"; I get tired of defending my choice. Sometimes, it's impossible to choose. One of the biggest arguments against love triangles is that it's unrealistic. This plot device is thought to serve as the female fantasy of being pursued by two men. This doesn't happen in real life . As young adults, we date for days, weeks, or months. And the first person we date is almost never the person we marry.

I, for one, would like to read a book where a guy and girl go on an ordinary date.

When done right, love triangles can be engrossing and it can add tension to an already fantastic book. And we all read to escape reality, so what's the harm in writing about a little love triangle?

With these thoughts in mind, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite (and least favorite) triangles.  I will try to not "spoil" the books mentioned, but you have be warned.


Katniss, Peeta, and Gale from The Hunger Games. This one is obvious. And it's because the love triangle makes sense! While I don't know when Peeta really falls for Katniss, they go through too much together to not have a connection. Their experiences change them, not always for the better. But they understand each other. They have been through it all together. Gale, on the other hand, is the best friend we all root for. So many times, the best friend does turn into love. Each are very plausible choices, and in the end, I think she picks the right guy.

Celeana, Chaol, and Dorian from Throne of Glass. This is another love triangle that just works. Both Chaol and Dorian are great possible love interests, and each compliments Celeana in a unique way. Celeana also doesn't come off as "wishy washy", because she actually makes a choice by the end of book one. The story isn't over, though, and I honestly have no clue who she'll end up with. This is a love triangle done right.


Juliette, Adam, and Warner from Shatter Me: I will try not to "spoil" this series, but I do think Juliette ended up with the right guy. Even so, I felt manipulated. We are meant to feel one way about the two main love interests, only to have them make a 180 turn in the final book. This is not only confusing, but frustrating. And I don't think it's fair to the readers.

Nikki, Jack, and Cole from Everneath: This is not a love triangle, based on my definition. And maybe that's why I chose to use it as an example. My disappointment with this triangle had nothing to do with who Nikki ended up with, but how Brodi Ashton used a particular plot device to get to the end. One particular love interest becomes a completely different person, and I realized there was only one way this love triangle could end. Knowing this sucked the life out of the "love triangle", and I lost interest.

I appreciate how relationships grow and mold a character, but not every love triangle is good. And not every love triangle is bad. I try not to judge a book, based on whether or not it has a love triangle, but we all know that's easier said than done.

Now, I've come to the conclusion that I don't like it when love triangles feel forced. Or when authors seem to mold characters a certain way, and when they manipulate our feelings to root for one character over another. You can't change a character's personality, without sacrificing what made the love triangle a love triangle.

On the other hand, I tend to appreciate love triangles that really challenge me. I appreciate when the author present two love interests that are both good choices. I just don't want the choice to be obvious; I want to be surprised. Yes, this is a personal preference, but I wonder if anyone else out there feels the same way.

So what are your favorite love triangles? What are some of your least favorite love triangles? Are you turned off when you hear that a book has a love triangle? Do you still enjoy reading them? Let me know your thoughts below.


  1. You make some really good points!

    Honestly, my main problem with love triangles is that in 95% of books, they're predictable. The girl always has an obvious preference; it's obvious who she'll end up with; and most times it's the "first guy". Like, the girl falls for one guy, then after a while a second guy gets introduced to "stir things up", but it's obvious she's going to choose the first one.

    If a love triangle is unpredictable and makes sense (like Throne of Glass!) then I don't mind it. But so often they're just pointless and obviously used to create conflict. You always know which guy she's going to choose... so what's the point?

    1. YES! 1000xs yes! I don't like predictable love triangles (what's the fun in that?) So many times, it feels as if a love triangle is introduced for the sole purpose of creating conflict. That't just not my cup of tea.

      Thank you, Ashley, for commenting! :)

  2. I agree that love triangles are generally annoying, but occasionally can be done right, and I think The Hunger Games is a perfect example of a job well-done on a love triangle. My two least favorite triangles are from The Maze Runner series and The Matched trilogy. It's annoying in both, it doesn't actually add much to the story, and I was disappointed with the results of both as well.

    1. I haven't read The Maze Runner or Matched, yet. But I agree that THG love triangle is definitely one of the best. I don't want writers to stop writing love triangles, I just don't want them to write love triangles just for the heck of it--to create more drama. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I do not like most of love triangles in books, and these days I try to avoid books that contain love triangles, but strangely, the love triangle in Shatter Me series works for me! Somewhere along the way tha author changed my opinion about both boys (though it's quite clear that she wants us to like one more than the other...) One of my least favorite is from Delirium series. It's so forced and doesn't really make sense to me :|

    1. Shatter Me is a unique case. I just hated the way the characters made a 180 turn. Juliette chose the right guy, in the end, but I felt like I was almost reading a completely different book. I'm glad you were satisfied with the trilogy. :)

      I can agree with you on the Delirium series, though. While Julian is an important character, he didn't have to get romantically involved with Lena. Plus, Oliver made Requiem far too open ended! The last passages are beautifully written and the plot was headed somewhere…

      Why couldn't' there be a fourth book to tie up all the loose ends? Oh well.

  4. Yup, I completely agree, love triangles are wearing me down because they don't make sense anymore and there's no better example of that that the Shatter Me series. There should never have been a love triangle at all.

    If I hear there's a love triangle in a book, like Defy, and it's not done properly, I don't bother with it.