Saturday, 10 August 2013

Let's talk: Love Triangles

Time for the second edition of Let's Talk! This is a feature at my blog in which I discuss a random subject that is on my mind on a random day of the week.

The subject this time is: Love Triangles

If you've read some of my reviews, you know I really dislike love triangles. Why? I can go on a whole rant about how they're unrealistic and stuff, but I know that is not the real problem. I have read books with good love triangles, which would still be unrealistic. Than why do I dislike them so much?

The problem with love triangles is that they are overused, always the same and very predictable. If I scan through blurbs of new YA books, in almost every one of them there is a mention of a love triangle. And even that would not have been so bad, if the execution of the love triangles wouldn't have been almost exactly the same in every one of those books.

I give you the average YA love triangle:

The protagonist is a very normal girl. Then one day she meets a mysterious new boy, he is quite arrogant and a (bit of a) bad boy, but of course he's super hot. She is immediately attracted to him. The boy tells her some secret and they go on an adventure together and of course she falls in love with him. But when everything seems to be perfect and they're ready to start a relationship there is the best friend! This boy the protagonist has known forever and up until the secret adventure they had spent all their time together. He admits he has had a secret crush on the protagonist for ages and wants her to choose him over the new boy.
This leads to the two boys fighting each other or just hating each other and the protagonist only being able to think about who she is going to pick. The love triangle takes over the plot and the secret adventure from the beginning is suddenly not so important anymore.
This can go on and on, for maybe one book or a whole series. But the ending is predictable: the protagonist always goes for new, mysterious boy who is oh so bad, instead of the safe, best friend.

Summary: Good Guy vs Bad Boy. The latter always wins.

Let me give you a few examples of books with this format:
  • The Iron Fey. Puck is the best friend and Ash the mysterious new boy. Who does Meghan choose? Ash.
  • The Mortal Instruments. Simon is the best friend and Jace the mysterious new boy. Who does Clary choose? Jace. (don't get me wrong, I love TMI, just not the love triangle!)
  • Twilight. Okay, Jacob wasn't really a 'best friend', but Bella did see him as a friend and she had known him pretty long. And Edward was of course the mysterious bad boy. I think everyone knows who she chose in the end.
What I just gave you was the average YA love triangle. I'm just so sick of seeing this in books. I tend to subtract stars immediately if I notice this format in a book. If writers are going to insert a love triangle in their book, which is already pretty unoriginal, why not shake it up a bit?
  • Make it unpredictable. I don't want to know who the protagonist ends up with from the beginning of the book. Or make her end up alone, let the boys choose to walk away when she can't choose.
  • Different players in the game. Don't go with the best friend/mysterious boy format. Take two best friends, two brothers, two girls and a boy, there are so many other options than the good vs bad guy.
  • Second priority. Don't let the love triangle overshadow the plot. You can let the protagonist think about the boys, but just don't overdo it.
Examples of great love triangles:
  • The Infernal Devices. The two boys are best friends and don't go fighting each other over the girl. Until the end we don't know (at least I didn't) who she is going to choose. And the love triangle did not take over the plot and the girl wasn't constantly thinking about who she should choose.
  • The Hunger Games. Love triangles? Katniss Everdeen ain't got no time for that! Yes, we have the best friend, but can we call Peeta a mysterious bad boy? I don't think so. But Katniss is too busy trying to overthrow the government to think about who she is going to choose and thus it doesn't overshadow the plot.
  • Throne of Glass. There is a hint of a love triangle between Chaol, Celaena and Dorian, but it definitely doesn't overshadow the plot. Celaena doesn't spend one minute thinking about who she likes better, since she's not even looking for a relationship.
I would add The Host, but that's a love square.. that's a great idea too, add another person to the party.

Or be original and just go with a two-person romance:)

What do you think about love triangles? Do you know any other good or bad love triangles? Do you have any advice on how to write good love triangles?

PS: If you really hate love triangles, this post from Eve @ Paper Sanctuary might be more fitting for you:)


  1. I agree with everything you said. I only like it when a love-triangle is a strong one and you yourself can't decide between the male love interests. It makes it more realistic. I liked the love-triangle in Unravel Me the second book of Shatter Me. I hate it when a love-triangle is week like in The Selection and it is so obvious who she's going to choose.

  2. Love triangles are definitely getting old. Once in awhile they work, like in Infernal Devices, but most of the time they don't because it's really not even a love triangle. There's the true love, and then there's the friend, or the slightly evil person, etc. and so you're never really torn between the two guys. Unearthly was actually a pretty well done love triangle. I don't think there was ever a choice for the MC, but there was for me!

    It's funny how they are so prevalent in dystopian/paranormal, but not in contemporary YA. I think it all goes back to Twilight. Writers saw that the formula worked (was Team Jacob and Team Edward the first time there were "teams"?) and so they just used it.

    And the completely normal girl being pursued by two hot guys, I mean, come on! At least in Vampire Academy, Rose was gorgeous and a bad-ass so it made more sense.

    Great post! ~Pam

  3. Ha, well, I did write a post about how I think love triangles should be done to make them more original. I didn't think about switching up the people though. Of course, I can't imagine the whole love triangle between two brothers without it being just wrong or disturbing. But the love triangle between a girl and a boy would be interesting, though I wouldn't want it to be like a decision between being straight or gay... if that makes sense. So yes! Great post. I don't mind love triangles, just want more creativity!

  4. I don't mind love triangles as long as it's not the stereotypical kind that you mentioned above, the bad boy and the best friend. Great topic!

  5. They ARE freaking overused! And whenever I stumbled upon that good boy vs bad boy thing in a book, I can already predict the outcome. Like you said, we have read that in many books and authors should really STOP using the same love triangle resolutions again. Or the type of characters. Or basically GO ORIGINAL. BE CREATIVE. And I must say, TID has one of the best love triangles I ever read! ALL THE FEEELLLZZZZ. I'm on Team Jem but I do like Will a lot. And their parabatai relationship -- I never expected to cry over two boys who cared about each other so much. THE FEEEELLLSSSSS.

    Awesome post! :33 You just voiced my thought haha!

  6. Yeah, don't like Love Triangles that much either. Especially when they overshadow the actual plot. =/

  7. That's indeed the worst thing and that happens in so many books (cough The Elite cough)!

  8. I'm glad we agree on the subject:) Yes, the TID love triangle was good, because it was different. Writers seem to be afraid to be original these days.

  9. Haha, most of the time the protagonist is so boring I really don't understand how a guy can fall for her, let alone two guys :) I don't know why it's so often used in dystopian/sci-fi/paranormal, I guess the writers don't think those concepts are interesting enough to fill a whole book with and they need to add extra tension..

  10. Well, I liked the one in The Elite actually. It was pretty original. I mean the one guy was a friend, but an ex-boyfriend too and prince Maxon wasn't a mysterious bad-boy, he's a prince. So. And I'm team Maxon all the way.

  11. AAAAAH I loved this post! :D I don't exactly dislike love triangles, although the really petty and cliche ones do get bothersome from time to time. I SO agree with the fact that's its usually the nice best friend versus the new bad boy, and more often than not, its the bad boy who wins (although I loved the Iron Fey, and wouldn't mind reading The Mortal Instruments). Sometimes though, I just wish the authors would introduce us to something new. I loved the one in the Infernal Devices! And yeah, non-love triangle romances should definitely come around more often. I sort of really miss them :(

  12. I so agree about the Infernal Devices! It was so good that Will and Jem's friendship wasn't in jeopardy over Tessa. Both of them were pretty awesome. And Tessa wasn't constantly going back and forth and when she thought about it, she was actually logical. I was, for some reason, pretty sure Will was going to die heroically and Jem was going to end up with Tessa....

    As for unpredictable triangles, while the Unearthly books were average for me, I give it to Cynthia Hand that she managed to play me till the end - I was pretty sure Clara was going to end up with a certain someone and then she didn't. :D

    I'm not really up for the two brothers thing though ;/ I hate seeing friendships torn apart over a girl, but brothers? I loathe it! It's family, after all. Doesn't matter how crappy it is, they can't be at each other's throats over some chick whose only ability is her indecisiveness. Two enemies who actually come to blows a few times? I can get behind that :D I'd love to see it, in fact.

    I love this post (and the different kinds of love-triangles/squares you suggested)! And thanks for linking me c:

  13. OMG I HATE love triangles. They are such a cheap plot twist and often you cannot help but like both dudes and what then? When she ends up with one but not the other? It's so so lame.

    I really disliked TID love triangle though. I never liked Will much in the first place and the last book was a disappointment, so sugary I thought I'm gonna get diabetes and just overall lame.
    As for THG, am I the only one not seeing love triangle here? :X

    Good post though!

  14. I HATE love triangles. It's gotten to the point where if I see even a hint of it on the blurb I just won't bother with the books altogether. They would have to come very highly recommended by friends for me to read them. Example: The Infernal Devices. Now that really was a well done triangle.


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