Love Triangles in Young Adult Novels

I just finished a book the other day (Descended by Blood by Angeline Kace) that had the most hideous and poorly written love triangle since Twilight. Or, well, did it?

Once I finished reading, I started thinking more about it. Really, I loathe love triangles. I don’t even like calling them “love” triangles, because they’re generally more about lust and instant-gratification than a true, deep love. Someone must love them, though, because they are -all-over-the-place- in Young Adult literature.  ALL over the place.

In fact, they’re so prevalent right now that when I started googling tonight to find some YA books that do -not- have a love triangle, I came across these two blog posts discussing exactly what I’m bringing up here: Julia from The Broke and the Bookish and Read.Breathe.Relax.

Their posts are so recent, in fact (both in February of this year), that I almost did not go ahead with writing this one. It’s been done, it’s been complained about…but, well, I won’t feel better til I put it out there. So here I go.

I know when my loathing began – Twilight, with Bella and her dopey inability to figure out whether she should be with stalker-esque Edward or I-love-you-even-though-you-love-him Jacob. That was seriously just brutal and inane.

Then I read others: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, Wings by Aprilynne Pike, Firelight by Sophie Jordan, Fallen by Lauren Kate, Wither by Lauren DeStefano…I’ll not even mention the various Twilight dupes.

At this point while compiling my still-incomplete list, I poked Bree of 1 Girl 2 Many Books and asked her for some input.  With her help, I added Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Matched by Allie Condie, and The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (it apparently has TWO!). I have not read these three books, so I had to also ask her for the names of the characters involved in the Lust Triangles of Doom.  While trying to come up with the names for Shatter Me, she mentioned Juliette and Adam, but could only remember that the second male’s name started with a W (and Bree is a woman who remembers things, accurately and quickly most times). In fact, her exact words were, after she went looking for the name, “Ok, my review doesn’t mention the guy’s name. He was too cookie cutter for me to care about.” (The name is Warner, by the way – I googled it.)

Really, I think that sums it up quite nicely.  These stories are cookie cutter blocks of text set to a particular formula with only very slight deviations from one another.  Some are a little more nicely baked, others are flat, some are fluffy, and more than a few are just trash. So, why? Is it because “love” sells? Are authors using these things as crutches because of an inability to push a story forward with plots of substance?

Now, despite my utter hatred for most Lust Triangles of Doom, I will admit that some are done nicely.  For instance, the love triangle in The Hunger Games – I’ll call it love on this one because honestly, it seems like the feelings in all three characters are genuine and solid, not just thrown in willy nilly because it’ll make it easier to carry on to the second book. (Off-tangent onto another tangent – (Julia, you say this in your post, as well, and I totally agree) WHY the heck can’t we have any standalone YA novels? Everything -has- to be a series? Also, why are YA books so SHORT? Teenagers don’t all have 30 second attention spans, you know. But I digress…) Anyhow, Gale/Katniss/Peeta was so much less offensive and forced.

There’s also a sort of love triangle (though it’s a secondary part of the story that HELPS the plot rather than IS the plot) in another book I read recently, Fair Coin by E.C. Myers, that is tolerable. It might help that it’s a male protagonist with two girls in the picture, and that he always knows exactly which one he wants.

The third “good” one that I can think of can’t be mentioned here, as the second book in the trilogy has been released recently enough that I feel it’d be a spoiler to talk about it. It was unexpected, and believable.

What do you think? Are Lust Triangles of Doom overdone? In which novels do you think they’ve been written in a way that doesn’t grate the nerves? Why do you think so many authors are including them in their books?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Comments

  1. I am getting tired of love triangles as well. Shatter Me type of triangles don’t bother me as much because Adam and Juliette obviously loved each other and Warner was just infatuated with her. It’s when the girl is waffling back and forth that it bugs me.

    • I haven’t actually read Shatter Me, but yes – the waffling. That’s the bit that gets very old, very fast. It’s unnecessary (in almost all cases) to the plot and just junks things up in a way that makes me roll my eyes and groan.

  2. I completely agree! It’s not so much that I care about two people being in love with one person, as I’m sure this happens. It’s the flitting between the two, oh-I-like-this-one-no-that-one-no-this-one-no-that-one, that I can’t stand. Especially as I’m just getting to like one and then the protagonist switches! It doesn’t seem to make sense. If you love someone you don’t suddenly change and love someone else and then flit back. That’s definitely lust not love.

    On another note, I’m, funnily enough, writing an essay on the love triangle and this post is very helpful for a list of novels with lvoe triangles 🙂 thanks!

  3. I so enjoyed this post! I just reviewed a new YA book series, The Tiger Saga, and it is a great quartet of books, “love triangle of doom,” aside. I was so disappointed when the series moved in that direction. I put a link in my blog to this post in case anyone else needs a warning list of love triangle books.

    http://kandjdreamatorium.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-tiger-saga-book-series-review.html

    Thanks!
    Kristin

  4. My thoughts over the last year have gone something like, “Every where I turn, a girl is having to choose between TWO guys. What the heck?!” And seriously, it is everywhere. Not only in books, but also in movies and television. The problem, in my opinion, is that if the story is done well, the choice is impossible for the girl to make, but more than that, the reader struggles with the decision, too. So no matter how “well” the loose ends are tied up (a terrible example, but an example nonetheless, is Jacob/Renesmee in Twilight) someone ends up unsatisfied. It is impossible to have it both ways. And if a reader falls in love with a certain couple, no matter how great one of the pair may be with someone else, it isn’t the same. That is my issue.
    On a side note, I just finished Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, and I kind of like what she has done with the one-girl-two-loves thing. Again, just my opinion.

  5. The only book with a ‘love’ triangle that I think is worthy of being actually called a love triangle is the Tiger’s Curse series. The love triangle develops slowly and maturely. There is no lust. The author and characters actually make a point to stay away from the sexual aspect as a whole. It is my favorite series.