Ah, the fated love triangle. One of the most hated plot devices in YA fiction. Usually the heroine gets her pick of the crop and it’s usually the best friend who secretly harbours feelings for her that gets left behind in favour of Mr new, hot and exciting. If I had a coin for people mentioning the hated love triangles, I’d probably be rich by now.
But I’m beginning to see a trend in YA fiction. I’ve encountered a few books now, even with a love triangle, where I’m like “hey that actually wasn’t that bad.” Have authors caught on what makes us like and dislike love triangles? Are we actually beginning to tolerate them now, because they seem to be more convincing or better written, not just a convenient plot device?
Take Throne of Glass for example. I don’t think anyone could argue that we hated the love triangle in that one, because both Dorian and Chaol were such well written, strong and well suited male characters for Celaena. They care for her in different ways, and they both were attracted to her for different reasons. In fact, they were so well written that throughout the first book, I just didn’t know who to go for. This does become clearer in Crown of Midnight, but you could still argue against the front runner.
So what makes a love triangle tolerable?
- If two males aren’t put in just for the sake of making the heroine pick between them, and are well written characters that actually have a reason to be there, then we can accept love triangles more readily.
- Having a clear front runner with character traits that complement the heroine more usually helps too. Although the second guy might be as desirable as the first, we know that he isn’t the best guy for her for one reason or another.
- Not making any of the males whiny and jealous and possessive helps a lot too, if they can just understand and be proud that someone else finds the heroine as desirable as they do. Of course the best friend likes her, she’s amazing!
- Giving the other male another love interest other than the heroine usually makes things easier for her (and for us) to choose.
- Having the heroine actually choose someone without dragging it out. There’s nothing more annoying than an indecisive heroine that selfishly strings along both males because she can’t decide.
Love triangles that follow the formula above are usually more tolerable for me, and I’m really glad to see the days of the annoying relationship between Edward, Jacob and Bella come to an end or at least a halt in YA fiction.
Have your feelings about love triangles changed recently?
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