True love triangles are probably rare in real life, but they are running rampant in romantic fiction! (Also in real life, triangles rarely end well; in romance, all parties generally get their happily ever after. Mortal of the story: Don’t try this at home, folks.)
Love triangles can be an amazing plot device to create conflict and drama when done right. In literature, they almost always are made up of one girl and two guys. I guess the idea is that a girl with multiple offers is a desirable fantasy, and the man with multiple women is just a man-whore. (I don’t agree, by the way; and I’d love to read an M/F/F triangle if anyone has a suggestion.)
Unfortunately, we can all name the love triangles gone bad. These usually entail a girl stringing along two guys, who are WAY too good for her, across hundreds of pages (sometimes over multiple books) filled with “I love him, but oh, I love him too. Whatever will I do?” Indecisive heroines come across as weak and annoying. Sometimes this involves a girl cheating on one guy with another, which makes me completely ill. It’s one thing if a person is in a bad relationship and falls for someone else, but once it turns into deception, I emotionally check out.
So while love triangles are among the major reader pet peeves, I wanted to discuss a few love triangles that I thought were done very well.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Katniss/Peeta/Gale): Since this series is not a true romance, the love triangle was more like a subplot, very subtle. By this I mean Suzanne Collins didn’t spend three full books on “OMG, who will she pick?!?” That gets old really quick. Also, Katniss is not some weak, indecisive heroine who strings two guys along for hundreds of pages. As the story progressed, I think the actions which led to the romantic resolution were right for the characters and not forced. She also didn’t treat the guy she didn’t chose disrespectfully. I felt good about the ending for all three characters involved.
The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare (Tessa/Jem/Will): Cassandra Clare handled this triangle absolutely brilliantly! Again, Tessa wasn’t a weak or disrespectful heroine who played with these two boys’ hearts. But what really got me in these books was the relationship between the guys, Jem and Will. More than best friends, more than brothers, these two guys were like soul mates. There was a serious bromance going on.
The Trylle Series by Amanda Hocking (Wendy/Finn/Loki): Okay, I’m expecting people to disagree with me here, but dang, I loved the way this love triangle worked out in the end! If you look at the Amazon reviews, you will notice that many, many people disagree with me, but the unconventional way Hocking ended this is exactly why I loved it. (SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read this series, go do so now and come back. We’ll wait.) Wendy doesn’t go with the obvious choice, but makes a mature, adult decision. She got sick of Finn’s whole brooding act and moved on. Good for her! Loki was much more interesting anyway. I thought this transformed Wendy from a child to a woman and showed wonderful character growth.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on love triangles! Like them? Hate them? Which are your favorites and which made you want to hurl the book across the room? If you have any good suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Disagree with my examples above, let’s discuss!