Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday Discussions (14): The YA Love Triangle

Sticking with the theme of this month, that is the guy's of YA, I've decided to theme my discussion questions to YA romance. This week, I'd like to talk a little about YA love triangles.

We've all read a lot of posts related to them. Heck, I've even written a few posts about them. Yet, it is always a subject the comes up. I've seen so many people begging for this trend to end and while I get why people are tired of them, I have to disagree. I'll tell you why and then chat a bit about something that make them work.

On a superficial level, YA love triangles usually work because they are exciting. Who doesn't enjoy feeling desired? It's fun to read about the situation and put yourself in the middle of two great guys. It adds an element of excitement and urgency to the novel. We know that in the end someone has to get hurt and the heroine must make a choice.

This choice is the second thing that makes YA love triangles so much fun and sometimes quite essential. In a balance situation, the heroine is often times choosing between which life she wants. The triangle represents and amplifies that idea of one choosing their own lives in adolescence. Do they go with the moody paranormal guy and get sucked into a life of danger or do they choose the guy that's constantly there for them and can provide them a life of stability? A lot of times the triangle is about a lot more than the guys that are involved. It's usually really about what the heroine wants for herself. She sees two good options and she must decide between both. The guys are merely really good looking metaphors for this.

Another great thing about YA triangles is that they work to build strong characters. Oftentimes, the males involved are defined by each other. We get to see the contrast between both which works to sharpen all of the great things about each guy and magnify all the faults. Many times, YA guys are defined by their triangle counterparts. In balanced situations, many times the guys will be opposites as they are both offering something very different for the girl they love.

I think you'll notice the key here is balance. I think as a reader, I really don't like when it's obvious who the girl is going to choose. It's because then I have to wonder what the other guy is even doing there.It also feels like an insult to me, the reader, when it's so obvious because it feels like the writer is treating me like I'm dumb.

Here are some examples of a balanced love triangle in YA lit:
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer- Sorry guys but you knew this had to be included. If you loathe it then skip down to the next pair! While it was pretty easy to guess who Bella was going to end up with, Ms. Meyer did a stellar job of putting Jacob in there to muck it all up. By utilizing the second novel to have Jacob and Bella's feelings grow without Edward there, Jacob was given a fighting chance in the third novel to get Bella to choose him. Jacob was warm, human, could offer her a happy and carefree life and loved her fiercely. Edward was cold, old fashioned, a vampire, could only offer her an undead life of eternally devotion and also loved her with everything he had. Two amazing choices, both equal and different.

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer- Another excellent example of a balanced love triangle. Ren is home to Calla. She's known him her entire life and he challenges her. He's the same as her so he can understand her, he's good looking, thoughtful and charmingly insecure when it comes to her. Shay is a human boy, and yet he fights to be near her. He loves nature and wants Calla to have her own life. Again, both guys are good choices and while Ren is more of a devil without a care type, he's the one that offers Calla a life of ease and normalcy. Shay offers a life that she chooses, away from the rules that have stifled her.

Wings series by Aprilynne Pike- Another excellent example of an equal triangle. Laurel grew up human and when she found David, she found someone she could love. David is intelligent, intuitive, sweet and caring. He wants the best for Laurel and for her to have options in her future. Tamani is from the world she left (unbeknown to her) a long time ago. He's good looking, funny, sweet, challenging and feels like the home she'd all but forgotten.

So the thing about love triangle is when they are done right, they are incredible and can truly make a story and their characters unique. It gives the reader a reason to keep going and is a great metaphor for the heroine choosing her own path.

What do you think about YA triangles? Yay or nay?


  1. I'm sick to death of the love triangle... I KNOW why it's SO popular, and most times necessary to keep the story interesting... but lord- I'm tired!!!
    The Bookish Brunette

  2. The thing that I haven't liked about love triangles is that they are sometimes not believable. Sometimes it's just another guy lusting after a girl, but the girl is clearly not interested. My favourite love triangle is the one that takes place in the Summer series by Jenny Han. Two brothers one girl, and she's actually conflicted about who to chose.

    Great discussion post.


  3. Brilliant discussion1 This is such a hot topic in YA at the moment and you explained my thoughts perfectly. I think love triangles can work really well when executed properly and written for the right reasons instead of just for the sake of it. I just wish it wasn't so overused in YA at the moment because that's what I think people are becoming annoyed about. Perhaps it would be interesting for authors to explore a male-female-male love triangle for a fresh perspective?

  4. As long as a triangle is down well, I'm all for it. Though, I usually have a preference. (Edward and Ren all the way) I don't like triangles when they're there just for the sake of having a triangle, and sometimes it's hard to believe the main character is THAT wanted, you know? Lol

  5. Overall, I'm sick of love triangles and I find it refreshing when there's no weird fickleness going on in the relationships in my reads. However, I can and do enjoy certain ones. The one that immediately comes to mind is that of Logan/Aura/Zachary in Jeri Smith-Ready's Shade series. The circumstances of their situation allows the love triangle to make sense to me.

    Great post!


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