Book Discussion: Love Triangles

I’ve been posting a lot of book reviews lately, so I thought I’d mix things up with a Book Discussion. The topic of love triangles has been on my mind, because I’ve seen it floating around in many “Tropes I Hate” lists or “YA Tropes That Need To Go”. And this brought up the question: Why is it that so many people hate love triangles? Is it because it adds unnecessary drama? Are there books where love triangles actually could work?

hunger games

When I think of love triangles, the Hunger Games trilogy is the first to pop in my mind. Throughout all of Katniss’ badass-ery, the whole dystopian setting, and a rebellion, the tiny question of “Who does Katniss belong with” is floating around in the subplots. I can see why this would offend many people. Katniss is so awesome, so strong and brave, yet the one question that everyone seems preoccupied with is who she should be with. Because a girl’s worth is determined by who she is with and a girl has to be with somebody? I don’t know if I totally agree with this analysis of the love triangle, but I can see why it comes to mind when reading this trilogy. To me personally, this love triangle never really bothered me because the choice seemed so obvious (Peeta, obviously!). I gushed over the cute Peeta/Katniss moments, skipped over the Gale/Katniss moments, and kept reading for the plot. But if the choice was so obvious, why did Suzanne Collins include it? I think in this case, it actually had a deeper meaning. Gale represented her life before the Hunger Games, and Peeta her life afterwards. Ultimately, her decision to choose Peeta is a recognition that life can never be the same as it was before, no matter how much she wanted it to be. In this case, I don’t believe Suzanne Collins included it to add drama. Since the love triangle added something deeper to the story, I can actually respect it. 

the-summer-i-turned-pretty

I’ve mentioned this love triangle before, because it’s so iconic to me, but even though it’s so emotionally wrenching, I think the love triangle actually worked. One of the reasons I usually hate love triangles is that I can’t relate; one option usually stands out to me. This means that for the majority of the book, the main character just seems oblivious and silly, since to me there is one obvious choice. But not in this trilogy. Both love interests legitimately seemed like a good option when she was considering them, and I still can’t tell you if I’m happy with the ending, a year later. To me, this love triangle worked because Jenny Han actually made it as confusing as it must feel to actually be in it. Even though it was a driving force of plot in the book, this was also focused on Belly growing up and healing. It was as much about her discovering herself as it was choosing which one she loves the most 

Since these were examples of love triangles that actually worked, here’s an example of one that completely did not work for me. 

taking chances

If you haven’t read this one yet, don’t. I’m not usually so mean to books and authors, but this love triangle will honestly drive you crazy. I think I threw my Kindle at the wall while reading it (and then ran over to it and comforted it and felt so guilty for hurting it). You can tell just by looking at the cover that this book was going to be all about the love triangles. And worse than that, there’s also cheating involved! This book was the epitome of an author adding a love triangle in to add unnecessary drama. The choice was so obvious there wasn’t even a competition, but Harper, the main character, still chooses the wrong one, and worse, the author kills off the other guy! As if to get him out of the way so the choice can be easier! There is honestly no other plot besides the love triangle, and the main character acts so ditzy and the two other boys are like oblivious to the way she treats them and takes her back no matter what. This love triangle offered nothing to the story and is the perfect example of why readers hate love triangles. 

So it’s not just every love triangle that I hate. I have a couple theories why I (and generally others) hate certain love triangles.

  1. It’s so overused. Besides the ones I mentioned above, Twilight, Unearthly, The Selection, Matched, Catching Jordan, Secret Girlfriend, Defying Gravity and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before all have love triangles. And these are just the books I’ve read! It’s just thrown in there so much now that it’s lost its value.
  2. The formula is always the same. Will we ever be given a love triangle that doesn;t include one beautiful-girl-who-thinks-she’s-plain choosing between two hot and attractive guys who couldn’t possibly be into her but somehow are? The world may never know? Even a girl-girl-boy love triangle would mix things up and be more interesting. And I feel like if a boy ever is the main character in a love triangle, it’s always a pseudo love triangle, where the boy had a crush on a girl for a long time but met this other girl that he actually likes and realizes his feelings for the first girl was shallow. The reader, the writer, the entire family, everybody knows that he’s going to choose the second girl. Everybody knows but him. 
  3. There’s never really a competition. The whole point of a love triangle is that one of them can’t choose between the two love interests because they both are so. damn. good. But too often the author ends up hyping up one character so much, making them the perfect fit for the main character, that you just know they’re going to choose that perfect character. And then there’s a disconnect between the character and the reader, because the reader doesn’t see any competition between the two love interests or understand the confused feeling. And a disconnect between the protagonist and the reader is never a good thing, because then the actions all seem trivial and silly and the whole novel has lost its appeal. 

This is my take on love triangles. There are some that work for me, but overall a majority of them fall into the three criteria above and become useless and hated. 

What is your opinion on love triangles? Is there some that you like? Is there a love triangle that just didn’t work for you? Why do you think people hate love triangles?

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21 thoughts on “Book Discussion: Love Triangles

  1. Jess (beaucoupbooks) says:

    I don’t really mind love triangles, but I’ve only really come across one love triangle that I really liked (The Infernal Devices have a great one imo). I do have The Summer I Turned Pretty on my TBR so hopefully I’ll find the triangle enjoyable 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bionic Book Worm says:

    I agree with you completely. Love triangles can be good if done properly. Sometimes life is messy and you don’t know what you want. Especially if you’re attempting to survive in a dystopian world lol. When a triangle is used for a purpose and creates a depth to the story then I can appreciate it. But when there’s a love story added for drama and “effect” then no. Just don’t even bother. It usually ends up making the undecided character seem flaky.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. TeacherofYA says:

    There is a “love triangle” kind of that worked really well in Children of Eden, the last book I read. Rowan loves Lark, the first person she gets to be herself around, but then this boy Lachlan meets her and is part of a rebellion. In the book, you can tell the two don’t like each other but Rowan doesn’t understand why she cannot love both of them differently. I would say more, but I don’t want to ruin it if you decide to read it.
    I think it’s a perfect example of a love triangle done well and realistically. But I agree it can be the worst trope EVER, and in one book I read, Stealing Snow, there was literally a love SQUARE. Eww. 😝

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sydney @ Fire and Rain Books says:

      Yes that love triangle makes sense because they seemed to have different circumstances surrounding their love. If it’s done realistically and you actually see the appeal of both choices, I think it’s okay.
      A love SQUARE?! That sounds horrible!

      Like

  4. Krysta says:

    I think people have love triangle fatigue. Once Twilight became such a bestseller people copied the elements so it became rare to find a YA without a love triangle. It wasn’t suspenseful or original anymore. And many love triangles aren’t done well. I can predict the outcome of just about any love triangle just because one interest is always obviously such a bad fit or a murderous vampire or something. Love triangles can be very effective (such as in Pride and Prejudice) but often they’re just used as a shortcut to drama for the sake of drama.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sydney @ Fire and Rain Books says:

      I think you’re exactly right! The popularity of Twilight also made love triangles popular, and then they were just found everywhere, so people got tired of it. One of the things I hate about love triangles is that I can almost always predict it too because the two choices are almost always the same. There’s the “nice boy” and the “bad boy”, and the writer makes it so you know the bad boy is exciting but wrong get her almost every time.

      Like

      • Krysta says:

        Right? I don’t go into a trilogy thinking, “For sure the protagonist will ultimate ditch the boy-next-door to marry the homicidal werewolf-mage.” What is even the point of this love triangle? Or sometimes the love triangle starts out with two decent guys and then by book three the author has to make the second guy homicidal so we all know he’s not a viable option. Like the only reason not to marry him is if he goes off the deep end. So bizarre.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. chloesbookshelfblog says:

    This was such an interesting post! Personally I really don’t like love triangles anymore, they just feel tedious, predictable and unrealistic to me. One exception to this (for me) is the infernal devices – I thought the love triangle was done really well in those books! But I would much rather read about a character having healthy relationships than choosing between two people. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bentley ★ BookBastion.net says:

    I have railed against love triangles in a lot of my reviews for YA novels. I just despise them. I really dislike that they’ve become a staple of the YA genre, because typically speaking they’re unhealthy examples of relationships between young people being touted as romantic and beautiful. I also get annoyed when a great plot gets bogged down by unneeded romantic scenes. I just want to get on with the story!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. bumblingaboutbooks says:

    I think that people would like love triangles a lot more if they weren’t used so often! But it seems almost to be an expected part of a lot of YA books now for some reason, which is so frustrating! Sometimes they are done really well and enhance the plot, but other (most) of the time they draw your attention away from the plot and too much time is spent focused on ‘which guy will she choose?’ when it isn’t really even an important part of the story! I totally agree with your points, loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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