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Recently I made the declaration on twitter that I think books should come with love triangle warning labels. After that statement, I, of course, started thinking about how that could be practically executed. Not everyone sees love triangles the same way, and I started to wonder whose job it would be to make these rulings. Because if I were to make a dystopian future, it would be one in which Love Triangles Must Be Declared. Actually scratch that, it would be a future of No Love Triangles. But I digress. I certainly wouldn't want the job of having to decide if a book required a love triangle label, if it meant I had to read only books with potential triangles in them. And what do you do about series that introduce triangles in later books? Clearly this question requires Serious Thought.
Today I want to know:
How do you define a love triangle?
Often, when I consider an entire book series, I'd easily give it a Mild love triangle rating, although individual books may feel higher than others. For most "love triangles" it's always obvious who the heroine wants, even if she goes after someone else when she can't have him. For those of series, I'm never really worried about who she will end up with. I'm also glad that I didn't pass them by because of my worry about the state of the triangle. It's the series that keep me guessing until the very end, where I struggle the most.
Would you consider all of these popular love setups to be true triangles?
Which do you think are most/least effective?
Which do you think are most/least effective?
(This list is not extensive, and some of these overlap.)
1) Best friend on hold - The MC's best friend is not-so-secretly in love with her, and she considers him because she can't have the guy she wants. This also leads to any situation where the MC picks a different guy because she can't have her first choice.
Examples: The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
2) The blindside - A second love interest pops up mid series.
Examples: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Delirium by Lauren Oliver
3) Middle book tension triangle, or "I love you, but I love him more!" - The MC usually gets into this situation, when a second guy comes into the picture during the middle book break-up between her and her main love interest. Authors must keep the tension high!
Examples: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
4) Make-out buddy - The connection between the MC and one of the guys is more physical and about her needing to escape, than anything emotional. This usually isn't dragged out past one book.
Example: The Archived by Victoria Schwab
5) The Love T - It's clear who the MC wants and he wants her back. But there is another guy who really wants her too, although he never really has a chance.
Example: Anne Aguirre outlines this well in her post on her Enclave series at The Midnight Garden.
6) This wouldn't be a triangle if THAT plot element hadn't happened - A new love interest comes into the story because of major plot elements that shakes up the MC's world, changing her future and introducing a potential new love interest.
Example: Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready (Logan dies at the beginning of the series, and Zach is introduced), The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Katniss and Gale seem a given until she gets called to the Hunger Games with Peeta).
Example: See my recent post on the topic. But The Tiger Saga by Colleen Houck is my strongest example of this.
8) The Infernal Devices - This deserves it's own category, because it's the only series I can think of that actually has a true triangle, where all three of the individuals in the relationship care about each other.
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
9) Free will debate, aka I'm bound to you, but I want him instead - Objectively, the heroine makes much more sense with one of her choices. He is her intended match, but she wants to make her own decisions and ends up falling in love with someone else instead. I usually struggle with how these types of triangles play out throughout a series.
Examples: Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Final thought (haha. who am I kidding? I could talk about love triangles forever): Have you noticed that the people who write descriptive book copy like to further confuse those of us actively trying to avoid triangles? Sometimes they like to write book descriptions claiming there's a triangle in a story, but once you start reading, you realize there isn't one at all. On the other hand, sometimes a book description only mentions one guy, when you find out later that there's two at play. Don't get me started again on series where triangles pop up unexpectedly in later books. How is a girl who's actively trying to avoid triangles, supposed to succeed?
I want to hear from you!