Monday, January 20, 2014

Let's Discuss THE LOVE TRIANGLE OF DOOM

Original image source

Everyone knows by now that I dislike love triangles. 

And I'm getting more resolved about avoiding them with each book I read. 

In fact, I'm declaring 2014 to be a Love Triangle Free Zone.

(Except for the few series in which I'm already invested - clearly I'm a glutton for punishment.)

But only a very few triangle situations have earned the special label:

LOVE TRIANGLE OF DOOM

Although that title sounds amusing and fun, I assure you it is not. 
In fact, it is the worst possible level of triangleness. 

It has nothing to do with how the series started, 
(although number 2 on my worst list is triangles-that-creep-up-unexpectedly-in-later-series-books). 

It has nothing to do with who the girl* ultimately chooses. 
Whether she picks the "right" guy or not. 

It has everything to do with the way it all goes down in the end.

Let me explain
If an author keeps you guessing about who the girl will ultimately pick until the last quarter - even sometimes the last 20 pages - of the last novel in a series, you have come to my ultimate love triangle nightmare. 

Why do I dislike this scenario so much? 
It's simple. I like get the chance to see a couple actually together in a book I'm reading. One of the reasons that I don't like love triangles - especially when they drag out over multiple books - is because I feel like I can't enjoy the couple together, since there's always a third party and lots of indecisiveness hanging around.  I should also mention that I tend to get emotionally attached to one pairing, and stay very loyal to that. This makes it hard for me to enjoy any triangle situation. 

When the girl is going back and forth between two guys for the entire last book. Or it's clear she's really in love with one of the guys, and yet she's sticking to the other because of misguided honor. Or she makes you think that she prefers one, only to switch to the other right at the end of the last book, I usually end up losing any sort of emotional connection to her, and the entire story. 

I also think dragging out the triangle to the bitter end is extremely disrespectful to both "teams." I have experienced the LOVE TRIANGLE OF DOOM, both when the guy I want "wins" and when he doesn't, and really, I didn't feel better about one outcome over the other. It's senselessly hurtful to both the guy who gets the girl and the one who doesn't. Frankly, it just makes the girl look bad.  

Obviously, the series I'm talking about are made of more than just their love stories, but when a book enters LOVE TRIANGLE OF DOOM territory, the romantic part of the book ends up clouding out my entire experience.

I purposefully haven't put any examples in this post. But I will link to three:

1) If you want to know what book I reviewed and originated the phrase LOVE TRIANGLE OF DOOM, 
go HERE and enjoy my snarkiest review. 

2) I'd also consider this popular conclusion to to fall into the DOOM category. 
Bonus points for a "magical solution" to fix the chosen guy's incompatibility with the MC.

3) This series has been mentioned a few times below, and I agree that it applies, though it didn't bug me as much as the others. Maybe because the story was much less romance focused?

I know some of you love love triangles, and I don't like you less for it. But I don't think I'll ever get it.  
For my own sanity's sake, I just have to work harder to stay away from them. 

Instead of Keep Calm and Carry On, I pretty much feel like this when experiencing a triangle:

Source

*It's easier for continuity sake to discuss triangles in terms of one girl and two guys. I know other scenarios occur, but this one is the most common. 

36 comments:

  1. Good for you to declare 2014 a love triangle free zone. I'm getting so sick of love triangles too, but I'm not at that stage yet. If there is a book I'm really looking forward to and it unfortunately has a love triangle, I will still read it because I like the premise of the story. But if enough love triangles keep annoying me, maybe I'll do the same as you and try to avoid them.

    Those love triangles you described above are awful. It really is the worst. It's really stupid to leave the decision of which boy to pick to the last pages. It makes me look at the main character different, in a bad way. Is she THAT indecisive? The other thing is that with most series I enjoy reading, I have become attached to the characters. Especially if I have a Team. I just want to have a little closure for the characters, and not just for the main character and the guy she ultimately chooses. It's also one of the very few things that bother me about The Hunger Games series!

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    1. It's gotten to where the presence of a love triangle can make or break a story for me. Or at least determine whether I'll pick it up or not. Maybe I'll feel differently one day, but for this year, I need to back off of them.

      I agree with your assessment that the MC waiting until the end to "pick" the winning love interest, just makes her look weak. I think authors sacrifice the integrity of their characters, to keep the reader guessing. That is never okay for me. And YES, I often get emotionally attached to a certain Team, and I want to be able to either see those two together, or if they're not going to be together, I'd rather it be done early and respectfully.

      The Hunger Games didn't bother me as much as others, because Katniss was never focused on romance. But I did add it above as another example, because it does fit. Thanks for visiting!

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  2. Oh my gosh, Lauren--THE LOVE TRIANGLE OF DOOM is the WORST! I've heard that the Tiger's Curse series was awful in that respect (I only read the first book), and I would, sadly, agree with you on choice #2 as well.

    Other LOVE TRIANGLES OF DOOM (I feel like we always have to capitalize that, like it's a thunderclap) series, imo:
    -- Wicked Lovely
    -- Strange Angels
    -- Dark Swan (adult)
    -- The Hunger Games

    ...and I know there must be others I'm not thinking of at the moment. I suppose a lot of people were also upset over Infernal Devices, but you and I both liked how that was resolved, for the most part. I don't really consider VA a true triangle either, it seemed pretty obvious who Rose was meant to be with all along.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. Oh, Wendy. I am ashamed of myself for getting as far as I did in the Tiger series. It's terrible. The MC lacks any human emotion by the end. I'm still frustrated and I read it ages ago. Thanks for giving me a list of other triangle books to avoid. I did have Wicked Lovely on my interest list, but not any more! The Hunger Games didn't bug me as much as it has some, but I can definitely see where it qualifies. You're right, VA isn't a true triangle. We always know that it's Dmitri and Rose, and with an extra series, I didn't feel so bad for how Adrian was left. I agree, The Infernal Devices is probably the only series that will work the way it was all handled. Thanks for always humoring my love triangle chatter.

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  3. I HATE THE TRIANGLE OF DOOM!!! There's just no call for 99.9% of them and they're annoying, especially when it's drawn out until the very end.

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  4. "I should also mention that I tend to get emotionally attached to one pairing, and stay very loyal to that. This makes it hard for me to enjoy any triangle situation."

    That is me exactly Lauren! I tend to be loyal to whoever the girl meets/starts to fall for first, and once my decision is made, unless he does something morally objectionable I stick with him. Like you, I love seeing a couple together on page, not just the moments of will they/won't they, but actual togetherness, and as you said when a triangle drags out over multiple books, that time with them is lost. There are some cases where I think a triangle is done well, but those are rare cases indeed and most of the time I'm left nothing but frustrated when a triangle comes into play.

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    1. YES! This is one of the reasons that I've given up on triangles. I just don't understand how the heroine can go back and forth, when I've attached myself to one guy early on and am sticking to him! I just can't handle dragged out triangles any more. My window of acceptance for them is more like a tiny crack, if that. But it's hard to avoid them completely, since sometimes they pop up unexpectedly in series that I'm already invested. But we are in agreement about this topic.

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  5. You know my feelings on love triangles. I am OVER them. They make me twitchy and cranky and usually lessen my feelings of the book in general. I tend to steer clear of them so I really hate when I get sucker punched with one while reading. Grrr! Authors, please stop. Find other ways to create tension within the story without a love triangle. Pretty please!!

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    1. I'm glad you're my friend and fellow Love Triangle disliker. I always know I can count on you for a good rant. I agree with everything you said here. PLEASE STOP.

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  6. I agree 100% with you, Lauren! I despise love triangles precisely because they take away from so many intriguing elements to the plot and destroy my connection with the protagonist as I'm usually so disappointed in her by the end. (TESSA!) I recently read a historical fiction stand-alone, The Caged Graves, where a love triangle worked because it was understated, subtle, and contributed to the growth of the MC as the love triangle allowed her to have options in a time period where her marriage was arranged. In that context it really worked but in a series it's so detrimental as the books drag on because of the love triangle and not anything else. I've loved the ideas for so many trilogies like Crewel but because of the romantic scenario, I've avoided them completely. Anyhow, this is a fantastic post and thanks for sharing and putting this out there - hopefully more authors will soon get the memo!

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    1. I'm having the same trouble with series, recently. Some look really great, but I have to stay away because the triangle would bug me. I also agree that authors overuse triangles for tension to the detriment of their books. It's just not interesting any more. I am interested in The Caged Graves, but I'm so sensitive to triangles at this moment that I'm going to have to wait to read it. It's unfortunate that their pervasiveness has made me hesitant to read books where they make sense :(. Thanks for always contributing to this discussion.

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  7. Great post! You know I completely agree with you. Romance will always be my favorite thing when I read, so a love triangle will absolutely ruin a book for me. If I don't like the romance, chances are I won't enjoy the book very much.

    Here's part of what I wrote for my blog on why I dislike them so much:

    It's not for the simple reason that they've become overdone or that they detract from the plot. It has more to do with what's at the core of who I am. The only way I can think to say it is that I don't believe in them. They don't sit well with me. They aren't an expression of love I ever want to read about. I don't like that someone's heart is torn between two different people, that one person in the equation gives it everything while the other is leaving pieces for someone else. I don't like rooting for a boy knowing that the girl has feelings for someone else as well. I feel personally betrayed on his behalf. And it's not a matter of me being afraid that I'll cheer for the wrong guy in the end; I want there to be only one guy to cheer for. Simply put, I like my romances to be between two people only, and watching those two go through the normal progression of having a relationship.

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    1. I love this statement from you, Danielle, and I completely agree. You and I are on the same page, and I'm starting to get just as picky as you about triangles. I'm glad I can always count on you to tell me what books to avoid. So excited that we're bookish friends!

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  8. Just as basically every other person here, I agree with you as well. Haven't read the Tiger's Curse series yet, though I did read about 80 pages of the first book, but I hear that it gets ugly. Like why drive a hedge between two brothers? Why do that? It's not even adorable :S I wanted to read Boundless as soon as I finished Hallowed, but Krista and Becca sent me an arc of Kiss the Sky and I couldn't pass up any minutes to spend time with my one and only--Connor Cobalt. Last night, I picked Boundless up and I'm sorry, but when I read the word Clara in cursive and seeing her so happy and excited to see Christian, I wanted to scratch my eyes out and erase this scene from the book. The guy just gets on my last nerve. He is fucking everywhere. He won't leave her alone, he's always in her mind and listening in on her thoughts, he talks about how they belong together and honestly? It's freaking annoying and Tucker isn't even basically on the picture. I am so team Tucker it's not even funny. I just hate Christian's guts, to be honest with you. He is a good guy in his heart, but his constant following Clara around is driving me freakning nuts. Ok, rant over. I think that THG triangle is rather well done, but I would have liked for it to be over sooner than it was. One triangle that had me completely bonkers was the one in the Nightshade trilogy. THAT was triangle I loved to hate. I had no feelings for the guy she chose and I knew from the start that she'd pick her. I loved the one she was destined to be with and on top of dragging him along (because she couldn't lose such a good fighter while they were in the war of all wars--which was basically a short battle scene >.<), the author saved her from making a choice. UGHHHHHHHH!!! LIKE WHAT IN THE WORLD. I love to hate the triangle in Shatter Me series as you know. I hate love triangles. There are so few that make me swoon and most of the time I'm all CAN WE END THIS ALREAD???? Love this post and I approve the title :)

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    1. I love your long comments, Siiri! I'm curious about what you think of the Tiger's Curse series. I actually enjoyed most of the books, but as a whole, the triangle was HORRIFYING. And I agree, I love triangles involving brothers are worse. I don't like to see them at odds over a girl. Love your rant about Hallowed, and I'm definitely curious about your thoughts on Boundless when you read it! Keep me updated. I could barely finish Nightshade, I couldn't handle that triangle from the beginning and it gets me ranty thinking about. Thank goodness I didn't try to finish it. You are amazing for taking the time to write all of this!

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  9. Yes Lauren!!! Those are the types I hate the most too because like you said, it's so hard to focus on one couple when the alternative is present all the time. From what I've experienced, these are the most annoying and dragging love triangle. Though it didn't bother me that much in Hunger Games because I never pictured Gale as a love interest, he was just nonexistent in my eyes. Lol. But the one that bothers me the most is Warner and Adam. I'm going to be very mad if Juliette juggles between them in the last book instead of making a choice from the first page. We'll see how that goes. Great post!!! I'm with you on making a stop to these aggravating triangles.

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    1. That Other Guy is like swatting a fly. GO AWAY. I want to enjoy my favorite couple. I get what you're saying about The Hunger Games. That one didn't bother me so much either, because Katniss was not really focused on romance. It was more the readers creating the tension for themselves. Oh I'm freaked about Ignite Me. No matter who Juliette chooses, I hope she does it respectfully!

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  10. I can totally deal with love triangles when they are apparent from the first book so I completely agree how annoying it is when they pop up later in a series. >.< I don't 'hate' them, per se, but it bothers me. And yes, a resolution coming just at the end really sucks because you want that chance to see them back together and happy and have a minute to enjoy it.

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    1. You do much better with triangles than me, but I like that I can count on you to read them and let me know whether I should avoid or not. But often the end makes or breaks the whole thing for me. Even if they exist some in the first two books, if it's resolved early in the final, I can often deal.

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  11. ALL of this makes perfect sense, Lauren! Personally, I haven't read many series with love triangles in them. I think this has a lot to do with reading a lot less than most book bloggers do, and also, I think being very selective has spared me the heartache. Still, I'm never looking for that type of drama. Like you, I LOVE rooting for the couple who's together and confident in what they have; most of the time, when authors write this type of romance, there's a lot more to these characters, and romantic tension between three people is not a way to define the story or the individuals involved. Last year, I did read the Delirium and Unearthly series in their entirety; in the end, while both authors handle the love triangle differently -- reading between the lines, at least from what I recall, there was this tragic sense of hope for the guys who ultimately got the shaft. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this assessment though. Still, nothing is worse than an ending such as the one I described above. Though Unearthly had a slightly better ending in my eyes, I didn't allow the flaws to deter my enjoyment from everything else. Maybe as I grow as a reader, my feelings about series endings and whether they make or break an entire experience will change. For now, this isn't an issue for me. We'll see what happens later. ;)

    Great discussion! It was both necessary and entertaining! :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

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    1. I wish that triangles didn't bug me as much as they do! Delirium and Unearthly would both go on my BAD love triangle list. And I'd call them both LOVE TRIANGLES OF DOOM. That 'tragic sense of hope' in Boundless is what made me want to throw my book across the room, or burn it. And I didn't even read Requiem, but I know I wouldn't have handled it. However, I'm glad they both worked for you overall. Maybe one day I will calm down about this topic!

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  12. I agree with you on all of these points. I just think love triangles are so rarely done well that it's usually obvious who the girl should be with yet they drag it out for sooooo long. I also like to see the couple together so it's super annoying when there is drama and a third party always creeping in. And I hate, hate, hate it when the girl doesn't actually make a decision about it. Instead, something happens to make one of the love interests not a viable candidate anymore and, in the end, it wasn't even about her choosing so why did we even go through this? Glad to know I'm not along in my dislike of love triangles.

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    1. You are right, it is the WORST when the girl only chooses a guy by default. Like maybe the triangle would have gone on FOREVER if her choice hadn't been made for her. I shutter to think about it! You are definitely not alone in your love triangle dislike! I love finding other people who feel as I do about them.

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  13. Good luck avoiding them! It seems the love triangle phase is slowly wearing down though! I don't absolutely hate them (in fact I've been known to display their team banners in my sidebar) but I totally get your issues with them and I have to agree. Especially the part about never getting to really see the couple together! One thing I see a lot is girl loving person A but being really attracted to person B then in book 2 she gets even closer to person B and in the final book she picks Person B.

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    1. HAHA! I know. I try to avoid them, and sometimes despite my best effort, THERE THEY ARE. It's so annoying. I do hope they're gaining momentum tho. There was a time when they were EVERYWHERE. But there's so many other interesting ways to add tension. And now that trilogies are giving way to more duets, there's less page time to drag out the romance. Your assessment at the end about the girl ultimately choosing guy B, isn't something that I've actually seen a lot. Most often she's back with guy A. But I don't want examples just in case I haven't read the series you're mentioning. Thanks for visiting!

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  14. I'm so glad I didn't pick up The Tiger's Curse series! I actually bought them a and then gave them away when I heard about the love triangle. I totally agree with your reasons for hating love triangles. I also want to see a couple together and enjoying themselves, I don't like the constant waffling back and forth, and it seems whoever is picked there is someone unhappy. I tend to grow very tired and frustrated with the heroine.

    Boundless was a complete disappointment and I was on the team that Clara picked. I felt so bad for the one she didn't and he was just set aside at the end even though it felt like she might actually pick him throughout the book. She really did a number on him to the point that I just didn't care anymore who she was with.

    I fear this is what will happen in Ignite Me.

    Another completely horrible love triangle situation was the Nightshade books! Oh my, pull my hair out at that ending and what she did with a particular character!

    Sorry for the rant, but I'm with you, Lauren. I just don't have the patience anymore to deal with the frustration. :)

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    1. You narrowly avoided disaster, Rachel! Good call giving away those Tiger books. I don't think they would have been for you, and the heroine Kelsey is so so annoying. We are in agreement about everything you said here! I love ranting with you.

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  15. Ooh man, the Love Triangle of DOOM! This is why I love your reviews, it warns us of the possible love triangle horrors that might ensue haha. The Hunger Game triangle didn't bother me too much either, I think it's b/c Suzanne Collin's tried to keep it to a minimum. I haven't read the other series yet, but I've heard things haha.I usually pick a guy in the first little bit, so it annoys me when the girl bounces back and forth. I'm glad that there's some authors keeping away from the triangle (like Marissa Meyer/Cinder - it makes me soooo happy there's none). Great discussion!

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    1. HAHA. I love this "possible love triangle horrors that might ensue." They are horrifying indeed! That's a good point about THG. I think it was more about the readers projecting a triangle on the characters, than Katniss being indecisive. She wasn't really focused on romance much at all. I LOOVVEEE Marissa Meyer and I agree, I like to stick to those triangle free authors.

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  16. You know, I never really thought much about the love triangle - except to know that I disliked it - before reading all of your thought-provoking analysis posts of it. But I love reading these! Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed this post, Lauren. :)
    I totally see where you're coming from in your extreme dislike of this trope. I haven't read the first two books you mentioned (though I started series #2 and stopped after the first book because the love triangle already annoyed me). I'll probably read the two remaining books in that series when I am bored and feel like being masochistic haha).
    I am not sure I agree with regard to example #3. That series was NEVER about the romance, at least from the protagonist's perspective. Fans made it about the romance, but this is a first-person POV book, so if the protagonist isn't giving the romance many weight, then I don't think it's right for the readers to do so. She's not actively debating who to love in quite the way I think this post implies. But that's just me.
    The love triangle that annoys me the most, though, is definitely The Infernal Devices. Maybe Tessa "chooses" early, but it never felt like a true choice, so to speak. And she still has the ability to change her mind multiple times. That annoyed me like nothing else.

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    1. Thanks, Amanda! I love your insightful thoughts and comments, and that you humor my triangle rantings, which is good, because there's no slowing them down. I'm curious about your opinion of series #2 when you finally finish it. Whether it will annoy you more or less as it continues. I think you make a great point about THG. It WAS mostly fans projecting 'teams' into the story, when the MC wasn't ever really focused on romance. That's probably why it didn't bother me very much. I don't think "who she'll pick" really is a factor for her at all, so the quiet way it's done makes sense. The infernal devices worked a bit better for me, than you, surprisingly. But it's definitely all set up and contrived. Thanks for your comment!

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  17. I read this before my internet gave out and forgot to comment so I'll TRY to keep this short and sweet: AMEN, YES, PREACH IT [insert agreement here]. I agree with all the reasoning, especially because it does make the girl look bad. She strings them along, going back and forth, and then only one guy "wins." What if it was the other way around? The guy would be called a player and deemed unworthy! HOW IS THIS OKAY? I want to steer clear of new books with love triangles with them. I absolutely hate it when they introduce the 2nd guy in the 2nd book or halfway through the first book. Gr.

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    1. I HATE when that happens! Glad you got your internet up and running. Thanks for your constant support, Sunny. I agree, nothing about triangles makes sense, and usually the girl just looks indecisive and annoying. Especially, when the triangle drags out over multiple books. I'm doing my best to steer clear of books with triangles, as well. Especially series. I just don't need the stress in my life. I try to anticipate whether new series will have triangles later on, but sometimes I just don't make the right decision, and I'm bad at waiting for all series to release multiple books before I start them.

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  18. I love when you rant a little online--I get to hear some on the side but it always, always makes me smile when you unload because I KNOW it's totally cathartic for you! NO MORE LOVE TRIANGLES OF DOOM...that is our new motto for the year. And love that graphic you found, both actually:) I think I may need to throw the first one up on my blog somewhere since I just finished a book that features a really hellish one:)

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  19. I kind of love your loathing of love triangles. :) I don't prefer them, but when I see them, I usually hope they're more of a love T that never really develops, ya know? Like in the Everneath series. I hate when an author keeps us on the hook for the entire series and even worse when the "winner" is picked by default. Even worse than that, like you were saying, is when a triangle develops later in a series. WHY? In most of these books, there is tension outside of the relationship, so it's just completely unnecessary to have a triangle. I don't hate them with the fiery passion that you do, Lauren, but I'm still not overly fond of them. I hope to experience a lot less of them this year, for sure.

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