Love 'em or hate 'em, they're always there, in the books we hate and the books we love. And I've seen plenty of bloggers complain- er, talk about- the overuse of the love triangle. But does anybody ever question WHY the love triangle is so popular?
Did it start with Twilight? That's what a lot of people like to think. While Twilight capitalized on the love triangle, I'm pretty sure Stephenie Meyer didn't invent it.
A little while ago, I came across a blog post on this very subject by Carrie Ryan, author of a fantastic series The Forest of Hands and Teeth which contains a love triangle. She does a great job of explaining the real purpose of a love triangle. I'll share just a little bit of the post, though I encourage you to check out the whole thing if you've read her books and don't mind the spoilers you'll find there:
To me, that's the essence of a love triangle -- each man is a viable choice for the heroine but each speaks to a different part of who she is. The heroine isn't choosing between two men, she's choosing who SHE wants to be and that will dictate who the right match is.
There you have it, thanks to the fabulous Carrie Ryan! I think this is why love triangles are so popular in YA- they allow the heroine to choose between who she wants to be in the end, and allow for that side of her character to grow.
I'm not saying they aren't overused, though. It would still be really nice if authors could start coming up with new ways to grow and change their characters, without involving the choice to be between two boys. But I'm also pretty sure you can't claim you HATE books with love triangles. They can be an awesome asset to a book.
Having said that, I hesitate more to pick up a book when it's clear there's a love triangle from the summary. (Example: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. I've heard so much about the love triangle, that I'm not all that interested because it seems so generic.)
And sometimes I think there's a love triangle when there doesn't need to be. Example, Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers. I'm one of those people who LOVED Luc, but couldn't even understand why Frannie was ever even attracted to Gabe with Luc around. Sure, I get the point was making the choice between Heaven and Hell, but while reading the book, I didn't feel like Gabe or Luc represented either on of them, actually. And a lot of people wished for Gabe's POV, while I just wished he would leave! This might just be me, though! It was still a great book, I just wish it didn't have a love triangle, it would've been even better.
But on the other hand, I could make a decent size list of books that are good because of the love triangle. The Hunger Games and Nightshade are two prime examples.
It's also frustrating as a reader to have to make the choice between two great guys (à la Nightshade) but it's even worse to see the guy who doesn't get chosen be left off on their own. I am so sad for characters like Simon in City of Bones and Oliver in Blue Bloods- I hope both of them get some of their own romance in the upcoming installments of their respective series!
Bottom line: When it comes to love triangles, they're WAY overused, but... I still like a lot of books with them anyway, because it's hard to deny they usually make for a great plot device and source of choice and growth for the heroine.
Please, share your thoughts! I'd love to hear them. :)