Love triangles seem to be a necessary evil, especially in the Young Adult genre. But do they all suck? I certainly don’t think so! In fact, if done well, love triangles can actually help characterize your heroine WHILE adding drama and suspense to the subplot. Instead of dissecting all the reasons the crappy love triangles failed, let me tell you of a few that did their story right.
The Selection by Kiera Cass: This book nails it! America is a fierce, stubborn woman who seems to know exactly what she wants. She is in love with Aspen, her secret boyfriend and just the sweetest guy ever. Enter handsome prince, Maxon, isn’t it just always a prince? Cass kept me on the edge of my seat and I truly didn’t know who America would pick-more importantly the character herself didn’t seem to know and as America changed it was because of her story arc that she was able to choose the right man for a partner.
Pearl Harbor (directed)by Michael Bay: If you haven’t watched this film, you should. It’s your typical plot- Girl meets boy. Boy dies. Girls gets with guy’s friend. Guy comes back from the dead. Okay, so it’s a bit more complicated than that and no there aren’t any zombies but Evelyn’s relationships with Danny and Rafe are intrinsic to the plot in a way that is both unique and heart-wrenching.
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson: So many delicious aspects about this love triangle in that maybe it was never technically a love triangle? Shallan (just one of the many heroine’s in Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series) is caught between Adolin and Kaladin- two men who are both brave and worthy characters. Shallan has divided her personalities and has found Veil (an alternate version of herself) prefers Kaladin while the more inner reserved pieces of herself prefers Adolin. It isn’t until she accepts all the pieces of herself that Shallan is able to choose the person best suited to her.
In short, love triangles can be a useful technical device for characterization or advancing the plot. While some love triangles are a bit tired or predictable, it is still possible to present them in new and unique ways. I really hope I’m pulling this off within my Dance of the Elements series with Markhim and Tylak!
So what do you think? Do you like love triangles? Can you think of other examples of successful love triangles? Tell me you thoughts in the comments below!