Monday, February 11, 2013

Amanda Monday: The Love Triangle Trend

Most of my life I've known what styles and trends are.  They're bell-bottoms, perms, stirrup pants, slap-on bracelets, boy-bands, etc.  What I didn't realize until my well-read twenties was that books, like hair, makeup, and clothing, follow trends as well.
So in honor of this upcoming Valentine's Day, let's talk about love triangles.  I'm willing to bet that if you thought for about 10 seconds, you could drum up at least one love triangle you read about in a recent book.  If you can't, let me refresh your memory:
1. Team Edward vs. Team Jacob from The Twilight Series.  I award this love triangle the most obvious and popular of the trend.
2. Gale vs. Peeta from Hunger Games.  A slightly more complex and subtle love triangle, but still one that I could see coming.
3.  Tucker vs. Christian from the Unearthly series.  This one is by far my favorite love triangle because, as Rachel put it in her review, it is truly difficult to tell who was going to win out in the end.
4. Mr. Darcy vs. Mr. Wickham.  This last one came from my husband in response to the question, "can you think of a famous love triangle?" (I asked him because he is a reader of all things having NOTHING to do with YA fiction and/or romance, so I figured any love triangle famous enough for him to know might be worth mentioning.)  I have to give him props for this one, because while Pride and Prejudice isn't a book based around a love triangle conflict, nor is it recent, it does bring up the fact that this archetype has been popping up for centuries, and has therefore stood the test of time.

Soooooooo . . . what makes a good love triangle?

1.  A character who can't make up their mind.  In most books the protagonist undergoes a journey of self-discovery, whether mental, emotional, etc.  Often times a love triangle helps illustrate options along the journey, and the outcome usually reflects how the character has changed along the way. (Edward vs. Jacob)

2.  Two strong candidates.  Nothing can flatten a love triangle like a character you know from the very beginning won't be chosen (Tucker vs. Christian).

3.  Two candidates who are foils of each other.  A literary foil (anot the tinfoil variety) means a character that contrasts another. (Hale vs. Nick from the Heist Society series by Ally Carter.)

4. The right choice is a hard choice.  It's not really a good love triangle unless the main character is choosing to give up some very good things in order to be with the one she wants.

Those are my criteria for a good love triangle.  Now I want some feedback from you.  Do you have any stories with a great love triangle to add to my list?  Any criteria you'd like to add to my list of "love triangle do's"?  If so, leave me a comment, and have a great week!

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