Google+ YA Romantics: When Three's a Crowd: the Most Dangerous YA Love Triangles

Thursday, March 7, 2013

When Three's a Crowd: the Most Dangerous YA Love Triangles

YA Romantics Love Geometry photo YARomanticsLoveGeometry.jpg

Oh, those pesky love triangles are everywhere, causing angst for YA heroines and heartbreak for readers!

My friend Lauren and I from Love Is Not a Triangle are doing another joint post on YA triangles.  Lauren's post is about how to disband a love triangle, and there will be a link to that on the bottom.

After doing extensive research on soap operas, movies, literature and pop songs, I've managed to isolate the five most dangerous types of love triangles. With these, you better pick your team carefully...



Warning! Danger Ahead!!

First up is The Casablanca:


In a Casablanca love triangle, the girl thinks the guy she loves is dead, then she takes up with a new guy. Of course, guy #1 turns up alive. Whoops -- love triangle. But in the movie, one of the guys is noble and walks away. No more triangle.

There are definitely some recent YA books that have a triangle with Casablanca elements. In fact, I'm sure you can think of a well-known YA trilogy that has this plot. Raise your hand if you know, but don't say. Naming names would be a spoiler in this case.

Risk factor for reader heartbreak: high. Three's definitely a crowd in this type of triangle.

Next....




In the My Best Friend's Wedding love triangle, there's a guy and a girl who are friends, and one of them wants to move the relationship out of the friend zone. But .... uh-oh. The other friend is not exactly on the same page.  Examples of this in YA:

Schuyler, Oliver and Jack in the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz

Vee, Zane and Rollins in Slide by Jill Hathaway

Clary, Jace and Simon in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassie Clare

Risk factor for reader heartbreak: medium. It's usually clear which guy will end up out in the cold in this type of triangle.


Closely related to My Best Friend's Wedding triangle:





Ah, that tricky Jessie's Girl Triangle. Lusting after your best friend's significant other just never works out well. 

Examples in YA: 

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

Risk factor for reader heartbreak: medium. But friendships will be broken and the relationship may not last either.



Another very tricky type of triangle is...



The Legends of the Fall triangle is one in which at least two of the people in the triangle are related: brothers, cousins, etc.

Examples in YA:

The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han

Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

Dreamless series by Josephine Angelini 

Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols

Risk factor for reader heartbreak: high. In the books, this type of triangle never ends well either. Worst case scenario is that a family is ripped apart at the seams. Best case scenario? Some VERY awkward holiday get-togethers.



Finally...


The Great Gatsby love triangle. The basic structure of this type of triangle is that the girl is with a guy who's kind of a jerk or just obviously completely wrong for her, and there's another guy who's desperately (often secretly) in love with her. 

Risk factor reader heartbreak: extremely high. And often, it's the same for the characters. I mean, you have read The Great Gatsby, right? Well, I'll just say that in this type of set-up, one or more members of this triangle may be doomed to die. 

Examples of this in YA:

Astrid, Dean and Jake in the Monument 14 series by Emmy Laybourne

Tim, Vanessa and Patrick in  The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

Trip, Allie and Blake in Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolfe 




41 comments:

  1. Hee, this post was so fun to read! Great idea with this one! :)

    And yep, I know one for the first case! Starts with a D... ;) And for the My Best Friend's Wedding love triangle- The Iron Fey, definitely! And Soul Screamers comes into my mind with the Legends of the Fall triangle- Nash and Tod are brothers. (But the triangle doesn't really last that long.)

    I usually don't like love triangles- they make my head hurt trying to pick a guy, and they're just so frustrating. Sometimes, they're the reason why I end up hating the heroine! But some love triangles are really done well- like Shifters by Rachel Vincent. The ending of the love triangle was done beautifully, in my opinion, with a diplomatic ending. And The Demon Trappers Daughter- that was a unique kind of love triangle. ;) Usually, I feel bad for the guy who ends up alone.

    Now that I thought about it- I don't think I've ever read a YA book where it's two girls fighting for one guy! O.o It's always two guys fighting over a girl!

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    1. Ooh, I haven't read Iron Fey or Soul Screamers. If those aren't spoilers, I will add them to my post.

      There are a few YA books with two girls and a guy - a blogger friend of mine made a list and I'll have to try to find it.

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    2. Well, it's definitely not a spoiler in The Iron Fey, though it might be for Soul Screamers since it only happens in the middle of the series. You should really read them both- they're both on top of my favorite books, and The Iron Fey is already complete, with Soul Screamers almost ending soon. :)

      Whoa, really? Its just that with all the books I've read, I've never read one with 2 girls and 1 guy, ever. (Though there might be in chicklit books, but I don't read those.)

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  2. This is great! I know exactly what you are talking about with your Casablanca triangle and that's a total lose lose situation, though with the one that you are talking about I'm pretty sure I know which way it's going to go.

    The Great Gatsby love triangles are absolutely heartbreaking for everyone. I think this is the most painful one for the reader because it's so hard on the characters too.

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    1. Those, plus the Legend of the Fall type, are the worst to me. I usually try to avoid those...

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  3. I love that you used movie references here! These are all so true and it shows that everything has been recycled over and over again. The Great Gatsby one always bugs me. And it is also used a lot when a girl is in love with a guy, and it's clear that he's also falling for the her, but the guy has a a jerky girlfriend already. I loathe that! There's another BiG BIG Legends of the Fall one that came out this year, but it would probably be a spoiler to mention it. About #1, let's just say I'm not sorry for not finishing that series ;). Great post! I love doing these with you.

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    1. Yes to the Legends of the Fall one that just popped up in a well-known YA series (and duh to me that I had to email you and ask when I had recently read the book!) Since that is a spoiler, I won't say any more!

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  4. I'd say the ones I hate the MOST would be the ones with relatives. A girl in love with brothers or cousins is just wrong! Although I broke my rule in the Soul Screamers series so I guess there are always exceptions. But usually I avoid these books. Like the Vincent Brothers series. Yuck.
    My second most hated love triangle would the the best friend getting the shaft love triangle. Girl falls in love with douche bad boy and leaves best friend behind. awww.
    Wait I also forgot about lusting after a friends significant other. Really a no no. In fact I didn't mention this first only because I mostly refuse to read book with this plot.

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    1. I agree -- the Nice Guy Gets the Shaft breaks my heart, and the family love triangles are just trouble!!!

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  5. I hate the one with relatives and tend to try to avoid. I was trying to think of some love triangles I like and I'm thinking maybe Shadow and Bone? Do we consider that a triangle? For me, I found both Mal and the Darkling compelling and that's what made it work. Sometimes I find one character so bland or repulsive that it just makes me frustrated about the triangle.

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    1. Heather (below) and I have gone around and around via email on exactly WHAT kind of relationship the Mal/Alina/Darking thing is. I've read the first book and the second, and I'm kind of feeling that Alina is trying to be her own person, which I LOVE.

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  6. You know I don't seek out love triangles, but they don't bother me as they do some. I do hate seeing a really good guy lose a girl just because he's not the 'right' guy for her (think Duckie/ Andy/ Blaine in Pretty in Pink.) But hey, that's a pretty true to life scenario in most cases.

    But if there is one love triangle that grates on my nerves more than most it would be one where the loser in the triangle dies in the end, turning him the martyr. THAT type of thing really pisses me off. I always think about a certain blonde vampire from a fave tv series who went that route in the end.

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    1. Yes, I agree. Killing off one of the guys seems like a cheat to me. And the martyr thing annoys me too.

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  7. Love this post! I'm not the biggest fan of love triangles -- I'd rather see two people fall in love slowly throughout a book than to see people be so back and forth about love. BUT it has been done well in some cases and those I can tolerate -- it's when an author throws in a love triangle because that's the thing to do that drives me nuts.

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    1. I agree -- love triangles do happen in real life, but not all the time, so when they are in every book, I start to roll my eyes a little bit...

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  8. I've never seen Casablanca. *hides* And now I am really curious as to what book you're talking about that has the same type because I can't think of it... and of course now I want to read whatever it is. lol

    I didn't like the ending of My Best Friend's Wedding. *pouts*

    I just realized the only book you listed that I've read is TMI series. LOL Oh wait, I did read Starcrossed but not Dreamless yet.

    I am not always a huge fan of love triangles but at the same time I do like them if they are done right.

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    1. Rent Casablanca -- it's a classic!

      And I emailed you about the Casablanca triangle -- cause I know you've read the book. But Casablanca and also My Best Friends's Wedding illustrate the danger of the love triangle -- the audience ends up angry and upset, not happy.

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  9. I`ve never been into love triangles, I just kind of hate them, honestly. I just feel like that would never happen in real life and that the author must be manipulating with me (I don`t take easily recognizable manipulations too well).

    I can take it if it`s just for a moment, but not so long that it`s stretched out in half of the book. I like it quick and painless for my characters.

    As for anything remotely related to love squares- NO! NO! That just doesn`t happen in real life and you can`t talk me into that kind of stuff. Especially if that`s three boys wanting the same girl.

    Nice post, bbtw. It`s interesting to find out what kind of love triangles exists out there :D I was thinking if it is possible to make a love square list?

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    1. There are squares -- my last love geometry post had some squares...

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  10. I now have to read all these books.

    Legends of the fall...I think all love triangles should include brad pitt

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  11. UGH! Love triangles totally are annoying! I hate the whole back and forth thing. Just pick a guy/girl and stick with it! GEESH!

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    1. I don't mind all of them. But when they seem just to be used as a way to stir up reader engagement, that's annoying. And then after the readers ARE engaged, to cop out on the ending is not right!

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  12. Very informative! I never considered just how many different sorts of love triangle there are! There are several books up there that I haven't read and I'm wondering which book is the one you're not naming at the top!
    I'm not a big fan of love triangles, but this post almost makes me want to investigate these love triangles!
    there was a love triangle with a guy who treats the girl like poo in 'knee deep' by jolene perry, but thankfully that had a happy ending!

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  13. I LOVE this... also, now I'm singing Jessie's Girl. Man... Gatsby... definitely a heart breaker.

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    1. Jessie's Girl is just such a cheesetastic song!!!

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  14. Love your chosen titles for each triangle. It's amazing how many triangles there are, like the bad vs. good guy/girl and the both good or both bad guy/girl. I normally like to only deal with a triangle once in a while. Off to read the linked post...

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    1. Aw, thanks. I'm sure there are even more variations...

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  15. Ermahgerd I LOVE My Best Friend's Wedding!! Yes, it's totally showing my age, but when that movie came out I was totally obsessed with it!! Man... I've probably seen it at least 20 times, no joke. I can quote most of it. I even bought the soundtrack back then because I liked the songs so much. No lie. ;) I totally love this post. :D

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    1. Yeah, I'm old too. Love that movie, though ;)

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  16. Great post! I had never thought about the different types of love triangles until now!

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  17. My favorite type of triangle is the "old love, back from the dead". It's heartbreaking, but definitely the most sympathetic b/c no one is at fault. I read a Harlequin story when I was about 13-14 years old (I know), in which the heroine's husband was MIA in Vietnam, and presumed dead. She was pregnant, had twins, and remarried this great guy. Well, then her first husband is found and comes back to her and the kids (who he didn't even know about). Of course she loves and wants to be w/him, but she also loves her new husband too. It was so tragic and romantic and I wish I could remember the title b/c 20 years later, I'm still thinking about what a great book it was.


    Okay... I feel awkward b/c I've hijacked your comments. Sorry!

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    1. That one is a staple of soaps and romance novels -- and for good reason. It's one of those "accidental" love triangles that I can't mind all that much. And wrenching!!!

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  18. Oh, the love triangles featuring relatives usually destroy me. It's because of the close connection between the characters. In a regular love triangle there usually isn't that closeness between characters but that's the part that makes me all emotional. Like in The Summer I Turned Pretty. Oh! Those Fisher brothers!

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

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  19. I'm reading the final book in the "Casablanca" trilogy right now. :'( Great post!

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  20. Oh yes, the Casablanca love triangle is in full effect in that series, and I was NOT a fan!

    What an awesome roundup of love triangle types! Personally, the most realistic and interesting to me is the My Best Friend's Wedding LT. It happens all the time, and it's through no fault of the central character, unlike other LT's where the central love intrest is self-involved and kind of cruel to string two people along.

    Amazing post! :-)

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    1. It's true that the friendship triangle when one friend wants more is really difficult!

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  21. This is a fantastic post, Jen! I'm a bit tired of the triangle that's only a triangle because no guy can meet the heroine without falling in love with her.

    There's also the Flip-Flopper Triangle, best shown in The Selection series as one moment America is all about Maxon, and then an hour passes and she's all about Aspen.

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