Saturday, 18 January 2014

Love or Loathe: Love Triangles

I’m currently reading Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. Currently is the operative word here, I haven’t got to the end yet, so no spoilers please! For those who haven’t read the series, The Infernal Devices features the Marmite of plot devices: the love triangle. The reason I’m bringing it up is previously to reading this series I had sworn off them, however I now have some conflicted emotions.

Love triangles are a pretty old, dating back to Romeo and Juliette, but you can say that of many plot devices, so what is it particularly about love triangles which instigate such strong feelings in people? Looking at YA in particular there have been two huge successes in the past decade: Twilight and The Hunger Games. And guess what they both have in common?

Authors and publishers latched onto this common denominator, and soon they had spread. Love triangles were the hottest new thing, and soon they were going out of style. They became overdone, clichéd. I thought there was only so much you could do with it. Two boys like a girl, she has to choose. That was it in essence. But I was wrong. You can boil down any plot like that. Going on a quest. Falling in love. Uncovering a secret.

Like anything, a story needs to be done well. And the problem is that there are too many bad love triangles out there, diluting the amount of good. But there is hope. Now and then you get a story so good, so un-put-down-able that you shouldn’t feel ashamed to find yourself going “I quite like this”. Not that you should feel ashamed, as I have long said in my battle against intellectual snobbery. So here is what I think makes a good love triangle:

  • A strong lead – Otherwise I really won’t care. Preferably a not pathetic female who spends every single waking minute agonising over the triangle.
  • Believable choices – So many times you can predict who the character is going to choose. If that’s the case, what’s the point of having the point? I would not like to predict the end of the story in the first few chapters.
  • Likeable characters – I want to be conflicted over which person I like more. I don’t want to be disappointed by either choice. 
  • More than romance – Okay, even if it a romance book, there has to be something more to the characters or their lives than their love life. It’s far more believable.
  • Unpredictable – They have a bad rep for being formulaic, so give me something more. I want twists and turns, bad guys and good guys, and lots of feelings.
What do you guys think of love triangles? Love them? Loathe them? Do you think I missed anything out of my list? Tell me below!


  1. That's such an awesome graphic Rachael! You make a great point, I got so annoyed with how overdone they were becoming, but when done right--love triangles can be a great plot device. I agree with all of your points but especially the 'strong lead' part. It's just SO annoying when the main protagonist is agonising over two boys for the whole book. BORING.
    One love triangle I like atm is Caleana, Chaol and Dorian from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. The love triangle isn't the focal point of the whole freaking book and it evolves with the characters. The thing is, I love both of the guys and don't want either to be heart-broken :''( I hope they all end up happy!

    1. Thank you Tilly! The Infernal Devices has really restored my faith in love triangles. And I've made my opinion about Throne of Glass before on here, it wasn't really my cup of tea, but I didn't think the love triangle was that bad. And you can tell the sign of a good love triangle is when you love both the male leads!