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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Sit-Down Rants with Eirini: Love Triangles

Meet Main Character: she's strong, independent, witty but also capable of vulnerability and mistakes. She's about the save her kingdom/ home/ friends, but, wait, what's that on the horizon? An army? A villain? A inquiring metaphor for fear? No! It's-it's-it's two guys!
Thank God, I was worried I was going to have to do something.

  Love triangles have been a part of literature since the the beginning.  Shakespeare, ancient myth, you name it and there's two people vying for the affections of the same person.  Most major writers have dabbled in the literary troupe.  At times readers are shown the view of the suitors as they battle for love a fickle person. Other times, and in most modern novels, we see the emotional turmoil of liking to two people at once.  Recently, however,  love triangles have become STDs of the young adult section of bookstores: everyone has seems to have one and some are a lot prouder about it than they should be.

  Here's the thing: not all love triangles are bad.  Sometimes, love triangles are a great way to exemplify a female leads struggle between who she was and who she is becoming.  Other times, it's fun to see the female character explore herself as the girl she should be and who is actually is. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale and Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge are two great books that have love triangles that actually work and are enjoyable.

Other times...
Stalking or Character Depth, I just can't decide.

  If I have to read one more book where the female character is choosing between Light and Wholesome Mcgee and Mr. Dark-Brooding-And-Of-Course-She-Picks-Him I'm going to start going on Godzilla rampages through Barnes and Noble and destroying books and knocking shelves down like I'm in downtown Toyko.  There's no reason to write these characters anymore. We know them already, we know what to expect and we know that the main character is going to have an internal struggle, we know Mr. Wholesome won't win the girl in the end and we know Mr. Dark only wants what's best even if he should just succumb to his feelings and be honest.  On top of all this predictable nonsense, love triangles are not healthy and you never want to be a part of one. No one wins in a love triangle. If someone ever tells you that they can't decided between you and another person either give them their rightful punch them in the face or just walk away.  Even if it hurts, because love isn't a grocery store where you get to hold on to a product in your hand and throw them in the cart so you don't have to decide until check out.

  Teaching younger readers that love triangles are healthy and that some of the romantic leads actions are romantic (I'm looking at you Meyer). By writing these relationships, we are teaching readers that not only is it okay to be in love with two people at once, but also that at the end of the day, that guy is only pulling your pigtails cause he loves you and nice guys make great friends and back-ups (I am openly glaring at you Cassandra Clare).

  From a literary standpoint: when you write the same love triangle over and over again you end up taking away the legitimacy of your novel and plot.  If a reader can guess one major part of a plot, then they are going to be able to guess the rest because love triangles take up so much of the novel and the writers time. The romantic leads usually are boring and not even a good match to the main character. Half the time they aren't even good for the plot. It's a waste of everyone's time when  a writer relies on a dead-horse romance. Every time I read a book jacket that says something along of the lines of  "brooding Mr. Dark that entices Main Character while Mr. Wholesome makes her heart flutter with his goodness" I just want to cry, because the book look so good until the romance shoves it way in there like a splinter that rots between the pages of a perfectly good idea.

  Books sometimes can benefit from love triangle, but lately, it seems like Mr. Wholesome and Mr. Dark are the only two allowed to star in romances.  No one should want these men.  They are awful. 

Mr. Dark is usually an emotional manipulative jerk who tells the main character that he loves and wants to keep her safe, but actively upsets and belittles her in an attempt to keep her away from his dark mysterious back story that usually is totally solvable and not even that big of a deal by the end of the series.  Mr. Wholesome is a too-good-to-be-true brown-nose who is annoying, and that he's just an awful character to read.  Also, Mr. Wholesome usually has some weird martyr complex that means he has to give up everything he knows about his life, his upbringing and his chance to find love because, well, the main character is pretty and it's okay to give up everything for a person who doesn't like you back.  No, no, wait, no it's not. 

Don't do that. 

Don't ever do that.