Probably the most obvious of the YA epidemics plaguing so many books on the shelves right now, love-triangles have been running rampant since Bella met Edward…and then kissed Jacob. How many of us have flown through pages of a new book, engrossed in the story and the romance, until that one chapter throws a new romantic interest into the mix? There was a time when I would arch an eyebrow, assess the newcomer, then welcome him into my circle of fictional crushes with open arms.
Fast-forward a couple of hundred love-triangles later to rolling eyes, exasperated sighs, and a circle of fictional crushes barricaded and locked up inside arms that are now crossed tight.
Have you noticed the theme to these love-triangles yet? It’s always girl-boy-boy; god forbid we see a boy pining over two girls. For some reason, it’s perfectly acceptable for our female heroines to be tragically torn between two lovers, but reverse the dynamics and our guy is a "playa" who doesn’t deserve either of the girls he’s leading on by a string. Are we actually buying this? Bella put scars on that poor werewolf that were only healed when he got in touch with his inner pedo, and who can forget how Rose ruthlessly tore out the heart of one very sweet, vulnerable, troubled Moroi before stomping on it and tossing it into the dirt?
We also so often see the sweet boy, pining away in the corner of the friend zone while his crush meets and falls for some paranormal bad-boy before finally realizing, “Oh, hey. I’m totes in love with the new guy, but all of the sudden I’m seeing my bff’s smile and feeling butterflies where there were no butterflies before. Huh, how about that.”
Why do publishes do this? They find a popular trend and monetize on it by throwing it in our faces like water on a fire…with the same extinguishing effect to many of us avid readers. It’s gone from slightly annoying to irritating as hell to sitting firmly in the number one spot of YA Epidemics. I won’t deny the initial appeal to the love-triangle – why only have one hot guy when you can have two? – but when it’s done so often that it’s nothing but a plot device to lure in new readers in half of these books, you’ve got to ask yourself if maybe it’s time to retire the triangle and rediscover the uncomplicated pleasures of a nice, drama-free line.
So, what’s your take on this particular YA epidemic? Is there still magic in the love triangle, or are you in the same wearied boat as I am? Let me know in the comments!
*Literary Epidemics is a potentially new weekly feature for Paper Fantasies. Each week's post will address one of those pesky little YA trends that seem to have snuck their way into...more books than they should have. I'd love to know what you think!