In my recent snacking on YA books, I have decided several things:
1. YA usually stars a 16-year-old narrator. (I wrote about this here.)
2. YA 16-year-old characters usually have not one but TWO love interests to choose from.
3. YA is full of trends.
4. YA plots are probably not based on real life.
5. Salted pistachios don’t get enough recognition for their deliciousness.
Number 4 has really shaken the ground I stand on, but right now I’m looking into number 2.
What’s with them?
I suppose, in an apocalyptic setting, options are slim for finding a boyfriend/girlfriend, so naturally the need to double-up arises.
But why does the unassuming girl/boy reach a certain age and — BOOM! — there is a line of available love interests? And why is it usually 2 boys to 1 girl?? My research (I did some! Yes! Applaud!) reveals the ration of females to males is nearly equal, so where are all the available girls hiding?
MATCHED (by Ally Condie)
Cassia (17 – gasp!) lives in a perfect society which will find her the perfect guy so the rest of her life will be spent in…perfectness. Except the perfect society messes up and gives her, not one, but two “matches”. Poor, poor Cassia. So which is the guy of her dreams?
EVE AND ADAM (by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate)
Eve (17 – cue gracious applause) is recovering from a serious accident in her mother’s research facility. She meets boy #1, Solo, who is annoying but kind of hot. Then she dabbles with her mother’s DNA construction program and creates boy #2, Adam, who turns out to be…real. Oh, gosh. Now we have a choice. Annoying boy #1 or perfect boy #2?
CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY (by Ally Carter)
Cammie (16) is a spy, which means living a really cool life — void of boys who aren’t spies. After tossing this rule out the window (in book 1 of the Gallagher Girls), Cammie is trying to forget her heartthrob (boy #1) Josh and not fall for a cool spy dude (boy #2), Zach. Decisions! Forget Josh? Stick to Josh like duct tape?
STARTERS (by Lissa Price)
Callie (16) rents her body to old fogies, so they can “live” as her for a day and be young again. She “sleeps” during this time. It’s not the best way to earn money, but Callie has a cute little brother to care for (no parents) and she can’t leave him in hot option #1’s care forever. When her renting glitches and she ends up awake, she learns her renter is planning to use her for a murder. Bummer. Good thing hot option #2 is there to help.
Let’s swap the ratio now: 2 girls to 1 boy.
BALLAD (by Maggie Stiefvater)
James (17) is suffering from the rejection of his hot option #1, Dee. He pretends all is not lost (which it is) and plays his woes on his bagpipes (legit). Then in walks hot(ter) option #2, who is also a fairy that plans to steal his soul. But hey, when you’re down you do crazy things right?
UGLIES (by Scott Westerfeld)
Tally (nearly 16) is impatiently awaiting the operation that will make her beautiful. She spends the days thrill seeking with her best friend, Shay. But Shay is against the operation and runs away and Tally’s manipulated into tracking her down. Tally stumbles upon a whole world outside their perfect society — but she only finds one hot option boy. Pity Shay found him first.
It all begs the question: Why are love triangles so popular?
Is it more interesting to write (main character must decide between lovers)? Are we in it for the conflict (who will be picked)? Do we want to know how the two interests will battle it out for the girl/guy’s love?
Or are love triangles even about the options?
NYT bestseller author, Carrie Ryan, says:
“To me, that’s the essence of a love triangle — each man is a viable choice for the heroine but each speaks to a different part of who she is. The heroine isn’t choosing between two men, she’s choosing who SHE wants to be and that will dictate who the right match is.”
That captures THE HUNGER GAMES (by Suzanne Collins) pretty well. Katniss has two hot options, Gale or Peeta. Both dudes are pretty different.
Gale: “Let’s rebel and get our rights and freedom!”
Peeta: “Let’s bake bread and be ourselves!”
Katniss’s choice depends on how she wants to live her life, right? Peace or war?
What do you think? Why do you think love triangles are popular? And go on! Name some more books with love triangles! (Which is more common: 2 boys = 1 girl OR 2 girl = 1 boy? And…why is that?)