|Their reactions, if they'd known then what puberty had in store. (Image credit)|
I do like love triangles -- sometimes. Everything in moderation. I've read plenty of books that don't have a love triangle, too. But Eternity had a love triangle, even though the main character tries to pretend it doesn't exist. The Lord of Opium also ended up having one, albeit a very unusual one. I'm also really hesitant to read Throne of Glass because I know there's a love triangle in that as well, and it plays a central part in the story.
Even Fire and Hemlock had a sort-of love triangle. More like a love Twister. That one was weird.
The love triangles I see most often are:
- Girl torn between obvious right choice and bad boy. The girl usually has some kind of savior complex that makes her fall for the bad boy, hoping she can "fix" him, often later to realize that she needs saving by the "good" boy.
- Two men fighting over the same woman, whether or not the woman knows about it or likes either of them. If she does know about the rivalry, she'll usually be turned on and flattered by the conflict (a Bella Swan). Otherwise, she'll try to keep the peace between them (a Hermione). More rarely, the girl has no clue, either because she thinks of both of them as friends or because she's completely in love with one of them (like Em from Eternity).
By no means do I hate any of these books for having love triangles. I think I understand why it's such a popular device. It creates quick and easy conflict and is a way to develop character. It can also elevate the "other woman" or the "best guy friend" character into a more developed, interesting character in their own right. If characters don't have any other issues with each other, introducing romantic conflict is a good way to start a subplot. Love triangles also get fans really involved by rooting for the pairing that they support.
Because of all these things, the love triangle sees a lot of use. In fact, it sees so much use that it's practically a cliche by now. When I run across a love triangle in a book that is not a romance novel, my automatic reaction has become:
"Another love triangle? Really?"
I'll still read the book. Sometimes the love triangle is executed in a fresh, original way that surprises me. Sometimes.