Love Triangles in YA: Is There Hope After All?

ed jake bella

Let’s face it, there are a lot of love triangles in YA literature and many readers either love them or hate them.  I first saw a spike in the love triangle concept when Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight came out in the mid 2000s.  The Edward, Bella, Jacob combination was one that I—and many fans— found compelling.  I was so excited to find out which guy Bella would pick.  The choice that she made definitely added to the suspense of the plot.  Unfortunately, she didn’t pick the guy that I liked, so I was devastated.  Why?  Well, what is it about the one girl, two guy factor that is destined to ruin our world?  Most obviously we will have to make a choice and one guy will end up being the loser.  Portraying love triangles in YA novels is a good way to show how hard it is for teens to stay neutral and how they might have to make a list of pros and cons in order to make their decision.

Let’s look at the choices involved in most love triangles.  Often, there’s the hot bad boy who makes all the girls drool.  You know this guy, he’s almost always a jerk or has obsessive tendencies.  The bad boy might be a chosen because he seems exciting and adventurous.  His good looks are fine, but beyond his looks there is a possessively driven heart.  Then, there’s the adorable best friend type, a dependable guy who usually melts our hearts with his sweetness. Each appeal to characters—and readers—for different reasons.

The good news is that love triangles have been evolving and changing over the years since Twilight and a few have redeemed my faith in them.  Here’s what I found out:  Some love triangles have two good guys, but one is just a little sweeter and bakes really good bread.

YA Novels with Love Triangles

city of bones cover

The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare — In this YA fantasy novel we meet Clary Fray and Simon Lewis best friends and confidants.  Enter Jace Wayland the gorgeous and golden Shadow Hunter that might just sweep Clary off her feet.  Clary can’t cut the ties of Simon’s friendship any more than she can resist the overpowering draw of the undeniably attractive Jace Wayland.Selection


The Selection by Keira Cass — In this Sci-Fi/Dystopian YA novel we meet America Singer who has been in love with a sweet guy next door named Aspen.  Everything is smooth sailing for the couple until America heads off for the Selection, which is a reality television show where she must try to win the heart of Prince Maxon.  Will Aspen fade into the woodwork while America is away in the prince’s arms?



Splintered by A.G. Howard (2014 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten) —What you see is not always what you get in this ark and twisted re-telling of Alice and Wonderland. Right now I am hooked on A.G. Howard’s Splintered series, which features a love triangle extraordinaire.  Pitted against each other are a human boy named Jeb who is a skater boy next door and a otherworldly being named Morpheus who seems like a really hot version of the Mad Hatter.  These two are fighting for the love of the beautiful Alyssa Gardner, who loves skateboarding, is a creative artist, and her mom has been in a mental hospital for as long as she can remember. Believe me, it gets intense because these two guys both want her for themselves.  Who will she choose?  I don’t know, but Morpheus’ blue hair is definitely swaying my decision.


Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie — In this Dystopian future where the Society makes all of the rules, Cassia Reyes is matched up to be married to her best friend Xander Carrow.  However, when Cassia views the video for her match she sees a picture of a different boy named Ky Markham on the screen.  Intrigued, Cassia attempts to figure out this mishap, and as she spends time with Ky, she becomes much closer withhim.  She becomes conflicted about whether she has a future with Xander or Ky and must make the most important decision of her life.


What are some of your favorite YA books with love triangles? 


— Kimberli Buckley, just finished reading I Was Here by Gayle Forman about to start Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige