“Bad” Romance: In Defense of Love Triangles and Insta-Love (ContempConvos)

wo incredibly common and much-maligned conceits in YA are love triangles and insta-love.

One of my favorite quotes about romance in YA comes from author Ally Carter:

“Being a teen isn’t about figuring out who you should be with. It’s about figuring out who you should BE.”

Love triangles and insta-love can both be big parts of that search for identity.

Teens have parents telling them where to go, teachers prescribing what they read or write in school, and demands coming from tons of other places as they get ready to face “real” life in college and beyond. It is very rare for a teen to be in a position where they can truly make a choice (much less one that involves saying “no”) entirely on their own. One way to show teens in that power position–taking ownership of their life in a very literal sense–is with a love triangle.

Teenagers are fickle creatures. They have years and years ahead of them to settle down. Why not have a book with multiple love interests? Why not let them explore their options with two or even more love interests?

As for insta-love, well, isn’t that just shorthand for love at first sight?

There are a lot of instances where both of these things can be handled badly. There is the potential for a forced relationship or one with insufficient stakes. Underdeveloped characters or thin plots can be especially disastrous for love triangles or insta-love as making either trope seem contrived or as if it came without the proper foundation.

But as with any literary device if a love triangle or insta-love is handled well it doesn’t detract from a story. Instead, it can complicate and depth to an already rich story or even a new facet to a character’s personality.

Now that I’ve told you why I’m all for love triangles and insta-love (done well) here are some recommended books (click the titles to read my reviews):

Love Triangles:

  1. The Selection by Kiera Cass
  2. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
  3. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
  4. The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
  5. Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Insta-Love:

  1. The Jewel by Amy Ewing
  2. Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
  3. Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
  4. Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
  5. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

This post originally appeared at The Talking Bookworm in 2016 as part of Veronica’s Contemporary Conversations series. 

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