Love triangles are one of the most maligned tropes in all of literary history. Yet they are also one of the most prevalent tropes, appearing in everything from classic literature to (nearly) every YA dystopian novel to date. Love them or hate them, love triangles are still A Thing. So is arguing about who should end up with who when THERE’S A HUGE WAR GOING ON. (In the book. Not real life. Hopefully.)
Love triangles annoy me to no end (more so in TV shows than books, I’ve found). But there is one love triangle that doesn’t annoy me. One I actually kinda love. One that is a shining example of what a good love triangle should look like.
And that love triangle is…
Why? Why does Katniss, Peeta, and Gale’s love triangle not make me want to bash my head against a wall and rip up my copy of The Hunger Games or throw the remote at the TV screen? Well, I’ve come up with three good reasons.
Reason #1 – The focus isn’t on the love triangle.
I have read/heard of several YA books (particularly dystopians) where the plot is supposed to be enthralling and thrilling…but it’s really just three hundred pages of gorgeous-but-I-don’t-know-I’m-gorgeous teens angsting over each other.
Not so in The Hunger Games (or Catching Fire and Mockingjay).
The focus of all three books is survival. Katniss’s survival. The survival of the people she loves, her home, and her country. Yes, a lot of that comes at the cost of pretending to have a relationship with Peeta or hunting with Gale. But Katniss doesn’t spend all her time obsessing about either guy. Even if they can both provide her with a lot, in terms of survival and even love. Her goal is to win the Games, help Peeta survive (not because of romantic feelings so much, but because she owes him something and recognizes he’s a far better person than she is), and take down President Snow.
Katniss’s relationships with Peeta and Gale are integral to her life and her story, but she has bigger stuff to worry about. And thankfully, Suzanne Collins focuses on those issues (for the most part) instead of Katniss’s love life.
Reason #2 – Each member of the love triangle is their own person.
Katniss is a hunter. An archer. A sister. A daughter. A rebel. A tribute. A murderer, even. But what she is not is someone purely defined by her relationship with a guy. Yes, the Capitol doesn’t see it that way – in their eyes, Katniss and Peeta are the only couple that matters. In the Capitol’s eyes, both Katniss and Peeta are really nothing without each other. But that just shows how shallow the Capitol is.
In the same vein, Peeta is…Peeta. He’s the ultimate good guy, yes, but he also has issues with his family and he bakes and he’s super smart (he got in with the Careers, right?) and passionate about his beliefs. And Gale? Gale is also intense about what he believes to be right (and wrong). He’s skilled at making traps, he’d do anything for Katniss/her family, and he’s simply great. Flawed, but great.
Katniss, Peeta, and Gale are each their own person. All in relationships, yes (or wanting to be – sorry, Gale). But they are defined by so much more than that. I’ve read books where at least one member of the love triangle was simply ‘the bad boy’ or ‘the good guy’. No personality besides that of being a love interest for the heroine. But instead of skimping on character building for one or more of her characters, Suzanne Collins kicked the love triangle game up a step – and it’s awesome.
Reason #3 – Katniss makes the right choice.
Yep. I admit it. I probably wouldn’t have liked the Katniss/Peeta/Gale love triangle as much if Katniss had chosen Gale. Or if she had chosen nobody. Now that Prim and her mom are gone, she needs support more than ever and Peeta was really the only one who could give it to her. Yes, there’s Haymitch but I feel that he’s still more broken than Katniss or Peeta. And just…too sarcastic. But Katniss and Peeta are undeniably right for each other and their relationship gives me all the happy (and sad and angsty) feelings.
And for once, I’m glad a heroine didn’t end up with the ‘bad boy’. *eye roll*
What are your thoughts on love triangles? On The Hunger Games? On Team Peeta or Team Gale? Let me know in the comments!