the only love triangle I like

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…

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

Eva

11 thoughts on “the only love triangle I like

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  1. I always favored Gale — not necessarily for Katniss, because she probably needed a sweet man to help her after her PTSD who could also understand that trauma — but Gale to me was the more rational, decisive one who held firm convictions and that was appealing to me. I didn’t like it, though, at the end of the books that HE decided to leave. I felt Suzanne Collins owed Katniss at least one decision that was all hers, but she took it away from her. I wanted Katniss to choose Peeta because she made a decision, not because Gale knew that she could never forgive him.

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    1. That makes sense, why you prefer Gale. I started re-reading Mockingjay recently and he is pretty great. ❀

      As to Katniss making her own decisions, I almost feel like she was too emotionally traumatized at that point to make any good ones (and so, if she'd decided against Gale then, she could have regretted it later and been plagued by 'what if?' questions). But that's just me. *shrugs*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Katniss has a lot of self-doubt and indecision, so… I would have liked for her to make a firm choice on which man to keep, but I do see your point. It took her a long time, as it is, to admit that he was right — she did not know herself enough at the time to make the choice for herself, or even to recognize that she loved Peeta in that way. But Gale saw it. πŸ˜‰

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  2. I read an interview with Suzanne Collins where she talks about how Gale and Peeta represent different perspectives on the idea of War. Collins says that Katniss wasn’t just choosing a life partner, she was choosing a life philosophy. That was part of the reason I thought the love triangle was actually compelling, it’s not just ‘one is nice and one is sexy,’ both boys were distinct people (like you said!) And the choice would affect all areas of Katniss’s worldview.

    I also very much agree with your first point πŸ˜„

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    1. That’s really interesting! Yeah, I love how both Peeta and Gale are their own person/have their own beliefs. ❀

      Haha…yep. πŸ˜€

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  3. I think there are a couple flavors of love triangle, I generally avoid YA but I’m guessing love triangles in those books are put in there to add interest to non-interesting characters. I have to agree with Katie somewhat about the reality of love triangles, I think if there is any parallel in reality, it is crush triangles and they wouldn’t last very long. If one truly loves another they wouldn’t stand in the beloved’s way (and Peeta stays out of the way, he is not forcing or whining or expecting anything from Katniss, he just didn’t realize she was acting at first). I do agree that Katniss, Peeta, and Gale are their own people, so that is a reason why I dislike this love triangle. It didn’t exist until Peeta came in the picture, if Katniss and Gale had either one truly cared, there would have been a spark. There was NONE. The Katniss and Gale side was forced, and then (this is another problem with triangles) Gale is made to be awful. Look she can refuse him simply because she doesn’t like him, both guys (or girls, but it seems to be usually guys) can be decent. Actually she could have refused them both and the story would still have been good. However, I love Peeta. My sisters and I have said that we wanted them together because we loved him. I think she’s rather dreadful (or at least made to be), I definitely prefer her in the movies. Catching Fire the film is my favorite of anything Hunger Games.

    This has to be one of the most ungrammatical things I’ve ever written, lol.

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    1. Well, there was a spark on Gale’s part. πŸ˜› I agree that the story would still have been powerful if Katniss had ended up with no one, but her ending with Peeta is more hopeful, IMO.

      Haha, it’s okay!

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  4. Good post. I can see why this romantic setup appeals to you, even though similar ones don’t. πŸ˜‰

    Love triangles . . . I don’t know. They just Bother Me. I’ve gotten less and less patience with them as time (and my reading life) goes on, I guess. I used to be able to tolerate them, but now I’m like “noooOOOOOOOOOOOO.”

    So even if I could read The Hunger Games (if it were a completely different premise and completely story with all the violence erased, in other words :-P) I’d probably still be upset with the love triangle. But I guess WE’LL NEVER KNOW. xD

    From my perspective, it wastes both the protagonist’s and the reader’s emotional energy to be trying to sustain romantic feelings for two different guys at once.

    That–and the fact that I have never seen or heard of anyone in my real life being in a love triangle, so I guess I’m kind of highly suspicious that they really exist???

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    1. My heart completely belongs to Peeta, but I still like Gale as a character. I don’t find it emotionally draining though. πŸ˜› *shrugs* I feel like I HAVE heard of an IRL love triangle, but I can’t remember it…

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      1. For sure. Thinking about it, I can see how not everyone would find the love triangles that I find emotionally draining / distracting, to be emotionally draining. I think it can be a very subjective thing that depends on who you are as a reader and a person.

        And of course there’s always the possibility that Katniss-Gale-Peeta would be an exception for me and I would LIKE it, if I ever read the books. πŸ˜‰

        I have a suspicion that love triangles died out in the 80s, lol πŸ˜› I have a whole theory on this, on why Millenials and Gen Z don’t have love triangles irl, but I’m too sleepy to type it up now . . . remind me to tell you when I visit πŸ˜€

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