Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Love Triangles Ahoy!

(Psst...if you haven't already, go read my review of Pack of Lies by Laura Anne Gilman over on CC2K.  Yes, I know, that has nothing to do with this post, but if I don't toot my own horn, who will?)

I just finished Diana Rowland's Secrets of the Demon, and I absolutely loved the book.  The series has officially gone from my "yeah, maybe I'll read the next one" pile to "oh yeah, I'm definitely getting the next one...on release day!"  Kara Gillian is a police detective in Beaulac, Louisiana, who also happens to be a demon summoner.  But demons, in Kara's world, aren't the evil creatures depicted in Christian mythology; instead, they're creatures of another realm, completely self-serving yet bound by their unwavering code of honor.  The demons are both scary and fascinating, and Rowland does a fantastic job depicting creatures that don't operate within a human ethical framework.

Kara has two potential romantic interests in the series: Rhyzkahl, a demonic lord, and Ryan, an FBI agent with a sensitivity to the paranormal.  Both are unbelievably hot.  Both seem to care for her in their own ways.  Both have their flaws and drawbacks.  Both occassionally behave like petty assholes.  (Yeah, apparently being a demonic lord doesn't save you from that one.)  In short, I don't know which one to "root" for.

Thus, my ambivalence with love triangles.

I once called love triangles a "literary cliche worth banning"--though I think, looking back, this might have been a little harsh.  Love triangles can be fun and enticing, and they can showcase a lot about a character.  On the other hand, they've also become extraordinarily overused in fiction.  That said, done well, they can be a lot of fun.

But what's frustrating about them is that I don't always know who to root for.  Or sometimes I know who I'm rooting for, but it's not the person who wins out in the end.  For example, in the Twilight series (yes, I read it, and yes, I liked it at the time, but I've developed deep issues with it since Breaking Dawn came out), I was completely, totally rooting for Jacob.  I just liked him better.  Edward struck me as horribly controlling.  (Not letting Bella see Jacob, keeping things from her "for her own good," etc.).  Plus, I never forgave Edward for leaving in New Moon.  It was an asshole move, and Bella let him off way too easy.  (Cause she was so in love...ugh!)  Having been unceremoniously ditched in a similiar manner in my younger years--though not quite so abruptly--I was not so inclined to dismiss such behavior.  I thought it was indicative of a bigger problem: how Edward, in his infinite self-righteousness, always thought he new best, and Bella, in her infinite naivete, believed him every time.  Jacob, on the other hand, reminded me of a lot of guys I was friends with.  Sure, he was a werewolf, but once he got over the initial shock he wasn't particularly angsty about it.  (Edward, on the other hand, was a very angsty vampire.  Like being beautiful and young and strong forever is such a terrible thing!)  He was warm and caring and generous.  Yes, there was some maturity lacking there at times, but honestly...if you're gonna marry the heroine off at 18, the whole thing is gonna lack maturity one way or another.

I've read a book or two before.  (Actually, I've read nine this year so far.)  I knew, long before Breaking Dawn, that Bella would end up with Edward.  Actually, I knew long before Eclipse that Bella would end up with Edward.  I mean, really, was there any doubt?  Yet I couldn't help but root for Jacob, who seemed to want Bella to spread her wings rather than cower behind a rock somewhere.

But I digress.  Love triangles can be fun, but they risk dividing your readers' loyalties.  Which brings me back to Secrets of the Demon (the third book in the Kara Gillian series, in case you were wondering).  Every time I think I've picked which one of Kara's suitors I'm rooting for, the other one swoops in and steals my affections again.  Unlike Twilight, where I just wasn't rooting for the right guy...I like both of them.  And I dislike both of them.  If you had asked me at the end of Blood of the Demon (the second book), I would have definitely picked one over the other.  Now, at the end of the third, the other guy has managed to edge him out.

It's frustrating...but also really, really fun.  I look forward to Kara's scenes with both characters, and each interaction adds dimensionality to their relationships and their characters.  Though the crime-solving plots are fun and exciting, I must confess: it's the love triangle that keeps me hooked.  My own personal loyalties may be divided...but I kind of like it that way.

Maybe the love triangle has some life left in it after all...

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