Thursday Tropes: The Love Triangle

The Love Triangle.  Because we all know that love and relationships are only complicated when a potential second suitor comes along, and apart from that, it’s all rainbows and good times and everyone gets along.

Waaaait a second.

Why hook up with the still living when you can have the undead popsicle, amirite?

My beef with the love triangle is how overused it’s become. Now, do love triangles happen in real life? Of course they do. And do they keep fiction interesting? They certainly can. But it’s become a staple, it often seems, rather than a useful tool among many others in the writer’s toolbox. I get the impression that a lot of them are added in because that’s what people are told will sell books (or other media), rather than it being in there because it helps the story and develops naturally.

Of recent love triangle fame is, of course, the Twilight series. Which is funny since this is a triangle that isn’t a triangle. Yes, I read them, and yes, I’ve seen the movies. Yes, I think it’s awful. It’s like a train wreck, I can’t look away! Plus the unintentional hilarity is fantastic. But I digress. This now hugely famous love triangle isn’t one because at really no point does Bella ever seriously consider Jacob. Briefly in New Moon, when it looks like Edward’s gone forever, but hot damn, she literally jumps on a plane to fly halfway across the world the second she learns that’s still an option! Jacob, buddy, that should’ve been your first enormous clue that she was just not that into you.

But thanks to this series, love triangles have taken on new life as a given in YA, it feels like, becoming cliche, boring, and overused in the process. Read more


Our Trolls Are Different

Just like The Passage had a Backdoor Pilot, I found a book exemplifying Our Trolls Are Different! Though it’s almost more of a variation on Our Elves Are Better. (And no, it’s not Twilight, ’cause c’mon, we all know their vampires aren’t Better, nor are they really vampires.) A while back, I downloaded the free sample of a book called SwitchedBook 1 of Trylle Trilogy, to my Nook.

And be warned, here there be spoilers.

“Trylle” is a fancy word for troll in this book, and the main character Wendy is a troll — excuse me, Trylle — princess who was switched at birth with a human. The problem came in when her human father killed himself and her human mother went nuts, convinced Wendy was not her daughter at all and tried to kill her at her sixth birthday party. The mom went to the looney bin, and Wendy and her older brother live with their aunt. Apparently due to Wendy’s attitude and scholarly problems, they’ve had to move around a lot because she keeps getting kicked out of school. And she’s also learned she can persuade people into doing things she wants them to do when she concentrates on it hard enough.

Now, this is a pretty interesting premise. That’s all a great set-up for a really f*cked up life and some serious issues to explore through an urban fantasy setting. But the author, Amanda Hocking, gets in her own damn way too much with cliches, poor writing, and an abundance of tell don’t show. Taken as a whole, it adds up to a big fat case of Twilightitis.

Enter the mysterious handsome boy, Finn, who catches Wendy’s attention. Cliche, but fair enough–these YA paranormal books are expected to have a

I KNOW I've heard this one somewhere before...

romance plot or subplot. It’s not like I shirk it in the one I’m working on, after all. However, and stop me if you’ve heard this one, the handsome boy is unreasonably weird and rude and stalkerish towards Wendy, while Wendy is whiny, bitchy, and ungrateful to everyone around her, and obsesses over the guy who’s being a dick to her.

There are a few other points where it could, again, be a better book: Wendy confronts her not-real-mother in the asylum and it’s a decently interesting scene. Wendy and Finn get attacked by rival trolls in the street, and at this point she finally agrees to leave her aunt and brother for her ‘real’ family because these attackers will continue to come after her. And she does realize, on leaving them, how much she loves and misses these two people who have stuck by her through everything.

Then she finally gets to the Trylle homestead and troll society completely sucks. Since my sample ended a handful of chapters after she got there, I wasn’t able to see how this panned out. And while Wendy is a princess, her mother is an ice queen, and she learns that trolls as a species make a regular practice of stealing rich human children so they can be replaced with their own kids, and then when they hit 18 more or less, they steal their kids back, expect them to integrate and hand over their inheritance to the troll society. Not that her troll mom has made any effort to check in on her in the last 16 years, or make sure she was okay, or just check to see that no one else noticed her female troll baby had replaced an expected male human baby and that her human mother hadn’t tried to kill her or anything. Nope! Nothing of the sort. Oh, and trolls also have a hierarchy that places those stolen human children (who live with them, but are not regarded as family, or returned to their rightful ones) only just below the breed of trolls who are able to find the scattered troll children when it comes time for it.

To her credit, Wendy seems to find this all pretty despicable, and quietly promises that her troll mom will not see one cent of that money, which she’ll make sure goes straight to her brother and aunt.And she wanders around Trolltown (my name, not theirs) with no one really telling her a whole lot about who she is, what that means, etc. She’s just…seeing some pretty plants, and expected to know everyone around here without anyone telling her. Basically it’s like she just went and arrived at her destiny to sit around like it was any other day.

There was some build-up happening to some debut ball and her possible death being foretold, but I wasn’t interested enough to buy the book and keep reading to find out. Which shows how there were some serious flaws here–there were a dozen or more plot points that could have made this fascinating but it just wasn’t. All of the interesting things were ignored in favor of a Twilight-romance rehash, trolls who really should’ve just been called elves, the boring details of every day activities, and the awful headspace of the whiny Wendy.

Overall, not a book I’d recommend. Trylle’s trolls may be different, but they certainly aren’t unique.