There's a kind of infestation that I've noticed going around the teenage fiction sections, and so gross an infestation it is that in recent months my sway towards that area of the book shop has decreased rather rapidly. That isn't to say that I never pick up a book there, and even though I've become used to shopping in the classics section to buy a dump-truck load of books for university, and have finally got my teeth into the adult fantasy and supernatural, my favourite series of all time still maintain pride of place in the teenage fiction.
I'm not bothered by that. Rather, I'm bothered by the drabble that it appears to be surrounded by. Books seem to have taken quite a sudden turn towards the fantasy and science fiction far more than I remember when I was younger. I see far less "bubblegum romance" in the middle of the shelves, possibly due to the introduction of the "dark romance" genre (don't even get me started on this.) I bypass the urge to rant about how ridiculous and irritating a genre it is, and move more towards the relevant points. Now, why do I think that the quality of teenage fiction has decreased recently? It's because of this little thing I like to call: the love triangle curse.
This idea is what has piqued my interest above all else. Why is there such an obsession with this mode of romance? It has, of course, existed for many years, and the esteemed Billy Shakes advanced it in his Midsummer Night's Dream and other various works to love pentagons, dodecahedrons and the like. And now, in modern fiction, if a human best friend isn't secretly pining for the protagonist with the "bad boy/girl" prototype drawing them in with those smoky golden eyes, it's a werewolf against a sparkly vampire both fighting for one of the most insecure and irritating protagonists I have ever come across (yes, in case I didn't give off the vibe before, I am not a Twilighter/Twihard/Twi-anything-that-would-imply-any-enjoyment-of-that-series.) So why are so many books filled with love triangles? Often, the protagonist seems to be the root of it, somebody who deems themselves to be boring, a freak, unimportant is suddenly body-slammed with affection from all angles. Is this a secret moral to children that somebody out there loves them no matter what, or something else? And let's face it, the love triangle is usually all about a girl.
Of course, I'm not proposing that because everybody is doing it that nobody should do it. Love triangulation appears to be as popular a literary technique as foreshadowing or italicizing every other damn word, and I admit that some of my favourite series, and the best-sellers involve a love triangle. I suppose what separates the stories involving love triangles that I loathe and those that I love is that there's a different level of focus. As long as there is more dimension to a protagonist than thinking "which one do I choose?" (and often concluding to have their cake and eat it too) every waking hour, then the fact that there's a love triangle seems completely negligible. The same goes for a story, I feel that as long as the author isn't drawing you back into a conflicted internal monologue every five minutes and focusses on the action, a strong plot or a strong style, then I'm perfectly content to take sides of who so-and-so should choose, perhaps going so far as going a "Team" (on second thought, no, that's just too much.)
Even now, I must make an admission that I have used a love triangle scenario, though I suppose I haven't considered it that way because my focus has always been on trying to flesh out the participating characters past the love-at-first-sight-must-have-you-now kind of romance that those bubblegum romances were so full of. Although, I can be proud that I have never used the "mysterious stranger-instant-attraction" gimmick in any story, and for as long as I shall live, even if I alongside all the other writers fall victim to the curse, that is one I shall make sure not to.
That, and the sparkly vampire infestation. Let's exterminate them right away (I couldn't resist the urge.)