Tag Archives: love triangles

“The 5th Wave” Review

8141392940_3f2b5cbeac_zI enjoyed The 5th Wave more than I thought I would. I’d had this book on my to-read list for a while and finally decided to read it with the movie about to come out. (Recently, its seems that many books are being turned into movies.)

From the start, this novel engaged me. Cassie Sullivan, one of the narrators, is intelligent, likeable, and determined. She faces immeasurable odds in her attempt to rescue her brother from the Others, the aliens who are systematically destroying humanity through a series of waves (only one of the waves is literal waves).

5694942227_409d457f75_zBen Parish and Evan Walker are two of the other narrators for this story. Each create new insights and twists to the novel, which bring to fruition the level of distrust that’s required to survive this apocalypse. More importantly, Ben and Evan serve as ways to push past the distrust, to force Cassie to go against what she has learned to do to survive, and in so going against what she’s learned, Cassie becomes more capable of accomplishing her goal of saving her brother.

This book isn’t very original. While reading there are strong hints of other young adult book series, TV shows, and movies incorporated. However, the waves was a refreshing notion to an alien invasion and I was still drawn into the story, especially Ben Parish’s voice. I enjoyed Cassie’s character, until she started falling for the mysterious Evan Walker. Then, she seemed to lose herself and the romance between these two characters felt very insta-love. I didn’t believe their love (all those “abs a-clenching, pecs a-popping” got my eyes rolling…yes, what’s in quotes was taken from the novel), which made that section of the book a slow read. In fact, I found the romance between Evan and Cassie creepy. (If the next book introduces a long triangle between Evan, Ben, and Cassie, I hope Cassie chooses Ben because he’s a much better fit for her and he’s a more developed character than Evan.)

15108436193_49b52bd6d0_zThe story could have done without the romance. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of chocolate smelling breath (which is how Cassie describes Evan’s breath), of guys stalking girls as a form of courting (but it seems to be really popular among young adult novels), of guys being possessive to the point where I think they’d actually tie their love interest to a chair to keep her from leaving (which is an aspect often seen in young adult novels), or of blatant stereotypes, such as when Cassie thinks, “Time for the angrily-storming-out-of-the-room part of the argument, while the guy folds his arms over his manly chest and pouts” (I know multiple guys who storm out of the room when they get mad and many girls who would rather argue than leave the room. I also know people who would take a breath and then calmly discuss the issue. My point is don’t stereotype).23388773201_7dde0f699e_z

I was left with a lot of questions in terms of logical reasoning behind the plot, such as training children – some as young as five years old – to be soldiers while killing off the adults. (I won’t go into further detail on this because I don’t want to give anything away.) I pushed aside these questions and continued to enjoy the novel for what it was: a young adult book written for teenagers, and I reminded myself that there are numerous books on the market that contain plot holes, but were nonetheless enjoyable (like Divergent).

2634149864_4d576da2e0_zA lot of hype surrounded this novel. I understand where some of the excitement stems from, but I guessed the big reveals early on (partly because of the vast number of hints provided in the text; sometimes I felt that the hints were so strong I was getting bashed over the head with them). From reading other reviews, many people didn’t get what was really going on. If I hadn’t figured out the truth, the psychological aspect of this book would have been much stronger.

Either readers loved or hated this novel. Very few people had a meh response. For me, I’m glad I read this book. Give it a try.

(Photos courtesy of Several secondsWarren Antiola, Mary Shattock, Defence Images, and The U.S. Army.)

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Creating a Love Triangle, Minus the Eye Rolling

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Love triangles in literature tend to have a polarizing effect on readers. Either readers enjoy love triangles, and their satisfaction of the novel enhances, or the love triangle destroys what would otherwise have been a good book.

Though love triangles are an established part of literature, it’s only in recent years that they’ve increased in popularity. Perhaps not in popularity of readers, but they are more frequently seen in novels, especially young adult novels.

A love triangle is a romantic relationship between three individuals. A few better known love triangles are:

  • Katniss/Peeta/Gale in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Bella/Edward/Jacob in Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  • Heathcliff/Cathy/Edgar in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • The Phantom/Christine/Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (the novel that was adapted into Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical)

Typically, a love triangle involves one woman and two men, where the woman has difficulty choosing between the two men. While the woman cares for both men, the men usually are in competition with each other and usually fill archetypes. For example, one man is the woman’s childhood friend, while the other is the newcomer, a bad boy, a prince, etc.

Most times I’m not a fan of love triangles because often I find them to be trite. But if done well, a love triangle can be quite the adventure.

What makes a love triangle work?

  1. The protagonist isn’t sure of their identity. The two romantic choices can represent different aspects of the main character. Whomever the character chooses with show who the character wants to be, and who the character ultimately becomes. Will the protagonist become the hardened warrior, or choose a softer version of herself?
  2. Wish fulfillment. When faced with the choice between the bad boy and the good boy, in real life most individuals would choose the good boy. The good boy is practical, stable, and will be someone you can trust. However, in the fantasy world, the bad boy is much more exciting, and since fiction isn’t real, it’s easier to choose the intoxicating, bad boy, who’ll make you miserable in the long run, but who is great for a short while.
  3. The men in the love triangle are opposites. This option shows two different lives the protagonist can have. It’s not so much about the protagonist’s identity, but showing options. Will the protagonist go for the prince, who will provide the protagonist security and all her material desires, but who “was raised to be charming, not sincere,” or the rogue, who will be able to give her nothing but his love and loyalty? (quote by Prince Charming from Into the Woods)
  4. There is intense chemistry all around. The protagonist feels attracted to both men, and she could be happy with either choice. One of the aspects of love triangles that can get very annoying is when readers know that one choice is much better than the other, but the protagonist can’t see that.

A few things to watch out for:

  1. Making the entire story about the love triangle. When that occurs, it’s easy for the characters to turn into stereotypes and for the plot to simplify to the point of foolishness. The male characters do not exist just to be in love with the female protagonist. They have their own identities and personalities, responsibilities, quirks, loyalties, bad sides, etc.
  2. Sticking a love triangle into a work because it’s what’s popular. If the story doesn’t call for a love triangle, don’t put one in. Readers can tell when a romantic relationship feels forced. If there’s no chemistry, readers aren’t interested.

What do you think? Are you for or against love triangles?

(Photo courtesy of Greg Jordan.)