The Negative Reader

Drinking Tea and Trashing Books

So, the Twilight Saga is responsible for a lot of current trends in YA, and its influence isn’t completely gone yet, no matter how much we like to think that it is. Paranormal Romance is likely going to be around for a long time, though it’s starting to do new things and break away from Twilight’s mold.

There is, however, one part of the Saga that is hanging on, and I wish wouldn’t. One of, in my opinion, the very worst elements of the books.

Part 5: The Love Triangle

Now, I’ll be honest right now, I’m biased. I don’t like love triangles. I’ve seen ‘less bad than the really bad’ but not ‘good’. However, the Twilight Saga’s love triangle is a different kind of bad love triangle, and I’m going to do my best to explain just why.

If you’re asking me why I’m sticking Jacob in with the love triangle, it’s simple: Jacob has no purpose outside of the love triangle.

It’s Not Real

The biggest problem with this love triangle is the fact that, in the end, it’s not really a love triangle. A love triangle, in the way that she’s writing, is the conflict generated by two people in love with the same person, and the object of such affection’s being forced to choose. There is no conflict in Bella’s mind. Bella doesn’t love Jacob, she never did. She used him in New Moon because she needing someone to fix the bike and give her some adrenaline so that she could hear Edward’s voice in her head. She might have even liked Jacob, in a way, but from the first book on, he was always a means to an end. Bella would flirt with him, and he would give her what she wanted, be it information, attention, something else to focus on, or someone else to stroke her ego.

There was never ever really a choice in her mind. Oh, in Eclipse she acknowledged that they could have been a thing, but it wasn’t going to happen. If anyone honestly thought that Bella might have chosen Jacob, they needed to check their reading comprehension. Bella never so much as thought though she would leave Edward for Jacob.

If anything, this was a form of wishful thinking since before Eclipse, Jacob did arguably treat Bella better.

This wasn’t a love triangle. This was a girl with a really sick relationship with her boyfriend, and some other guy dreaming that he might have a chance with her when all she wanted was to continue her sick little relationship because she was a kind of awful person too.

Now, I don’t have a single problem with more than one person being in love with the same woman when she only really likes one of them. For instance, Sydney Carton in Tale of Two Cities was a very good character, and one of the things that made him interesting was that he didn’t make things miserable for Lucie. He was well aware that she had no obligation to love him just because loved her, particularly when she was getting married. As such there was no choice, no love triangle, and it, and Carton, was actually a more tragic and sympathetic.

This, however, was just more self-indulgence to have a guy that you weren’t even interested in because you had the perfect man already, chase you.

It Wasn’t Intentional

So, this is also a big thing. Now, from my research, Meyer doesn’t really plan her novels. She just sort of has an idea and runs with it. She certainly didn’t plan the series. Jacob was meant to essentially be Mr. Exposition and then randomly imprint on Bella’s child. That was the extent of his role and personality. As such, when she realized that it would be more profitable to write a longer series of books, he was mostly there as a fallback for Bella.

It’s clear in New Moon that while Jacob is written to kind of be infatuated with Bella, it is more or less similar to Mike’s interest, only Jacob is still filling the role of Dances With Plot. Oh, he’s interested in her. That’s not the point. The point is that he’s there to show Bella that there are werewolves, that Victoria is running around being a pain, and…well…that’s honestly it.

But the fan reaction was huge.

The idea of the drama of a love triangle, was something that the fans loved. Particularly since a lot of Meyer’s fans weren’t that fond of Edward after his dumping her in the woods, but still loved the fantasy of the whole thing. So, they latched on to Jacob, who was sexy, supernatural and, at the time treated Bella relatively better than Edward. Meyer, being relatively intelligent, decided to give them what they wanted in Eclipse, but the story was already set.

As such, we got Bella whining about how hard life was having Jacob having a crush on her when she really just loved Edward. In reality, there was nothing else that could happen. The love triangle had been just an accident, and in the greater run of things, it didn’t really change anything that it existed or not.

It was Creating a False Conflict

So, one of the biggest attacks that the Twilight Saga tends to get is that fact that nothing happens. It’s one of the things that I first brought up. The story is set up so that nothing can happen because if something happens, it’ll interview with Meyer’s original vision. The love triangle with Jacob was honestly, much like James or Victoria’s appearance, little more than a way to pretend that something was happening so that the entirety of Eclipse wasn’t just about Bella trying to decide if she wanted to marry Edward or not.

It was just some extra drama to distract Bella and to fool the reader into thinking that she was actually doing something while she got lugged around. InBreaking Dawn it doesn’t really even mean anything anymore. It doesn’t contribute to anything in the end, it doesn’t add to Bella’s growth as a character, and it certainly doesn’t add to Edward’s growth as a character.

Edward never even acknowledges it. Not really. Oh, he takes the engine out of the car, but that’s because ‘young werewolves are dangerous’ not because he even slightly thinks that Jacob is a threat to him. He knows that Bella is completely and totally his, so he doesn’t need to change, he doesn’t need to evaluate if there might be something that Jacob is offering her.

He doesn’t even really angst about the fact that Jacob could offer Bella a life. A normal one. Something that he’s supposed to be big on.

While it’s built up as this epic thing, the fact of the matter is that it generates no conflict, no emotion, no change, no question and no real reaction from the characters around it.

It’s Resolved in the Stupidest (and Creepiest) Way Possible

Now, love triangles are, regrettably, a staple of Paranormal Romance, and they’re likely to remain a staple of Paranormal Romance until someone realizes how stupid they are and shows that one can be written without one. But few love triangles are resolved like the Twilight Sagas.

For instance, I like to take potshots at Cassie Clare, but I’ll admit that she actually did resolve her love triangle. They realized that it wasn’t going to work, and Simon started seeing other people. That was the end, and while the stupid thing was referred back to way too much, it still got resolved. Hush Hush resolved it through killing the tail end. It was pointless, stupid and insulting, but it was dealt with.

Here, we involve ‘special Indian magic’ (I’m sorry, but that’s what she’s basically doing) to make it so that Jacob suddenly forgets that he was ever even into Bella.

Jacob doesn’t talk much after Imprinting, so that’s a plus.

Fixing it

Don’t do it. Honestly, it wasn’t even necessarily to the overall plot. Jacob’s role could have been played out just as well if he and Bella had remained friends. He could have disliked Edward on werewolf vs vampire levels as well as calling him out for being a jerk to his childhood friend. It could have even added to Edward’s character arc of realizing just how far apart from people he’d drifted, and had to get over his racism prejudice.

It even would have sent a rather positive message that close opposite sex friendships do exist and can be a very positive factor in someone’s life. In Bella’s arc, it could have helped her to have someone who she did open up to, and someone who understood supernatural weirdness. It could have even lead to Bella and Jacob’s friendship allowed the other vampire’s to realize that a lot of their dislike of one another is stereotype, and even misunderstanding, allowing them, in the final battle to stand up against the Volturi.

There were good things about having another male presence in Bella’s life, the problem was the idea that all of hose presences needed to be romantic.

Final Thoughts

If a love triangle is going to work, it needs to show a good reason to be there. The problem with this one is that it didn’t. Every conflict that it brought about was either superficial or something that could have been done more effectively in other ways.

If any aspiring writers who happen to read this are interested in writing a love triangle, learn from this. Make it so that your triangle means something in the context of the story.

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