The love triangle trope has been popular, it seems, forever. Movies like Titanic, Casablanca, and dozens of others in the 1980s, ’90s, and 2000s all put three people, all pining for each other, into the ring to duke it out. Particularly in the YA space in the early 2000s, it was a frequent theme to find when you plucked something at random off the shelves. Twilight, Divergent, and Hunger Games all did it. After that, so did everybody else.
Recently, though, tastes have shifted away from the love triangle, with some readers declaring it the worst trope in literature or pleading for no more. Often, readers cite a long list of irritants that come along with the trope. One suitor obviously being a better match, for example, while the other is rude or cruel or downright abusive. Some cite an unlikable main character making it hard to believe them having more than one love interest at the same time. Others say it’s rude to string two people along like that and end up with a distaste for all involved.
If you’re one of those love-triangle avoiders, you’ll be delighted to hear about a new take on the trope that’s hitting the shelves: love triangles that end in polyamory. While the beginning of many of these novels echo the typical love triangle rivalry and indecision storyline, in the end, the characters shrug and say, “Why not both?” Which makes for super fun, interesting character dynamics and adds a freshness to the oft-done trope.
Sound like something you might like? Try one of these eight books with love triangles that end in polyamory!
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Described as Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale, Iron Widow is a young adult sci-fi adventure full of robots and Chinese history sure to hold your attention from page one. With a storyline that attempts to dismantle the patriarchy, a main character inspired by Empress Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor, and the beginnings of typical, jealousy-ridden love triangle all evolve into something more more complex, and much more fun. You’re sure to fall in love with the characters at the same time they do.
Adaptation and Inheritance by Malinda Lo
The Adaptation series is a must-read for anyone looking for an unconventional end to a love triangle. When birds in North America go haywire and start causing plane crashes, Reese and her love interest David hit the road. After one of these winged wackos causes their car to crash, Reece wakes up a month later with no idea what happened, and the doctors at the military hospital aren’t saying much either. Back home, there are curfews and dead birds and conspiracies. Oh, and a girl named Amber she can’t stop feeling drawn to. Both Adaptation and Inheritance are sure to make you love love triangles again.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
The first book in Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, The Fifth Season is a dystopian science fiction fantasy novel about three women dealing with the aftermath of a world without sunlight or water. Through split POVs and exquisite world building, you’re sure to be enraptured by this magic- and nature-filled book. Plus, there’s a sort-of-love-triangle turned…something messy and complicated and more. In Jemisin’s words, it’s “not a threesome, or a love triangle. It’s a two-and-a-half-some, an affection dihedron. (And, well, maybe it’s love.)”
Indestructible Object by Mary McCoy
After Lee’s boyfriend and podcast co-host breaks up with her, she’s thrown for a loop. Of course, bad luck comes in threes as she loses her job and her parents split. And, honestly, it’s pretty hard to make a podcast about love when she’s heartbroken. So, Lee gathers two new co-hosts to start something new: a podcast about whether love is even real. It’s inevitable, surrounded by tales of love, that feelings would start to develop. What Lee wasn’t expecting was just how big those feelings were and who they were directed toward.
Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton
This young adult fantasy has everything you want: deals with the devil, sacrifices to the forest, and an eerie atmosphere to thrill you. Addressing gender roles and family obligations, Strange Grace also features a fascinating town, interesting characters, and an unconventional love triangle you’re sure to adore. If you’re on the hunt for witches and forests and the dark of the night now that fall has arrived, be sure to try this.
This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin
Best friends Ramona and Sam are in a band and the band is missing…something. When they meet Tom, they realize they’ve found their missing piece. But when Ramona starts to reckon with feelings she’s had for Sam and her growing ones for Tom, it threatens the stability of the band. This quirky, fun contemporary YA is sure to delight. Plus, it has asexual representation, something the genre needs way more of!
That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston
The premise is rad: a Victorian-esque futuristic young adult novel full of tea-parties, decadent balls, and arranged marriages based on a genetic matchmaking program. But, the program only accounts for heterosexual pairings. In a story revolving around a princess, a debutant, and a heir to a major company navigating a summer of freedom before their pre-set destinies come calling. That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a fun, romantic romp sure to entertain you.
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
A sequel to Seraphina, Shadow Scale continues the love triangle set up by the first novel. This high fantasy young adult novel is full of dragons, kingdoms, and beautiful writing! In a world precariously balanced on peace between dragons and humans, war breaks out, sending Seraphina on a journey to gather all of the half-dragons and fight against their own persecution. Picking up the romantic tension of a love triangle from the first book, Shadow Scale brings it all to a happy, if subtle, end.
Are you one of the readers out there who loves love triangles? Check out these must-reads! Or, do you want to learn more about romance tropes? Here’s a handy guide! Regardless of your interests, I hope you jump on the polyamory reading train and enjoy one of these books with love triangles that end in polyamory.