I've moved bookishwhimsy.com to tumblr! This blog is now an archive of my past posts.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Love Triangles 101: Shadow and Bone

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Check out the Event Schedule!
Love triangles in stories have been around for a long time.  And I usually don't bat an eye when one comes up in those stories.  Classic literature examples are usually well developed, believable dilemmas that add to the heroine's (or less often it seems - hero's) journey in the narrative.  What I find interesting in some of the classic literature examples I can think of (Wuthering Heights, Romeo and Juliet) is that it is very clear who the heroine loves the most.  And depending on her decision there's tragedy or bliss.  (Um, but in the above named examples it's tragedy both times)  Young adult novels today have quite a bit of love triangle dependent plots and while I can get cranky when a perfectly lovely romance is developing between two characters and a character from left field gets thrown into the mix just to highlight the heroine's indecisive and weak-willed nature (You guys, but I do love Twilight), there's something about my chosen topic book, Shadow and Bone, that makes me pause.  Because it is clear who the heroine loves the most.  And that person is definitely worthy - nice, but not bland, very passionate and romantic and of course he doesn't hurt in the looks department.  But there's that other guy, the Darkling, who is just so darn interesting.  And somehow I'm rooting for both guys.  How did this happen?  Let me tell you.

(I'll try not to be too spoilery here, but it is better if you have read the book.  Because it's really good.)

Alina Starkov, Mal Oretsev and the Darkling (real name yet to be revealed).  Here's the thing about all three of these characters.  They are all likable.  Alina is surprisingly not whiny or bratty - lovesick and vulnerable, yes - but her character isn't the reason she's in this love triangle in the first place. (Second place and third place - as in 2nd book and the as yet unreleased 3rd book might be different.)  The fact that this romance first started off as Alina's unrequited love for her best friend and Mal's realization of his feelings for her later in the book gives the triangle a different kind of structure.  Alina isn't sure of Mal's feelings at all in the beginning, and then to realize that her love for him is strangling something important inside of her which the Darkling can develop and encourage is an entirely new dilemma.  Alina's relationship with Mal was hurting her physical well-being but she still loves him deeply.  Is Mal able to accept Alina for who she really is? Or maybe the Darkling could be better for her in that respect.

So Alina is a pretty strong, relatively decisive character, and Mal is actually exceedingly romantic and charming; how is the Darkling likable?  He's the bad boy in the love triangle but is there any love triangle where the bad boy is not delicious?  I mean as long as he's not kicking puppies, he's hot. And bad boys, when they are charismatic and magnetic, are very attractive indeed.  Likable may not be just the right word, but I definitely like him in the story.  So what is it about the Darkling that makes him such a good candidate for Alina's love?  And makes me hope for two kinds of ending scenarios for this series, one of which will not happen?  For me, I think it's less about what he can do for her, but what she can do for him. Love can be redeeming - if love can banish the brooding (brooding is most always a direct symptom of being the bad boy in a love triangle) and hidden hurt that defines the bad boy character - then who wouldn't want poor baby that character to feel better?  And it's so romantic to have the heroine be the one to save him.  I'm reminded of a scene from the film "The Sound of Music" where the Baroness asks the Captain what he would call her and he says:

Capt Von Trapp: Lovely. . . charming, witty, graceful, the perfect hostess. . . and, you're going to hate me for this. . . in a way, my savior.
Baroness: Oh, how unromantic.

No Baroness.  In this and in your estimation of Maria, you are wrong.  It is very romantic to be the only one who can redeem a damaged soul.  Especially if that soul is suave and seductive. (I'm talking about the Captain and the Darkling now I think.  And the Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera musical too. Can you imagine the Darkling singing "Music of the Night"?  I CAN.  ...I digress.)  But with the Darkling there is more to his character because he is so mysterious.  His motivations, his past, his true feelings are all cloaked. Does he truly think he is doing good?  Does he even truly love Alina?  Can Alina help him at all?  All these questions make him such an interesting triangle participant because he such a wild card and there is a level of suspense in what Alina's decision will mean.  Many love triangles have a pretty clear outcome, were the protagonist to choose one guy over the other.  And most cases, especially in YA, the outcome IS that she will end up with one guy or the other, happy ending, Le Fin.  But in this book, that choice might just be the means to the end, an ending which is still very unclear.  It is very clear though, that there will be tears and I should probably get that order of a truckload of Kleenex in soon.

So there it is.  This series is not yet finished, so it was great to work out my thoughts on the story before I know where it is heading.  Mal is a great choice for Alina because they have a strong connection, and I feel like he is better for her in the long run, and will be her choice in the end.  (But I don't want to even begin to talk about what Book 2 did to this triangle!)  But maybe the Darkling needs Alina more, and it does seem like he understands her better than Mal does.  Sometimes Love Triangles are not always just about who the main character loves the most.  In this case I think Alina has to choose between her love or what is best for her well-being and/or the well-being of Ravka.  It's a difficult choice with so many pros and cons on either side. It's a real dilemma of a love triangle, and I love it.  And either way I don't think I will be upset with the ending because I'm rooting for both.  But if this series turns into a Love Quadrangle, so help me God, I'm done.  Although I really like Sturmhond!  ...Oh no.

My fancasting, although there is a movie deal in development, hurrah!

Share this post: Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email This Pin This Share on Google Plus Share on Tumblr
Scroll Up

19 comments:

  1. YES YES YES! This is one of the parts I loved at Shadow and Bone, I rooted for Mal in the beginning but then the Darkling got mixed up too and I was so conflicted because he was so charming and mysterious and so different too. But the whole love triangle was executed so well and somehow, I ended up rooting for both of them! Ladies and gentlemen, this is how you do a love triangle haha. I'm so excited to read Siege and Storm and find out what happens next :3

    Fantastic post Charlene!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah the conflicting feelings are so fun, cause then it feels like we can lose either way. I'll manage to convince myself after the fact that the person who won was who I wanted. :) Can't wait for your thoughts on Siege and Storm!!

      Thanks for stopping by Charlotte!

      Delete
  2. YES!! I totally agree..this is why this love triangle is so amazing and well done..and I like the author doesn't make the Darkling a bad boy with a good heart..he is genuinely dark and does some unforgivable/horrible things..and yet he is still likable in spite of all of that.
    I do believe she will end up with Mal BUT I do think it will be very interesting to see what directions the story will go in..thing I love about Bardugo's writing is that it always surprises me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm hoping the Darkling will be some sort of Phantom and it will make sense that he is doing these terrible things. More than just ambition, but even if it is just ambition, I'd probably like him still. That's good character writing. LOL

      The series is so unpredictable, I do love being surprised!

      Delete
    2. I hope like Snape he will have a redemption moment towards the end of the story! Me too!

      Delete
    3. Ooh Snape! That's another good precedent! OMG, so many tears are coming!

      Delete
  3. I completely agree with you. I never choose books because of the romantic situation and I don't usually bother with love triangles. I have been waiting for a good enough reason to go out and buy Shadow and Bone and you have done it. I shall be reading this soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I'm glad you read this post then, cause I don't think Shadow and Bone will disappoint! It's such a well-developed series in general, that the romance does not overpower it - there's a lot more to it. I hope you enjoy!

      Delete
  4. I haven't read this book yet, but I've heard so many good things about it, but I'm kind of disappointed to find out about the love triangle! I am glad that the MC is still a strong character, but I'm generally not a fan of bad boys coming around trying to mess things up...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seriously it is SO good..I really love this series, it has a lot going on and the character development=awesome!

      Delete
    2. I echo Alisa - definitely worth a try, the love triangle is really not overpowering - and the Darkling is more interested in his own agenda then ruining things for Alina and Mal.

      Delete
  5. You may have officially become my favorite person ever. Not only did you most eloquently describe how I feel about this love triangle, but you referenced The Sound of Music AND Phantom of the Opera whilst doing it.

    I definitely think a large part of the Darkling's appeal lies in whether he is in some way good or not. Things change so drastically either way. Oh my, I love these books.

    Absolutely wonderful post! :)

    Rachel @ Paper Cuts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well you are my favorite person too if you are a fan of those things and this book! Let me tell you, you have excellent taste! :D I am so interested in the Darkling's back story, I feel like it's going to be pretty mind-blowing! I hope I won't grow to dislike him, even if he turns out bad - he's so darn appealing somehow!

      Thank you for the comment!

      Delete
  6. Have you read the sequel yet? It gets even more confusing! :) And awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did, and it is pretty confusing! I just can not tell what will happen now - so many surprises!

      Delete
  7. This is one of those triangles I do like. I don't know why... some authors can just make it work. I haven't been able to read book 2 yet. Waiting on it from the library.... hoping to get it soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! I'm glad you think so as well, it's so great to come across such a good love triangle - it's come to the sad fact that I don't expect it when I start reading a book with it!

      The 2nd book is awesome! Can't wait to read your thoughts on it!

      Delete
  8. I've always felt like part of Alina's attraction to the Darkling was that he was so interested in her and openly displayed that interest; I think that her unrequited love for Mal contrasted sharply with that allure of having the Darkling obviously attracted to her. Of course, there's also the added appeal of that dangerous, exciting, exclusive world (and life) that the Darkling represented to her. And I agree -- there IS a lot of romance in the idea that you're that person's ONE chance at salvation. Good point!! And an amazing post! Thanks so much for being part of our event, Charlene/Fellow Disney Princess <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true, I'm sure I would have felt the same way if I was in Alina's shoes, how beguiling it must have been to be shown attention from such a powerful man! It makes the Darkling's attentions to her almost welcome to the reader perhaps, because she deserves to be loved in return. Hmm, rather an interesting idea I wish I could have included in this post! Definitely another point in why I feel so generously disposed towards the Darkling despite what he's done. Thank you for the comment Paola! Your Disney Princess persona must be Belle because you are very smart! :)

      Delete