5 of the Best YA Love Triangles of All Time

Love triangles get a bad rap, and sometimes for good reason. But when they’re done right, there’s nothing better than a juicy, dramatic, divisive triangle that’ll have you shipping one side so hard it hurts. If you’re looking for a complicated mess of emotions where someone (maybe everyone!) is bound to wind up in tears, look no further.

The Love Interest, by Cale Dietrich
Caden and Dylan are spies, cultivated by a secret organization that grooms teenagers into two groups: the Nice (clean cut, cute, awkward) and the Bad (moody, brooding, and dark). Caden is a Nice, Dylan is a Bad, and they’re both trying to win the affections of girl genius Juliet, who will grow up to be a powerful, influential individual. Only one of them can succeed. The other will (probably) die. But what happens if Caden and Dylan realize that instead of falling for Juliet, they’re falling for each other? If you’ve ever wondered why opposite sides of a triangle don’t ditch their useless crush and get together instead, this comic, meta read is for you.

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
In an ancient Roman-esque empire, Laia and Elias are on opposite sides of the power dynamic: Laia is a slave, and Elias is a soldier of the Martial Empire that conquered her people. They both want the impossible: to escape. Laia’s brother has been imprisoned by the Empire; her only chance at freeing him lies in posing as a spy at Blackcliff, the military academy that trains Masks, the Empire’s top soldiers. Elias, meanwhile, has a distaste for violence—but his training as a future Mask leaves him little choice, especially when he’s been ordered to fight his classmates to the death for the position of future emperor. Toss in Elias’s beautiful best friend/competitor Helene and Laia’s charming handler, Keenan, and you’ve really got more of a love parallelogram—but who’s counting? Three parts action, one part love triangle, An Ember in the Ashes is full of engaging characters who make it impossible to decide which ship you’re rooting for.

The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater
Speaking of love parallelograms, have you read The Raven Boys yet? Blue Sargent has been told since birth when she kisses her true love, he’ll die. So when she sees the spirit of a local private school boy on Saint Mark’s Eve, it seems likely he’ll be the recipient of her fateful first kiss. That boy turns out to be a the smart, rich, charming Gansey, and Blue can’t help but be curious, especially because Gansey is on a hunt to find and wake the body of a sleeping Welsh king named Glendower. Through Gansey, Blue meets the rest of the Raven Boys: angry Ronan, determined Adam, and quiet Noah. And though Blue is drawn to Gansey, she’s intrigued by Adam, too. It only gets more complicated as the series continues and even more feelings develop, but I promise you’ll love this messy, lovable group of friends and their quirkily paranormal world.

Fans of the Impossible Life, by Kate Scelsa
Mira is struggling with depression, Sebby is an openly gay foster kid, and when they meet in the psych ward, life seems to get a little better. Together, they take on sophomore year at Saint Francis Prep. Enter Jeremy, a shy, lonely artist who easily makes their duo a trio. But Mira, Sebby, and Jeremy each have their demons, and as Jeremy slowly realizes he might be attracted to Sebby, their friendship starts to fall apart. Get your tissues ready now, because Fans of the Impossible Life will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between.

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas
If you like your love triangles hot, heavy, and unpredictable, it’s time to check out Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series. When human Feyre kills a faerie in wolf form, she’s taken by Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court, to rule out the rest of her days in his lands. Feyre is prepared to hate him—until suddenly she doesn’t. Just when things start heating up, Feyre discovers Tamlin is cursed. To save him and the rest of the Fae realm, she’ll have to complete a harrowing trial … and to complete the trial, she’ll have to make a bargain with Rhysand, the tricky High Lord of the Night Court. As her deal slowly draws her closer to Rhys, Feyre has to decide what kind of relationship she wants, and how far she’s willing to go to protect a world that wasn’t hers to begin with.

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