So, I ended the last post talking about how for The Hunger Games series, the love triangle trope works. Not so much for The Maze Runner series.
Honestly, I don’t know why Dashner even put the love triangle in the books. If he thought it was necessary to bring in female readers, I think he was dead wrong. I’m not even sure he needed any romance at all. I liked *Theresa, sure, and the psychic connection was wonderful and really was a great way to introduce a romance. Midway through The Scorch Trials, though, he dropped it. In fact, midway through The Scorch Trials he pretty much dropped Theresa to introduce Brenda. I was very puzzled, both by the introduction and Brenda’s actions romance-wise. It wasn’t really until reading other readers’ reactions that I even applied the phrase love triangle to the situation.
Here’s why it didn’t work
1) I never believed Thomas really loved either girl. I don’t know why, really, but I didn’t. Sure Thomas thinks a lot about Theresa, but his thoughts always seemed more confusion or friendship-based than anything else. Dashner told that Thomas cared about her, but I don’t remember him ever really showing it. I will say I felt Theresa’s betrayal, but later his reactions to it seemed overblown. I don’t think I would have felt that if I really believed Thomas loved Theresa.
As for Brenda, the kissing etc felt forced. And I didn’t know what exactly it was about Thomas that she loved. What was it about Brenda that he loved? No clue. By comparison, Katniss admired Peeta’s charm and ease with people (something missing in her) and was drawn to his innate decency. She loved Gale’s strength, his skill and his sense of duty and love for his family, something echoed in her. She also admired his fire, although she didn’t entirely understand it.
2)The love triangle in The Maze Runner series wasn’t necessary to the plot. With a few minor revisions, you could take both characters out and replace them with others who were not romantically involved with Thomas and the story would be the same. It might even be better. If Thomas was motivated by love, it wasn’t so strong that I remember it. Theresa was motivated by love, but deep friendship would have been just as strong, since she was also motivated by the desire to end the flare. As for the betrayal, a friend’s betrayal would have worked just as well. On that I speak from experience. I have been betrayed by friend and family and let me tell you it hurts like hell. Romantic love was unnecessary for that particular test.
Please don’t get me wrong. The books are phenomenal. I loved, loved, loved The Maze Runner. I was up until the early hours of the morning reading The Scorch Trials (I haven’t seen the movie yet, but it’s not from lack of interest. I just haven’t had the time.) I wasn’t as fond of The Death Cure, but that was due to a plethora of unanswered questions, not the romance aspects.
So I’ll end with this observation. Women and romance readers in particular read and view with an eye towards relationships, the stronger the better. Obviously that doesn’t mean we don’t love an intricate plot, action and character arcs. We do, but we are generally (as I believe men are, too) pulled in more if there are strong relationships of all kinds. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship. Many of us were as attached to Katniss’s relationships with Haymitch, Cinna and Prim as we were by the romantic ties. I know a lot of romance lovers who are big fans of Star Trek, and there is no long-term romance in those shows. We are attracted to and attached to the bond between Captain Kirk, Spock and McCoy (a bromance triangle?). The Maze Runner series did that with Thomas, Newt and Minho. If you read reviews you’ll see that for many that was enough. The love triangle was unnecessary.
So that’s my take on this trope in two different books. What do you think? Are there books/movies that you felt benefitted by a triangle (like, for example, Star Wars, A New Hope, followed by The Empire Strikes Back) or in which the triangle detracted from the story?
*Just as a side note, I was a little peeved that the girls in the books didn’t appear to be named after genius scientists like the boys. Thomas was named after Edison, Alby after Einstein, Newt after Newton. If Theresa and the other girls from that set were named after female scientists, I don’t know who those scientists were. Maybe someone else does?