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The Sad Sanctuary For The Unselected-Yet-Deserving-Boys of YA Literature

There really needs to be some kind of mercy, no-kill shelter for the poor lads who fail out in love triangles (or just in general) in YA novels.

I mean, yes, there’s the debt ceiling thing and the Israel-Palestine problem and desertification in Africa. I realize this. But all this Peeta-Gale looking like nine miles of bad road on the cover of Entertainment Weekly has got me thinking sad thoughts about the unrecognized excellence of The Road Not Taken.

To wit (below there be spoilers):

Gale in The Hunger Games.  All right. I understand that Katniss doesn’t need more fire. She needs Peeta’s…bread. Or dough. For her fire? Or whatever. War is bad, m’kay – I get it. But GALE WAS SO AWESOME. GALE WAS A TORTURED REBEL LEADER! Suzanne Collins just suppressed his natural hero tendency, like his heroic arc was one of those tiny trees people manipulate into staying tiny. Or whatever. I barely know what I’m talking about. Just that Gale rocked and I can’t get over it and please, someone give him something fantastic to do!

John “Hutch” Hutcherson in E. Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver novels.  So what if he’s got acne?  He’s a hair metal expert who helps Ruby’s dad with his houseboat greenhouse (yes, that’s a thing and it’s excellent).  And he’s nice to Ruby.  And he doesn’t yap all the time and write affected emo notes and wear too much hair gel like stupid NOEL. (Okay, Noel is awesome, too. But I’ve got a soft-spot for people who like AC/DC.)

Jacob Black in Twilight.  Not to belabor the point, but dude was the only funny person in that entire godawful series. And what does he get, for following the Ron Weasley Winner’s Way?* A demon baby.  Gross.

Alpha in The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Okay, so Alpha isn’t a poor soul by any means. But Matthew was pretty much a dickface to Frankie;  he didn’t deserve her amazingness. Alpha was more her equal, which is the point of the book. Not that the book played up a love triangle really hard, or that anyone prevailed, aside from Frankie herself (which is at it should be) but still.

Tommy in Story of a Girl. No triangle here, either. And Tommy was messing with the sister of his friend and she was pretty young. But from the book, I gathered he really dug her. Thought she was pretty. Was attracted to her. It wasn’t just sex, though that was a big part of it. Why do we think teenagers must always love the other person? Why can’t they both mutually decide to hook up for the experience, and not because of goopy True Love? I think this happens more often than people will admit. Don’t get me wrong about this book – I loved it; it was beautiful and difficult and true. But the scene in the bathroom where Tommy tells Deanna how boys like a girl’s face to look was so sweet and sexy.  So the overall message about sex made me depressed.

Lee in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking series.  Okay, so this trilogy isn’t a romance per se, and it’s pretty much a No Shit Sherlock that Viola and Todd belong together and there ain’t nothing for it. But Lee was a great guy, too, and all he got was to be a blind soldier/war metaphor and I liked him so much and wahhh, Lee! I’m coming for you!

*The Ron Weasley Winner’s Way:  in which males of marginal looks manage to attract girls because Funny = Money.

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