Discussion: Crowd-sourcing the love triangle with Jennifer Armentrout's White Hot Kiss

                       the love triangle contest

Love triangles admittedly aren't my favorite thing.  They're messy, unrealistic, and poorly handled.  They also distill important decisions about relationships and love into "which of these two guys should I pick?"  In my opinion.  Maybe you love them.  In that case, come tell me I'm wrong, because I'd love to hear a positive spin.  

All this is set-up for my reaction to Jennifer Armentrout's recent announcement about her popular Dark Elements trilogy (White Hot Kiss, Stone Cold Touch):  fans will vote which love interest the MC ends up with, and whatever they decide, that's the ending Armentrout will write.  

Before you go freaking out on me, I'm not personally attacking Armentrout or her books.  I've never read them.  I don't really think they're my thing.  What I'm reacting to is this concept: a fan vote to determine Layla's final lover.  

Am I the only one who finds this weird!? 

Forget about the amazing marketing value.  Let's talk art.  Typically, the writer has a vision for the series.  They know the ending.  They write the book in view of this ending.  Yes, some of them are irritating mind-breakers who tease the love triangle out until its histrionic death rattle, but they still choose their MCs fate.  Why?  Because, theoretically, the MCs choice is important.  It reflects her (not to be stereotypical, but it's mostly "her") willful choice that a certain person is right for her, determined by love and thought.  Or at the very least it reflects some artistic choice on the writer's part.  They choose a certain partner for their MC because they want to send a certain message.  

Guess what message this campaign is sending to me?  

It doesn't matter.  Roth and Zayne (don't get me started on names) are indistinguishable hotties who can easily be slotted into each others places.  It doesn't matter who Layla picks.  There's no deeper meaning behind which guy she ends up with.  It's a popularity contest and Armentrout will write your chosen ending even if she secretly hates it. 

Essentially, for me, this contest reinforces my least kind opinion about love triangles: that they are simple plot gimmicks and rarely (though not never) used for a literary purpose beyond adding some cheap tension and selling Team So-and-so t-shirts.  If Armentrout is willing to sell her ending to the biggest fanbase, that's her choice.  But while it will surely sell copies, it makes an unfortunate statement:  Layla's choice is arbitrary and there's no good literary reason for her to end up with one guy or the other.
Forget love.  

It's just business.  

So, what do you think?  

Do you like the idea of the contest?  
Do you agree with my ideas?  
Do you love love triangles?  Hate 'em?  
What do you think this contest means from an artistic standpoint?  
Anything else?  


  1. I am SO glad you posted this! Seriously! When I saw the announcement on JLA's blog earlier (who, incidentally, is one of my absolute favorite authors and I loved the first book in this series!!!) today, I drafted several comments, none of which I posted in fear.


    First, I am a bit disheartened that the series was not planned better in that she, herself, didn't already know how the book would conclude?!? That frightens me a bit because that is one of the worst things about series -- no plan, no follow through. I'm sure the writing will be great but will the story?

    Second, it is feeding into the love triangle, WHICH I CAN'T STAND! I am not a fan of love triangles but also not a fan of dragging out love triangles incessantly

    Third, and this is more a point about the book, but in the book, one of the love triangle interests is basically fated for someone else. I'm not sure why JLA would choose to ignore the other girl's feelings in this but it hurts me. It is probably an irrational reaction but it makes me think the entire trope of the book is a sham

    1. Thanks for commenting! Also, given all the "This is awesome!" comments on her blog, I can imagine why you'd be wary to post.

      Great points! You echoed some of my own thoughts. I hate the idea as a passive bystander; I can't even imagine how much more I'd hate it as a fan. For me, book characters are real people with their own worlds. A contest like this breaks the fourth wall in a very unsavory way. And I now feel sorry for this poor other girl I don't even know about, because the other points in the love triangle always seem to get screwed. Irrational, maybe, but I'd feel the same way.

  2. Great post. I thought the idea was pretty cool when I first heard about it. Then I read that she hasn't even written the ending yet and will write it once the winning vote comes in and I didn't like the idea anymore. I agree that an author should know the ending of the story before. I thought maybe she already had both endings written and had a hard time deciding which one she wants so she enlisted the help of fans.
    Now, it sounds more like a marketing gimmick...

    1. Thanks, and thanks for the comment! I can kinda see how as an author you might have different endings in your head and want some help. But for me, as a reader, if I CHOSE the ending, I feel like I'm writing fanfiction, not reading the book the way it was intended.

  3. I haven't read any of the author's books, but I definitely agree with you on the issue. I think that I, as a reader, have a sort of idealized vision of what goes into writing a book, and having someone else choose your ending (arguably one of the most important parts of a story) kind of ruins that vision. I'd like to think that an author has (or SHOULD HAVE) extra insight into her characters and plot, so that s/he can bring out a meaningful ending, especially with a love triangle. But as you said, this kind of makes it so that the love interest doesn't matter; they become interchangeable, which is NOT the point of a love triangle. Or shouldn't be the point.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I agree completely. Authorial insight is important to me. I want the author to be invested in the characters, to know them better than the readers and to choose an ending that fits what those characters would actually do. And if it's well written, then it should feel consistent, even if the readers disagree with the choice. Interchangeable! That's the word I wanted the other day.