Oh, the love triangle. My overused foe.
I’ve come down on the “wrong side” of all the love triangle debates. Team Jacob or Team Edward? Hermione/Harry or Hermione/Ron (that’s an old debate rekindled!)? Team Gale or Team Peeta?
I try. I really do. And I do have favorites. I am firmly in whatever camp I tell you because I think the narrative works better that way. But the truth is? Those aren’t the characters I care about.
Team Jacob or Team Edward? You know, Team Jasper. I’m really digging the Southern gentleman turned angsty hipster. And a real, solid backstory that explains his actions in a believable, endearing way? I’m there. Yes please.
Harry/Hermione or Hermione/Ron? I’m going with Fred Weasley/hilarity and awesomeness, please. More of the Weasley twins being hilarious and making me stop reading the book to put it down, giggle, and then reread the lines. Or, for that matter, more Luna Lovegood being innocently adorable and yet profound. Or more Colin determined to keep up his photography hobby. More Tonks sassing her way through her life problems (including Lupin and his life problems).
Team Gale or Team Peeta? Really? Finnick. Tragic character who breaks so believably and is so broken we can’t imagine him picking up the strands when, finally, he’s handed happiness only to lose it all in the end? This is really gutting stuff, guys.
So why do I love the sidekick characters so much more than the main characters and their ridiculous love triangles?
Maybe it’s the lack of attention to their flaws. Side characters aren’t the center of attention; we only see them at their best (or worst) and don’t have to sit through mind-numbing whining about how hard the Triwizard Tournament is or how awful aging is when your boyfriend’s immortal . . . . Side characters can and often do have fleshed out backstories (in fact, the best side characters often have better backstories than the main characters!), but that doesn’t mean we get so much of them we’re annoyed.
Maybe it’s the filter through which we see them. Most YA is written from the main character’s perspective, so we see these characters as they do. And most of the time, it’s a glowing view (though sometimes they have to grow on us and the main character before we get there). Fred and George? Harry thinks they’re brilliant, so we do too. Alice and Jasper? Bella adores Alice and respects Jasper, so we do too. Finnick and Annie? Oh, the journey we take with Katniss from disgust to mistrust to friendship to near-siblings! We love them because our eyes and ears in the world does too.
Maybe it’s the comedy effect. After all, the sidekick characters tend to be funnier, if we’re honest. No one has ever accused Katniss of a sense of humor, and yet Joanna’s snark and Finnick’s teasing are some of the only lights in a frankly very dark series. Fred and George are comedy gold, and Bella’s friends are often more engaging than she is!
Or maybe it’s that we’re meant to connect with the main character, and if they’re so much like us, they’re flawed, as we are. The sidekicks? They can’t be. They’re Others. They’re better.
Whatever the reason, the side characters deserve much more attention when we talk about books. I’d much rather fight with you on which staff member at Hogwarts is the best (McGonagall, of course) or which tribute is the sassiest (it’s a tossup, it really is) or which member of the Cullen family brings the most life to the side stories (Alice, let’s be real). Please, fight with me on any of those things, just don’t drag me into the love triangles. Chances are, I didn’t care as much about them as you did. I was distracted by the shiny sidekicks.