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Level 2 Blog Tour: "Is It a Love Triangle" Guestpost by Lenore Appelhans

23 Jan 2013

It's my pleasure to invite author and blogger Lenore Appelhans to stop by the blog today as part of the international blog tour for her debut novel, Level 2. 
 Lenore has kindly written a post on the 'love triangle' in her book. Many of you will probably immediately think there's a love triangle based on the words "Two Loves. One Choice" from the blurb. However, fear not! Lenore will be clearing up this matter in her guestpost below about how there can be two guys but no love triangle! Interested? Then read on!

Level 2
by Lenore Appelhans
Published by Simon & Schuster (US)/ Usborne (UK)/ Allen & Unwin (AUS)
on January 15th, 2013

 Three levels. Two loves. One choice. Debut novelist, Lenore Appelhans has written a thrilling otherworldly young adult novel about a place that exists between our world (Level 1) and what comes after life (Level 2). 

 'I pause to look around the hive - all the podlike chambers are lit up as the drones shoot up on memories ... I've wanted to get out of here before, but now the tight quarters start to choke me. There has to be more to death than this.' 

 Felicia Ward is dead. Trapped in a stark white afterlife limbo, she spends endless days replaying memories, of her family, friends, boyfriend ... and of the guy who broke her heart. The guy who has just broken into Level 2 to find her. 

 Felicia learns that a rebellion is brewing, and it seems she is the key. Suspended between heaven and earth, she must make a choice. Between two worlds, two lives and two loves. 

Is it a love triangle?

You might have read the following in the description of LEVEL 2: “Three Levels. Two Loves. One Choice.” And if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see there are two romantic interests in Felicia’s life, Julian and Neil.  You might have even heard about people picking teams.  All of this would seem to point straight to a love triangle right?  Well, that all depends on your definition of a love triangle.

I’m going to argue that there is no love triangle in LEVEL 2, mainly based on the fact that Felicia had relationships with Julian and Neil at different times in her life.  You see Felicia’s toxic relationship with Julian in her Germany memories. You experience Felicia’s sweet/awkward relationship with Neil in her Ohio memories (which take place long after Julian is out of the picture). In the current action in Level 2, Julian is there and Neil is not, but Felicia is clearly not interested in Julian – she accepts his “help” only because he promises to lead her to Neil.

I suppose if you subscribe to a very broad view of a love triangle – that if there’s even a slight possibility of romance between characters then it’s a love triangle - you might see a love triangle here (but then, you probably see love triangles everywhere). After all, Julian is still interested in Felicia romantically, so all Felicia needs to do is change her mind, right?

I like Malinda Lo’s distinction between a “love V” and a “love triangle”.  She argues that for there to be a real triangle, there needs to be some sort of a relationship between all angles of the triangle. She gives The Vampire Diaries as an example. Elena is connected to both Damon and Stefan, but Damon and Stefan are also brothers who share a brotherly love.  Note that in LEVEL 2,  Julian and Neil are not connected at all.

It’s also interesting to read Carrie Ryan’s perspective on love triangles in YA – that it is not so much about the choice between two different boys but more about the choice of who those two different boys allow the heroine to be.  In Felicia’s case, she is the “bad girl” looking for redemption from “good boy” Neil.  In that sense, if Felicia would choose to renew a romance with Julian, what would that mean for her character?

OK, I’ll admit it … there is a love triangle in LEVEL 2. But it’s not Felicia/Julian/Neil. It’s actually Felicia and her best friend Autumn competing for the affections of Julian.  And even though it’s a relatively minor part of the story, this one might even be considered a true “Malinda Lo-style” love triangle.  Not to mention it is also rarer to see a 2 female/1 male triangle than a 1 female/2 male in YA.  Diana Peterfreund has a great post explaining just why that is.

What’s your definition of a love triangle?

I find some of the points raised really interesting! I haven't read Level 2 yet, but after this post, I personally cannot wait to see how this not-love-triangle plays out :)

Find LEVEL 2:
Goodreads | Simon & Schuster

Find Lenore Appelhans at:
Website | Blog | Goodreads | Twitter


  1. Oh this is a fab post Shirley and Lenore, I normally don't have a huge problem with love triangles but it's good to know that there isn't one in Level 2. Thanks for clearing up exactly the different relationships Felicia has with Julian and Neil. I think you've made me even more excited about reading this! :)

  2. That is some food for thought, but it's still more than one love interest. I guess it depends on how the situation is presented determines whether it'll bug me or not. Great post ladies. :)

  3. Interesting thoughts!

    I usually don't like love triangles because I don't like it when someone gets hurt, and usually the heroine picks the guy I don't like as much. So it's the guy I like who gets hurt.

    But I've also read some good books where I really enjoyed the love triangle. Maybe it is all in the way it is handled.

    Oh, I think I'll really enjoy this book.

  4. Oooo I love the distinction between a love "V" and a love triangle - that's brilliant. I'm so glad Lenore explained the romance setup in this one, I think I'll be good to go with Julian and Neil (and am already rooting for Neil, only partly because she mentioned Ohio with him. YEAH OHIO!) Really looking forward to this book!

  5. Thanks for the clarification! I will admit, the mere mention of a potential love triangle can put me off at times (which is why I had concerns about Level 2), but I'm glad to hear things aren't quite as the book description insinuates. :) And I agree with Jenny, the love V vs love triangle argument is an interesting one. :)

  6. I am not a big fan of love triangle so it helps to know I still need to read Level 1 I have heard nothing but good things about it! Fantastic blog post :)


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