Book Review – The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

books, reviews

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Last week, a friend of mine asked for reading recommendations. I enjoy talking about books with people but I do find it stressful recommending them. Especially when the person doesn’t give me an idea of what they like to read. Especially as I like to read a variety of books. I don’t like to put myself in a box in terms of genre and tropes. Although, there are certain books that I do tend to avoid. I’ve never been a lover of romance books which makes me avoid them most of the time. I’m trying to embrace more genre fiction this year and that includes romance. There might be something out there that works for me. So, I’m open to suggestions. It’s the reason why I ended up listening to TikTok and buying this book. Normally, I would have just forgotten it existed and moved on.

When this became a TikTok sensation, I knew that it wouldn’t be the book for me. I’m not a big fan of romance and I can’t say that I was itching to read any Reylo fanfiction. That didn’t stop me from being curious, which is why I picked up a cheap copy ages ago. Now I’ve finished it, I should really trust my instincts more. This book just did nothing for me and took way too long to read. When did the term “fake dating” become a term people use so casually in everyday conversations? The characters in this book act as though it’s standard practice these days. Maybe I’m just not running in the right circles? It certainly doesn’t phase the main characters here as they decide it’s the only course of action.

In an attempt to continue lying to her best friend, Olive ends up kissing the first man she sees. That man happens to be the surly professor Adam Carlsen. A man who students throughout Stanford’s science department hate with a passion. For some bizarre reason, the pair decide that the best course of action is to pretend that they are dating. So, they set about trying to convince people that they’re madly in love. Of course, things don’t go as smoothly as they expected and real feelings get in the way. Can Olive work out what or who she really wants? Or will she just end up with a broken heart? Oh, and that’s on top of her efforts to ensure that her PhD goes to plan. Focusing on women in STEM, The Love Hypothesis embraces awkward, brainy girls.

My main problem with this book is that nobody ever acts like a human being. None of their motivations make any sense. Olive’s initial decision to kiss a random man is baffling. Especially given everything we learn about her in the rest of the novel. It doesn’t match her personality. Then there’s the fact that neither character has any real reason to pretend to date. It all happens on the flimsiest premise. I know miscommunication is a key part of this genre but nobody in this book is ever honest. It’s ridiculous. As the story progresses, you need to suspend your disbelief more and more. To the point where you can’t even pretend that you’re reading about real people.

I’ve never believed that you need to like characters to enjoy a book. However, the narrative is so irritating here that these two needed to be charming. Unfortunately, both Olive and Adam are underdeveloped. We don’t learn a great deal about her as the novel moves on but we learn even less about Adam. And let’s not even talk about character development. These days, good character development has simply come to mean bad guys not being all that bad after all. It’s not enough for me. There wasn’t a single person within this book that was well-written. It was an endless string of cliches and stereotypes. And what was the point in making Olive asexual but not going anywhere with it? It’s the worst kind of box ticking and added nothing to the plot.

Although, that’s not true. It did succeed in making the sex scene way more uncomfortable than it needs to be. Olive’s asexuality comes into play and it only makes her seem more childlike and innocent. That means the sex stuff ends up being super weird and one-sided. It doesn’t seem enjoyable for her or even consensual. Far from being spicy, the sex in this book is best forgotten. The reader realises early on that Adam has been hiding his motivation. It completely changes the power balance between the two of them. I absolutely hated it. Nothing about this romance was romantic or compelling. The pair’s chemistry never feels realistic. They go from not knowing each other to being best friends after one coffee. It’s all so badly paced.

Normally, I would try and be less harsh when reviewing a genre that I traditionally don’t like. After all, it was written for a reader with my tastes. This time, I don’t think that’s the only problem here. It’s not just that I was bored by the romance of it all. It’s that this whole story is unbelievably stupid. It wasn’t just that I didn’t care about these characters. I found this book excruciating to read. It was painful at times to get through a single chapter. I know there are so many people who think this book is amazing. People who think the sex scene is super hot. I don’t get it. I must have been reading a different book.

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