Let me just say that when I listed ‘read more’ as part of my goals and intentions for the year I did not know what fun I was in for right off the bat. All I knew then was I wasn’t reading as much as I wanted to and therefore, I had to see to it that I fixed that.
On a late January afternoon, I opened my MacBook and flipped the cover of my kindle on a mission to find some picks for the next few months. I created a list that I filled up with interesting finds that could potentially make it in and out of my basket in due time. I searched for worlds I could maybe fall in and out of without caution, the kind that may live in my mind and memory rent-free for time to come, the kind that could tickle my imagination. My picks were quite random, to be honest. Some books that made my list were titles I’d always wanted to read, others were suggested by my favourite bloggers and the rest I chose by doing what they say never to do, judging the book by its cover. For all the books I picked though, I made sure I knew little to nothing about their contents or synopsis as I still enjoy experiencing books by blind testing them for the most part.
I’m not sure what category The Love Hypothesis fell under or why exactly I picked it as the first I’d read this year, but there I was rushing through its chapters as though starved for a good romance novel.
I’ll start this review by saying The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood is not the most original story on my bookshelf. In fact, I could argue it’s not original in any way and the rom-com tropes, honestly, one can smell from at least thirty pages before they happen but there was something about this one that is so gripping I did not want to put it down.
I finished the book a few days ago and I’m still experiencing withdrawal symptoms I’m unsure I’ll be able to fill the void anytime soon.
What exactly made this contemporary romance novel so damn irresistible and purely easy to devour? Well, I guess I’ll start with the simple things, the synopsis.
The book opens with a very awkward scenario. To convince her best friend Anh that she’s moved on from – actually never liked – her previous boyfriend who Anh has a serious crush on, Olive, a Stanford biology Ph.D. student does something most of us may not. In the spur of a moment, she shares a kiss with a stranger. Olive, however, is outright stunned when she discovers the person she locked lips with is none other than Dr Adam Carlson, a handsome young and distinguished professor in her department who also happens to have a ‘mean, arrogant and unapproachable’ reputation.
Olive’s plan works – for her friend at least – but leaves her having to pick up the pieces of the mess she made with Adam, who although has never been her direct professor, is very well known for making students cry.
In a turn of events, it so happens Adam also has reasons he needs to be in a relationship too so to keep up appearances, the two decide to on a mutually beneficial fake relationship. I warned you, the clichés are everywhere.
Olive is really smart, talkative, upbeat and loves the taste of pumpkin spice drinks. For Adam who is unsurprisingly the laid back all-back-no-sugar kind of guy, the idea of pumpkin spice alone grosses him out and as they get to know each other, Olive quickly discovers he’s really not who she expected or imagined.
I think the thing that really sold this book to me in its early pages is the chemistry between the two characters. In fact, the chemistry between all the characters in the book is really outstanding. The dialogues are smart, well written and contemporary and likewise, the characters I found to also be very likeable and funny.
The thing The Love Hypothesis does right and the reason I believe it’s such an enjoyable read is just how unapologetic and shameless the narrator is about the use of all romance tropes. It’s delightfully cheesy and overly dramatic at times, but none of it feels out of place. Halfway through the book, the story picks up intensely and once I reached a certain point, I couldn’t help but devour it all in one seating.
I must give Ali Hazelwood props for writing very interesting side characters too who made reading the novel even more of an exhilarating experience.
The story also explores the difficulty women in academia face, abuse of power and sexism which added some much-needed depth to the rest of the story.
I often come into reviews looking to bring a more critical perspective or opinion, but here I genuinely enjoyed the story for what it was. I laughed, giggled, paused, and held my breath too much to come up with some big great criticism of the contents of its pages and if that means I’m really easy to please, well so be it. I’ll leave some more thoughts at the end of the post of specific things within the story I thought about afterwards or things that could have made it better – they are only a few but will include spoilers so read at your own discretion.
Could some aspects of the book have been played out better? Yes, for sure. I wish some parts were described in a bit more detail and struggled to understand why Olive couldn’t just communicate with Anh in the way grown-ups should. Then again, if she did do that I guess I would be reviewing a very different book right now.
It was by no means perfect, but I think the reason I’ve found people like it so much is that in large I think it did what it intended to do perfectly. The third-person narrator was pretty easy to follow and although there was a little bit of scientific jargon, it was nothing that made me scratch my head in confusion.
If you enjoy romance novels that hide the right amount of clumsiness, a perfect dose of chemistry and characters that will make you root for them, then this is the right book for you.
Some things I think about… A LOT (Spoiler alert!):
- But really, what does Olive even look like?
This is one of the things I feel needed to be described a bit more purely out of curiosity. I feel because the story was being told mainly from her perspective, details of what she looked like were skimmed over and whilst I do have my own ideas, I wonder what the author had in mind.
- How would the story have turned out without the recording?
Although the recording played a big part in the way things went at the end of the book, I can’t help but think it was more convinient to add that than to explore what it would have been like if it wasn’t there to expose the truth. It was a stroke of luck that it existed in the first place and it sure was a great twist in the book, but in real life truth is most people that experience sexual assault don’t usually have a whole recording to back up the truth.
Tom told Olive ‘no one would believe her anyway’ and I just wonder in what other ways Hazelwood could have made that play out differently. Would Adam have believed her imediately? Would Tom have suffered any real consequences?
I’m sure with his stinky attitude Tom would have given himself away sooneer than later and I guess since Olive had the recording she had some backing to encourage her to speak up. I can’t help but wonder though, you know…
- Could this book have benefitted from perhaps Beth O’Leary’s writing style where the voice of the narrator changes each chapter? Although the narration was done in third person, it was very much told from Olive’s perspective, and I couldn’t help but wonder what went on in Adam’s head sometimes – I can imagine though so maybe that’s just me being greedy!
- Would Adam ever have approached Olive if she never unexpectedly kissed him at the start? I mean, knowing all that we know…
- How long has to pass for it to be acceptable for me to read this again? Or is how much I loved this just embarrassing now?
Your restless romantic roamer