First published in 2016
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
The Short Of It:
A lighthearted little enemies-to-lovers romance novel.
The Long Of It:
Reading "The Hating Game" was a total case of "everyone else is doing it" -- this book has gone crazy in the blogosphere and it won the 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for romance. I mostly left behind my romance and chick-lit days when I graduated college so this was pretty far out of my normal reading wheelhouse, but I wanted to see what all the fuss is about!
It's a story about Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, executive assistants for co-CEOs at a recently merged publishing house. And, having gotten off on the wrong foot from day one, they absolutely, positively hate each other. They sit across from each other every day plotting ways to make the other miserable (or lose at any one of the various "games" they play, the point of which, explains Lucy, is to make the opponent either cry or smile). When a new COO position is announced and they end up competing for the coveted position, tensions boil over with unexpected results (well, unexpected for the characters, anyway; it's all pretty obvious to the reader).
While it's a quick read, I had a surprisingly tough time getting into the story. I found the office antics to be childish and Lucy to be ridiculously melodramatic. Eventually, though, the characters grew on me (especially moody, volatile Josh, who turns out to be a fairly dynamic protagonist for a romance novel) and I definitely became invested in their torturous, slow-burn relationship. I can see many anti-"Fifty Shades" readers disagreeing with this, but the book reminded me a little bit of "Fifty Shades" minus the BDSM. (Josh: secretly damaged but hiding it behind power and ultra-good looks. Lucy: quirky, super-nice, a bit naive, and the only person who can "fix" Josh.) And, the writing isn't anything special as far as literary fiction goes, but for a fluffier book I thought it was decent and I enjoyed the witty banter. I even chuckled a few times!
While I did like the book overall, I could've done with a little less talk about Josh's neverending muscles. And I was also a bit irritated that setting plays absolutely zero role -- the author never even mentions where the book takes place and that just kills me. Seeing as she's Australian, I would've loved a tiny bit of local flavor. Too, seeing as Josh and Lucy work at a publishing company -- Lucy's childhood dream -- it would've been a perfect opportunity to add in some literary references for all us bookworms, but there wasn't much talk about books at all.
While it's hardly Pultizer Prize material, I'd recommend "The Hating Game" next time you want to indulge in a guilty, confectionary pleasure.