The Love Hypothesis Book Review
Updated: Sep 8, 2022
Continuing our romance content for the month of Valentine's, I'm dropping a review for adorkable, nerdy rom-com The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. This book's hype gave me high expectations, and the fact that I finished it in one day (when I'm notoriously prone to reading a few chapters at a time before busying myself with another hobby) definitely seemed worth it to me.
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Category: Candy Book
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RATING: 4/5 Stars
Plot: 4/5 stars
Characters: 4.5/5 stars
As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn't believe in lasting romantic relationships—but her best friend does, and that's what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.
That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor—and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford's reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive's career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding... six-pack abs.
Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.
“Did you… Did you just kiss me?” He sounded puzzled, and maybe a little out of breath. His lips were full and plump and… God. Kissed. There was simply no way Olive could get away with denying what she had just done.
Still, it was worth a try.
PLOT & CHARACTERS
Aside from watching Netflix's To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy based off the books of the same name by Jenny Han (which I DNFd and therefore did not review), this was my first foray into the fake-dating trope.
While I wasn't disappointed, as the four stars clearly show, there were a few aspects that didn't sit well with me. It wasn't enough to ruin my read (I highly enjoyed it and will be back for rereads), but it wouldn't be a fair review if I didn't account for all of it.
“You put in expired contacts?” He sounded personally offended
“Just a little expired.”
“What’s ‘a little’?”
“I don’t know. A few years?”
“What?” His consonants were sharp and precise. Crisp. Pleasant.
“Only a couple, I think.”
“Just a couple of years?”
“It’s okay. Expiration dates are for the weak.”
A sharp sound—some kind of snort. “Expiration dates are so I don’t find you weeping in the corner of my bathroom.”
Unless this dude was Mr. Stanford himself, he really needed to stop calling it his bathroom.
As far as meet-cutes go, I'm instantly hooked by quirky and awkward characters, which Adam and Olive are. Olive is sweet, bubbly, and a bit of a mess while Adam is delightfully deadpan and grouchy. A good ol' Grumpy/Sunshine pairing never fails to win me.
Though their hilarious banter smoothed over any peeves, the reason behind their fake relationship is flimsy and makes for a weak plot. Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees when she spots her best friend Anh, who believes Olive is happily in a relationship that frees Anh up to date Olive's ex.
Adam chivalrously covers for Olive a second time when he notices her stammering out an explanation for the kiss to Anh.
The voice, deep and even, came from somewhere behind Olive, but she didn't need to turn to know that it was Carlsen's. Just like she didn't need to turn to know that the large, warm weight suddenly steadying her, a firm but barely there pressure applied to the center of her lower back, was Carlsen's hand. [...]
"Is everything okay?" He said it looking into her eyes, in a low, intimate tone. Like they were alone. Like Anh was not there.
Olive then relays her situation to Adam, who agrees to masquerade as her boyfriend because the charade would benefit him too. It just so happens that Adam's department considers him a flight risk and has frozen a much-needed grant until he can convince them he won't take the funds and leave—and what better way to do that than by showing he's in a committed relationship?
Granted, his reason sounds better than Olive's, and it's later explained why he makes such a reach (spoiler alert: he likes her).
BUT I'm not a fan of the "fake dating to prove I'm not single" trope. This might be chalked up to personal preference, but I find it hard to get behind a character who simply can't admit they're single. Anh barely has any screen time, which makes the reasoning behind carrying on the act for the entire book extra dubious.
Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed the cuteness, the hilarity, and the dynamic side characters. The plot is largely shoved to the background to make room for awkwardly adorable encounters between the main couple, but I don't mind. I mean, it's a rom-com: that's what we're here for.
"Were you like this as an undergrad too?"
"You know." She batted her eyes at him. "Antagonistic and unapproachable."
He glared, but she was starting to not take that too seriously. "I might have been worse, actually."
The ending is a bit jarring, if only because they go from barely touching and Olive unsure how she feels about Adam to suddenly sleeping together and Adam professing his love. Not that Adam doesn't seem to care about her before, but the leap leaves something to be desired in the slow-burn romance the book had been working toward.
All right, I'm done nitpicking.
Even with these few grumbles, I stayed up until 3AM on a work night to finish the book. It's fast-paced, immersive, and packed with dialogue that draws you fully into the scene. Each character has a distinct personality that plays humorously off of one another, so I can easily forgive the convenient plot circumstances. I'm a sucker for character-driven books, after all. I'm just here for the cuteness, and Love Hypothesis delivers plenty of that.
“Pretty fucking tragic twist of fate, but you don’t seem to remember that we first met years ago. An issue, since I remember a little too well. I like no one, absolutely no one, but I liked you from the start. I liked you when I didn’t know you, and now that I do know you it’s only gotten worse. Sometimes, often, always, I think about you before falling asleep. Then I dream of you, and when I wake up my head’s still there, stuck on something funny, beautiful, filthy, intelligent that’s all about you. It’s been going on for a while, longer than you think, longer than you can imagine, and I should have told you, but I have this impression, this certainty that you’re half a second from running away, that I should give you enough reasons to stay. Is there anything I can do for you? I’ll take you grocery shopping and fill your fridge when we’re back home. Buy you a new bike and a case of decent reagent and that sludge you drink. Kill the people who made you cry. Is there something you need? Name it. It’s yours. If I have it, it’s yours.”
Had this book on your TBR list for awhile? I highly recommend it if you like quirky characters, hilarious banter, slow-burn sweetness, and the Grouchy meets Sunshine trope.
If you have read this book, share your thoughts with us below or over on our Twitter @bookish_witches!