This review contains spoilers
Over the past few months, “The Love Hypothesis” by Ali Hazelwood has taken booklovers on TikTok by storm, and for good reason. The novel is filled to the brim with clichés that I love and proves that, when done right, the fake-dating trope can be adorable.
The novel follows Ph.D. candidate Olive Smith as she begins fake-dating “antagonistic and unapproachable” (Olive’s words, not mine) professor Adam Carlsen, and pure chaos ensues. She does this to prove to one of her best friends, Anh Pham, that she is really and truly over her ex-boyfriend so Anh can feel more comfortable entering a relationship with him. The element of friendship made the cause for the fake-dating sweeter than ever before.
The side characters in “The Love Hypothesis” are exceptionally well-designed and aren’t watered down to serve simply as supporters of the protagonist. They are fully-formed characters of their own. Olive’s two best friends, Anh and Malcolm, add a lot of humor to the story and, as a sucker for sweet friendships, I loved it. Malcolm also had the best side-plot romance I’ve ever seen with Adam’s best friend Holden Rodrigues.
A great deal of Olive’s draw is relatability. She is anxious and full of self-doubt and is completely oblivious to Adam’s affections for her. My own love for Olive was cemented when we are first introduced to her character with her eyes burning after she decides to wear expired contacts, something I’m guilty of myself.
The novel appeals to a vast majority of readers, but lovers of romance and science, technology, engineering and math will be especially pleased. As someone with a very minimal background in science, it took me most of the book to figure out what a pipette was and why Olive was so annoyed that her labmates kept stealing them, but anyone that likes science jokes and tropes will find even more to love in this book.
Olive’s struggles with self-doubt surrounding her academic pursuits and “boy troubles” are relatable to many college students juggling academics and a social life.
On the topic of school, I genuinely enjoyed the description of academia throughout the novel, finding both humor and relatability in the story as Olive and her friends debate dropping out whenever things get really stressful. These pursuits in science made for a nice secondary plotline which differentiates “The Love Hypothesis” from other romance novels.
Toward the end of the book, Hazelwood does shift from the Hallmark-worthy displays of affection to offer two chapters full of detailed sex scenes. These scenes are handled spectacularly well and with consent at the forefront the entire time. However, if you’re not comfortable with sex scenes, I’d recommend skimming through Chapters 16 and 17.
All in all, this book is a perfect indulgence. Hazelwood managed to appease the cliché-loving crowd while still maintaining an excellent overarching plot free of loose ends. The popularity this book has garnered across TikTok is well-deserved and I recommend it to any reader that loves romance clichés as much as I do.
Elizabeth Secor is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @esecor2003
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