The Hating Game
Title & Author: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Series Details: Standalone
Page Count: 363 pages
Description: “Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing.
3) Joshua Templeman.
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.
Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.”
“I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them.”
Despite the fact that this observant opening line made me break out into a Buffy sing-along…
… it also perfectly set the tone for Thorne’s addictive debut novel about two publishing assistants evolving from combative enemies to enamored coworkers. Like most romances utilizing the haters-to-lovers trope, Lucy and Josh’s adversarial relationship is established rather quickly and matures even faster once they
share a steamy elevator ride discover that the restlessness they feel stems from something else entirely.
Filled with witty banter, butterfly-inducing one-liners (“Watching you pretend to hate the nickname is the best part of my day.” #swoon), decent character growth, and a predictable yet easy-to-consume storyline, The Hating Game was the perfect book to get me out of my summer reading slump.
And while I thoroughly enjoyed the story overall – I mean I practically devoured it in less than 6 hours – there were a few minor flaws that prevented me from giving it all 5-Stars.
Firstly, I had a few issues with our quirky MC, Lucy. Don’t get me wrong, early in the story Lucy is presented as a confident, intelligent, and career-driven lead focused on slaying her competition for an upcoming promotion within her publishing house. However, once Josh’s makes his feelings for her known everything else seemingly goes out the figurative window. The romance becomes the central theme, and Lucy devolves into this borderline body obsessive person with stalker-like tendencies.
“I want to know what’s going on in your brain. I want to juice your head like a lemon.”
For real I get that it’s a rom com and it shouldn’t be too thoroughly analyzed, but if we were to gender flip this scenario and have a formerly hostile male coworker randomly show up outside her apartment and constantly describe her physical attributes – despite consistent and clear requests to stop – few would consider that romantic. In fact, if it weren’t for the tender – and often emotional – moments created by Josh, I’m not sure I would have shipped this.
My biggest beef with this book, however, is that a major plot point is left unresolved. Yes, I get it, it’s a romance novel and I guess that’s all that matters at the end of the day, but literally the only other plot point that is frequently discussed throughout the story is left unaddressed and I happily would have read a cheesy epilogue to get the answers I craved.
This was the light and entertaining read that I needed to get me back into the book world. If you need a break from reality, some laughs, and a new fictional beau I’d recommend spending the afternoon with this enjoyable story.