I mutter under my breath but he still hears me. “When I’m your boss, I’m going to be convicted of murder.” (43)
The Hating Game was my first foray into chick lit / light romance and it didn’t disappoint. I’d rate this a solid 3.5 stars, halfway between “Liked. Worth reading” and “Really Liked. Would read again”. I originally thought to give it 4 stars, but when I started writing this review I began to notice some pitfalls in the story. Overall though this was a very cute and addictive story. Lucy and Josh are polar opposites that happen to share an office space as executive assistants to co-CEOs of two merged publishing houses. They spend most of their days antagonizing each other, when not handling their respective bosses’ responsibilities, but soon find they will be competing for the same newly created, top-level COO position. The tension builds deliciously from there, and it was a quick read. While I am going to point out a few flaws, this was excellent at exactly what it was intended to be: a fast-paced chick lit novel. I read it for a quick standalone that I didn’t have to be super invested in, and I couldn’t put it down (mainly due to my complete infatuation with Josh).
Joshua Templeman…oh man. The perfectly conflicted, seems-bad-yet-secretly-misunderstood boy. He was written into this book so well and both the “protective” paintball scene and their elevator moment were perfection. Besides his frequently discussed flawless physique, his character development was also extremely well done. I honestly learned more about him throughout the book than Lucy, who narrates the entire novel in first person. This narration style might not have been the best choice, or perhaps the POV just wasn’t well written, because Lucy honestly annoyed me for most of the book. She was incredibly wishy washy, one moment craving “couch time” with Josh and the next despising him (generally because she misinterpreted his actions). While I understand the story essentially followed Lucy’s “discovery” of her true feelings, she never truly matured, and I wanted to smack her for how dense she was for most of the book. I did love how she was on equal footing with Josh in workplace accomplishments, and I also liked some of the quirky traits Thorne gave her over the course of the book like her smurf collection and severe homesickness. But I had a hard time empathizing with her in quite a few of the later scenes when it was clear to the reader Joshua’s attitude towards her, and yet she was still acting as if nothing had changed.
I loved the banter between her and Josh. Although it was a little corny at times, the sassy comments and tension between them kept me flipping pages. I will say that the longer winded dialogue scenes felt more forced and at times fell completely flat. This was a particular issue during Lucy’s final face off with Joshua’s dad. The scene dragged on and on, where multiple points during her speech the dialogue stuttered and really could have stopped entirely. Although everything included felt appropriate, the dialogue didn’t flow as it should have. Overall though, Josh and Lucy’s snarky snippets really made the entire book extremely entertaining.
“Shortcake, if we were flirting, you’d know about it.” Our eyes catch and I feel a weird drop inside. This conversation is running off the rails.
“Because I’d be traumatized?” (23)
On the note of the big reveal/climax, i.e. the identity of Joshua’s brother’s new wife. First of all, this was easy to guess back in the beginning during her debilitating sick scene. It wasn’t the lack of surprise that was frustrating though, as I actually enjoy being able to suss out reveals (go Detective Kimberly!); it was the confusing way Thorne handled this supposed climatic scene. After the “big reveal”, she promptly had Josh dismiss the matter and easily convince Lucy it wasn’t important, which went against Lucy’s character for the entire book (and three-quarters of that scene up until that point). In the end, it just felt rushed, like Thorne ran out of time to write the book, and left me wondering what I had read.
The ending left me a bit hanging, I wanted to know so much more! How did Lucy’s father handle meeting Joshua? Did he say Josh’s name correctly?? How great was the drama between their competing companies??? I honestly could have continued following their lives for a while after. This was overall an excellent and quick beach-read romance novel. The flaws I pointed out aren’t deal breakers (and no one should go in expecting the next best classic), but I’m 100% glad I bought this and will absolutely read more in this genre.