The Hating Game (2016) - Review

by - June 05, 2019

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

From the publisher:

"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 love and hate (ha ha) relationship with this book and I'm still trying to work it out in my head how I feel about it. On one hand, Sally Thorne is a talented author. I was only halfway through The Hating Game when I saw another book of hers at a used bookstore and I picked it up because I already knew I enjoyed her writing style. The Hating Game starts off very strong. Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeton are assistants to the co-CEOs of the publishing company where they work. Their desks face each other and apparently they just loathe and despise each other. Josh thinks Lucy is too nice, Lucy thinks Josh is a stuck up d-bag, but... you guessed it, all that loathing is a mask, disguising deep-seated feelings of attraction and lust!

The Hating Game is an odd choice for the title because the hate really doesn't last very long. The synopsis makes it seem as though they are in a battle of oneupmanship for this promotion, that maybe their relationship is built on this game to knock the other off. Admittedly, I would have probably found that particular plot much more interesting than what I got. Frankly, the promotion seems to be the Big Obstacle we expect in rom-coms, but it's not an obstacle. At all. Even when Lucy and Josh fall for each other, Lucy is convinced that the relationship will end as soon as one of them gets the job because she'll just have to resign (why?), or Josh will (why?). She's using this promotion as a be all end all to their relationship, which to me doesn't make much sense at all. And I won't give any spoilers to the end, but it was incredibly frustrating because it wipes away the idea that they ever had anything at stake here. I have no issue with a happy ending, but it's wrapped up in a neat bow without any conflict? It kind of ruins the story for me as a whole.

Lucy is a cute character. She's short (we know this because we are reminded it of it constantly) and she likes red lipstick (we know this because we are reminded of it constantly). Josh is an Adonis God. Or at least you would think he is with how Lucy views him. Almost every description of Josh that we get from Lucy is that he's a jerk, standoffish and unbelievably gorgeous. He bends over? Gorgeous. He scowls? Gorgeous. Josh even complains in the book that girls seem to only want him for his body but don't find him dateable. Well, no duh. He's kind of a jerk? ANYWAY! So yeah, we do get some insight into why Josh is the way he is, which is all fine and good and everything, but it's no excuse for being an asshole. Lucy helps him become a better person, however, and Josh helps Lucy to... deal with lust? That seems to be her main focus for most of the novel. And the entire novel is from her POV so we never get some real insight into Josh other than what he tells Lucy. It drives me a little crazy that Lucy seems to have no friends, and Josh seems to have no friends. They exist for each other. The secondary characters have no personality or depth either, which is a shame.

I suppose this review makes it seem like I disliked the book. That's not true! I disliked aspects of the book, but I liked some of it as well. The banter is fun and quick-witted. I did laugh out loud quite a few times, and there are some very sweet moments in the movie that made my rom-com heart very happy. I think I would have just liked to see these characters with other people outside of bosses and co-workers. I would have loved to see some scenes with Josh on his own with his friends, or his brother. Obviously, with a lot of romances, the focal point is the couple, how they meet and fall in love and how they get to happy ever after, but a lot of this book is just Josh and Lucy snarking or making out and there's not a lot of depth to it. All in all, it was a fun, if slightly frustrating read. But definitely one I would recommend if you need something fluffy and quick.

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  1. I’ve been meaning to read this for ages and now I’m even more confused about it as there are aspects of it that I’m sure I’m going to love as well as aspects I’m going to hate. Nice review though! And I’ve just sent you a friendship request on Goodreads :)

    1. There were definitely parts I enjoyed and I'm glad I read it! I know they're turning it into a movie too. Definitely worth a read. I'd definitely love to hear what you think! And I friended you back!


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