Book Review

The Love Hypothesis

The Love Hypothesis

  • Author: Ali Hazelwood
  • Genre: Romance
  • Publication Date: September 14, 2021
  • Publisher: Berkley Books
  • Series: Love Hypothesis #1

CONTENT WARNING: mention of cancer, mention of death of a parent, sexual harassment, psychological abuse

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When a fake relationship between scientists meets the irresistible force of attraction, it throws one woman’s carefully calculated theories on love into chaos.

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: Scientist 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. And 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.

So I had seen this book everywhere, it it was 1000% a case of TikTok made me buy it. Also, it was sitting on my shelf, and while I was planning to read it in the near future, once again, peer pressure from TikTok gave me a severe case of FOMO and pushed me to read it rather quickly. I was super nervous, because I typically don’t really love books that are super hyped, but I absolutely fell in love with this book. It grabbed my super nerdy heart and wouldn’t let it go.

I think we can all agree that romance is a highly saturated genre, but I love the fact that authors consistently manage to come up with creative and unique takes on it. In Hazelwood’s case, she sets a hilarious and sexy story right smack in the middle of academia. If you had asked me prior to reading this, I would have probably said that a Ph.D. program was probably the least sexy setting for a romance, and I would have been dead wrong. She captures the stress, pressure, competition, and politics associated with being in academia perfectly, bringing me right back to my own biology graduate school days. However, I loved the fact that the science didn’t overtake the story — it was still accessible without the author ever dumbing down the information. At times, some of the information went over my head, but some of the information presented even went over the head of the characters when it was outside of the area in which they focused. 

This setting also allowed the characters to display their strengths and weaknesses. Clearly, Olive is a brilliant scientist, but she struggles the most when having to present it and deal with others. Which brings us to the crux of most of her issues throughout the story. She can deal perfectly well with lab science, but interpersonal issues are her weakest area. Adam is a great scientist and highly intelligent as well, but he’s not the warm and fuzzy type. We gradually get to learn why he is the way he is, but in the meantime, all we know is that he’s harsh towards his students, pushing them as hard as he pushes himself. Recipe for disaster, or a perfect experiment? I think you probably know the answer as well as I do.

“Dr. Carlsen might have been a young academic rock stars and biology’s wunderkind, but he was also mean and hypercritical, and it was obvious in the way he spoke, the way he carried himself, that he thought himself the only person doing decent science within the Stanford biology department.”

This book was absolutely HILARIOUS. I laughed so many times, and I’m not talking about the smile and a tiny chuckle under my breath. I’m talking about the laugh out loud kind, where I was glad that I was reading this book when no one was in the room with me. I loved every second of this story, and all it’s tropey goodness. It’s got the fake-dating trope done perfectly, along with the sunshine/grumpy character who bring out the absolute best in each other. Olive and Adam consistently found themselves in the most awkward situations, but somehow kept managing to make it work, and I couldn’t stop reading:

“She burst into laughter and folded into herself before her train of thought was even over, overwhelmed by the sheer improbability of the situation. This was her life. These were the results of her actions. When she could finally breathe again, her abs hurt and she had to wipe her eyes. ‘This is the worst.’”

There’s some good representation here too. I’m not gonna lie — I loved seeing that Adam is Jewish, even though he isn’t really a practicing Jew. I enjoyed seeing the fact that there’s a spectrum of identification within the Jewish community, from people who are religious to people who still identify as Jewish but don’t tend to practice, since they do exist. It spoke to a valid experience that many people have. But more importantly, Olive identifies as asexual in the story, and while I’ve only recently started seeing this identity pop up in stories, this helped me learn more about it, which I appreciate. It explained her experience, how she views it and came to terms with it, and allows her the space to discuss it with another person. 

“Should she explain that she’d had very little sex in her life? That for years she’d wondered whether she was asexual and she had realized only recently that she might be able to experience sexual attraction, but only with people she trusted deeply?”

Overall, this was probably my favorite read of the month, and I can now see what all the fuss and hype was about. I’m so glad that I jumped on the bandwagon with this one, and have definitely already recommended it to a few of my friends. It’s earned a special place on my shelf, for books that I’m planning to revisit frequently as comfort reads, because this one made me so happy in a variety of ways. 

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