The Love Hypothesis
Apparently The Love Hypothesis started out as a Rey/Kylo Ren Star Wars fanfiction. Mercifully, the reader can’t really tell; the romance is bantery and spicy, but the hero tends too much toward the arrogant alphahole end of the spectrum and feels thinly drawn, and Our Heroine is that ‘feisty’ flavor of doormat. Some good writing about the scientific world is what saves The Love Hypothesis from the D-heap, but I can’t recommend it.
Olive Smith is in the third year of her PHD candidacy in biology at Stanford, and romance is the last thing on her mind after a hard break-up with boyfriend Jeremy. After all, she doesn’t really believe that love lasts. Her roommate Ahn likes Jeremy but is concerned that making her interest in him clear would be a violation of Olive’s feelings, so to prove Jeremy is a thing of the past and fair game for Ahn, Olive proves she’s back on the dating market by grabbing the first guy who walks into the lab and kissing him.
The kissee is Dr. Adam Carlsen, who happens to be the most arrogant professor on the whole campus. He agrees to pretend to date Olive, and the two of them enter into a fake relationship. They pose as a couple at a big science conference, where their fakery becomes dangerously real and also jeopardizes Olive’s candidacy, as she begins to yearn for her teacher. Will these two figure out they’re in love before they end up on permanent academic suspension?
The Love Hypothesis takes a dash of The Hating Game and a dash of every fake dating AU fanfiction story ever written and then shakes them up violently in a blender with a bit of immaturity and a lot of banter. The end result can be fun, but the hero – ugh. Such a throwback.
Some readers will love the dominating language he uses, but I felt like Adam was a trip back to the olden days of brooding shirtless men who grump without a good reason behind it. He feels flat and underdeveloped as his washboard abs sometimes, more of a dream man than one with an actual personality. His murderous anger is… also a bit much and remains under-explained by the author.
Olive is spunky and yet messy; the book strongly hint that she’s on the ASD spectrum, a welcome detail that I felt was well represented and even though Olive doesn’t articulate it in those precise words, I appreciated the author’s effort. Olive’s academic struggle against the system and her time in the lab are unquestionably the best parts of the book.
The big tension here? The Big Mis, of course, which remains an ugh-worthy barrier between any romance-novel couple. Olive and Adam never talk honestly with one another until after they’ve had sex and already broken up. When they’re together the banter is a total delight, but when they’re fighting over something that could be solved with a simply conversation, they’re annoying.
The secondary characters here are ill-defined, with Ahn in particular feeling like a plot-device created to shove Adam and Olive together. The book just plain needed more juice to really pop and reach its full potential.
The Love Hypothesis is a mediocre read that will scratch that alpha itch for some readers, but for me it reached cold fusion.