Ah… the romance novel that started it all. At least, for me.
To be honest with you, my TBR list has been so long for a such long time that I hardly ever have the time or inclination to add books to it just because they seem to be trending everywhere. But even I couldn’t avoid this one. So, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne made it onto the list. And then I descended into the maddening world of romance novels.
This book, the epitome of the enemies-to-lovers trope, opened the door for some of my other favorite books in the genre like Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon, and The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (to read my thoughts on these, click the links – except for the last one that I haven’t had the chance to review yet… but you should still read it.)
Side note: after setting up the links to my previous posts on these particular books, I realized that I REALLY love this trope. A whole bunch of my reviews fall in the enemies-to-lovers category. So just go back and read all my posts. You know… for research…
The Hating Game follows Lucy, one of the two assistants to the co-CEOs of a publishing company. She loves her job… except for one thing – her counterpart, Josh. She and Josh hate each other and have since the moment they met. They constantly play petty games to drive each other crazy. Everything Lucy does is meant to one-up Josh, or to dig at him. But, he gives back as good as he gets. The ante is upped when their bosses announce a significant promotion – a promotion that will make one of them the supervisor of the other. Their rivalry escalates to new heights and, against all odds, they actually manage to become closer and closer As they become more involved, Lucy ponders the ultimate prize and her own behavior. Has Lucy misjudged Josh this whole time? Does Lucy want to have Josh or the promotion?
Just note that this is a romance novel so the ending isn’t quite a mystery. That being said, SPOILERS ahead! You’ve been warned.
It is obvious from the get-go that Josh is totally into Lucy and that Lucy is completely oblivious. The hijinks they get into and the games they play to one-up each other are completely hilarious – the fake date, the steamy kiss in the elevator that takes Lucy completely by surprise, the paintball. (This last one has me wondering: is there something inherently sexy about paintball? This turns out to be a plot device in The Unhoneymooners as well. Please let me know your thoughts on this – I am very intrigued.)
This book’s true enjoyment are the times when their real emotions shine though – Josh reading Lucy’s mom’s blog, Josh caring for Lucy when she has food poisoning, Lucy agreeing to be Josh’s date to his brother’s wedding (especially the post-wedding breakfast – which you MUST read,) and, finally, the ultimate decision about the promotion. These were the moments when I just kvelled!
On a more serious note, both of them suffer from extreme loneliness. Neither Lucy nor Josh seemed to have any friends – Lucy having lost her only friend due to professional issues and Josh because he just comes off a prickly to everyone. Their suffering was acute and made me root for them even harder. I so wanted them to have someone – to know that they deserved someone special to care for them – and, therefore, I practically screamed at them (for most of the book) to get together already. Didn’t they know they were perfect for each other?!?
This book was also a great audiobook. It was one of the first audiobooks I listened to and I loved it so much that I ended up purchasing the print book and the audiobook so I can read and listen to it whenever I want. The previously-mentioned post-wedding breakfast smackdown is amazing to hear. It. Is. Epic.
This book is being turned into a movie. I sincerely hope that they don’t destroy it. As I always say, the book is always better*! You should definitely read it BEFORE it shows up on the big screen!
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that there is a bonus post-epilogue featuring Lucy and Josh at the end of Sally Thorne’s second book 99 Percent Mine. While I didn’t love this one, it is worth getting from a library just to read the bonus chapter. It is also freaking adorable!
The Hating Game, published 2016
*Very few exceptions to this rule.