The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich Book Review

Goodreads Summary:

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. 
Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome.

The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

You know when you read a book with the most epic concept ever and you’re expecting it to be your new favorite thing and then you read it and it just falls short in every single area? That was what reading The Love Interest was like for me. A book that featured a love triangle where the guys fall for each other instead of the girl is arguably the best subversion of the trope possible and the fact that this book was horribly executed makes me so frustrated.

It’s so hard to pinpoint just one thing that frustrated me but one of my biggest source of anger was the lacklustre world building. The Love Interest is set in this weird dystopian/sci-fi world that somehow feels like the modern world and I had so many unanswered questions. Like the main character, Caden, has this romantic coach to like help him win over the girl he needs to fall in love with and this romantic coach can read his mind. Which is totally cool and awesome and yes please give me more books that feature mind reading, but I needed to know more about this. Is this something that was like created in a lab or something that came about supernaturally? Also her reading his mind seems to be on and off basis and was only employed when it was convenient for the plot which was super frustrating. I really don’t mind if there’s some unanswered questions in books like these because it’s hard to fix all the holes, but when the story is completely filled with holes it’s really hard to ignore it. Another thing that really contributed to the poor world building was the lack of description. I could not for the life of me picture the compound where Kaiden was raised and all of the places that were described felt like skeletons instead of fully fleshed out places. I think the thing that made the most frustrated was that there was absolutely no contrast between how Caden experienced the outside world vs the world he was used to. The only thing he knows about the real world is what they fed to him and you’re telling me that there’s no culture shock? I don’t believe that. I would’ve loved to see that confusion depicted because without it, it just made the world all the more one dimensional.

I could’ve forgiven the crappy world building if the characters were anything to write home about but they weren’t so this book became even more disappointing. I get that the characters were supposed to be a play on the typical archetypes one finds in YA novels which is fine, great even! I love the idea that Caden is forced to be Nice while Dylan is forced to be Bad, and I thought the way the author portrayed the trope of the boy next door vs the brooding secret softie. The only thing that was missing was development and there really wasn’t any. I didn’t feel like any of the characters grew or became better people or went beyond what they were taught. Obviously it’s hard to unlearn something that has been instilled in you for almost your entire time but I would’ve liked just a little indication that there was going to be growth in their future. Another thing that infuriated me was the way the girl that Dylan and Caden were fighting to fall in love with, Juliet, was portrayed. She’s supposed to be this genius who’s destined to do amazing world-changing things and yet that intelligence is shown at such a basic level. If I weren’t told that she was intelligent, I wouldn’t know because the way she acts, talks and her general personality isn’t indicative of that all. She was reduced to a crappy side character with no agency whatsoever and that infuriates me. If you’re going to subvert cliche characters then you actually have to do work and you can’t claim that you’re doing it.

The final thing that pissed me was the horrible pacing. The climax took place over a span of about 30 pages and so much happened in such little time that it was hard to believe any of it. Revelations and tragedy happens left and right that it was impossible for me to care about what was going. The ending was weak and while it was a happy one that I would’ve been happy with in any other situation this book didn’t earn that easy ending. I feel like the author focused too much on some things( like the size of the MC’s abs) and not enough on more important things( like why the fuck Juliet would believe Caden when he tells her that he’s a spy.) I’m all for suspicion of disbelief but this was taking things a little too far.

If this had featured a straight MC I totally would’ve one starred it, but I do think that the exploration of Caiden’s sexuality was what salvaged the book a little bit. I love that we’re getting more books about gay people that go beyond the normal contemporary genre. This book may have not been for me but I really hope that a gay teen will one day pick this book up and feel a little less alone.

Did You Read The Love Interest? What Did You Think of It? Let Me Know In The Comments Down Below!

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