Saturday, March 4, 2017

the hating game: stardust reviews

The Hating Game
by Sally Thorne



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.

full review under the cut! 

GUYS. This book is so adorable, I'm still squealing and I finished it yesterday. Also, file this under "How the heck is this not in the works to be a movie yet??" Because it would be completely and totally perfect for a rom com. Like... PERFECT.  

I picked this book up, totally on a whim, because I really wanted to read something cute and fun. I had seen a bunch of super positive reviews for this on goodreads, and I started this book at around 9pm. I finished it at 3am. And then I suffered the next day, but it was SO. WORTH. IT. If you're looking for something quick, fun, and ridiculously cute/sexy/swoony, then you should definitely consider making this your next read. 

Setting the scene: your most adorable set up. Two publishing companies merge in order to same themselves from going under. One publishing company is what we may call a little bit hippie, one is solely focused on numbers. The two CEO's of these companies share the top floor of their building, in separate office, and bicker all day. Their two assistants share adjoining desks outside the CEO's offices. Their two assistants ~hate~ each other. Lucy is a tiny spitfire who wears knits, red lipstick, and collects smurf figurines. Josh is tall, buff, and terrifying to most everyone in the company, and is completely serious, joyless, and horrible (according to Lucy). We pick up the story not when the two first meet, but when they've been working together for about a year, and are deeply entrenched in a power struggle that consists of bickering, jabs, and passive aggressive comments and actions. It's AMAZING. They fight all the time, but.... I mean.... it's obvious that there's tension between them, of the romantic or sexual variety. From the beginning, it's so obvious that they fight because they're attracted to each other and don't know what to do with that fact. That much was clear. But the amazing thing was getting to see them slowly drop their walls and face their feelings. The chemistry was off the charts, and there were some scenes that made me TRULY swoon. 

Okay, besides the enemies to friends to lovers trope here that I absolutely adored (that's not a spoiler... because... come on guys. If you didn't guess that immediately, that isn't my fault), I loved so many other things about this book. I loved Lucy for one! I thought it was so funny that she always made such a big deal about being so short, and then Josh did too. I especially love that she is so much shorter than him, but that they always seemed to fit right together. I love that her red lipstick is called Flamethrower. I love that she is sassy and spunky but also really vulnerable at the same time, and when Josh sees this part of her, he doesn't make fun of her. I freaking loved how she collected smurfs. I loved how she was determined in her career, and she never lost sight of her ambition, even when things started up with Josh. I love the fact that she grew up on a Strawberry farm? That's amazing. She was just a really funny, active, three dimensional character that wasn't reduced to one defining trait. I sometimes feel like, in a book centered on romance, this can happen to one or both sides of the relationship, and I liked that Lucy jumped off the page and never lost her spark. 

I also loved Josh. I mean, COME ON. There's this giant hulk of a man who is handsome and successful, and you think that he's such a jerk and arrogant, but really he's just extremely shy and hides his true self under about 500 layers. It takes a small woman armed with Flamethrower to get past all of his walls and see the real him. This isn't a new trope, but I did love the way that Thorne went about writing Josh. I have a professor that says it doesn't matter if you take the most cliched tropes for your stories, it matters in the telling of them. The quality of writing and the little twists here and there can make it feel like a brand new story. And that is what happens here. This isn't a new story, but the way Sally Thorne tells it made it feel novel and really delicious to read. But anyways. JOSH. He was assertive and take-charge, except when it came to Lucy, who had the ability to reduce him to a puddle in about .5 seconds. I also liked that we got to unlock his semi-tragic backstory once Lucy got close enough. I thought the whole time  they were at his brother's wedding was really sad, but it helped me understand so much about Josh. HATE his dad! But I loved the scene where Lucy stood up for him. They are just so adorable. 

I had so many favorite parts, it would be impossible for me to choose one. Firstly, the elevator scene when Josh and Lucy kiss for the first time. AMAZING. Also I love the weird tense scenes when they were in the office and trying to assert power, like when Lucy snooped in Josh's planner, or when they were like racing each other to get coffee. I loved the whole paintball scene. I loved when Lucy wore the short dress and told Josh she was going on a date so then she had to go FIND a date!!! GOLD. Josh taking care of Lucy while she was sick is definitely in the top ten. The first time Lucy went over to Josh's house! The Wedding scene and what happened after. The last chapter of the book. I LOVED IT ALL. This book did an amazing job of giving me what I expected, but also subverting my expectations at the same time. 

I just thought that this book is as good as it gets. It has snappy dialogue, really easy to read prose, and the story keeps the pages flying out from under your fingers. It has smart, appealing characters that have a lot working under the surface, and scenes that are hilarious, awkward and adorable, in their own way. I just would really really recommend this to people looking for fun but also really engaging contemporary. This isn't a throwaway book that you just read for a laugh, it definitely has deeper things going on, but it is all in such fun packaging that you barely even notice. I just thought it was clever and heart-warming and fabulous. I can't wait to see what else Sally Thorne can do, if this was just her debut! 


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