- My Rating: 3 stars
- Published: By Feiwel & Friends in 2017
- Genres: Dystopian, lgbt+, romance, young adult
- Diverse? Yes
Introducing the creator of all those pesky love triangles – welcome to Love Interest Company (or LIC), a secret organisation that cultivates teenagers into tropes. These teenagers are sent to act as “Love Interests” for highschool teenagers marked for greatness, competing with different LIC agents to win their targets affection. The LIC requires it’s teenage spies to marry their Love Interest, collect their secrets and report back to the LIC, who sell those secrets onto important people.
Caden, the main character, is a Nice. He’s all shy smiles, cheek kisses and being nice to your mum. He’s assigned to win the heart of Juliet, a young woman earmarked for her potential in the science field. Competing alongside Caden is Dylan. Dylan is a Bad, he’s all about tragic backstories, surly attitudes, poetry and treating em’ mean to keep em’ keen.
Sent to compete against eachother for Juliet’s love, the competition falls on it’s head when Caden begins to fall for Dylan rather then Juliet.
What went wrong ?
This book was probably my second most anticipated release of 2017 and for me it was bitterly disappointing. I thought the plot was incredibly intriguing, and I loved that the premise promised a subversion of the traditional love triangle.
In fairness, I did get that. The Love Interest completely turned the Love Triangle on it’s head, as well as other YA Romance tropes. I really liked that and thought it incredibly refreshing in a genre that tends to be oversaturated with bad tropes.
Where this book fell down was in the execution of it’s themes. The Love Interest started off strong, but it became apparent quickly it didn’t know what it was trying to be. Too many themes were thrown about and brushed upon, but none were really explored in any depth. Dietrich tried to make a point about the treatment of lgbt+ people and protagonists, feminism, masculinity, and corporatism to name a few, but didn’t really hit hard in any area. Basically, too much quantity and not enough quality.
It’s a shame, because if this book had managed to hit even a few of it’s points it would have been much, much better. Unfortunately, it just ended up feeling vague and confused. It felt like even Dietrich didn’t know what he really wanted The Love Interest to do.
Playing on tropes couldn’t carry the whole book
The Love Interest dramatises and mocks many common tropes in YA romance, and acknowledges the structures of it’s genre whilst simultaneously undermining them. That felt clever and fun, and definitely did add some sparkle. Without those fun moments, this book would have been much worse off.
While the fluffiness and tongue in cheek tone made this book entertaining, it wasn’t enough to sustain a 350+ page narrative.
Takes a good stand for lgbt+ people and characters
One thing that really positively stood out to me was the point this book made about lgbt+ people. Cale Dietrich is gay and talked in an interview about how positive representation for lgbt+ people’s meant a lot to him. I think this really did show through.
The characters specifically point out their annoyance at being tokenised and sidelined, targeting specific tropes such as “the gay best friend”.
” I don’t exist to teach her a lesson, and it irks me that she thinks labeling me is okay now. Like, by liking guys, I automatically take on that role in her life. That I’m suddenly a supporting character in her story rather than the hero of my own. “
I think this deconstruction of the tokenisation of lgbt+ characters and their representation in media was really important, and came across passionately toward the end of the book.
Overall, The Love Interest had potential to be a fun book that also took a serious stance on issues with YA representations of masculinity and relationships but never really got there. It also had other issues – lack of worldbuilding, poor character development and writing that was underwhelming.
The Love Interest is definitely a fun book and an entertaining quick read, but doesn’t offer any of the complexity or depth that could have made it great.