The Love Interest – Cale Dietrich
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 who is dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose the 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.
Review: The Love Interest was one of my most-anticipated releases of 2017. A satirical YA novel about all those stupid YA tropes? I’m totally ready for that.
Caden has spent his entire life inside a secret compound, training to become a Love Interest. He takes acting classes, learns about pop culture, and spends endless hours working on his abs. If he gets chosen for a mission, he’ll have to convince his target to marry him. Then, the rest of his life will be dedicated to spying on her.
After years of training, Caden is finally chosen for a mission. His target is Juliet, a teenage genius and inventor of deadly weapons. Unfortunately for Caden, he has competition. The compound has sent a second Love Interest, Dylan, who is also trying to win Juliet’s affection. Caden is ready to fight for Juliet, but as he gets to know Dylan, he starts to realize that he can never love Juliet. Because Caden is kinda in love with Dylan.
Have you ever found a book that makes you smile like an idiot while you’re reading it? The Love Interest did that for me. It shows how stupid some popular YA tropes are. For example, super-muscular teenagers. Caden works hard for his muscles. He exercises and has to think about every bit of food he puts in his mouth. You don’t see that in YA. Those guys are just effortlessly buff, I guess?
The book plays with that “brooding bad boy” vs. “cute boy next door” trope. Caden is a Nice, so he basically has to live for Juliet. He can’t argue with her, and he has to let her walk all over him. He can’t stand up for himself because it could be perceived as Not Nice. Dylan is a Bad, so he has to be a jerk to Juliet, even when it doesn’t make sense for him to be a jerk. It’s sad and hilarious. The boys are expected to have no life outside of their potential girlfriend.
Then, there are the parents. Caden has stereotypical terrible YA parents, but they’re terrible because they’ve had their memories erased. They’re basically drooling idiots. It’s perfect!
There are so many silly stereotypes addressed in this book. It takes on the “gay best friend” trope:
“I don't exist to teach her a lesson, and it irks me that she thinks labelling 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.” – The Love Interest
Even though this book made me happy, I didn’t completely love it. On the surface, it’s a fun, fast-paced adventure, but underneath it’s pretty . . . shallow. It’s set in a dystopia-type world, but there’s barely any world building. At the end of the book, I still had questions. Like, why does the compound have to send a “Nice” and a “Bad” to compete for each girl? I know that the book is making fun of tropes, but what’s the logic for it in the story world? Why couldn’t the compound just make all the boys great actors? Have the boys tailor their behavior to each specific target. Why bother with all the nice and mean stuff? Just figure out what kind of guy Juliet likes and play that role.
The characters are also shallow, especially Juliet. I kind of wondered if that was intentional. Is Juliet supposed to be one of those empty Bella-Swan-type characters that are just a shell for the reader to insert themselves into? Is Juliet empty because we’re seeing her from Caden’s point-of-view? There’s no reader in there, which means she’s blank? There’s not much going on with Juliet. She’s cardboard.
I think the ending is drawn out too long. The characters call themselves “The Protagonists,” so we all know that they’re going to defeat the bad guys and save the world. I wanted them to get on with it.
This is a fun book with lots of smiles and plot twists, but I had huge expectations for it. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to them. Still, I’d recommend it if you’re looking for something quick and fun.
“This isn’t Tumblr, Juliet, straight men do exist here.” – The Love Interest