The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood Review

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Age: Adult

Genre: Humor, Romance (Academia, Chick-Lit)
CW: Student-teacher relationship, LGBT+ characters, Queerbaiting

TW: Sexual harassment

Before I knew this was a recycled (repurposed?) Reylo fan fiction turned into a somewhat original story, I decided to read this for two reasons:

1) I’m STILL going through a serious reading slump and have barely gotten through any of the books I’ve picked up! Seriously, is it only 2 books I’ve read cover-to-cover this year?

2) This book is hyped up EVERYWHERE, which is usually a red flag for me since I’ve read my fair share of overhyped books that aren’t worth it (or aren’t really worth 100% of the hype), but since I’m not getting through most books on my TBR (see #1) I thought well, the constant cheers to finish a book supposedly everyone loves will help me get through this 100%, as usual. Its worked before.

So here I am, reading this fanfic-turned-kinda-original story just so I can say I’ve actually read a book instead of DNF’ing it. Just to be clear, before I get into my review, I do not support Reylo, neither do I like Kylo Ren/Ben Solo; he’s just annoying and one-dimensional (in the films). There’s barely anything in his personality to make me empathize with him, and Rey deserved better than being harassed and stalked by that idiot. Also, Reylo shouldn’t have happened in The Rise of Skywalker without a proper backstory and development, but that’s off-topic.

Now, the bad: As a female professor herself Ali Hazelwood should NOT have based this whole fake-dating thing around a non-consensual kiss, then joke about it as sexual harassment, make it ok between both parties, but include another non-consensual kiss between the protagonist and another male character and make THAT sexual harassment!?! Is she dumb? Is she gonna say she doesn’t know about #MeTooAcademia(?) Or The Professor Is In? I don’t know if she included that to show how hypocritical our protagonist, Olive Smith, is, but WOW does she show how terrible professors are! This is why I barely had any respect for them myself when I was an undergrad! Sexual harassment in academia IS a big deal that is only being looked into recently because women aren’t standing for out-dated, old customs and behaviors academia deemed “ok!” A real, true, shit move by her! Also, Anh, Olive’s friend, an Asian woman who’s also an academic fighting for the respect academics of color deserve actively encouraging, intimidating, and demanding Olive and Dr. Adam Carlsen, the male protagonist and “fake” love interest of Olive’s, do stuff they’re not only uncomfortable with but falls under sexual harassment itself and labels it humor?!? Helping a friend out?!? Only feeling bad about it afterwards because Olive and Adam are fake dating and NOT because she was actively inciting and encouraging demeaning behavior?!? Like, hello?!? Ali?!? Professor Hazelwood?!? Anh forcing Olive to put sunscreen on a shirtless Professor Carlsen when Olive’s CLEARLY uncomfortable or sit on his lap during A LECTURE doesn’t scream sexual harassment to you?!? Only shits and giggles?!? WTH?!? If I was a student I’d think twice about being around Ali!

Also, Dr. Carlsen is (non-sexually) abusive – or borderline abusive – towards his students, which is a HUGE red flag! How he was never reported doesn’t make sense. I understand that stemmed from his abusive advisor during his grad school days but first, the buck stops with you, and second, while he acknowledged that later on he doesn’t do anything about it besides that half-hearted apology to Malcolm. Again, stuff like that is a problem in academia; why not have him deal with this toxic trait in a way that doesn’t sound like Ali doesn’t care?

There’s also a couple of typos, plus there’s a scene where Olive’s sock prints magically change from unicorns to rainbows. And WHO can push a truck with their bare hands?!? If Adam Driver (the actor who’s her inspiration for Dr. Carlsen) ever did that please send me a link so I can verify that myself.

The positives? The humor. Olive can be awkward but her awkwardness and clumsiness are written in a way that makes you laugh along with her, not at her. Anh’s dedication to paving a positive and welcoming path forward for Women of Color in STEM is admirable. Malcolm is also funny too and a fun friend.

Overall I’m giving this a 2.5 – 3 stars. The sexual harassment by Olive to Dr. Carlsen is a HUGE turn off and stinted my enjoyment of this funny academic rom-com. Olive is a grad student, teaching assistant, and isn’t subject to Dr. Carlsen as a mentee, so there’s no real power-imbalance and not your typical student-teacher romance, but its worth noting. Other than that Ali’s debut could’ve been more enjoyable if she hadn’t used a non-consensual kiss to kick-start this story.

Synopsis from Amazon:

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscop

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