Book Review Time: The Love Interest | Cale Dietrich

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Book Details

Hardcover: 384 pages

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Goodreads Synopsis

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.”


Review-2

Two boys who are supposed to fight over a girl end up falling for one another instead? And they’re spies, too? Count me in. This sounds like it will be one of the most interesting and fresh pieces of YA LGBTQ+ literature out there right now.

Was it? Depends on the reader, to be honest. For me, I can say this book didn’t meet my expectations, but I still really enjoyed what it achieved and also what it tried to achieve.

Even though I’ve been through hell, even though I’ve been told I’m worthless my whole life, even though I’m gay, even though the world wants me to bow down and accept that who I am makes me insignificant, the following is true:
“I’m the protagonist, fucker!”

As a parody, The Love Interest works, but only to a certain extent. During the first half of the book, I felt as if there were more instances in which the author explored and exposed YA tropes we’ve come to expect and accept in YA literature. For example, the boys are told how and what to do (like purposefully bump into the girl in the hall at school) by their coaches through earpieces. The second half of the book, however, especially the ending, seems to forget itself and doesn’t contain as much ironic or sarcastic content as before. I enjoy a good bit of satire, and while Dietrich makes a great effort in integrating satirical commentary on these YA clichés, his parodic structure does not hold from beginning to end.

The characters are caricatures of YA archetypes as Caden represents the good guy, Dylan the bad boy, and Juliet the girl caught between the two. I think it’s safe to say these characters are likable but not particularly memorable and are somewhat boring.

One thing I really appreciated, though, was Caden’s definitive lack of internal conflict over his sexual orientation. He knows he is gay and does not mourn the fact. He is quite sure of his identity and it was nice to see a YA protagonist who has a strong sense of self.

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.

I also really enjoyed how the book is told from Caden’s perspective, however, I feel as if the story would have been much stronger if we had access to Dylan’s point of view as well. With his added voice, I believe the romance would have had more impact and would have been more meaningful for this particular same-sex relationship.

While I liked how Caden and Dylan formed a relationship by the end, I have to say that their romance left me wanting. The romance was a bit accelerated and blurred over by transitionary passages and dialogues to the point where their relationship was done in summation and didn’t feel sincere or fully developed. It felt controlled and slightly one-sided (but only because we only know how Caden feels).

His use of the word “she” makes me flinch. He said it so confidently, like I would only ever want to kiss girls. I know that’s not the case, and that wanting to kiss another boy is perfectly normal, but he doesn’t seem to know that.

The ending of the book felt rushed and disconnected from the first half of the story. The satirical spy concept evolved into a kids saving the world concept. It’s almost as if the author forgot his original parodic intentions and didn’t really know how to combine the satire with the spy action by the end the book. I won’t say the ending was bad, just that it didn’t fit with the overall tone of the story.

This book isn’t perfect, but it’s still pretty good. It started out with an intriguing concept that got bogged down by an uneventful chain of events that fell victim to the very tropes it made fun of (boy meets girl, boy tries to impress girl, romance happens, etc. etc.) The sections where Caden and Dylan actually spend time together are sweet and the satire (when present) is witty and the highlight of the book. It’s not the book I wanted, but it’s still an enjoyable read and a much needed addition to LGBTQ+ representation in YA books.

Rating: 3.5 Star Rating

 

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15 thoughts on “Book Review Time: The Love Interest | Cale Dietrich

  1. I literally nodded my head head up & down while reading your review Azia! “The second half of the book, however, especially the ending, seems to forget itself and doesn’t contain as much ironic or sarcastic content as before” —-> same thoughts & yet I couldn’t pinpoint this at the time of my review haha! I enjoyed this read but agree with all of your points, the characters aren’t memorable & I do believe it’s because they were never intended to be fleshed out. This was ok with me since I read it as a satire but I agree, the romance fell flat for me & it would’ve made a difference to have Dylans POV. Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Lilly! I really believe that if the ending had been done differently, if the satire had been carried throughout the entire book, then it would have been a much more entertaining story. I liked the characters, but there wasn’t much to define them. I feel as if all characters should be fleshed out, especially for ones who are defying “the norm.” But I can see how that might be hard to do when writing a parody. The romance was so lackluster but at least it was there LOL. Thanks so much for stopping by, Lilly! 😀

      Like

  2. You seem to have the same problems as most of the bloggers I’ve seen so far: lack of consistency, should have had another POV, and rushed ending.
    I think everyone’s expectations were really high for this one, so it was easy to get disappointed. But the author could have done a better job, overall, too. Which is really sad, because this book had everything in order to be awesome!
    Amazing review, Azia! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, those seem to be the common points of weakness for this book. The concept just sounded so promising, it was hard not to have high expectations. But now look at us LOL. It was still good, but not as good as it could have been. I’m curious to see what the author will write next 🙂
      Thanks so much! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review for this book Azia, and it’s so in line with what I think of it you could have taken these words right out of my head when I think of The Love Interest. At it’s heart it’s a book that wants to poke fun at the love triangle trope in YA books and it does do that, I think as readers we just expected a little more depth when it came to Caden and Dylan’s characters and their relationship with one another. 🙂
    Looking back the ending has to be the biggest disappointment to me. It seemed like everything fell into place a little too quickly and it made me think it was rushed. There was too much time spend on Dylan and Caden fighting over Juliet and not enough on the big conclusion with LIC.
    Still a good book overall, just not as good as anyone hoped I gather from the reviews I’ve read. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Beth! 😀 I do think the weakest part of the book is Caden and Dylan’s relationship. That was the part that really interested me when I first read the synopsis and when their romance didn’t appear to be the focus (or an incredibly detailed aspect) of the story, the book kind of lost me.
      I agree, it is still a good book, but not the book most of us expected it to be. Strange thing is, I might read it again sometime in the future to see if anything changes for me LOL

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right. And yeah I definitely get what you mean, but I think only seeing their relationship through Caden’s eyes was probably a cause of that. We had no idea what Dyl was thinking or feeling so it felt shallow at times.
        If it does then let me know, maybe I’ll try reading it again in that case as well! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. When I first read the synopsis, I also thought “count me in”, but then I read a review of a Portuguese blogger and I realised that maybe I wouldn’t enjoy it so much. The idea seems amazing, and I loved that quote of being the hero of his own life instead of a supporting character! But you both mentioned the book slowing down after the middle and the end being a bit rushed and disappointing, and so I decided that I wouldn’t regret it if I didn’t read it. Great review, Azia! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that quote. I think it’s my favorite one, actually. The book had a few good moments but the rest was kind of disappointingly boring and meaningless. I’d still encourage you to read it if you’re still interested, but I’d go in with much lower expectations. It might make the book 10x more enjoyable if you do 😂😂 Thank you, Marta! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

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