Published by Feiwel & Friends on May 16th 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Thrillers & Suspense, LGBT, Romance
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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.
I’m going to go on a little tangent to explain my feelings on The Love Interest.
I am a lover of fiction, fantasy and adventure. I love to live in other worlds and believe in the impossible. Therefore, my ability to suspend disbelief is pretty darn good. I can be convinced that a world exists where magic killer unicorns walk the land and wreak havoc with their magic killer unicorn powers. Easy. Where my suspension of disbelief falters, however, is in the details. The hows and the whys. If, say, some authority figure in this world ordered that every woman must marry one of these killer unicorns because, um, it’s for the good of the, um, land… then I start to see the cracks.
In short, I can be convinced of any “what” as long as the “why” adds up. As long as there is, in fact, a “why”. More tangent if you’d like: (view spoiler)
And that’s the problem with this book. If you are the kind of reader who asks questions and notices when plot choices are illogical, then parts of The Love Interest will seem really jarring. Parts of the premise are flawed because they just don’t make sense.
Contrary to the shelving I’ve seen around, this is a kind of dystopian novel. It imagines a world where a secret spy organization plants their spies (known as Love Interests) with anyone important or influential – presidents, CEOs, celebrities, etc. – and attempts to gather information from them. To up their chances of successfully making their target fall in love with the Love Interests, they send two LIs to compete for the person’s affection. So far, so good, right? A little implausible, but then all the best books are.
The thing that doesn’t make any sense is why they send one “Nice” (a sweet, guy-next-door type) and one “Bad” (a devilish smirking bad boy). I get that it’s supposed to be making fun of the YA trope, but it makes no logical sense within the story. There is no explanation for it, and it repeatedly pulled me out of the book’s world.
That is the biggest fundamental flaw, but there are a myriad other small things scattered throughout that just seemed poorly-conceived. Stupid things like: why are they starving and sharing tuna out of a can in the later chapters of the novel? I get that they don’t want their credit card to be traced, but last time I checked, McDonald’s (and, like, everywhere) takes cash. And they had cash, just to be clear.
AND the antagonists are so conveniently bad at everything. They are especially poor at surveillance and tracking, going offline exactly when Caden needs them to. This is a huge, old, and extremely powerful organization, apparently, but they never show it.
In this particular Love Interest scenario, a girl called Juliet is the target and her two Love Interests are Caden (the “Nice”, and the narrator) and Dylan (the “Bad”). They must compete for her affection and the loser will be incinerated. However, something unexpected happens– Caden finds himself developing feelings for none other than his rival.
I don’t think it was the best decision to have Caden as the lone narrator. He lacked the charisma needed to drive the novel’s narrative and his voice was as bland and unremarkable as his LI character was supposed to be (honestly, why someone would think any person would be attracted to a doormat I do not know). It would have been good to get Dylan’s perspective to shake things up a bit.
I would love to see more YA books subverting the traditional love triangle trope, but this wasn’t the favourite I’d hoped it would be. I struggled to believe in this concept from the start and Caden was never interesting enough to pull me in.