5 star, adult

Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

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 microscope.

I know this is definitely by far not an unknown book at this point, so I will keep my review more to what I personally really loved about The Love Hypothesis. And LOVE is definitely by far the right word to describe this book. It was un-put-downable (is that even a word??), and I absolutely devoured this one as fast as I could to get to Olive and Adam’s deserved ending.

Ph.D grad student Olive Smith, right off the bat, finds herself in a sticky situation when she grabbed the nearest man to kiss – which of course ends up being the jerk Dr. Adam Carlsen – in order to fake a relationship for her best friend’s sake. But by the weirdest circumstances, he suggests they continue the farce and pretend to date one another until a certain date where both parties would have accomplished what they needed from this “relationship”.

Uh, YES! Fake dating trope (with enemies to lovers thrown in there) at its very finest. Second to maybe unrequited best-friends-to-lovers trope, I absolutely ADORE this one, and Ali Hazelwood did NOT disappoint with how this was written. The angst! The miscommunication and unrequited love angle! The will-they-finally-do-something-about-their-obvious-chemistry? component! I couldn’t have asked for more in the romance department.

I loved how the relationship was explored little by little as the animosity between them slowly dissipated as they got to know one another. Or should I say, the animosity may have been more one-sided than mutual? It felt so real as Olive learned more about what made Adam tick and vice versa.

But I’m sure many other people have raved about this stuff already, and it deservedly meets the hype that is absolutely EVERYWHERE about this book.

The question is: why did I want to read this book? Yes, I’ve seen it everywhere but even before that, I fell in love with the synopsis. Because this book is about women in STEM, particularly in science. As a grad school graduate in the sciences, I felt so seen in this book. The little science references were scattered everywhere! I know this may fly over a lot of non-science background audience’s heads, but I thought these were hilarious.

“What’s wrong?” [Olive] had expected the answer to be The production of my reagent has been discontinued or My p-value is .06.

I mean, a p-value of 0.06 is nightmarish for research. Is it statistically significant? No. But clinically significant? Maybe? Who will publish it though???

And the lab work! I worked with mice for my fourth year thesis project in undergrad and just the little snippets about mice work here made my poor little heart feel like I’m not alone. Though I did really enjoy this one snippet about working with fruit flies.

Jeremy smiled, pointing in the direction of his lab. “I need to go isolate a bunch of virgin fruit flies. Before they’re not virgins anymore, you know?”

‘Cause that’s actually a HUGE problem with fruit fly work. They like to reproduce really quickly…so yeah, I had a friend who literally spent every morning isolating his virgin flies if he wanted them to say virgins. This made me smile so widely seeing even such a minor reference thrown in here.

To put in other words, I love the accurate depiction of how science is done, the every day concerns and normalizing women in this field where it once was dominated by men only. It’s a long road and definitely requires sacrifice – I’ve seen many postdocs struggle to get out into their own lab long after they graduated with their Ph.D. We don’t see enough about science careers in fiction, let alone very thorough and accurate portrayals. Ali Hazelwood, you are my hero for being a woman of science while also writing such an amazing piece of literary fiction we all adore. It is so rare to find someone in science who likes to read contemporary fictions, let alone write them, and I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit here.

But to end off this review, there was one thing the characters mentioned a few times when the going got tough, and I think this should be a motto for many of us. Maybe it will also help us when we are challenged by what life throws at us. So I will end us off with it:

“What do I always tell you?”

“‘Carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man.'”

Overall Recommendation:

The Love Hypothesis is everything I could’ve hoped for both in the romance department and the accurate science grad student experience. Filled with the best kinds of romantic tension, angst and chemistry between our two leads, Olive and Adam’s journey to genuine relationship was wonderful to follow and I absolutely could NOT put this down, even when I probably should’ve. What I loved equally much was the beauty of science described here, the good and the bad side of lab work, and the fun biology references thrown in there for us science people (or those who love science) to enjoy! Ali Hazelwood is automatically on my auto-buy list of authors for this alone as I have never felt more seen in my science career depicted in a fictional romantic contemporary. She’s a fellow kindred spirit, a scientist who writes fiction on the side, and I look forward to seeing more fictional (or nonfictional) work from her!


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