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.
The Love Interest was one of my most anticipated reads for the year. A corporation that specifically manufactures people to fulfil a common YA trope? YES PLEASE.
It had everything. A m/m romance, a science geek girl, a SPY corporation *drools*
But for me…it fell kind of flat. I don’t know if it was because I was soooo excited for this book, or other factors, but I’ll try to break it down.
Okay, so this book was fun. Like a whole load of enjoyment. It didn’t take itself too seriously and I love the self-awareness from the characters and how they poked fun at the YA genre as a whole. To be clear, YA is totally my thing and everything can basically be done well, but breaking some tropes down to their simplest forms can make them sound seriously ridiculous. Like, ridiculous enough to make a Love Interest organisation which should have been all kinds of awesome.
Then there’s the ending. It wrapped up so quickly, and had a ton of action. I loved seeing some of Juliet’s inventions come in handy, and the scenes with Caden and Dylan smouldered.
To get right into it though, it felt kind of…simple? Basic? I don’t know.
There was some weird stuff going on. Like, it was so ridiculously meta it became its own parody? I dunno. We have the good guy vs the bad boy, but unfortunately Dylan is so UNREADABLE. For the first time in my whole entire life I was begging for a dual-POV so I could find out a little more about him other than he hated the roll he was assigned.
Then, everything was just way too convenient. Maybe its because the world building wasn’t detailed and fleshed out enough so everything that happened reeeally pushed my suspension of disbelief.
The struggles most characters go through were just kind of meh. There was never any fear for Caden’s life, and when building towards the big climax (and MAN was there some great build there) they ended up taking out this decades-old corporation in like one afternoon. They were literally home in time for dinner.
But, I will give the book credit where it is due. It opened conversations that are really important to have and break down. Homophobia, gender stereotypes, normalizing flaws in YA, and tokenising gay people were a few. The thing is, in trying to tackle them all at once, it missed the mark on them all.
This book was one great big sigh. I wanted to love it, I had fun with it, but at the end it fell short.
It was the literary equivalent to gorging myself on ice cream. I enjoyed it at the time, but there was no nutritional value and it left me feeling kind of off.
I’m glad I read it, because not every book has to be poignant or have a complicated plot, but I don’t think I’ll ever do a reread. I hate when books I’m dying for turn out to be nothing like I hoped.
(and a half)
Heather is rep’d by Carrie Howland of Empire Literary