Rummanah Aasi

Description: 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.

Review: The Love Interest was one of my most anticipated debut novels of 2017. I was super excited for a diverse spy novel that flips familiar book tropes. Sadly, despite a fantastic premise the book is a major let down and disappoints in many ways.
Caden is a spy. He's spent most of his life so far in an underground facility called the Love Interest Compound, being groomed physically and mentally to become a Love Interest for someone influential. His job is to woo the candidate and win her trust while also divulging her secrets to the Compound who will later sell the information to the highest bidder. The concept of the Love Interest Compound is really cool, but the world building is unfortunately undeveloped. I had many unresolved questions regarding its creation and purpose. I did find it interesting though that the institution goes as far as altering the Love Interest physical features with surgery to ensure physical attraction, which reminded me very much of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, and tagging them with a tracker much like we do to our pets. After a very long time Caden has been chosen and pegged as a Nice, the nerdy-boy-next-door type. He is given a script and plays the role as Juliet's long lost friend. 
 Competing for Juliet's affection is bad boy Dylan, the boy who lingers in Caden's mind as first as a competitor and then to something more. Like Caden, Dylan is also given a script and a role to play as the mysterious brooder/rebel. Each of them must pursue Juliet, a girl destined to be the next great scientific mind. Whoever wins will live and share Juliet's secrets with the Love Interest Compound and whoever loses dies. 
 The first half of the book was decent and interesting as you follow Caden and Dylan in their individual roles. I was able to suspend my disbelief in Juliet embracing Caden as her long lost friend so easily considering how much her intelligence is emphasized. I would have liked a stronger focus on the development of Caden and Dylan's relationship. The author teeters on the "are they or aren't they?" for most of the book, but I didn't find it convincing mainly because Caden's sexuality, which the Love Interest Compound found interesting and important, is written off and tossed aside. The GLBTQ+ slant of the book is the main reason this book will draw interest, but sadly this is not developed and handled well at all. Instead of exploring sexuality, the boys are thrown into confusing make-out sessions and it is the main reason why I couldn't care for his relationship with Dylan or the push and pull of their attraction. The narrative is told entirely from Caden's perspective, and it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between what's actually going on and Caden's assumptions.
 It is the second half of the book where every thing goes down hill fast. We hardly hear of Juliet's scientific experiments which the Love Interest Compound wants. Caden's cover is quickly revealed and Juliet is surprisingly quick to forgive despite being lied to for over 200 pages (just how smart is she?), the book morphs into an action novel where the Compound must be destroyed. There are few subplots developed with the secondary characters that I didn't care for that were suppose to up the suspense. The ending and epilogue are rushed leaving lots of unanswered questions. Even after lowering my expectations for this book, I was severely disappointed and as a result do not recommend this novel.
Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, scenes of underage drinking, and some crude sexual humor. Recommended for Grade 9 and up.

If you like this book try: I would really pick up the Unknown Assassin series by Allen Zadoff instead.
2 Responses
  1. This book sounds like a mess. I like the sound of some things, but to me, it almost sounds like the author threw the LBGTQ angle without really putting thought into. Maybe to get attention?

  2. good for you for finishing a disappointing book. I just don't keep going if the book isn't working for me

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