The Hating Game is my first attempt to read RomCom, and I think it’s as much the genre as the book that I struggled with. So I’ve given it four stars as I think fans of the genre would enjoy it, but for me who is not and who has now decided never to be a reader of RomCom, it was one step away from a one-star, put-down-without-finishing read.
The first couple of chapters were well-written, funny and tense. The main character, Lucy, was smart with lots of witty nasticisms to say about her nemesis (to borrow the dust-cover’s term), Joshua, and Joshua was obviously worthy of her contempt. After the first 30 pages, I was all set up to side with her in a battle royale between Lucy the hero overcoming Joshua the fiend though diverse and devious means.
That was the comedy, but when the romance came in, it all went to pieces. Lucy seemed to go through life missing much that was obvious to me. While characters in comedy do this all the time, there comes a point when the character is so far behind the reader that the character comes across as plain stupid – in this case, infuriatingly so,
Stupidity of this order is hard to take, but Lucy also started to come across as downright obnoxious. She uses people without the slightest compunction or awareness – the book cover designer Dave, the only nice person in the book, gets entangled in her machinations, Lucy is the recipient of many acts of kindness but refuses to believe those acts can be just that. Rather, time and again, she turns them around to being sneaky acts that are part of a plot to mess her up.
As I got to know him, Joshua turned out to be no better. Not because he was nice or nasty, but because he was cardboard. Obnoxious though I found Lucy, what rescued her was a wry sense of humor, coupled with a couple of interesting internal conflicts and contradictions. When it came to Joshua, and with the single exception of a slightly – and only slightly and in a very bourgeoise way- bad family background, he was too perfect even as a bad guy to grab my attention.
The result was a book that I struggled to finish and put down with a sigh of relief and a shrug of the shoulders. This is a shame, because I think Sally Thorpe writes well and, if she chose to write about interesting people rather than interesting situations, I think she could produce some really good stuff. But then again, perhaps RomCom isn’t for me.