Five Reasons to Love The Hating Game

1. Powerful Opening Paragraph

“I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them. I’ve had a lot of time to compare love and hate, and these are my observations.”

This line sets the tone of Sally Thorne’s novel “The Hating Game.”

Love and hate. Good versus evil. Heaven and hell. These concepts are embedded in all good works of literature. To me, it makes perfect sense that a person can be kind of mean, maybe a lot mean, and also have a heart of gold.

Perhaps that’s why the love-hate relationship between Lucy and Josh kept me pining page after page for the eventual revelation of Josh’s big heart. Thorne essentially makes this promise from the first few sentences.

Forced to work opposite each other outside the office doors of their co-bosses at a recently merged conglomerate of two publishing companies, Josh and Lucy are destined to compete for the same job. His boss is despicable, lazy and loathsome. Hers is sensitive, understanding and pleasant. Josh fails to return Lucy’s smile the day they meet. Lucy lets an employee walk all over her, which drives Josh crazy. Despite their mutual loathing, they innately understand the rules behind their wordless games.

It’s a language of love Thorne takes her time encoding with each carefully chosen word.

2. Respecting the Less-Is-More Concept of Sex

Too many romance novels throw the couple into bed too soon. Or they wait until mid-book to lather on repeated love scenes. Every move of every part of their bodies must be described in cringe-worthy detail. Sex is not the story, people! The story is what is going on between these characters at a meaningful level. Make me work for that sex scene. Don’t beat me over the head with it!

This book balances the heated moments perfectly. They are there, and they are descriptive. But each word  is chosen as carefully as the time and place where Josh and Lucy manage to get their plots aligned.

Bravo to Thorne, who weaves an engaging page-turning story built on love that’s just out of grasp through most of the book, rewarding her readers for their patience in the end.

3. Josh and Lucy are Relatable Characters

Lucy has an affable, doting father. Josh has a stilted, tough-love father. Her parents encourage her to go after the career she worked so hard to obtain. His parents can’t seem to provide a single “we’re so proud of you” moment. Josh is a vision of self care. Lucy is prone to freaking out. Their complimentary flaws and strengths are magnetic.

4. The Setting is All About Books

Thorne references classic literature as only well-read authors can do. And the setting, though unnamed, is vivid.

Josh and Lucy work in a publishing firm in an age where traditional publishing companies are tightening their belts. As an independent author, I appreciated the realism of this plot point. And I enjoyed living vicariously through characters who love the world of books enough to work among them.

5. The Ending is Neatly Untidy 

We know these two will end up together. And the mystery of who will work where after Interview Day can be easily deduced. Extended family dramas are well sketched out as Josh and Lucy drive away from a key wedding scene. Yet we don’t “really” know.

Thorne doesn’t beat us over the head with our well-earned happy ending any more than she whacks us with crassly worded slimy sex scenes. The ending reveals as much as it has to, and leaves the colouring-in for our imaginations.

The Hating Game is the book to beat for 2020. What do you think? Did you love it or hate it? Or both?

Either way, Happy New Year!

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