Book Recs: ‘The Love Hypothesis’ pokes fun at love story tropes

The Love Hypothesis pokes fun of traditional romance novel tropes and tells a unique, relatable story.

The Love Hypothesis pokes fun of traditional romance novel tropes and tells a unique, relatable story.

Gianna Cocovinis, Staff Writer

As a student with graduate school on the horizon and a lover of cute, fluffy contemporary romances, “The Love Hypothesis” by Ali Hazelwood checked every box on my book radar. The story details the life of Olive Smith, a Stanford student in her third year of graduate school pursuing her Ph.D. in biology. Any attempts at relationships have fallen flat, and she just can’t bring herself to focus on anything but her research. When Olive’s best friend Anh gets a crush on a past fling of hers, Olive will do anything to give her friend the green light to date him. However, convincing Anh that Olive has happily moved on and is living her best life will take more than Obi-Wan level Jedi mind tricks. After all, scientists require concrete evidence.  


As a result, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first random guy she sees. However, he’s not a random guy; he’s Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor with a reputation for being the snarky, bad-tempered professor that all the other students are afraid of. Which is why Olive is absolutely floored when Adam agrees to keep up the charade of being in a fake relationship, and he even stands to gain a few benefits of his own. But as the two get deeper and deeper into their scheme, Olive realizes there’s more to Adam than people give him credit for, and the closer they get, the closer their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion.  


For fans of “The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne and “The Soulmate Equation” by Christina Lauren, this book is every bit the light, refreshing read you can expect from a contemporary. Not only does it take the fake-dating trope and pull it together with a diverse cast of funny, quirky characters, but it also manages to take so many typical contemporary cliches and turn them on their head by openly making fun of them and calling them out. STEM majors will also appreciate the setting in science and academia.   


It’s also hard to believe “The Love Hypothesis” is only a debut. Author Ali Hazelwood blew me away with such a diverse cast that was quirky enough to make me grin and feel seen with how spot-on their observations and dialogue came across. Olive proved herself to be a wickedly smart heroine, with her own insecurities that made her feel like a real person dealing with all the anxieties I would expect from someone in the thick of writing their thesis for grad school while also trying to believably sell a fake relationship to the entire school. As a bonus detail I learned from searching online, this story actually started as Star Wars fanfiction between Kylo Ren and Rey Skywalker. Take another look at the cover and you can start to see the similarities, but I think it’s safe to say this is one of the few times a fanfiction has translated well into a book that holds up on its own.