Title: The Love Interest
Author: Cale Dietrich
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: May 16th 2017
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Caden is a Love Interest. Most of his life has been controlled and overseen by the Love Interest Compound as he prepares to one day infiltrate someone’s life and make them fall in love with him for the goal of obtaining valuable secrets. Caden is a Nice, and the LIC always sends out two operatives for every target, one Nice and one Bad, and at the end the Love Interest that isn’t chosen is killed.
Now Caden has an opportunity to prove his value, and what’s more to see the world outside of the LIC. Juliet is important to the organisation and Caden is picked as her Nice, to act as her friend and confident, to be the typical boy-next-door, in the hopes of making her fall in love with him. The Bad chosen is Dylan, acting as the dark and brooding soul, someone who needs fixing, and although Caden knows the two of them are in direct competition with one another he can’t quite stay away from Dylan.
Every day Caden and Dylan live a lie, playing their parts for Juliet and the world, but behind closed doors the two are confidants. Caden isn’t sure what to do about the feelings he has for Dylan, it was something he was never trained for, but despite his coach’s advice to stay away he refuses. Both Dylan and Caden are determined to win but as they pull out every trope they have for their parts in the story, trying to draw Juliet to them, they know the day she will choose, Nice or Bad, draws ever closer and it will mean death for the other.
The Love Interest was one of my highly anticipated releases for this year, and because this book was released later in the UK than it was in the US I saw a lot of mixed and negative reviews. I ended up starting The Love Interest with low expectations which I think helped because while I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would it was still an entertaining read. The Love Interest takes all the classic and overdone tropes you expect to find in YA books with love triangles and shows them through the eyes of the male characters, and you can’t help but realise how ridiculous they really are, which makes for some hilarious scenes in this book.
Caden has worked hard to make himself the perfect Nice, and on the outside that’s all you see of him. He’s a good actor and liar, and says everything both Juliet and the LIC want to hear. However inside Caden is not perfect. He doesn’t believe in the LIC’s assignment for him, doesn’t believe he’s a Nice, and what’s more he’s gay. Caden doesn’t have any internal conflict you may expect from his character about being gay. He wants to survive and thrive in the real world, and if making Juliet love him is the only way he can achieve that then that’s what he’s going to do.
The relationship between Caden and Juliet was one built on lies, but it was still interesting seeing it develop. What Caden felt for Juliet may have not all been real but the more time they spent together the more he does start to feel something for her. The story is told solely from Caden’s POV so we only see Juliet’s reaction to his acts from the outside, and not what she really thinks, but I think that suited the story Cale Dietrich was telling. We already have plenty of books that tell us what the characters like Juliet feel when one of her love interests act the way both Caden and Dylan do so it wasn’t hard to fill in the blanks.
While Caden’s POV worked for the relationship between him and Juliet what it didn’t work for was the relationship between him and Dylan. As both Love Interests play their part to the world outside they are themselves with each other. They come from the same background, have the same goals, and they are the only ones who can really understand what failure means for the other. Dylan is more open than Caden, who is wary of their friendship being a trap, or part of Dylan’s plan as the Bad, but still he can’t stay away from the other boy.
I would have enjoyed this book more if we’d been told parts of the story from Dylan’s POV. I think it would’ve added another aspect to the relationship he has with Caden, also it would have been interesting seeing through Dylan’s eyes some of the tropes he performed for Juliet as the Bad instead of only seeing them, second-hand, through Caden’s. As is reading The Love Interest solely from Caden’s POV made the development of some of the characters shallow.
While it was an enjoyable read overall, The Love Interest wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be when I first discovered it on Goodreads, months before its release. It’s a fun story that shows how ridiculous some of the overdone tropes you find in love triangles can be, but it’s not more than that. The plot was entertaining enough, it was just the character development, mainly the lack of it in places, that let The Love Interest down.
What did you think of The Love Interest? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.