Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Review: The Hating Game by Sally ThorneThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow on August 9, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Why did no one tell me  about this book??? Just kidding. Everyone told me about this book. Absolutely everyone. I was actually DEEPLY afraid that I would end up underwhelmed because I’d heard this book was the best, shippiest, hate to love. I mean, you guys can tell from the rating up there that this tragic scenario did not come to pass. The Hating Game gets a full five stars because it’s an excellent romance novel about two weirdos falling in love from hate.

One thing I totally did not know going in was that Josh and Lucy’s workplace was a struggling publisher. A merger brought together two very different publishing houses both on the brink of collapse; one house consists of financially-motivated business types and one of literary dreamers. The tensions between Josh and Lucy represent the dissension in the post-merger company. The little bits of publishing in the book made The Hating Game even more delightful for me. There could have been more discussion of books, but I’m not complaining too much.

Josh and Lucy are executive assistants to the two heads who now run the merged house together, because sharing an assistant would require more cooperation than they are capable of. This puts Josh and Lucy at desks across from each other outside the doors of the executive offices. It also gives them lots of time to play passive aggressive games with each other. One of the things I adore about this book is that, despite both being excellent workers, they spend a lot of the work day on their passive aggressive battles and spying on each other for a way to win the next game. This is so true to work life I can’t even.

On the surface, Josh totally comes across as a Christian Grey type, all buttoned up and worked out and controlling and dickish. He says some really mean things to Lucy, and he decimates her confidence in their games. It seems for a while as though he might be in complete control of what’s going on, because that’s the impression Lucy has and you’re in her head. However, as time goes by, you start to realize that actually Josh is an awkward Darcy type with an almost total lack of game.

View Spoiler »

There are a fair amount of elements to their relationship that could be seen as problematic if I just described them to you out of context. That’s one of the reasons context is an important thing. They are, for example, both much nosier than an ordinary person would be comfortable. What you realize as the book goes on is that they’re both super strange people who complement each other really well.

As Josh gets views into Lucy’s mind, after he finally takes the step of being openly interested in her (because hearing she had a real date freaked him the fuck out, so he panicked and gave her the hottest kiss in fiction), he starts getting clues into Lucy’s mindset. At that point, he starts to have a bit more game, because he can adjust some of his behaviors accordingly. They work really well together because they push each other to work harder and be stronger. He helps her set boundaries with people, so they don’t take advantage of her kindness, and she helps him work on his shyness and not coming off like an antisocial serial killer.

One of the things I love most about them as a couple is how well they function together once they become a team. Sure, they still fight, because they’re both temperamental, easily hurt personalities. However, though some of the fights are predictable, the way they fall out is not, because Josh and Lucy actually communicate in their strange way. Josh won’t let Lucy leave him when she’s in the middle of one of her freak outs; he forces her to work through her scared feelings rather than letting her descend into a spiral of panic. Meanwhile, she always confronts him when he’s doing something assholeish, and his response is to finally explain his behavior. She actually listens to his explanations. It’s marvelous. Also, the way that, even though he seems like a controlling, manipulative douche at the beginning, it’s totally Lucy who ends up defending him and Lucy who will call most of the shots in their relationship down the road is so amazing.

Also, this book is one of the sexiest romances I’ve ever read. For all that there’s actually very little sex in it, this book is hot like fire. Thorne actually manages to hit some amazing moments like the greatness of hand holding and speaking each other’s names informally, which can be incredibly sexy but don’t actually get used that much in romance novels, especially not contemporary ones. View Spoiler » My stomach’s actually still a little bit tense from reading this book last night. Josh may not be good at flirting, but he’s so good at the physical stuff.

The Hating Game is so amazing. My feels were at absurdly high levels. I read it all in one night, and there’s no way I could possibly have gone to bed with it unfinished. Make sure you start early enough that you have time to finish! I actually already want to reread this book, so you know it’s amazing. And, yes, I’ve already purchased my own copy.

Favorite Quote:

It’s a corporate truth universally acknowledged that workers would rather eat rat skeletons than participate in group activities.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

6 responses to “Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne”

  1. Gillian says:




    “and she helps him work on his shyness and not coming off like an antisocial serial killer.” WHAT KIND OF TRUTH
    Gillian recently posted…A Deluge of DNFsMy Profile

  2. OMFG THIS BOOK. I also read it because everyone in the book community told me to, and OMG, I could NOT STOP READING. And then afterwards, I had the worst book hangover. I caved after two weeks and just reread it. You will, too, because nothing else seems as good afterwards.

    And OMG, they are SO weird. Such weirdos with their nosiness, their getting-in-each-others-business. I love how you explained how Josh was hurting Lucy and why it worked, because I agree, it was all about context. Otherwise it could have seemed abusive, but Sally Thorne pulled it off.

    I also loved all the mirror imagery, especially because love and hate both act as mirrors for Lucy and Josh and their issues. It’s just done brilliantly.

    I will stop raving and just–OMG THE LAST CHAPTER. THE BLUE WALLED BEDROOM. *dies*

  3. Danya says:

    UGH I need this book in my life! I’ve also been worried that I might be underwhelmed, but “the shippiest hate to love ever” is not a phrase I can easily ignore. Gotta pick this one up!
    Danya recently posted…5 Reasons to Read: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffMy Profile

  4. hahahaha I was also scared to pick up this book after everyone basically screamed at me to read it. I almost wanted to hate it just to be different but alas, I hopped on the band wagon. So glad you loved it. 🙂
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Santa List 2016My Profile

  5. Best gif choice. THE ELEVATOR KISS!!!! The fact that they reveled in each other’s strangeness (they really are perfect weirdos, you’re so right). It’s really my favorite contemporary romance ever, it hit all my buttons (ooer) and is so hilarious and feelsy and sexy. OMFG. I still love the line about Lucy being a skittish chicken haha. My sequel headcanon is them getting married at the strawberry farm and there being Sweet Home Alabama style drama between the families and Wedding Planner/Shopaholic mishaps (but no couple drama bc THEY’RE PERFECTLY WEIRD FOR EACH OTHER). I want it.

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