Friday, May 19, 2017

ARC Review: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

Title: The Love Interest
Written by: Cale Dietrich 
Published: May 16, 2017 by Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a 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.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

When I first learned about this book, I knew I needed to read it. I love books that play with YA tropes and one involving spies is totally up my alley. And while this was not quite what I was expecting it was a pretty good read and an interesting debut.

For one thing, I really did like the world of this book. It's sort of an interesting combination of contemporary and dystopia. You have a present day setting but a lot of the trappings dystopia with some interesting technology and a extra-governmental organizational power suppressing people for their own gain. Except this time the people they are oppressing is the people who work for it and not really a larger society. It had definite Dollhouse vibes and I really liked that. I only wish we had gotten more from LIC. I didn't really know what their motivations were here and why they even existed. They could have been super fascinating if we had spent more time with them.

I also did like the characters here. I'm the kind of person who likes unlikable characters, who likes characters who subvert common tropes and so I really appreciated these characters. The fun thing about them is that they were intentionally trying to be cliche but you get their inner monologues where they poke fun at the idea of being a "Nice Guy" or a "Bad Boy." It was tongue in cheek and a fun concept. I think probably though it isn't a concept that everyone will appreciate. It's my kind of humor and I really enjoyed it.

I did also like the character development. Many of the characters here were going along with what they needed to do to win and over the course of the book they had a hard time really deciding if that was what they wanted. I appreciated that the book had this subtle coming of age thing as the characters, especially the main character of Caden figured out who they really are. I thought he had really good development and I also really liked Nathalie's development. She was probably one of the more interesting characters even though I figured her out right away.

But one of my main criticisms is kind of about the characters. Well, it was more about the writing. What I mean is the dialogue. The dialogue in this book was so rough. I know sometimes it's hard to write dialogue that feels genuine and interesting without going overboard. It's a fine line and this book did not walk it very well. The dialogue felt forced. There was either too much or not enough. It honestly sometimes felt like the characters were just narrating their thoughts instead of actually speaking like normal people.

My other criticism is with the pacing. The plot of the book was good and super engaging but it took so long to get to the good stuff. It's not really a spy story, that's maybe the B plot. I want more to the spying and less of the just trying to make the girl like you. Because when that stuff did kick in it was amazing. It took me four days to read the first half of the book because it was so slow I kept putting it down but only two days to read the second half. And then when we did finally get to the climax, which by the way happened at about 90% it felt like it was over too quickly. It could have been a really dramatic and action packed read if it was paced a little better.

But in general, this was a pretty good read. I liked a lot about it. It had an interesting world and engaging characters I just wish the dialogue was better and it was paced a little more evenly. I think it had a lot of promise that it didn't really deliver on for my type of reader but I did enjoy it.\

I give The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. This was a pretty good debut and I think fans of more character driven reads will enjoy it a little bit more. It's really a coming of age story masquerading as a spy novel. If you like unique books that play with the tropes or are looking for a subtle spy story then check this one out.

Have you read The Love Interest? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I have not read this one, but I'm curious! Thanks for sharing the pros and cons for you!


  2. I'm glad to see you enjoyed this! I've seen a lot of mixed reviews but it was one of my most anticipated releases so I definitely still want to read it. Great reviewđź’–

  3. Hmmm, the problem about the dialogue is quite a bit off putting for me, if we add that to the fact that I wasn't entirely too excited about this book in the first place... I think I'll be skipping this one!

  4. I was actually liking the spy bit more than the coming of age bit. Not sure about this one now, but appreciate the honest review!

  5. I just won this one in a giveaway recently, so I'm happy to see that you enjoyed it for the most part. Great review!