Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (The Most Problematic Book I’ve Ever Read)

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.

No hyped up book has never disappointed me as much as The Hating Game did. After reading nothing but positive reviews for it, I went into it expecting to love it, but instead, I ended up hating it.

The Hating Game had the potential to be a cute, wholesome, swoon-worthy rom-com, but unfortunately it was quite the opposite: It was bland, cringey, and EXTREMELY problematic.

Where do I even start?

First of all, both of our main characters, Lucy and Josh, absolutely suck. Lucy, our narrator, is one of the most annoying, obnoxious, and overall TERRIBLE protagonists I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading about. She’s childish and immature, and everything she did gave me major second hand embarrassment. Most of Lucy’s characterization was just descriptions of how short and tiny and cute she was… I swear, I’m not exaggerating. Sally Thorne had to remind us EVERY SINGLE PAGE that Lucy was oh so small. *sigh* Plus, Josh’s weird obsession with Lucy’s size reinforces the internalized misogyny that gives so many women the idea that they need to be “small” to feel beautiful and desirable in a relationship. Ugh.

Speaking of Josh… I hated him almost as much as I hated Lucy. He had WAY too much influence over Lucy’s confidence and self-esteem. Just take a look at this quote said by Lucy when she has a full-on mental breakdown in the bathroom due to Josh’s douchiness. (To Josh):

“‘You’ve broken me down so completely, I can’t even handle it when a guy tells me I’m beautiful… That’s why I’m crying. Because Danny told me I’m a beautiful girl, and I nearly fell off the barstool. You’ve ruined me.'”

See what I mean by problematic??? It doesn’t matter who you are: If you’re in a relationship where someone is making you feel this way, LEAVE THEM. I have no idea why this disgustingly abusive behavior is being romanticized.

But guess what? Josh isn’t the only one making this “romance” so problematic. Lucy’s actions are equally, if not MORE, horrible. You see… Lucy is a outright PERVERT. Throughout the book, she constantly sexually harasses Josh, but of course it isn’t viewed as harassment because she’s a woman and he’s a man. But harassment is exactly what is it. Want some examples?

  • As they make out, Josh repeatedly tells Lucy to slow down, but she ignores him.
  • Lucy orders Josh to “take off his shirt” continuously.
  • Lucy constantly pressures Josh to have sex with her.
  • Lucy creepily ogles Josh’s body and makes him feel like an object.

Is that not enough to prove to you that Lucy’s treatment of Josh is deeply wrong? Allow me to present to you yet another quote, said by Lucy, that demonstrates just how blatantly sexist she is:

“Isn’t being wanted for his body a man’s dream?”

Um… HELLO. I’m seeing a lot of double standards here. How is this NOT problematic?! Imagine if a man said that about a woman: Isn’t being wanted for her body a woman’s dream? People would freak out if a man said that, right? So why is it okay for a woman to say it? Guess what? It’s not.

Even if you ignore all of its problematic aspects, the romance still sucks. Lucy and Josh’s relationship always felt so cringey and bland. As I read the book, I couldn’t have cared less if the two of them ended up together or not.

The book became somewhat interesting at about page 300 (aka… over 75% through) when Josh’s family came into the picture. Everything still kind of sucked, but at least I didn’t feel like throwing the book across the room anymore.

But that in no way makes up for all of cringing, sighing, and face palming I did while reading this awful book. I’m truly baffled by all of the hype it gets. I can’t even name one good thing about it! And that’s such a shame, because I was so certain that it was going to be a five star read for me! Well, we can’t love ’em all!

If you haven’t read The Hating Game yet, but you’re looking for a delightful rom-com that will make you laugh, cry, and swoon, I highly recommend The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren as an alternative!

Trust me, it’s a billion times better than THIS dreadful novel.

111 Snack at Le Touquet, Ostend | The Bruges Vegan

18 thoughts on “Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (The Most Problematic Book I’ve Ever Read)

  1. Annie Earnshaw says:

    I loved The Unhoneymooners as well!! I haven’t picked up The Hating Game but these sound like some serious red flags. An enemies-to-lovers romance can be nice, but it sounds like this book took that enemies part a little too far, leaning into toxic territory.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alexandra says:

    So I’m like 99.9% sure that my cheeks were flaming in embarrassment the entire time I was reading this review… LOL. 😂 I’m sorry you were so disappointed in the Hating Game – especially about I raved and raved about it to you! But I mean, we were bound to disagree over a book at some point and that’s okay because I still LOVED your review.

    I think what I love about the Hating Game is that neither Lucy or Josh are perfect but it makes for one swoony time??? 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie Anna's Books says:

    I was so disappointed with this book too! I couldn’t stand how immature the characters were and it drove me crazy. And when I found out why the whole hating each other thing happened I was beyond over it. I know it’s so many people’s favorites though!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love_Your_Shelf says:

    I love the Unhoneymooners! I agree when you said that these characters were childish! Dang! I didn’t realise how problematic this book was. Dang! I gave the book a 4 stars and even wrote a review on it! 😬 Thank you for a new perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

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