I was wondering where all my five star reads were in January, and it turns out they were hiding in the first week of February.
PhD graduate student Olive spontaneously plants a smooch on notoriously mean and horrible Professor Adam Carlsen in order to convince her best friend that it’s okay for her to date Olive’s ex (don’t worry, he doesn’t supervise her in any way!) and fake dating ensues. That’s really all you need to know, to be honest.
Objectively, this is not a perfect book. It did things that in other books I have been annoyed with. In this case, though . . . I just did not care. At all. I was too busy having a good time. This book worked on my brain like I imagine one feels while taking ecstasy. Just pleasure centers lighting up everywhere, and for the silliest things. This sweater is so soft, I need to feel it forever! He doesn’t like chocolate, that’s so dumb and I love him! Just, pile of goop on the floor, was my experience of reading this.
Some books obviously work better for some readers, and occasionally you just find a pairing of reader and book that is magical, and I do think there is a lot of that going on here. But a huge part of my enjoyment, I know, is that Ali Hazelwood comes from a fanfic background, and this book started its life as a Reylo alternate universe fic (Rey/Kylo Ren from Star Wars, if you didn’t know). And fanfic authors write . . . differently, and lots of times for different reasons, than writers who start off writing to sell commercially and publish traditionally. I’m not going to waste time delving into the details on that, I just know that I got the same feeling from reading this book that I do when I’m reading a truly excellent fanfic (I loooove AUs). I was most definitely picturing Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley as the main characters. I have never read a Reylo fic before in my life, but now, I would consider it. That is the magic of this book.
Real quick note, you can tell Hazelwood is for real an academic and a scientist. Those parts shone with accuracy and nuance. It was very pleasurable sinking into the world she created here because of that.
I don’t even know what else to say except that I will be revisiting this one again, and perhaps again, and I have already pre-ordered the four (!) pieces of fiction that Hazelwood has coming out in 2022.