Review: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

Monday, May 15, 2017
Title: The Love Interest
Author: Cale Dietrich
Genre: science fiction, contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Published: expected May 16 2017
Source: ARC via publisher
Rating: 3/5

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.

The Love Interest is a pretty readable blend of contemporary and science fiction for YA audiences, but I am not entirely sure that it's good. I had fun reading it at times, but the problems are not negligible and build throughout the nearly four hundred pages. Engaging as it sometimes could be to watch surgically-perfected Caden and Dylan battle murderous robots (literally) and each other (metaphorically), it has to be to noted that the worldbuilding is slim and what is there is nonsensical (how do the people at LIC know what a teen girl/boy is attracted to? Or that they will be geniuses or presidents or Olympic athletes? Or even what gender(s) they are attracted to? Why is hetero the only focus when more and more youth are identifying as LGBTQIA?) or even self-contradictory (Caden says he had no name before the assignment to Juliet but while at LIC he mentions other guys with names like Robert etc?). This is the barely-there-details science fiction kind of story that requires a healthy suspension of disbelief to finish.

Outside of the less than substantial worldbuilding shown for this scifi story, I wanted more depth and emotion from the characters themselves. The basic premise makes it easy to set up star-crossed romances between the various characters, so I was sad to see that Juliet, Caden, and Dylan are all rather broadly and bluntly-drawn. They each felt like the trope they were supposed to be subverting; instead of really being the protagonist of his own story, Caden often felt like a side character. Juliet and Natalie were good additions, as was Trevor, but they too needed more definition and dimension. And while I wanted more from him personally, [it's pretty obvious that Caden is gay and I appreciated that it wasn't a bait-and-switch situation. There's some sneakiness to the relationship but the main romance - the REAL romance, since it's not on order of death --  is between two  teen guys.]

There is some inventiveness to the overall plot and The Love Interest is driven far more by its action and suspense than by its characters.  I am pretty sure most teens are smart enough to see through this and predict not only the twist but the outcome. I liked Caden enough - especially when he wants to stand up for himself and point out that his sexuality is not a plot point for another person - but he's milquetoast. Dylan is burnt milquetoast. Juliet has little on-page time that's not devoted to how she feels about the boys -- so she makes even less of an impression. The Love Interest had an interesting premise and refreshingly diverse romance but never quite met the potential for its plot or its characters.


  1. My co-worker just picked this as her book of the month pick and I told her she was going to have to let me borrow it... sounds fun enough, despite the issues. :)

    1. It's v entertaining. I am curious to see what you AND your coworker think lol

  2. This is one that I've been really excited about. I've heard a lot of mixed reviews for it so far. I skipped over your spoilers for now but I can't wait to come back after I read it and compare thoughts! lol Great review!

    1. I have seen some friends who really liked it! I think it all depends on how much detail and depth you need for worldbuilding. YMMV. I hope it works for you :)


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