The Hating Game Book Review

The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne is one of those novels that, once picked up, can be nearly impossible to put down. The premise, as simple as it may sound, is pure dynamite in the romantic comedy genre.

The book throws us headfirst into the tumultuous shared office life of Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, two co-workers who are bound by their mutual disdain for each other.

Yet, as is often the case in the best romantic comedies, what lies beneath the surface is far more complex than mere loathing.

Thorne’s book has created quite a buzz since its release, with readers and critics alike lauding its fresh take on the enemies-to-lovers trope.

While some romantic comedies can fall into the trap of being too predictable or clichéd, “The Hating Game” manages to feel both comfortably familiar and refreshingly new at the same time.

It has all the hallmarks of a great romantic comedy: sharp wit, palpable tension, and characters that you can’t help but root for, even when they’re at each other’s throats.

Summary of the Plot (No Major Spoilers)

In the competitive world of publishing, Lucy and Joshua find themselves pitted against each other, not just in professional matters but in a series of personal games that have come to define their relationship.

These games range from staring contests to a silent war of sarcastic comments, each trying to one-up the other.

This dynamic is complicated by the fact that they share an office, making their interactions a daily ritual.

But as we dive deeper into the narrative, we realize that their antagonism might just be a façade.

The story teases out the nuances of their relationship, gradually revealing layers of emotions and past experiences that have shaped their interactions.

The question that hovers tantalizingly in the air is whether their shared hatred is genuine or a mask for something more profound and passionate.

This tension between what the characters show on the surface and what lies beneath drives the novel forward and keeps readers on their toes.

As the plot unfolds, external pressures, including a potential promotion that only one of them can get, serve to heighten the stakes.

This added layer of professional rivalry mixes with their personal animosities, creating a cocktail of emotions that range from jealousy and resentment to unexpected moments of vulnerability and tenderness.

Major Themes

Navigating the pages of “The Hating Game,” I couldn’t help but be struck by the intricate dance of its core themes, which Sally Thorne weaves masterfully throughout her narrative.

Love and Hate: Central to the novel is the exploration of these two potent emotions.

The way Lucy and Joshua interact with one another challenges the reader’s preconceived notions about the boundaries of love and hate.

It’s a deep dive into the idea that sometimes, intense emotions, regardless of their polarity, are more closely linked than they appear on the surface.

With every verbal spar, secret glance, and unspoken emotion between the characters, Thorne seems to suggest that our most fervent dislikes might just be a distorted reflection of our deepest desires.

Office Politics: Beyond the central love story, Thorne’s portrayal of the dynamics of the workplace is astutely observed.

She touches upon the competitive nature of corporate culture, the struggles for recognition, and the often unspoken hierarchies that dictate daily office life.

Lucy and Joshua’s games, in many ways, mirror the broader games played in offices worldwide, with employees navigating alliances, rivalries, and power struggles.

Personal Growth: As we watch Lucy and Joshua evolve, their individual arcs tell a tale of personal growth and self-awareness.

Both characters have their insecurities, past wounds, and deeply ingrained beliefs that are tested and reshaped throughout their journey.

Their interactions with each other act as a catalyst, forcing them to confront their true selves and, in doing so, grow beyond their perceived limitations.

Character Analysis

Diving deeper into the psyche of the protagonists, it’s evident that the strength of “The Hating Game” lies in its finely sketched characters:

Lucy Hutton: Lucy is a force of nature.

She’s feisty, and spirited, and has an innate sense of optimism that contrasts sharply with Joshua’s more brooding nature.

Coming from a loving family and having a background in smaller, independent publishing, her motivations in the corporate world stem from a desire to prove herself and ensure the legacy of her family’s business ethos.

Her interactions with Joshua are influenced by her past experiences and an innate sense of competition, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that there’s more to her feelings than simple animosity.

Joshua Templeman: At first glance, Joshua appears to be the stereotypical stoic and cold male protagonist.

But as layers of his character are peeled back, we’re introduced to a man with depth, vulnerabilities, and a rich backstory.

His interactions with Lucy, though initially combative, are tinged with a longing and a deep-rooted connection that he himself might not be fully aware of.

Joshua’s personal history, particularly his relationship with his own family, provides context to his behavior and paints a portrait of a man who’s as complex as he is compelling.

Their dynamic forms the crux of the story.

The push and pull, the banter, the moments of vulnerability; it’s this intricate dance of emotions that makes the reader invested in their journey.

Their interactions are charged with a tension that goes beyond mere dislike, hinting at a profound connection that both characters are hesitant to acknowledge.

Writing Style & Narrative Technique

There’s a reason why Sally Thorne’s “The Hating Game” is such a standout in the realm of romantic comedies: her writing.

Thorne has a particular knack for infusing her narrative with a blend of wit, depth, and emotion that grips the reader from the very beginning.

Her prose is sharp and engaging, often punctuated with banter that’s as humorous as it is genuine.

This is especially evident in the exchanges between Lucy and Joshua.

Their dialogues are a delightful dance of words, where each sentence serves a dual purpose, revealing character depths and propelling the plot.

Pacing is a crucial element in romance novels, and Thorne nails it.

The story doesn’t rush the development of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship; instead, it allows it to simmer, building up the tension and making the moments of revelation all the more impactful.

But what truly sets the novel apart is the decision to narrate the story from Lucy’s perspective.

By choosing a first-person narrative, Thorne offers readers an intimate window into Lucy’s mind, making her emotions, confusions, and realizations incredibly palpable.

This narrative choice helps in establishing a deeper connection with Lucy, allowing readers to ride the roller-coaster of her feelings right alongside her.

Critical Analysis

While “The Hating Game” is undeniably captivating, no work is above critique.


Character Development: One of the hallmarks of a good romance is the depth of its characters, and Thorne excels here.

Both Lucy and Joshua undergo significant growth throughout the narrative, with their personal arcs intertwining seamlessly with the development of their relationship.

Dialogue: Thorne’s dialogues are a treat. They’re snappy, realistic, and filled with undertones that hint at the complexities beneath.

The banter between the protagonists is one of the novel’s highlights, providing both levity and insight.

Tension-filled Romance: The slow-burn romance is masterfully crafted.

Thorne expertly plays with the tension, teasing readers with the push-and-pull dynamics, making the moments of intimacy all the more rewarding.

Comparison with Other Works

Within the realm of romantic comedies, “The Hating Game” certainly holds a place of distinction, but it also stands shoulder-to-shoulder with a myriad of other novels that explore the delicate dance of romance amidst tension and rivalry.

When considering other notable works, Helen Hoang’s “The Kiss Quotient” or Christina Lauren’s “The Unhoneymooners” come to mind.

Like “The Hating Game”, these novels play with the delicious tension of two people thrown together by circumstance, slowly gravitating towards each other despite a host of challenges.

However, while both these books provide their own unique spins on the romance genre, Thorne’s tale offers a particularly intense focus on the enemies-to-lovers dynamic, ensuring its unique identity within this space.

What sets “The Hating Game” apart, in my view, is its ability to sustain tension and intrigue within a relatively confined setting.

While many romances traipse through various locales or dramatic scenarios, much of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship unfolds within the claustrophobic confines of their shared office, making their emotional journey even more pronounced.

Yet, every book has its flavor, and while “The Hating Game” offers a slow-burn, high-tension romance with a heavy dose of office politics, others in the genre might lean more towards external adventures or delve deeper into personal traumas and healing.

Where Thorne’s work stands is in its commitment to its setting and its characters, allowing the minutiae of everyday interactions to bear the weight of the narrative.

Personal Reflection

The first time I delved into “The Hating Game,” I found myself unexpectedly entranced.

Sure, I’d read my fair share of romances and was no stranger to the enemies-to-lovers trope, but there was something about Lucy and Joshua’s dynamic that felt refreshingly genuine.

I couldn’t help but draw parallels to personal experiences.

Haven’t we all, at some point in our lives, experienced a relationship where the lines between annoyance and affection were blurred?

Where banter and bickering masked deeper feelings of admiration or attraction?

Lucy and Joshua’s story reminded me of those moments of my own life; those confusing, exhilarating, frustrating moments where deciphering one’s own feelings feels like deciphering a foreign language.

Moreover, the office setting struck a chord. As someone who has navigated the intricate maze of workplace relationships, the politics, the unspoken rules, the alliances, and rivalries, “The Hating Game” resonated on more than just a romantic level.

It was a reminder of the complexities of human interactions, of how a shared space can become a battleground of emotions, and of how sometimes, amidst the monotony of daily routines, the most unexpected relationships bloom.

Reading “The Hating Game” wasn’t just an escape; it was a reflective journey, prompting introspection about relationships past and present, about the games we play (often unknowingly), and about the surprising ways love can sneak up on us.

Social and Cultural Significance

Navigating through the tight-knit structure of “The Hating Game”, it’s impossible to overlook the social undertones and cultural reflections embedded within its pages.

At its core, the book is more than just a love story; it’s a portrayal of modern relationships and the workplace environment.

Modern Workplace Dynamics: In today’s fast-paced corporate world, where job roles often overlap and co-workers spend an increasing amount of time together, the dynamics between Lucy and Joshua reflect a heightened reality many can relate to.

Their shared office space is symbolic of the blurred boundaries in today’s work environments.

The pressures, the competition, the close quarters; all these elements paint a vivid picture of the challenges and intricacies of modern-day office relationships.

Gender Roles and Expectations: Sally Thorne subtly yet powerfully touches upon gender dynamics in the workplace.

Lucy, as a woman in a competitive environment, often finds herself battling not just Joshua, but also societal expectations of how a woman should behave or what she should prioritize.

Her struggles and her tenacity offer a nod to the ongoing discourse about women’s roles in professional settings.

The Complexity of Human Relationships: Beyond the office setting, the novel delves deep into the myriad ways human beings connect, clash, and eventually come together.

In an era where relationships often start or play out on digital platforms, Lucy and Joshua’s analog, face-to-face interactions serve as a poignant reminder of the raw, unfiltered essence of human connections.

Their relationship marked by misinterpretations, vulnerability, and genuine growth echoes the complexities of forming meaningful relationships in today’s fast-paced world.

Closing Thoughts

Sally Thorne’s “The Hating Game” is a novel that manages to be delightful and profound in equal measure.

While it wears the mask of a romantic comedy, beneath its playful exterior lie layers of depth and social commentary.

The journey of Lucy and Joshua is not just about the progression from enmity to affection; it’s a mirror to the broader dance we all engage in balancing personal desires with professional ambitions, navigating the intricacies of social expectations, and ultimately, finding genuine connection amidst the noise.

Thorne’s keen observations, combined with her undeniable wit and flair for tension-filled romance, make “The Hating Game” a standout.

It’s a story that beckons readers to dive in, to get lost, and, most importantly, to reflect. In a genre often dismissed for its predictability, Thorne crafts a tale that is as unpredictable as it is resonant.

While every reader will draw their own conclusions and find their own takeaways, for me, “The Hating Game” stands as a testament to the age-old adage: the thinnest line exists between love and hate.

And sometimes, amidst the banter, the games, and the unspoken emotions, we might just find that the fiercest adversaries can become the most passionate allies.

Our Rating for “The Hating Game”

In the vast landscape of literature, assigning a numerical or qualitative rating to a book can sometimes feel like an oversimplification.

However, for the sake of aiding prospective readers in their decisions and offering a summarized take, I’ve broken down my overall rating for “The Hating Game” into distinct categories.

Each category will be rated out of 5, followed by a brief justification:

Plot (4.5/5): Thorne’s “The Hating Game” excels in its narrative structure.

The plot, though rooted in familiar romantic comedy tropes, is elevated by its execution.

There’s a seamless progression of events, with each twist and turn feeling earned rather than shoehorned.

The deduction of half a point stems from some moments of predictability, but even these moments are handled with charm and nuance.

Character Development (5/5): Lucy and Joshua’s growth, both individually and as a pair, is the novel’s shining beacon.

They are multi-dimensional, flawed, and deeply human, making their journey all the more relatable and impactful.

The nuances of their personalities are unveiled layer by layer, allowing readers to become deeply invested in their story.

Writing Style (4.7/5): Thorne’s prose is witty, engaging, and beautifully descriptive.

Her ability to weave tension, humor, and depth into her dialogues and narratives is commendable.

Some readers might find certain descriptions or inner monologues slightly prolonged, leading to a minor deduction.

However, for many, her writing will be an absolute delight, offering a perfect blend of levity and depth.

Emotional Resonance (4.8/5): “The Hating Game” strikes a chord on multiple emotional levels.

Whether it’s the tingling anticipation of unspoken feelings, the sting of misunderstandings, or the warmth of genuine connection, the novel consistently evokes a gamut of feelings.

The minor deduction stems from a couple of moments where emotional beats felt slightly rushed.

Cultural and Social Commentary (4/5): While primarily a romance, the novel doesn’t shy away from addressing broader issues, particularly those related to workplace dynamics and gender roles.

However, compared to other novels in the same genre that delve deeper into societal issues, “The Hating Game” is slightly lighter on commentary.

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

Sally Thorne’s “The Hating Game” is a triumphant entry into the realm of romantic comedies.

Its strength lies in its characters and the emotional depth with which its story is told.

While no novel is perfect, and personal preferences will always play a role in one’s reception of a book, “The Hating Game” consistently delivers on most fronts.

Its shortcomings are easily overshadowed by its many strengths, making it a must-read for fans of the genre and a delightful discovery for newcomers.


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