To say that The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich was one of my most anticipated YA releases of 2017 would be an understatement. Which is not surprising considering it promised spies, cliches, a deadly staged love triangle where neither of the boys falls for the girl, and so much fun. In some ways, it delivered everything it promised. In others, it did not.
Caden, The Nice, as a narrator, had me hooked to the story from the start. I really, really liked his voice. I liked how he viewed his mission, how he viewed himself, and most of all, how he viewed Dylan, The Bad. Trust issues are awesome.
Then, there are the tropes. Oh, how the book plays with them! It was exactly what I wanted: a nice boy who thinks he is anything but, and a bad boy who thinks the entire emo facade is so ridiculous he could laugh himself to tears. Too bad neither of them can take off their masks because they will be dead.
The romance, too, is utterly cliche. As it is meant to be. Good girl is reunited with her childhood sweethearts. And he’s all around nice and perfect. But then comes the bad boy and the girl gets so, so confused. Personally, I didn’t care for the girl and found her to be a bit annoying, but that is honestly just me. The idea itself behind the love triangle is awesome.
While the premises and ideas of The Love Interest are as amazing as they promised to be, the execution failed. Badly.
First of all, there is very little spying and special ops woven into the plot. And what there was, to me, was absolutely exaggerated. I mean, killer robots, really? The thing is, I don’t need accuracy and realism. (After all, I do adore All for The Game series.) And in a way, what happens in The Love Interest, theoretically, could be possible. However. That exaggeration of the Love Interest Program is just Too Much for the kind of book it promised–tried–to be. The tone is all wrong. It doesn’t fit the characters or the ideas.
Then, there are the characters. Caden, in the end, does get to be a protagonist. It is his story. But Dyl does not get a chance to be known. At all. Not his Love Interest persona, not the real Dyl, whoever he might be. I was especially disappointed how almost insignificant he becomes towards the end, reduced to, well, Caden’s “love interest”, pretty much.
The conclusion is not satisfactory. Cute epilogue, yes. But the plot goes far too epic far too fast, without actually delivering any closures. It’s like it’s a complete story that does not feel complete at all. Caden’s story, maybe. But not Dyl. Or any other relationship of Caden’s, to be honest. I’m not happy, not at all.
Sometimes, you raise your expectations too high. It is something we do often, especially with debut novels. And that is what happened with The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich. It’s not a bad book, not at all. And it does, in some ways, deliver all that was promised. But it’s also… messy. All over the place. The plot gets too heavy and Too Much. The characters become unimportant as a result and don’t get their chances to develop, to shine. The relationships are left hanging. And honestly, there is just way too much high school with very little spying.
And still, the ideas, are the freaking coolest, guys. Even if they aren’t explored fully. But hey, there’s always the next time, right?
The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
Published by Feiwel & Friends on May 16th 2017
LGBTQ, Romance, Young Adult
More info on Goodreads, Amazon, BookDepository
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.