Dating You / Hating You is my first foray into the catalogue of Christina Lauren and I wish I could say that I loved it. Unfortunately, I cannot.
What’s interesting is that, partway through reading Dating You / Hating You, I happened to flip randomly to the acknowledgements and glanced at the final paragraph. In it, Christina Lauren (which is actually the pseudonym for two best friends who publish novels together) describe how they struggled to write this particular novel. According to them, the words and scenes did not come easily, and I was immediately relieved when I read that because it sort of took a load off my shoulders in the sense that I didn’t have to pretend to love this novel or question why I didn’t. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying Dating You / Hating You at the point when I came across this admission in the acknowledgements, and it’s not that I didn’t enjoy it in general, but I do have to say that the story felt extremely forced. There was some underlying awkwardness about it, as if you could tell that the authors were at a total loss at certain points for how to build the plot and where to take the characters. It all just felt a touch uncomfortable, and as a reader, I found myself wishing that Christina Lauren hadn’t written this story for the sake of it and that I hadn’t decided to pick it up as my first book from their collection. I’ve heard great things about Christina Lauren’s novels in general, and I really wish Dating You / Hating You wasn’t the first one I picked up because it most certainly isn’t their best work…and I don’t even have to have read any of their other books to know that.
What’s more, Dating You / Hating You is NOT steamy whatsoever. Carter seems sweet and super cute and Evie does have some endearing quirks about her, but I felt that their interactions were totally devoid of chemistry. Their attempts at flirting were very weak, and although there was a cute line here and there from each of them, their conversations also felt forced and unnatural. The sex scenes were even worse and seemed gratuitously added; every cliché in the book was employed, and there was nothing at all that wowed me or that made me feel that Carter and Evie were special characters or that their relationship was one I would ever root for or become invested in. Dating You / Hating You was totally empty of sexual tension, yearning and that ever important “slow burn” we romance readers love so much.
Worst of all, I’ve heard people compare Dating You / Hating You to Sally Thorne’s novel The Hating Game and I think that is an absolutely erroneous comparison. I’m definitely biased because The Hating Game is one of my favourite romance novels of all time…but that is because it is witty and clever and Lucy and Josh (the main characters and love interests) are such relatable, human and multi-faceted characters that it is easy to, as a reader, become friends with them. I loved everything about the way Lucy and Josh spoke to each other and the way they navigated a mutual attraction that was inconvenient and yet unavoidable, and Thorne’s writing style is incredibly unique and compelling. I imagine that Christina Lauren’s is as well, but that did not at all come across in Dating You / Hating You because of how forced everything was, and I think to compare this story to The Hating Game is like comparing a contemporary romance to an Austen novel…they’re in different leagues…they’re similar in some regards and yet still miles apart in so many fundamental ways.
I also have to apologize because I feel like this is the most pathetic review of all time, and is basically as forced and nonsensical as all of Dating You / Hating You is. I am literally struggling to find anything interesting to say about it, and despite the fact that I didn’t hate Dating You / Hating You, I certainly didn’t love it and would call it one of the most average novels I have ever encountered. But, since you took the time to read this pointless review, here are two somewhat adorable quotes from Dating You / Hating You that were the only genuine moments I could find in this wholly unexceptional novel…
“Is he trying to touch me? The more wine I have, the more my brain screams YES! to this question, and I start trying to reciprocate a little, leaning closer, resting my left arm lightly on the table so he has easier access.
Subtle stuff. I am a seduction ninja.”
“I chuck a piece of scrambled egg at him.
He picks it off his plate and eats it.
I might really love him.
‘Sorry,’ he says quickly, reaching across the table to take my hand. ‘Did that gross you out?’
‘Then why do you suddenly look like you’re going to vomit?’
‘Because I love you.’
He laughs, delighted. ‘How terrible.’
‘I just…don’t go,’ I say in a burst.
❥❥❥ (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart