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Love Is the Drug

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  1,167 ratings  ·  301 reviews
From the author of The Summer Prince, a novel that's John Grisham's The Pelican Brief meets Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain set at an elite Washington D.C. prep school.

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a pa
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published September 30th 2014 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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Average rating 3.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,167 ratings  ·  301 reviews

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Mar 18, 2014 marked it as dnf
I really wanted to like it, but my feelings towards Love Is the Drug are similar to the ones I had about The Doubt Factory - I like the premise and some elements of the plot, but overall it's a pretty boring, unsurprising, slow-moving thriller too overwhelmed by trivial and formulaic romance and family drama. ...more
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
This is a stunning book about identity and discovery against the backdrop of a global pandemic and a bourgeoning dystopia. It's the most literary conspiracy thriller I've ever read, with gorgeous language, increasingly high (and very personal) stakes, and gut-wrenching twists. The threats to Bird and the people she loves feel real and frightening, all while balancing world-shattering danger and the mundane — but equally weighty — horrors of navigating high school and finding your own path in lif ...more
Brittany (Brittany's Book Rambles)
This review will be a short one because even after reading the entire book, and certain sections several times, I couldn't give you a precise answer about what this book was about. It has a lot going on. It's one big hot mess. This book has a lot to do with drugs and pharmaceuticals and it had me wondering if I needed to be high for all of the details to make sense. I had to be convinced more than once to push through and read this book, but it definitely wasn't worth it. There were moments of b ...more
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
She understands with sudden clarity that bravery has nothing to do with the absence of fear, but the response to it.

Dear Fellow Sci-fi Fans,

One of my favorite things about flu-virus apocalypse themes, is that it could so easily be reality. Human beings aren’t really all that hard to kill, we just camouflage how easily we die with how well we kill. Humans are great at killing what we perceive as threats. This is proven quite well in Love is the Drug.
“Morality is something that falls from your poc
Skye Kilaen
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-genre-ya
Gripping conspiracy / mystery / high school coming of age novel with an opposites-attract romance subplot, about a young African-America woman from an elite Washington D.C. family. It was written by a woman of color, and it's narrated brilliantly for audio by Simone Missick who plays Misty Knight on Netflix's Luke Cage (and is also a WOC, if you don't know her). It's so good that I actually stopped listening to it at about 85% for weeks because I couldn't bear for it to end.

I adore the main cha

Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. Emily Bird was sort of likable and I'm glad certain things didn't happen to her, (view spoiler).

Love Is the Drug is basically about Bird going to a party and meeting a stranger. Now we all know not to talk to strangers but hey, it was a party. However, the guy starts straight up stalking her and shit. To top it all off, there's a god damn plague happening too. I was not a fan of th
Nov 12, 2020 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
this was just ok for me. I'm under a lot of stress so this may be a reflection on me rather than book. I will try to reread at a different time ...more
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Stuff I Read - Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson Review

Sometimes it's strange how one gets a book. I've been meaning to read Johnson since I learned that she was one of the guests of honor at WisCon 2015, and bought the Summer Prince for just that reason, but haven't got around to reading that yet, and instead lucked my way into this book instead, which is a solid near-future science fiction with some old fashioned government conspiracy sprinkled over a high school drama filled with relatio
So, I wrote a formal review of this book for the YA review group I am in, and I'm going to post it here, but first I want to clarify why I gave this book 2 stars and yet wrote a seemingly super positive review.

This book was good. Objectively good. It was literary and complex and had an interesting character who evolved throughout the story...but I was while I was reading it. It took me LITERALLY two months to read this book because I couldn't motivate myself to pick it up. It'
Nov 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Emily Bird - Emily to most, Bird to the best - is a senior at one of the most prestigious high schools in the country. She doesn't entirely fit in, being one of the few black kids. She also doesn't fit in because she might be going along with her mother's plan to go to college (and thinking of Stanford for herself), but her real goal is to run a small shop. (Not that having a business degree wouldn't help with that, but it never comes up.)

When LOVE IS THE DRUG opens, Bird is at a party with her
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Alaya Dawn Johnson’s 2013 young adult novel, The Summer Prince, got plenty of praise last year, and Love Is The Drug should be no different. Having only read the latter, I can say with great confidence and enthusiasm that Johnson’s latest has coveted a spot on my top five best reads of 2014. It has so many things working for it from the issues it tackles, the complex relationships it explores as well as its wonderful pacing. The book straddles the contemporary and the political thriller genres, ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Emily Bird is a scholarship student in a prestigious DC school, but her future is uncertain when she awakes in the hospital unable to remember why she's there. But there's more trouble to come: a deadly virus is spreading, putting the school in lockdown, and a Homeland Security agent is far too close for comfort. Bird's only solace is the school's conspiracy theorist and resident drug-dealer as they investigate what's happening around them. But there are those who'd rather Bird NOT remember what ...more
I wanted to love this book. But, it was tough to get through and I could not finish it. The novel lacks suspense and the action needed to propel the plot forward. It was slow and redundant.

I applaud Johnson for her setting of Washington, DC (both NW and NE, with street and landmark mentions), her Black, young woman protagonist who is thoughtful and independent, and her diverse, supporting characters. I also like that Johnson mentions Spelman!

Further, what the novel lacks in plot, it makes up for
John Jacobs
Jan 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
The idea of the story interested me, but I thought the story lacked intensity. The supporting characters were cardboard cutouts, except that even cardboard has some depth. The main antagonist, a CIA contractor, was a caricature. I was mainly drawn to the story because it won a major award for fiction. I'm actually shocked it was nominated. I sensed in the writing an underlying contempt by the author of practically everything but the main character and a few people around her. Really, really nast ...more
Cristine Braddy
Jun 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I struggled to get through the first half of this book even though there are some beautifully written sections. The pace picks up and the voice gets stronger and I loved the second half of the book.
Itzeline Rodriguez
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I really like the idea of the book but the way the author decided to go at it... not so much. The plot was slow, I got really bored of this book, I wanted to put it down but I kept going with it. I was hoping for a climax that threw me off my seat. I was super excited to read this book, I was probably expecting much more if it.
Paul Anderson
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Emily Bird—Bird to her friends—is the viewpoint character of Alaya Dawn Johnson’s amazing young adult novel LOVE IS THE DRUG (Scholastic, 2014). Bird is an African-American teenaged-girl in her senior year at a prestigious Washington, DC, prep school. Bird has selected Stanford as her college of choice, much to her mother’s dismay. Emily’s parents are wealthy and prominent enough, and Bird’s grades and SAT scores good enough, to get her into any college she desires. Bird is borderline upper-crus ...more
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've had this in my TBR pile too long and as 2017 is my year of focused clearing of backlist books, I decided to give this one a go. Prep school senior, Emily Bird wakes up in a hospital after having been drugged to the point that her memory of the events of a night are gone and Washington DC is on the verge of full on outbreak crisis intervention and none of that is the worst news.

I expected more intrigue and urgency given the global outbreak of a virus that's decimating the population with so
Rich in Color
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
Review Copy: Bought from my local Barnes & Noble

Having loved Johnson’s “The Summer Prince”, I was really looking forward to “Love is the Drug.” I can’t say that I didn’t like it because it was a compelling read, moved at a fast pace, and I enjoyed Johnson’s lush writing. I think what makes me pause, and this is strictly a personal thing, is that I figured out the twist way before (like early in the book), so I was constantly waiting for the reveal and for Bird to discover the truth. The fact tha
Jackie "the Librarian"
This book is a murky thriller uneasily perched on a much better black-girl-in-D.C.-coming-of-age story.

Emily Bird has lived in the shadow of her mother's expectations her whole life. Both of her parents are government scientists, they have a nice house in the nice part of town, she has perfect hair, she goes to an elite prep school in D.C., and the perfect (or is he?) boyfriend. She tries so hard to be perfect, to please her impossible to please mother, she's almost erased herself.

Her mother ex
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Love is the Drug is a thrilling YA science fiction book with a great romance. The only reason I think it’s not, technically, a “Romance Novel” is that in a romance novel I care more about romance than anything else. In this book, I cared about the romance, but really I just wanted the main character, Emily Bird to be happy, because that girl is MADE OF WIN.

This book is set five minutes into the future. It’s just barely science fiction. Emily Bird is a Go
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
The description of this book sounded fabulous to me - I'm a fan of early John Grisham and anything Michael Crichton, so I thought I'd be hooked immediately. But - not so much.

The plot and the mystery behind this story were great ideas, but I really struggled with a few things. In the first few pages, so many characters were introduced that by page ten, I was completely lost. Then, to make matters worse, some characters were occasionally referred to by their nicknames, then their real names in o
Though this comes dressed as a speculative conspiracy thriller, the real story is the main character's transformation from compliance to independence. However, the thriller element is too slow-paced and talky for me. There is an interestingly multiracial cast of characters, which the author introduces very skillfully. Read my full review here.

Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
Good storyline, great concepts & good character appeal, so how does a book with those elements bore the life out of Mi😳🤷🏽‍♀️......Too long unnecessarily so, Too much usage of similies and metaphors for my liking, and I really did not care for the fact that these are high school students with such a heavy subject matter, I believe I would have preferred college students at the very least.
Cathy Blackler
Jun 14, 2014 rated it liked it
This book garnered a three as a result of Johnson's beautiful writing. Unfortunately I kept waiting for the story to become a little more cohesive. It never quite worked for me. THIS REVIEW IS A RESULT OF READING AN ADVANCED READER'S COPY ...more
Karyn Silverman
Could not put it down.
Araya Swinehart
Oct 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
I started reading it. About 50 pages in and I just could not get ahold of it. Sorry but this but just couldn't capture my attention. Maybe it just wasn't the book for me. Again im very sorry. ...more
I have two completely disparate feelings about this book.

The coming-of-age story is compelling, with its exploration of casual racism, internalized racism, the push to conform to white standards of beauty/dress/behavior to get ahead, parents pushing kids to succeed to the point of crushing souls and personalities.... This is a story that needs to be told. My heart aches for the injustices Bird faces everyday and I rejoiced in her every victory. I cried when she cut off her relaxed hair and embr
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Alaya Johnson graduated from Columbia University in 2004 with a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures. She lives in New York City.

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