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The Love Interest

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A thrilling YA debut about teen spies disguised as "love interests"--whoever gets the girl lives; but the one she rejects, dies.

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.

From debut author Cale Dietrich comes a fast-paced adventure that is full of both action and romance and subverts common tropes.

377 pages, Hardcover

First published May 16, 2017

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Cale Dietrich

6 books773 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,354 reviews
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
679 reviews3,948 followers
May 20, 2017
I don’t exist to teach her a lesson, and it irks me that she thinks labeling me is okay now. Like, by liking guys, I automatically take on that role in her life. That I’m suddenly a supporting character in her story rather than the hero of my own.

it is a rough, rough thing to hold your most anticipated book of the year in your hands and feel so damn disappointed @past me: why did u gotta hype it so much ??

This book could have been so good and made so many good points and instead it all just fell flat


Anyway, I spent a few days thinking about this book because honestly? I knew I was disappointed, but I also knew there was some things I liked and I didn't know how to address the book in it's entirety.

I'll try my best to get everything down in a coherent way, but ya know how it goes - sometimes we struggle.

I think starting with the good things is an Idea because I don't think this book is 100% awful burn it to the ground right now at all

First of all, I think this book was just fun. It reads quickly, and the meta is funny. I liked the dramatisation of common YA tropes and structures and that it poked fun at so many tropes we see in books everyday. I think it just made it really fun and refreshing and kind of gave it a Carry On vibe. This new theatre/book trend of characters being somewhat aware of their status as characters and then deliberately addressing and subverting the structures of their narratives is something I am loving. Anyway, the lowkey snark towards these tropes which really do oversaturate YA was amusing to me and I enjoyed seeing them get dramatised.

The subversion of the traditional love triangle was refreshing and fun. I liked that Dietrich took the love triangle to a new place, especially since that place gave a voice to lgbt+ people. The love triangle, aside from the fact it's annoying, always categorises people into tropes and I think that's really damaging. So to see those tropes actively presented and unravelled was really clever. I think The Love Interest genuinely did make a good attempt at exploring why attempting to categorise masculinity (or any human expression) is a bad idea

I really think the lgbt+ representation was nice. To have a gay character scream "I'm the protagonist, fucker!" was unbelievably satisfying. Dietrich said in an interview he was sick of gay characters being the stereotyped side character or the character that always gets killed and I think that came through. Caden explicitly talks about why it bothers him gay people are always tokenised and fetishised both in the media and in real life and I think thats an important discussion that needs to be had more often - gay people don't exist to be straight girls gay best friends and I'm glad this brought it up. Plus no #buryyourgays so nice.

But I think this is where we get into the problems with this book. Because I think where this book fell down is that it tried to say and be too many things at once, so it ended up succeeding in representing none of them.

I felt like this book had alot it wanted to point out, and it was trying to make a critical commentary but it never quite got there. Thematically, it came off vague and meandered to and from different points of criticism. It didn't really nail any idea and I think that hurt it, because it's hard to pinpoint exactly what I'm reading. Commentary on the flaws of YA? The dangers of categorising masculinity? the poor treatment of lgbt+ characters? feminism? dangers of an increasingly corporate driven world?

The writing was also just a little messy not awful or unreadable but not great either. I think thats what damaged it for alot of reviewers. The characters were also just not developed enough and honestly some of the things that happened between them were annoying and unrealistic. I think Juliet and Natalie could have been good characters but ultimately were not complex or explored enough. Juliet was a smart and capable character, which I liked, but she ultimately only really existed to be a plot device. Natalie also had potential but wasn't really ever explored properly. I wish this book hadn't normalised cheating.

Plot wise, the world building wasn't enough and the plot had too many holes. You're telling me these kids disappear for days and no one notices?

If felt like this book definitely needed more editing, like it felt like so many plot holes and plot conveniences and poor representation just sort of ..... slipped by? The charactrs were so okay with eachother being really shitty and thats annoying af. Because it should have been explored.

I also think it would have benefitted from a dual POV because I basically know nothing about Dylan lmao. I also hate that there was a queerbaiting plot point URGHGHGJHK. Like, I think it should have been more clear about Dylan's internalized homophobia if that is what it was getting at. I felt like Dylan and Caden had the same dynamic as Philip and Lukas except without the finesse of eyewitness' discussions on internalised homophobia.

basically me reading this

I don't think this was terrible, I really don't. I just think it's upsetting could have been soo much better and all that potential was wasted.

It is a debut, maybe we are all being too harsh. I think hype totally got ahead of this one and made everyone so expectant of something beautiful and amazing. Hype is a genuine killer.

I wish this was a series, because I think giving it another book or two would have been really allowed the author to flesh out his themes, characters and world and to slow down and stop rushing so much plot into one tiny book.

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
May 17, 2017
I'm going to go on a little tangent to explain my feelings on The Love Interest.

I am a lover of fiction, fantasy and adventure. I love to live in other worlds and believe in the impossible. Therefore, my ability to suspend disbelief is pretty darn good. I can be convinced that a world exists where magic killer unicorns walk the land and wreak havoc with their magic killer unicorn powers. Easy. Where my suspension of disbelief falters, however, is in the details. The hows and the whys. If, say, some authority figure in this world ordered that every woman must marry one of these killer unicorns because, um, it's for the good of the, um, land... then I start to see the cracks.

In short, I can be convinced of any "what" as long as the "why" adds up. As long as there is, in fact, a "why". More tangent if you'd like:

And that's the problem with this book. If you are the kind of reader who asks questions and notices when plot choices are illogical, then parts of The Love Interest will seem really jarring. Parts of the premise are flawed because they just don't make sense.

Contrary to the shelving I've seen around, this is a kind of dystopian novel. It imagines a world where a secret spy organization plants their spies (known as Love Interests) with anyone important or influential - presidents, CEOs, celebrities, etc. - and attempts to gather information from them. To up their chances of successfully making their target fall in love with the Love Interests, they send two LIs to compete for the person's affection. So far, so good, right? A little implausible, but then all the best books are.

The thing that doesn't make any sense is why they send one "Nice" (a sweet, guy-next-door type) and one "Bad" (a devilish smirking bad boy). I get that it's supposed to be making fun of the YA trope, but it makes no logical sense within the story. There is no explanation for it, and it repeatedly pulled me out of the book's world.

That is the biggest fundamental flaw, but there are a myriad other small things scattered throughout that just seemed poorly-conceived. Stupid things like: why are they starving and sharing tuna out of a can in the later chapters of the novel? I get that they don't want their credit card to be traced, but last time I checked, McDonald's (and, like, everywhere) takes cash. And they had cash, just to be clear.

AND the antagonists are so conveniently bad at everything. They are especially poor at surveillance and tracking, going offline exactly when Caden needs them to. This is a huge, old, and extremely powerful organization, apparently, but they never show it. It's kind of embarrassing how .

In this particular Love Interest scenario, a girl called Juliet is the target and her two Love Interests are Caden (the "Nice", and the narrator) and Dylan (the "Bad"). They must compete for her affection and the loser will be incinerated. However, something unexpected happens-- Caden finds himself developing feelings for none other than his rival.

I don't think it was the best decision to have Caden as the lone narrator. He lacked the charisma needed to drive the novel's narrative and his voice was as bland and unremarkable as his LI character was supposed to be (honestly, why someone would think any person would be attracted to a doormat I do not know). It would have been good to get Dylan's perspective to shake things up a bit.

I would love to see more YA books subverting the traditional love triangle trope, but this wasn't the favourite I'd hoped it would be. I struggled to believe in this concept from the start and Caden was never interesting enough to pull me in.

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Profile Image for ;3.
441 reviews885 followers
June 5, 2019
my future child: i'm so sorry i disappointed you mom

me (remembering the love interest): oh sweetie don't you fucking worry
Profile Image for Vernie♡.
181 reviews105 followers
June 2, 2017
I'm thinking a 3.5, it was going to be a 3 but that epilogue did something to me.

Honestly, I wanted this to be my favorite book ever, and I am incredibly disappointed to report that it is not.

Author: So here's my idea... two boys are supposed to fight for a girl
one is a bad boy, one is the boy next door, the girl can only choose one.

Readers: *sips tea* I see.. sounds familiar..

Author: But instead the two boys fall for each other

Profile Image for Claudia Lomelí.
Author 8 books76.8k followers
May 24, 2017
This was SO CUTE AND FUN. I'm smiling like an idiot right now.

I'm telling you, if you don't take this book seriously, you'll enjoy it and you'll have a good time (I mean, I think that the actual book doesn't take itself seriously xD). It was a light read and I had fun, what can I say? I get the reasons behind the bad reviews, and I agree with them in many aspects, but still I enjoyed this :). It was not remarcable nor memorable, it was more like a feel-good book.
Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
425 reviews1,640 followers
June 23, 2017
1 Star




I was so excited for this, too.

A typical boy/girl/boy love triangle, where the boys complicate everything by falling for each other? Like yes plz.

But instead, here’s this rant.

(BR with the lovely Kainat who is welcome to spam me with Parks and Rec gifs any time. )


This idea is fun. It’s there was hype and so many of us wanted to read it. As a whole, this book is very aware of YA tropes, and does creatively twist stereotypes around.

This actually handled the LGBT+ element well. Sexuality isn’t treated simply as a plot-twist, and instead is really nuanced with some interesting points:

“I guess I thought I was straight just because everyone treated me like I was, and no one ever gave me the chance to think otherwise.

There’s a strong element about struggling with body image. I thought this was interesting, especially since I don’t often see it addressed from a male perspective. I wish it had gone a little deeper, or been addressed a little clearer, however.


Oh boy.

This book simply tries wayyy too hard.

The love triangle premise is interesting on its own. The whole dystopia element was completely unnecessary. It completely ruined the fun premises bogging it down with pages of details trying to explain this far-fetched, illogical organization.

Speaking of logic—this book has none. Seriously. None.

- Why does this organization send two love interests? Someone suggested to “make them decide faster?” But you’re losing one operative every-time so how does that make sense?
- Why would you send the operatives in at high school age??
- How do they have massive plastic surgery, but are completely fine with no bruising, swelling or recovery time??
- Why can his teacher only sometimes (hint: when it’s convenient to the plot) read Caden’s thoughts?
- Why do the robots (“Stalkers”) taunt their prey when their whole mission is to kill????
- Does this school not have a dress code? Why is everyone half-naked all the time?
- Is Dyl lanky or buff? Because the narrative literally jumps from how skinny and lean he is to Caden waxing poetic about his biceps.
- At one point, a character berates another for “walking alone” when she LITERALLY HAS SOMEONE BESIDE HER.

Seriously. It’s just a bunch of plot holes and supppeerr convenient ideas strung together.
But that’s not even the worst part--the writing.

At one point I decided to start highlighting every time I came across a line that made me physically cringe. By the end of the book, I had 78

But to save time, here’s just a few:

“The fact that she can sit by herself and not give a crap what anyone thinks makes me respect the living daylights out of her."

“There are so many possibilities and they all suck elephant balls."

“You arrogant little shit! I was on my way to the bathroom and you went in first!"

”It radiates from him, in the tilt of his chin, the uneven manner in which he walks, in his borderline obnoxious I-fuck-people-and-I’ll-fuck-you-smile.”

“I like you, Juliet. I always have. But I’m not a boy anymore. I’m a man.

“Someone who has sex in a bathroom, where people piss on seats and take shits."

“There are some things I want to say to you, Juliet, but it’s hard, because you’re wearing that glossy stuff on your lips you wear sometimes depending on how fancy you want to be. I’m just a guy standing before you, and you’re so beautiful I never get tired of looking at you.”


It made me cringe so hard my teeth-hurt.

The first half is actually funny, and I found myself wondering if maybe the writing was intentional. That it was an elaborate parody and it wasn’t supposed to be serious.

But then ALL the second half does is want to be taken seriously??? It’s all life-or-death and they are running from the threat of INCINERATION. There is character death and tears and it’s just all so dramatic. Then it stumbles to an awkward conclusion and I was just glad it was over.

In Conclusion:

The most unintentionally hilarious thing I’ve ever read. If you can forgo all logic and just want to bask in something absurd, look no further.
Profile Image for Simona B.
898 reviews3,009 followers
May 27, 2017
2.5—where the half star stands for “Metafiction. Metafiction everywhere,” and the second one for “I know your message is important and I'm trying to reward you for it even though you are so trashy and I'm not even saying that affectionately.”

“I may as well start whining about how nice guys never get the girl, so I shut my mouth.”


•At the beginning of this semester, one of the first things my professor of English literature told us was, “You won't understand a thing about this literary period (19th century) if you don't understand this first: you can't read a romance as a novel, just like you can't read a novel as a romance. They are two different things, they have different purposes, and therefore they have to be studied according to different criteria. Perspective is key.” Now, I'm obviously not going to explain what's the difference because first, that's not the point and second, you can just look it up on the Internet on your own, but trust me when I say my professor was unsurprisingly right, and I've made of that one of my life rules (not only when talking books). You can't read a textbook like you'd read a work of fiction, because it would be ridiculous to complain that “nothing happens”; you can't read a horror book like you'd read a children book, because it would be ridiculous to complain that “my kid was so scared we had to let him sleep with us for weeks”; and you can't read a parody or a satire like a regular novel, because the complaint that “it's just too absurd and weird” would probably only prove that the parody did its job well and that in this scenario, you are the idiot. This is why I think the first thing we should do upon approaching The Love Interest is asking ourselves: what am I about to read?

•I believe this is a very good and fair question, and not nearly as stupid as it may seem. Because, you see, one of the (numerous) problems of The Love Interest is that it never makes that quite clear. The possibilities, as I see it, are three:
1) It's a parody: everything in it is meant to mock a certain type of YA novel that came into vogue around the time Twilight by Stephenie Meyer became a media sensation;
2) It's an original story that in passing mocks, or happens to mock, certain YA tropes;
3) It's both.
Knowing in which of these categories the book falls is so crucial because my opinion of it changes according to the perspective I adopt. In case 1, I'd rate it three stars out of five, in case 2, a generous, solitary star, and in case 3 two and a half (you see which I've chosen). So yes, I think The Love Interest is meant to be part original, part parodic. Unfortunately, it isn't able to mix these two halves very well, resulting in a hybrid sort of text that's itself as confused as the reader is upon reading it. I'm inclined to blame this lack of coherence and cohesion on the author's inexperience: The Love Interest is a debut and it couldn't show more.

•The book presents the reader with pure pearls such as this:
“Once I reach the steps I skid to a stop. There are three steps, then a set of navy double doors.
[Caden's Coach:] Put your arms out in front of you!
[Caden:] What?
[Caden's Coach:] Do it!
I move my arms forward.
The door swings outward and Juliet steps out. She looks like her hologram: beautiful in a simple, unboastful way. She steps forward, and her ankle twists on the first step. She falls. I take a step toward her and she smashes into my chest.”

And this:
“...static gel, an ointment they have at the LIC. A Love Interest puts it on his hands or torso before coming into contact with his Chosen, so that when they touch, the Chosen gets a faint electric shock. Thankfully, Kaylee decided I don’t need to use it. Wearing it is incredibly painful, as it shocks the Love Interest constantly before it’s washed off. I nearly cried the first time I had to put it on my chest.”

And this:
“[Caden's Coach:] Stare at her until she notices.
[Caden:] Why? That’s so creepy.
[Caden's Coach:] She’ll like it, trust me.
I look up and stare at Juliet. It takes her a few seconds, then her eyes meet mine and she blushes.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
I shrug my shoulders. “I can’t help it.”
“I—I,” she stammers. “I have no idea how to respond to that, so I’m going to ignore it.”

And countless more. Now this is how you parody. You take something and show the other side of it, the side from which it seems so ridiculous your readers realize it's actually astonishing it has been considered valid and even sensible for so long. Because if it's true that the devil is in the details, God is too, and passages like these I've just quoted convinced me that Dietrich actually put a lot of work into this project. Or at least some parts of it; because the book also makes use of an endless series of other stereotypes unconnected to the love triangle or the romance in general, and these I don't know how to classify, because they don't seem to have a parodic intent, they only seem sloppy. Not that all the romantic ones are always perfectly employed: often they completely miss the target and only manage to make you cringe, but at least there I can see the intention. But a group of teenagers randomly saving the world? Or happening to live near the one compound where the one villain who's absolutely essential to kill is, when the LIC has “Compounds in eleven countries”?

Are we sure that “it's all a mockery, all intended” didn't become an excuse to get away with it at one point?

“No one finds the love of their life while they’re a teenager.”
“You haven’t read any YA novels recently, have you?”
•Starting from the title, The Love Interest openly dallies with metafiction, and in my opinion, this is something it truly does deliciously, all the more so because this discourse is closely intertwined with the one concerning sexual identity and self-affirmation. To explain these points I'm going to need to quote the book, because sometimes they speak for themselves better than we readers and reviewers ever could.
“Anyway, isn’t it pretty normal for a straight girl to fall for a gay guy? All the sitcoms treat it like a rite of passage, something that all girls must go through. You’re pretty and kind and way too good to be true. At least I’ve ticked that box now.”
“I …” I don’t exist to teach her a lesson, and it irks me that she thinks labeling me is okay now. Like, by liking guys, I automatically take on that role in her life. That I’m suddenly a supporting character in her story rather than the hero of my own.

Had this operation been carried out with a more pleasing and well-finished text and story, The Love Interest would have got five stars with no effort at all.

➽ I would be a filthy liar if I said I am not disappointed, because I am. Honestly, I only expected a cute and fresh M/M romance, and not much more than that, but I dare anyone to undervalue a well-written M/M romance, so, yes, my hopes were high. The Love Interest turned out to be aiming way higher that I thought, and, sadly, I believe it missed. It needs to be recognised that its attempt is more than admirable, though, and that the idea to play on narrative tropes to tackle topical issues is genius. I wish it had been executed better.
Profile Image for emi.
453 reviews1,088 followers
May 13, 2021
3.75/5 stars
"Like, wouldn't it be better to send us in when we're a bit older? No one finds the love of their life while they're a teenager.“

“You haven't read any YA novels recently, have you?"

He's something you probably don't know about me. I love low budget movies. Anything with far-fetched plots, bad acting, and poorly done CGI is the closest thing I have ever gotten to drugs. I love low budget movies so much, that when I watch those box office superhero movies that everyone and their imaginary friend has seen, I get so disappointed. Good acting? Reasonable plot? Explosions that look realistic? What the frick are you suppose to make fun of?

This book was the YA equivalent to a low budget movie. Within the first few pages, I realized this and changed all my expectations. This wasn't going to be a James Bond film. Instead, it was gonna be that one spy movie starring Hailee Steinfeld and the girl from Game of Thrones .

Within ten pages, I stopped reading for a well-written YA book, but instead started reading for something I can make fun of. Which was a great shift of attitude, as I ended up loving this book so much.

So in this book you have Caden. Who has been raised by a spy agency to be the nice, boy next door. And Dylan who was raised to be the brooding bad boy. Why were they raised that way? Why did that have to be the nice boy versus bad boy? I have no clue but I don't even care. I don't question low budget movies.

Well these two boys are sent to small town nowhere to make this incredibly brilliant girl named Juliet fall in love with one of them. And honestly, the only time Juliet is every brilliant is when it enhances the plot. But again, I don't care. Whoever she doesn't fall in love with gets killed, which seems like a waste of time and money to that spy agency but again idc. Whoever she does fall in love with will spend the rest of their lives spying and manipulating her. But hen plot twist! Caden and Dylan fall in love with each other and Juliet won't find her Romeo.

I am also now convinced that Jay-Z and Kanye West are Love Interests and you can't convince me otherwise. Other notable love interests: my boyfriend Kaz.

Honestly this book can easily be mistaken for swiss cheese. Not only is it cheesy af, but there's so many plot holes.

Also all the characters are super flat and under-developed, but again. I don't even care.

That's just my philosophy for this entire book. I don't care. Whatever.

757 reviews2,348 followers
July 31, 2017
BR with THE LITTLE SHITHEAD who sent me 215465156.0036337 messages about how awkward and dumb Juliet is.

Dear friends on Goodreads,

My sincerest apologies for not listening to y'alls when you said this book was a big fat load of bullshit and disappointment. My apologies for ignoring everyone, going ahead, reading this and then coming back to complain to everyone on how fucking CRINGY AND AWKWARD THIS WAS.


Me, lmao.


This book gave a very promising story of two guys that are supposed to win the heart of a very awkward and cringy girl named Juliet, but instead, they fall for each other. Sounds good? Lol, no think again. This book had so much potential to be fucking AMAZING, but it was executed very very badly.

○The beginning was actually very interesting. The whole idea of a company making love interests' for people was so intriguing and fun to read about. I loved learning about how this entire organization operates. Making "Bad" and "Nice" guys/girls who work in a love triangle to win the heart of the girl/boy. The Bad and Nice have to compete against each other and who ever loses dies. I enjoyed the first 100 pages of this because everything was being introduced and it was such an original and cool idea.
○That's literally about it.


○Juliet was introduced.
○She is the most awkward, dumb, and cringiest person to ever fucking exist in the human race.
○Does she not know how to speak with people?

“Why are you looking at me like that?”
I shrug my shoulders. “I can’t help it.”
“I—I,” she stammers. “I have no idea how to respond to that, so I’m going to ignore it. Anyway, Caden, I can’t believe I almost forgot to show you my absolute favorite thing. Do you want to see my lab?”

○I'm sorry, but who in the name of fuck talks like that??? If I ever spoke like that, I'd leave earth and go to Mars to die. Like, this girl is the smartest person in the entire world and she speaks like a fucking 4 year old, JESUS FUCK.

Like, just shhhh don't open your mouth, thanks, you're helping out the community a lot with your service of shutting the fuck up !!

○Okay now go find a hot human male body. Put all the organs and shit in it. Wait, don't put a brain though otherwise we won't be able to make our MC Caden !!! Make sure Caden's vocabulary only consists of the word "frigging." Now go get the same ingredients, but don't put a personality and give this brain only FIVE brain cells! *POOF* it's your own personal Dylan! Like, Jesus fuck, these characters are so fucking one dimensional and dull as fuck, like boi did your fucking personality fly out the fucking window or something??

○The romance is so...forced. It's fucking cringy insta love and honestly??? it would have been great if there was no romance at all because I'm suffering from cringeitis now. There is no fucking development and they literally have don't even get to know each other that well. Like, is this what love's like when you're high? Because WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?

Dylan: *climbs into Caden's window for the first time*
Dylan: kiss me babeh
Caden: uh sure why not
*they do da smoochy smoochy*
Caden: I....I think I like you more than a friend, omg I think I'm falling in love....omg someone help me I'm falling...JESUS, I'M GONNA HIT THE BOTTOM SO FUCKING HARD, OH GOD STOP I'M FUCKING FALLING IN LOVE, FUCK. I'M FALLING SO HARD I'M GONNA FUCKING HIT THE BOTTOM SO FAST AND DIE.

no I didn't exaggerate anything, stop looking at me like that.

○Wait, can we talk about that ending.....because fuck, it's so unrealistic. Like, how the fuck can these four fucking kids overthrow a fucking entire organization that had been GOING ON for fucking ages, man, how the fuck even? They literally, overthrew it in 5 seconds??? Talk about unrealistic.

○And what the fuck was Dylan's deal at the end? At one point he tells Caden he lied about liking him and he's into girls only??? And then a year later, in the epilogue, THEYVATE FUCKING KISSING AND LYING TOGETHER AND ACTING LIKE A COUPLE AND FUCK WHaT EVEN HAPPENED? Did I miss something? (Well I probably did because I skimmed a lot in the end.)

Overall the best part about this book was when it ended.

Good of the bye.

Ahahahahahahah fuckin hell this book wasnt allowed to be a disappointment.
Profile Image for Caitlin.
339 reviews698 followers
May 17, 2017

"A particularly important young woman has shown signs that she’s ready to select a partner, so two of you have to be sent in right away. We’re looking for a boy-next-door Nice and a mysterious, tortured-soul Bad.”

"Aren’t they always?"

4.5 stars!!

If you weren't already so excited for this book, YOU NEED TO BE! ADD THIS TO YOUR TBR ASAP THIS BOOK IS GREAT. It's such a cool concept and it was executed amazingly. The first 90% of this book is completely original even though the last 10% are a littttleeee bit dystopian cliche. Which is okay. I can deal with that much. The first 90% definitely made up for it.

If you didn't already know, in this book we follow two spies who work for the company The Love Interest. Basically their job is to spy on a future influential person by becoming their love interests. We follow Dyl (a bad) and Caden (a nice) who have been assigned to Juliet, a freaking future genius, while she is still in high school. In the end, only one boy can be Juliet's love interest for the rest of her life and the other is removed from the situation and potentially killed.

""No one finds the love of their life while they're a teenager."
"You haven't read any YA novels recently, have you?"

This whole entire book basically pokes fun at different YA stereotypes and discusses so much pop culture. We have a classic bad boy who does all of the bad boy things. Dylan has to be dark and moody and totally underestimated, while Caden has to be cute and awkward. They're literally trained to be this perfect mould of a person and it really does take a toll on both of these characters. While they should be falling for Juliet, they realise they are really falling for each other.

Overall, this book is refreshing and utterly riveting. I would 200% recommend this book. It's so so worth the hype!!


I received an eARC but obviously all of my thoughts are my own
Profile Image for Anna Priemaza.
Author 3 books186 followers
August 25, 2016
"Wouldn't it be better to send us in when we're a bit older? No one finds the love of their life while they're a teenager."
"You haven't read any YA novels recently, have you?"

So say the characters in this deliciously meta book that pokes fun at so many YA tropes, while somehow still making you swoon over them.

Caden, a Nice, has to compete against Dyl, a Bad (complete with leather jacket and sob story to account for his jerky behaviour), to win the affections of their Chosen. The winner gets to spend the rest of his life at her side, spying on her. The loser gets incinerated.

To makes things worse, Caden is falling in love with his competition.

THE LOVE INTEREST is fast-paced and action-packed. It's sexy. It regularly says, "Oh by the way, I'm using Trope X right now" and makes you laugh because yeah, it totally is using that trope and you're totally swooning over it. I read most of it in a day because I couldn't put it down. This is definitely one you want to pick up.
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
595 reviews3,587 followers
June 17, 2017
"If you caught your Chosen kissing your rival, what would you do?"

I lower my eyes and bring on the tears. When I feel them behind my eyelids I look up at him, my entire body radiating hurt. I stare at him for a moment, drop my mouth a fraction, then turn my head away.

"I'd look at her like that. Then I'd walk away. Next time I saw her she'd probably apologize if I were still in the running, so I'd tell her she doesn't ever have to explain herself to me, and that I only responded in that manner because I love her so damn much. I'd tell her I'm glad it hurts because it proves how much I care."

Okay, first thing you need to know about The Love Interest is that it's a parody. It takes YA tropes such as the nice guy-bad boy love triangle, Special Snowflake heroine, unrealistically perfect guys who have no life or personality outside of the MC, absentee parents, evil organization, and spins them into a beautiful, self-aware story that pokes fun of them while fulfilling a very particular fangirl fetish.

Basically, Edward and Jacob fall in love and dump Bella on her ass.

Our narrator and protagonist is a Nice called Caden. He's the kind boy-next-door love interest as opposed to his rival Dylan, who's a Bad. Aggressive, mean, but is secretly sensitive and sweet, and only lashes out because he has a TORTURED PAST.

They've been trained since childhood to fit these molds in order to get their Chosen (Juliet) to fall in love with them and then learn her secrets to share with their spy organization. Loser is horrifically killed by a scary robot known as a Stalker.

I've seen reviews that complain about how unrealistic it is, but I for one loved it. It's simple, pure tongue-in-cheek fun. They do try to justify certain things, like why they send in two Love Interests (higher success rates if the Chosen feels like she has a choice) or why conduct things at the teenage level at all (Have you read any YA novels lately? People always meet the love of their life when they're teens).

In general though, there's an unwritten contract that anticipates you won't take The Love Interest too seriously. A bunch of teens taking on an evil organization? Not very realistic, but a YA staple. It's meant to be silly and predictable. Even the one-dimensional villain, his ridiculously advanced technology, and Juliet's ability to create crazy powerful weapons in a shed like Disney's Phineas sings with the tongue-out charm Dietrich applies to the love triangle.

"I practice my smile. Oh God. It's now crooked—nice touch."

Fun fact: it even mimics the Twilight scene where Edward stops a truck from crushing Bella.

Juliet could have easily been tossed aside as a vapid bitch, so I'm really glad The Love Interest didn't go that route. She's intelligent and nice and seems like a genuinely good person, if a bit clueless to the situation at first. She's as much a part of this story as the boys, though not the part we're conditioned to expect.

Caden is the sole narrator and though it would have been nice to get Dylan's perspective, it would have ruined one of the later plot twists. I especially like how the book digs deep into the nature of Caden and Dylan's relationship at the end. They did fall in love a little too quickly (oh, look, insta-love!) and Caden questions that. Are they together because of what they went through, or are they together because they genuinely love each other?

One thing I didn't quite like is the onslaught of pop culture references, like Nicki Minaj or Suicide Squad, which "age" a work quite quickly. But I admit it works in this case. A story all about poking fun of YA tropes wouldn't be right without a little cultural context.
Profile Image for emily.
254 reviews2,192 followers
May 29, 2017
All aboard the MS Disappointment, I'm the fucking captain of this ship

disclaimer: This book disappointed me so much that this turned into a Roast Session, I promise I'm a nice person and I don't really want to drag anyone (i don't even know how to trash books i've never done this before) so pls be nice to me, idk how to handle haters once someone told me i should calm down and i cried for 3.4 days


let's begin.

I need you to understand that I don't e v e r rate anything less than 3 stars. I don't think anyone ever expected me to rate a book one (1) star, this is news to both you and i

((i'm naming the different sections of this review after some of my favorite words from The Love Interest bc i am petty like that))

"Did she just say friggin? My favorite fake swearword? Be still, my beating heart."


1. "for realsies"

what even was this book, I mean I'm so glad I didn't get a physical copy of this because I would've probably burned it at some point, I'm not even kidding when I say I would've fed the pages of this to my cat

• The first thing I don't really want to talk about, is the characters

Excuse me, but the bread I ate this morning had more personality than Kaden or Caden and Dylan and the other stupid [insert mainstream name] characters like ???!!!!???!! i don't even understand what Cale Dietrich wanted to do because I've never been this confused in my life

K/Caden is literally THE most annoying character I've ever read about. It's so frustrating to read this book and partly that's because his trains of thought are all over the place.

Dylan isn't any better, he's just as plain and weird, plus

Speaking of these two clowns, they had literally Zero chemistry, i couldn't find myself caring about either one of them for like .1 seconds and their relationship was based on seeing each other like 3 times and Sexual Frustration™ doing the rest

also, can we take a second to talk about this:

"It's all right, Dyl. Think of all the people who've died in all of history. If they've done it, you can too, right?"

what ? the ?? fuck ??? does ???? that ????? mean ??????

WHAT KINDA ARGUMENT IS THAT. Right, next time someone says that they're scared of dying i'll just say awww :) well, look, other people have done it :) so you can too!! :) :) :)

The other characters were all 100% forgettable which is why I can't even say anything about them. Oh!! except my special little guy Tr*vor who

2. "holy friggin frig"

• Absolutely the worst writing I've ever seen

Like I know this is Cale Dietrich's first book and I respect that, but all I kept thinking while reading was that this is exactly the way 11-year-old Me wrote ((and I wrote about Demon Cats))

"His expression, which looks alarmingly like the disappointed emoji personified,"


all in all, this feels like a poorly written fanfiction except that i paid actual money for this (i want my €10 back what the fuck) and i literally read way more //entertaining//realistic//well-written// fanfictions than this book lmao

also, what is with all the clearly forced references to all the things that are what the kids call ""mainstream"" only so people can #relate to the weird ass characters in this book, like ??? i see you Cale Dietrich, you sly dog

I know I should be more rational about this and actually try and write a semi-decent review explaining all the issues I had with this book, but there's one tiny problem: I. Don't. Care. I simply couldn't care less about any of these characters or this weird fucking story and I'm done with all of it.

So, that's it, I'm ready to pretend this book never happened and move on with my life.

Congrats The Love Interest on being the First One Star of my ""goodreads career"" !!! haha


Honestly don't even know if I can call it a Buddy Read but shoutout to my wife (+ my fake wife) for supporting me through this dark time i love you
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,393 followers
May 16, 2017

seriously pick this up NOW if you can get your hands on it.

I received an eARC, but this in no way impacts my views.

The Love Interest is a book that has me still screaming about it 12 hours later. It is a book that had me screaming at my phone, screaming at myself and crying. It is a book that defied all expectations I had for it, which were mildly low. I didn't want to go in expecting the best, but this is one of the best books I have ever read.

Cale Dietrich writes such an amazing story that defeats stereotypes. Two spies, who have to fight it out for a girl's affection but fall in love with each other? I mean, if that isn't defeating stereotypes straight up, I don't know what is. There is also the fact that it completely busts through the moulds that YA fiction usually places on people in love triangles - that one is "bad" and the other is "good".

Both Caden and Dyl are two characters I basically shipped from their moment of first meeting. I became so giddy and happy. Then every scene that included the pair from then forth made me want to kiss butterflies and hug everyone I saw. Trust me, it's that cute.

The story itself isn't exactly original when it gets to the end, but before that, it's pretty damn original. I'm beyond curious in what fueled this author's inspiration and ideas for this novel. Honestly, though, I can't even begin to put anything into words because I don't want to spoil anyone in the slightest. This just has my tick of approval 110%. I had all these ideas for this review, but I'm truly stumped by the beauty that is this novel.

More to come possibly closer to the release date.
Profile Image for Jiana.
296 reviews823 followers
May 19, 2017

I can't believe how disappointing this book was.

Honestly, I didn't have overly high expectations; however, I was curious. I felt like it had potential and so I decided to read it. Despite the hype and the fact that it's been 2-3 days since it's been released, there's already lots of mixed reviews. I think it's going to be one of those books that'll have very mixed reviews: you either love it or you hate it.

Let me be honest, from the first chapter, I knew this book won't be good yet I decided to keep going and give it a chance. From the first chapter it was obvious to me that the writing wasn't good at all and the MC, Caden (who's also the narrator) is boring. As I read further, the writing didn't get better, Caden remained super dull and boring and the plot itself fell flat. Before I delve in further with my negative remarks, I'll just state my only positive remark: the subversion of the famous YA tropes. I think Dietrich did a fairly good job pointing out those and breaking out of all the stereotypes we all know very well.

Moving on to the negatives. I shall start with the one-dimensional, doormat characters. I truly think every single of those characters had potential. They could've been multi-layered and complex. They were all super bland and uninteresting. The sole narrator of the book, as I've stated previously is Caden. He bored me to tears. He's got zero charisma. He's got the personality of a doormat. I couldn't care less about his thoughts and I think this book might have worked better had it been dual POVs, with Dylan, obviously, being the other POV. Not that Dylan was any interesting. Juliet is introduced as someone super clever, who creates and builds things. I expected her to be someone I'd love! Also Natalie and Trevor. Yet, I felt nothing. They were all bland and one-dimensional. I didn't care about any of them. Also, zero connection and chemistry between Caden and Dylan???? Like I didn't ship them at all because there was no real connection between them.

... Honestly, they all SUCK!!!!!

Next, the writing. The writing was overly simplistic. I did not like it. It was easy, sure, but it was immature. The conversation and dialogue are super awkward and unrealistic. Seventeen year olds don't talk that way, let's be real. The whole book just read like a first draft?????

Finally, the plot. It was a mess. It lacked proper and full world-building and it fell flat right after the first couple of chapters. The world setting is pretty absurd and unbelievable. I read fantasy. I live for other worlds as long as the creation itself is executed right. In this book... oh boy, it was a mess. It was illogical and unbelievable. I won't go into specifics because spoilers.

This book had the potential to be great. It just lacked majorly in execution. Oh well.

Bad writing, bad plot, bad world-building, bad characters.
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,288 reviews3,234 followers
December 29, 2020
Wait, wait, I can explain. You see, someone who has similar reading interests recommended this book and without reading a single review I dove right in, but at the 40% mark and after many wtfs I realised this person must really dislike me; otherwise, how does one recommend this book?

That's 2 hours of my life that I'll never get back. DNF @40%
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,096 reviews17.7k followers
June 23, 2017
I can't take it, so DNF at page 130. Great premise, poor execution.

I don't know if I'll ever actually review this because all my feelings on it are so lukewarm. Feel free to head on over and watch Em drag it to hell and back if that's your thing.

The problem with this book is it can't decide whether it's a parody novel or a book or both. This is an excellent parody novel. It is not a good actual book.

In terms of being an actual novel, Dietrich has good ideas. Thematic conclusions about lgbt+ characters being sidelined? Great. Brilliant. Showstopping. They just aren't executed well at all. I got spoiled for a certain storyline () that really seems to detract from that narrative point.

That's really all I have to say. Good concept, poor and overbearing execution.

BR with probably everyone on this website who didn't get an arc but (probably) especially Jamieson, Em, Kainat, my terrible wife, and that one asshole who forced me to watch Skam. Tbh comment if we're friends and you're reading this As Soon As It Comes Out.

this is honestly the most brilliant book premise I've ever seen
Profile Image for Grace (BURTSBOOKS).
153 reviews360 followers
August 24, 2020
I went into this book expecting nothing. I was tentatively interested but scared I would be disappointed because I saw so many low ratings lingering around Goodreads. But guys, this book is soooo entertaining. I had so much fun listening to the audiobook of this novel; I can't imagine giving it anything lower than 4 stars.

I understand why some people don't like this book. It's loaded with cliches, and at times the characters can be very "cookie cutter." They can be one-sided, fitting into their character archetypes so well it comes across one dimensional, but I'm pretty sure they were supposed to be that way? As in the author was parodying the cliches and character types of the genre? And if that's the case, how could I complain?

Something I will complain about is the ending. I think for all the build-up leading to the "final showdown" it was a little too perfect. One of the things I loved was how detailed and realized the corporation weaponizing these orphans was, but because of that, I wanted a more comprehensive explanation of how they could manage to take down such a big organization. It all happened so quickly, and it felt jarring. I seriously think this book could have benefited from 50ish more pages.

All in all, though, I think this book was so fun. I was enthralled in the politics and the drama, and it was just a blast. And the audiobook actor made the experience fell like a movie. So I highly recommend.
Profile Image for Holly Jennings.
Author 5 books123 followers
July 17, 2016
Start the fangirling now.

I was fortunate enough to read an early copy of this book, and I couldn't put it down. For all of you wondering if this is "a love triangle turned on its head, where the special girl becomes the third wheel between two guys, who fall for each other instead." Yes, yes it is -- and it's so much more.

Full disclosure: the author and I are with the same literary agency, which is how I got my hands on an early copy. It has not affected my review in any way.

It's definitely very Young Adult in the best way possible. It flips all those tiresome YA tropes around, and still dumps you in the deep end of the "new, unexplored emotions" that truly define the teenage years. The love story -- the real love story -- is a slow burn, and it's worth every moment. There are scenes that, when they finally come, are so well earned I've gone back and read them again and again. And again. I have never encountered a book where I so badly wanted to stick my hands into the story and make the characters kiss.

I don't want to get all political, but in a time when love is love is love -- this is also an important book. That's all I'll say about that.

And it's so much more than a love story. It's about a young man designated to be "the best friend, the nice guy, the one-next-door," someone who isn't meant to be anything more than the love interest. But instead of conforming to his trope, he takes the story into his own hands and figures out who he is as a character and as a person.

The story starts at a compound named The LIC, where young male characters are bred and raised to be either 'Nice Guy' or 'Bad Boy' love interests for the all important 'Special Girl' protagonist. This is where we meet Caden - a lovable 'Nice Guy' character who hides his perfect abs behind worn sweaters and a shy smile. Before he sets out on his directive to win over the special girl Juliet, he meets his rival: 'Bad boy' Dyl complete with a leather jacket, a motorcycle, and a tragic backstory. But as the plotline progresses, the love interests realize that they're not falling for Juliet, and find each other much more appealing. Here's the problem: for love interests, the male character who doesn't win the girl gets killed off the page, and if neither do, the story itself comes undone.

Flipped tropes. A twisty plot. Kissing boys. Are you excited yet??

Somehow, this book is sci-fi, contemporary, romance, action, and LGBT without stretching any of those labels too thin. Above all, it's also about friendship. I know I'm going on and on about this novel, but I've read several since, and it's the one I keep thinking about. Bottom line: read this book. It's different, it's wonderful, and I doubt you'll be disappointed.
Profile Image for Silvia .
642 reviews1,428 followers
May 19, 2017
BR with my friends (I mean I only actually talked about this book with a couple of people while reading it but yeahhhh I just don't want anyone to feel excluded) <3

While you anxiously wait for my review you should read this analysis because it talks a bit more about the meta aspects of this book that I feel a lot of people might have missed (I mean, that's perfectly fine and I don't want to come off as "the way I read this is The Right Way and you're all wrong". I get it that reading this book expecting pure enjoyment is going to be very different than reading it the way I did, but I was genuinely curious about the critique it did to YA as a genre and the plot and writing style obviously impacted my rating but not as much as they would have with a different book.)

Full review still to come but I'm bored and procrastinating so here's a few thoughts:

• Plot: eh. Definitely not the strength of this book, it was okay-ish though. The ending was a bit weird and rushed but whatever
• Writing (minus the dialogues): quite immature, it's a debut so y'know, also first person PoV always tends to be a bit like that (okay with a few exceptions)
• Dialogues: probably the worst part of this book let's be real. Cringy and unnatural and they felt scripted even when they actually weren't (at some point I started asking myself whether it was a case of The Truman Show where everyone was scripted and not just the Love Interests because I honestly couldn't believe my eyes (*terminator voice* I'll be back with quotes if I feel like it)


• The meta stuff was awesome! Like I told Simona (btw, you should definitely check out her review because it's pretty much my thoughts, only written much better), even this aspect was far from perfect, but then again, what would make it perfect? You don't "fix" YA's problems in a fictional work, even if you build it as a YA meta-critique. There's also the matter of whether YA (or any genre) needs fixing at its core (the tropes, mainly the dreaded love triangle that was addressed here) or not, but that's beyond a review's purpose.
• there's also a lot of good stuff about sexuality and gender roles that is both relevant to the YA world and our world so young adults who read this will definitely see some positive messages (again, I'll be back quotes on that)

This is out in three days and I'd be lying if I said I'm not organizing my life around its release date
Profile Image for sofia (sam willows).
285 reviews364 followers
July 30, 2017

Yep, this was very disappointing.
(also sorry if this is too long, my brain is a mess rn)
but really, spoilers everywhere

I really wanted to like this book, I really did. But it just did not work for me.
The bad thing is, that when I started reading it, I was invested. I mean, the plot was very promising, and the characters had so much room to grow, this book could've been great. memorable, even. But noooooo, the characterization, writing and plot had to be badly executed, because I guess we can't have nice things, huh?

Something that was exceptionally bad was the writing. It was average, and I'm usually okay with that, but not this case. In this book, I was cringing at the dialogue, the writing and every time it was asking to be taken seriously, especially by this:
“Even though I’ve been through hell, even though I’ve been told I’m worthless my whole life, even though I’m gay, even though the world wants me to bow down and accept that who I am makes me insignificant, the following is true:
“I’m the protagonist, fucker”

I'm all for lgbtq people feeling like they are the protag in their own life, but this last line, man... this last line made this entire book feel so childish and silly, wanting to teach a life lesson but failing miserably.
To top it all, there was a point in the book where I couldn't stand the dialogue. It didn't feel organic, it felt like there were robots talking. And I mean actual robots, not that pathetic excise for one this book called a "Stalker".

And about this Stalker, what the even fuck was that? It felt very convenient that there was only one guy controlling that huge army, and all they had to do was kill him! The Stalkers were supposed to be some unpredictable scary robots designed to maim and kill, instead they were controlled by a really stupid but supposedly genius doctor.

Also, talk about convenience in this book. In the last 100 pages, I couldn't believe the conflicts that were being introduced at that point in time.
"Hey, we know have to destroy a giant army of killing robots and defeat an entire organization in 100 pages. We can totally do it, even though we are 5 teenagers that have zero training with weapons and actual fighting"

Some things that bothered me:
• Why did the author make Caden work at Starbucks if everyone just forgets about it by the 50% mark? I don't get it.
• And Trevor. The boy did not deserve to die, at all. Why kill an important character in the last 50 pages if you're just killing him for shock value and not exploring what his death will do to the other characters? 101% uncalled for.
• About Dyl faking that he was faking his feelings (confusing, I know). I thought it was really unnecessary. Imagine that, when Dyl was going to kill himself, he said he still had feelings for Caden. The plot would've actually been better from that point, bc no unnecessary drama = happiness for everyone

And I think that Cale Dietrich left a pretty big plot point unsolved: we obviously know that there is a women's Love Interest compound, and that it is separate from the men's ones (I'm actually not sure about this). So in the end, they let dozens of male teenagers loose, without anything to actually do after they get out. And, in the end, they left it pretty clear that they destroyed the LIC. So what happened to the Women Love Interests? Where was their institution? How did they get out? How in hell did they destroy an entire organization just by freeing like 50 people? I wasn't taking this book seriously, but then it demanded I did. And when I try to, they present me with this giant plot hole?
Honestly if anyone knows just let me know please this is really bothering me. I can't remember, and I finished this one hour ago.

The thing is, I was enjoying this book. I wasn't taking it seriously, but I was liking it the way you like a silly, trashy, but feel-good trashy kinda book, and I was having a good time. Until they had to run away, and then everything went to shit. I'm not saying it's necessarily bad, it's just that I was expecting a cute together-against-the-odds romance with strong characters. I was expecting that this book wasn't asking to be taken seriously, but it did. It not only did, but it also wanted to give life lessons, and that was not what I signed up for.

Now, to lighten up the mood, some things I did enjoy:
• it was fast-paced. I like that.
• the romance. very very cute
• I actually really like Juliet!
• Trevor and his Olympics storyline (before that shit show)
• the original premise
• some lines about Caden being gay. Some (key-word: some) of his inner monologue was actually okay
• the angst when Dyl and Caden weren't together yet

All in all, this book was actually pretty entertaining, but the ending was a mess. I wouldn't really recommend this book if you're looking for something more serious, because there's a high chance that it will only bring frustration. I was looking for a light read, I ended up with a headache.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for rin.
411 reviews483 followers
June 14, 2017
you know when you see a big and pretty red apple and you want to taste it so bad, but then you take a bite and it's rotten on the inside

this book is that apple


this was a lie and review is not coming
Profile Image for Erica ♋️✨.
480 reviews80 followers
April 21, 2020
I wish I could give this book 10 stars it was so fucking good omg. The characters were all amazing the plot was so unique and I just loved it, I'm so shocked that this book has such low ratings this book deserves all the rating and stars in the world. I had low expectations going into this just like probably everyone else but I loved it so much one of my favorite books so far this year EVERYONE READ THIS BOOK PLEASE. ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

UPDATE REREAD: 2/16/2018

i loved this book even more the second time i can reread this book everyday and be happy i just love the characters and the plot. This book really needs better reviews because it’s amazing. 💕💕💕💕💕💕

UPDATE REREAD: 5/21/2020

This book has a special place in my heart i just love it so much. It’s definitely becoming a tradition to reread this book every year.
Profile Image for Nikki.
312 reviews241 followers
July 30, 2017
i'd write a proper review but it would just be full of question marks
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