The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
Synopsis: 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.
About the Author: Cale Dietrich is a YA devotee, lifelong gamer, and tragic pop punk enthusiast. He was born in Perth, grew up on the Gold Coast, and now lives in Brisbane, Australia. The Love Interest is his first novel.
Genre: young adult, romance, LGBTQIA+, adventure
More Info: hardcover, 384 pages, published by Feiwel & Friends on May 16, 2017
Young adults live in a mirrored, white-walled facility for many years and are trained to be successful, lifelong infiltrating spies. They are chosen based on an algorithm to match with subjects. Their purpose? Make the target fall in love with them and then spend the rest of their life spying on their mark.
When the main character is chosen for a last minute project, he becomes Caden: a blue-eyed, blond-haired, chiseled good boy. Although he doesn’t fully fit the good boy mold, Caden pretends to be the perfect student for the institute members, so that he can finally go into the outside world.
He is paired against Dylan: a tall, dark, and handsome bad boy. They connect instantly and end up spending nights together: drinking, talking, driving. They’d rather spend their time in the real world without excessive worry…until the fight for Juliet becomes very real, and one of them is about to die.
They’re both competing against each other for Juliet’s love and attention. Juliet is a girl genius who has the potential to make new advanced weaponry and technology. She lives her life like a normal teenager, going to high school and starting to fall for boys, except she has wealthy parents and her own lab.
When secrets are exposed, the trio must find a way to escape the endless watch of the Love Interest organization.
I loved the premise of the book. Two spies—the bad boy and the good boy—fight for the girl. One will win, one will die. But they fall for each other instead!
This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. It was a good read, but it fell short of the hype.
I think this book would have benefited from multiple point of views. I understand why it was kept to Caden only, to protect secret plot point and surprise the reader. However, I found Caden’s cold-hearted-ness hard to connect to. I didn’t establish any relationship with any of the characters. I had no idea what the other characters were thinking, which made it hard to understand context and links between them. When the characters state something through their mouth or in their mind, I’m like…really? Are you sure? Because I’m not. I have no idea what anyone is feeling or thinking.
This book was corny, clichéd and filled with YA tropes. In the meantime, it skipped over some of the developmental aspects, such as the boys’ transition from the facility to the real world. They’ve never even seen grass before, yet they seem to blend in seamlessly. Yes, they were taught pop-culture references, but seeing and doing are two different beasts entirely.
Caden’s “parents” were also an interesting turn. I thought that they would have more of a purpose than just being annoying dead-beats.
Also, I personally felt like this was two shortened books in one. I almost wish it was separated so that the second half of the book could have been expanded on. The first half was character based and the second, plot based; they were so separated that they felt disjointed. Part one seemed to go nowhere and part two went everywhere in too short a time. The finale felt rushed. And for me, there was no closure at the end in terms of the Love Interest organization. I thought, that was it?! What happened? Where was the fallback?
The book fell flat for me despite its incredible potential. I was somewhat disappointed with character development and plot devices. This book was entertaining, but it’s not in my top favorites.
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