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‘The Love Hypothesis’: TikTok made me read it

| Monday, November 1, 2021

BookTok’s latest obsession is published “Reylofan fiction. 

Popular fan fiction has been rebranded as original works of published fiction simply by changing the character names. Take “Fifty Shades of Grey and “After, for instance. Both book series started out as “Twilight and One Direction fan fiction, respectively, and both series ended up garnering enough success to get movie franchises. Now, “The Love Hypothesis, which was originally a Rey x Kylo Ren “Star Wars fan fiction, is the most hyped-up romance recommendation on the book side of TikTok— that is, on the aforementioned BookTok.

“The Love Hypothesis follows Olive Smith (or Rey), a biology Ph.D. candidate who has no interest in romance. Olive’s best friend Ahn and Olive’s ex-boyfriend Jeremy start showing interest in each other, but Ahn refuses to date Jeremy out of loyalty to Olive. In order to convince Ahn she’s moved on, Olive lies about going on a date with someone else. However, when Ahn almost catches Olive working in the lab instead of being on a date, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees. Unfortunately, it’s only after the kiss that she realizes that this man is Adam Carlsen, a tyrannical professor well-known for crushing Ph.D. students’ hopes and dreams (Adam is, of course, the Kylo Ren of our story.) Despite Adam’s seemingly cold nature, he agrees to be Olive’s fake boyfriend to help cover up her lie. As they spend more time together, Olive begins to see that Adam isn’t as bad as his reputation makes him out to be.

You may be wondering what this story has anything to do with “Star Wars. The answer is: Nothing. The characters from “Star Wars were simply inserted into a rom-com alternate universe.

After seeing the hype on TikTok, I wanted to read this book because I thought it was extremely funny how little it tries to hide its fan fiction origins. On the cover art, Adam and Olive are carbon copies of Kylo Ren and Rey in lab coats. Likewise, Kylo Ren’s name was changed to Adam Carlsen in a not-so-subtle reference to Kylo Ren’s actor, Adam Driver (Get it? Carlsen, like car? Because a car has a driver?).

Despite the fact that I only read this book because of its origins, I actually found “The Love Hypothesis to be a pretty solid rom-com. The novel is chock full of tropes, but it’s also very self-aware. Olive constantly points out that she and Adam are living out the fake dating trope, and the novel occasionally subverts trope expectations.

I also think that the premise of having the characters work in STEM academia is unique. The author Ali Hazelwood has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and is currently working as a professor, so she’s writing from experience. Another thing I enjoyed was Adam Carlsen’s characterization. Considering that his character is based on space fascist Kylo Ren, Adam could’ve easily been characterized as abusive in the same vein as Christian Grey from “Fifty Shades of Grey or Hardin Scott from “After, but Adam is just grumpy and has a penchant for wearing black.

While one of the main issues I have with the story is how contrived the setup for Adam and Olive’s fake relationship is, contrivances in romance novels are par for the course. Another annoying romance trope at the forefront of this novel is miscommunication. Honestly, the length of “The Love Hypothesis could’ve been halved if Adam and Olive just talked about their feelings like grown-ups. Also, the comedy part of this rom-com seemed rather weak to me, given that the novel’s humor is often derived from Olive’s status as a “science nerd. If you can imagine, this eventually grew tiresome, and the science-related humor sometimes seemed out of place in the first place, distracting me from the story.

Overall, “The Love Hypothesis is a solid read for those who enjoy trope-heavy, comfortingly predictable romances or for people who really, really like imagining Rey and Kylo Ren together. The book doesn’t do anything revolutionary with its premise, but it gets the job done. If at any time in the future, this gets a movie deal, I sincerely hope that Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver play the leads.


Title: “The Love Hypothesis

Author: Ali Hazelwood

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Genre: Adult Romance

If you liked: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the “Star Wars sequel trilogy, but specifically the parts where Kylo and Rey interact

Shamrocks: 3.5 out of 5

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