The Love Hypothesis
by Ali Hazelwood
Spoiler Alert: Adam Carlsen has always liked Olive, even when she didn’t know who he was.
Insight Into The Love Hypothesis
There are a lot of fandoms in the world: Avatar the Last Airbender, Harry Potter, Anime…the list goes on. Almost any piece of media has a group of loyal fans standing behind it. Though there are two that seem to get more attention than the others…Marvel and Star Wars. Personally, I’m a devoted follower of the former. (Scarlet Witch is the most powerful Avenger and I will not be taking questions at this time). But Star Wars has been the inspiration of many pieces of fiction, including The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood.
Spoiler-y Plot Summary
The Love Hypothesis follows Olive—based on the character Rey from the Star Wars sequel trilogy—a PhD student at Stanford. Three years prior to the start of this novel Olive was having a breakdown about going the academic route and a mysterious stranger convinced her it was worthwhile. This is important…and it’s also pretty predictable. In present time, Olive kisses Adam Carlsen—based on Kylo Ren from the same movie—a Stanford researcher, in a desperate attempt to convince her best friend she’s on a date.
At this point, a few things need to be cleared up:
Olive had an ex-boyfriend named Jeremy that her best friend, Anh, was interested in, but being the good friend she was, she backed off. However, Olive was all for it and to convince Anh she’d moved on, she told Anh she was going on a date only for Anh to walk into the lab where Olive was actually spending her night. Thus, she kissed the closest person to her: Adam.
No, it was not the most logical option available.
Adam threatens her with a Title IX lawsuit if she doesn’t explain, which she does before sprinting away, like any socially anxious person would. The next day, as Anh is demanding an explanation for what she saw, (why would Olive be kissing the notoriously scary professor?), Adam swoops in, acting like her boyfriend to prevent Olive from feeling awkward.
Following this encounter, the pair discuss acting like a couple for their individual reasons. Olive: so, Anh will feel comfortable dating her ex. Adam: so, the university will think he’s putting down roots and that he isn’t secretly planning to leave the university for another school. Thus, the fake-dating trope begins.
Meanwhile, Olive is researching modes of early detection for pancreatic cancer and is looking for a better lab to continue her work. Her plea for help is answered by Tom Benton, a professor from Harvard, who happens to be a friend of Adam’s. She is able to pitch her work to him while on a fake date with Adam, which Tom intruded on. Impressed with her work, he later offers her a spot in his lab.
Weeks pass, with many awkward encounters between Adam and Olive due to Anh’s pushing, and Olive is invited to speak about her work at a conference in Boston. Most hotels are booked, and she’s forced to share a room with Adam to aid in their charade. Unfortunately, Adam isn’t able to attend Olive’s speech because he has one simultaneously as the keynote speaker, but Tom Benton is in the audience.
After her speech, Tom begins to show his true colors and tries to force himself onto her. As she declines, he threatens to steal her work and publish it under his name. She flees to her room, and this is where Adam finds her. He comforts her, though she doesn’t tell him about Tom or his cruelty because she knows they’re friends. The next day, Olive breaks things off with Adam since they had succeeded in reaching their individual goals.
Later, Olive is reviewing a recording she had of her speech when she realizes she’d accidentally recorded Tom as well. Olive’s friends were in the room as this happened and they persuade her to report him since she has proof.
Furthermore, Adam planned to transfer to Harvard to work alongside Tom, though Tom would be getting more out of the arrangement—her friends convince Olive that Adam deserved to know who he was working with.
Appearing at the restaurant where Adam and Tom were meeting with higher-ups of Harvard, she asks to speak with Adam privately. Tom does not want this to happen and follows them, trying to interrupt her before Olive turns on the recording and Tom’s callousness is revealed. This lands him a punch in the face, courtesy of Adam. During the ensuing fight, Adam tells Tom, “say another word about the woman I love, if you look at her, if you even think of her—I’m going to [redacted] kill you.”
In the aftermath, Olive and Adam go on a double date with Malcolm (another friend of Olive’s) and Holden (another friend of Adam’s) who reveals that Adam has always pined after her since the time he found her crying on a bathroom floor because she didn’t know whether she should follow academia. Aww.
The book ends with Adam and Olive reenacting their first kiss on their one-year anniversary. Tom Benton has been fired from his job at Harvard. Olive has found a lab in California to continue her research with Adam remaining at Stanford so they can be together. All is right in the world.
Analysis: Should You Read It?
Overall, this book is adorable. If you’re looking for a deep thinker or something that inspires philosophical questions, this is about as far away as you can get. This book is perfect if you’re in the middle of a reading slump and need something easy to pull you out of it—it’s always my go-to in that case. The romance is easy to love, and the academic setting is greatly advantaged due to the author’s history in academia.
The characters are loveable even if you sometimes want to take their shoulders and shake them as you scream, “stop being stupid!” Olive is the quintessential sunshine-y, quirky girl who’s love of Star Wars reflects the author’s own passion. Adam is the classic, grumpy boy who emotes in tortured looks across rooms. Together, they’re the perfect duo even if they have no idea how to properly communicate their feelings to each other. However, the side characters are mostly 2-dimensional and aren’t really fleshed out other than providing means for a plot.
My biggest complaint is the cluelessness that Olive exhibits throughout the novel. While Adam never outright admitted his crush on Olive, the signs were all there. In bright red letters! Additionally, while this book has two of the greatest tropes, sunshine x grumpy and fake dating, it also has the absolute worst…miscommunication. While I’m grateful for the length of this novel, it doesn’t stop a person from being aggravated that all the issues could be solved in a single, honest discussion.
Ultimately, despite my grievances, this novel is one of my favorites to read and recommend. So much so that I’ve gifted this book to two separate people as birthday gifts. Ali Hazelwood is a fantastic author, and her books are incredibly enjoyable.
If you enjoy this book, I suggest The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang which also follows a woman in STEM and her journey to finding love. Additionally, I would suggest Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey which shares the lightheartedness of this novel.