I’d seen ‘The Hating Game’ novel around the blog-o-sphere and in stores, but was never inclined to pick it up. I like contemporaries, but tend to read them as pallet cleansers, or books in-between heavier titles as a way to rest my brain. Nothing about the hype around ‘The Hating Game’ particularly reached out to me until I saw the movie trailer, and then went out and bought it immediately – maybe they book marketing team needed to tweak their campaign or re-write the blurb? The movie trailer came across as comedic and sarcastic – and I’m a big fan of Lucy Hale who portrays the story’s protagonist. Who doesn’t enjoy a good romcom every now and then?
I read the book before the film was released, it has a tone of being funny and deliciously spiteful. Though, the story comes off as tropey with unrealistic characters and plot. Some of the situations in the novel verge on abuse. And the protagonist, Lucy and her competitor/work mate/love interest Joshua come off like two thirteen year olds having inappropriate sexual activity. So, at a glance I wasn’t really sold on this tome. But if you don’t take it too seriously it can be some camp fun. But I like a little more substance to my reading. The film by comparison has characters and a storyline much more realistic and believable. The cast are much more charming and likeable, and all of the plot points introduced are resolved in the film, where the book leaves many hanging.
The writing style of Sally Thorne is light and easy to read, though there were too many repeated phrases. And I felt like I wanted more story – not just the romance. The book felt shallow and very predictable, I even guessed the plot twists very early on. To the point that I skimmed a lot near the end, especially with pages of intimate scenes that became a bit boring. Not especially titillating. I didn’t particularly like the Lucy or Joshua as depicted in the novel, and therefore was not really invested in their story.
Contrasting the issues I had with the book, the film is released as a Christmas movie (though the book is set at a non-disclosed time of the year, and place.) I enjoyed the backdrop of New York for the screen adaptation and many of the secondary cast of characters are much more interesting. I prefer the treatment of the film to the book… everyone is much less nasty. I think the actors chosen were able to realise much more into the characters.
The relationship between Lucy and Joshua (played by Austin Stowell) feels a lot more natural and loving with the on-screen interpretation, which I believe is its saving grace. Joshua is especially a more of a good guy, where in the book he comes off as a dick. The film also shows more of the faults of Lucy… she bumbles through life and is somewhat destructive and self-sabotaging, it’s not really addressed like this in the book.
On a side note, in comparing the book to the film, the colour of choice is green and not blue to match Lucy Hale’s eye colour when Joshua is trying to be flirty and express his feelings – you’ll understand once you have either read the book or viewed the movie.
The novel does a great job in building angst. And while heavily troped and stereotyped I did enjoy it. But it’s definitely the film for the win – the camp source material and ability to add more dimension to the characters gives it the edge.
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