Love Hypothesis: Science + Romance = Chemistry


Amber Kim

Love Hypothesis is a simple, cute love story that is especially empowering for girls and women in the STEM fields. With an inspiring, relatable, and awkwardly funny female lead, this contemporary romance is a must-read.

Love is in the air for all the hopeless romantics out there looking for a Valentine’s Day-appropriate novel, Ali Hazelwood’s debut novel Love Hypothesis checks all the right boxes – a light, funny romance with an addictive plot and a slight sprinkle of Star Wars origins.

What started off as a Rey and Kylo Ren Star Wars fan fiction is now one of BookTok’s latest obsessions. The highlight of reading this book is in uncovering subtle references to characters from the Star Wars movies. As a Kylo Ren fan, knowing that Love Hypothesis’s Adam is based on Kylo Ren, and Olive is based on Rey, was all it took to pique my interest. However, unlike the bittersweet relationship between Rey and Kylo in the movies, the characters in the books finally get a much-needed “happily-ever-after.”

Love Hypothesis — named Amazon’s Best Romance Book of 2021 — is about a pair of  aspiring scientists who are forced into a fake relationship, compelling both to test the boundaries of love and accept their undeniable attraction. Olive Smith, a third-year grad student in Stanford University’s biology department, is a hard-working student who doesn’t believe in love. However, Olive knows that both her best friend, Anh, and her ex-boyfriend, Jeremy, truly belong together — it’s only a matter of how Olive can convince Anh that she no longer has any lingering feelings for Jeremy. 

Lies pile atop of lies and before Olive knows it, she panics and kisses the notoriously broody and young professor, Dr. Adam Carlsen. What starts off as a mutually beneficial relationship with strict rules solidifies into something more.

Personally, the “perfect” love interest should have an imperfect but memorable personality that actively makes readers fall in love with them; that’s exactly what this book does flawlessly. Unlike other romance books, this one takes a fresh approach to capturing every fragment of an imperfect relationship; readers witness how each character’s flaws help them build a perfectly imperfect connection while also wondering “if this is what being in love is. Being okay with ripping yourself to shreds, so the other person can stay whole.” Unconditional love endures the highs and lows of life; through wholly accepting each other’s assets and shortcomings, Olive and Adam build a solid relationship for a healthy relationship.

This reimagined take on a popular movie couple, tackles relatable topics regarding school-life. From the perspective of a soon-to-be high school graduate reading this, everything hits home: college is right around the corner and high school seniors are one step closer to reaching adulthood. And reading about Olive’s hardships with balancing academics with her personal life, while also tackling career opportunities, provides a much-needed sense of comfort because, “I know it’s scary, being vulnerable, but you can allow yourself to care.”

Though cliche book tropes aren’t always fan favorites, when done well, it’s not easy to resist temptation. Taking on a classic trope of “grumpy meets sunshine,” their supportive relationship makes it impossible to cheer both characters on for their developing relationship. In contrast to Olive’s personality that shines through even in the most difficult situations, Adam Carlsen’s personality is dramatically different. Though it doesn’t seem like Adam has much interest in Olive at first, it’s the little things that shine through. 

This is what makes this book so addicting: Readers can misunderstand Adam’s grumpiness as disinterest for Olive initially, but as the plot continues, witnessing Adam’s cold exterior melt through their cute encounters automatically elevates this book from “great” to “stellar.” Not only does Adam constantly shower Olive with cute acts of service, but he also remembers everything that Olive shared with him, even down to the minute details like her favorite snacks and drinks. 

Love is hard to define – while some fundamentally believe that love overcomes all, others refuse to believe that it even exists at all. Despite Olive’s initial belief in the latter idea, Olive’s gradual shift from being an aromatic to hopeless romantic makes for such a multilayered story that can encourage readers to open their hearts to others as well. This book’s perception of love is refreshing and mind-altering for those who have yet to experience “true” love.

As a “mood reader,” this book checks all the boxes: it incorporates favorite book tropes like “fake-dating” and “opposites attract,” as well as a strong STEM heroine. Depicting the raw struggles of navigating through both a personal and love life, Love Hypothesis delicately portrays how opposite personalities can attract in an organic way.