Loathe at First Sight
By: Suzanne Park
Melody Joo is thrilled to land her dream job as a video game producer, but her new position comes with challenges: an insufferable CEO; sexist male coworkers; and an infuriating—yet distractingly handsome—intern, Nolan MacKenzie, aka “the guy who got hired because his uncle is the boss.”
Just when Melody thinks she’s made the worst career move of her life, her luck changes. While joking with a friend, she creates a mobile game that has male strippers fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Suddenly Melody’s “joke” is her studio’s most high-profile project—and Melody’s running the show.
When Nolan is assigned to Melody’s team, she’s sure he’ll be useless. But as they grow closer, she realizes he’s smart and sexy, which makes Melody want to forget he’s her intern. As their attraction deepens, she knows it’s time to pump the brakes, even with her Korean parents breathing down her neck to hurry up and find a man.
With her project about to launch, Melody suddenly faces a slew of complications, including a devastating trolling scandal. Could the man she’s falling hard for help her play the game to win—in work and in love?
Loathe at First Sight was in multiple marketing emails I receive. (This year I’ve used those emails to add a LOT of books to my To-Read list.) I was immediately sold on it because I have a connection to video game studios. I worked for a mobile game company, albeit briefly, my husband works at a large video game company. Several friends work on games and for game companies and just generally as programmers/engineers. I am well aware of the shit women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ people get in the industry. I’ve been a gamer since I was five. This is my world.
My hopes were high for Loathe at First Sight based on the blurb alone, and that’s where I got screwed. The marketing for this book was just plain bad. This was not a romance. At all. This was a female-led book, by a female author, with a tiny little dose of romance. It should never have been marketed as a romance. It was women’s fiction. The main point was not to see Melody fall in love. It was to see her incredible struggle in video game production. If you’re a masochist, you’ll probably enjoy Loathe at First Sight because Melody is thrown hurdle after hurdle, given impossible demands, and struggles with every aspect of her life. She has one nice friend, but the other makes up for that with all of her requests and snide comments. Her parents frequently talk about how disappointed they are in her and that she needs to get married. Her job is a hell dimension. Her love life is nonexistent throughout this entire book.
Loathe at First Sight was a “romance” with no romance. There wasn’t even any loathe directed at the male “love interest.” They had a bad first meeting, but that quickly turned around to Melody, occasionally lusting after his body. Even that was infrequent because she was so loaded down with work. They ate dinner together one night. It was supposed to be a work thing as a thank you to Nolan for all of his hard work, but it was more than that, but not much more. Then she shared one chaste kiss with him after she got stuck in an elevator with another man, one she actually did loathe. Every other interaction was work-related. She somehow knew Nolan was perfect for her based on how well he did his job.
Unrealistic circumstances are expected with romance, and I’m usually all for them, but the level that was reached with regards to the game design side of things blew my mind. There had to have been a ton of research done for Loathe at First Sight because of how well it nailed what the industry is like, but none of that research time seemed to be targeted to making a cell phone game that was the caliber that was mentioned in the story. All kinds of original art, actual story, merchandising, and more were all done in six months, with another game doing a lot of that in even less time. She must have had a huge freaking team, but even that was taken away from her halfway through.
If this book had been marketed as something other than romance, I might have enjoyed it, but as my blog is teaching me, once I have certain expectations, I am easily disappointed when they aren’t met. With that blurb, the marketing, and even the praise from Helen Hoang, was I wrong in expecting a romance??
The ending was about as satisfying as the movie 9-5. This is to say, it wasn’t satisfying. The men in the book didn’t get what they really deserved. It was realistic so there was no justice.
I’m not rating this book. It just doesn’t seem right too. It was well written and well researched. It just wasn’t the romance I was sold.