Updated: 4 days ago
Title: Josh and Hazel's Guide to NOT Dating
Author: Christina Lauren
Published: 4th September 2018
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Start Date: 31st July 2022
Finish Date: 31st July 2022
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing at a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.
Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met, when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes, to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.
Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them right?
Josh and Hazel are apparently undateable together, that much power-writing duo Christina Lauren wants to bring across. But the irony is that they are never better matched despite their opposite ways, as the story trundles on. Both go on blind double dates (mostly disasters), get on as good friends (loads of banter and nonsense talk), and then finally realise that they do actually belong together.
This is the second book of Christina Lauren’s I have read, ‘Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating’ was something I eagerly did after being recommended it by quite a few people. That is until the very first chapter caught me out with the antics of a female protagonist I had a bad feeling about.
There’s no other way for me to say this, but I simply found Hazel cringe-worthy. At least, there’s the part where the adorable, bumbling fool kind of woman would probably find purchase with many readers because it’s so obvious how flawed she is. Unfortunately, she simply read like a protagonist who couldn’t grow up and stayed that way so as to become a plot device mirroring the loud, clueless millennial who stumbles over everything and says whatever her mouth decides to say without engaging her brain. Yes, it's predictable but that wasn't the issue the humour just felt forced to me. Yes, she was awkward at parties and lazy and had no filter but everything about Hazel seemed just forced, flat and not interesting at all. The only thing that I liked was that the main male character was Korean. Yay for diversity but that's about it. From the middle to the end I pretty much skimmed it. Honestly, I wish I had not wasted my time on this and should have had DNFd at the beginning because that ending (how they got together in the end) was cringe-worthy.
My issue was with how the characters met up after college and were essentially instant friends. there was no angst or build-up, it didn't feel like how a real friendship develops. and then, and I don't think this is entirely Christina Lauren's fault because it's hard for any author to do, but making the two characters discover their feelings together felt rushed.
It is incredibly hard to make friends turn into lovers convincingly. and the makings of it were here. The failed blind dates, the attraction from day one. but it just fell flat for me. the parts did not mesh well enough together to make me think "wow they are MADE for each other," and sadly that's the whole point of a romance.
This started out pretty bad and stayed bad in the middle and got even worse at the end. I don't know if I have outgrown the chick-lit and romance genre or if the books that I have read are actually pretty bad or if it's just a phase but I am not having the best luck with whatever I have been reading recently from this genre.
For me, it was too much, too hard because it felt like the authors were trying too hard to make her the kind of woman who’s just like a commitment-phobic male protagonist unable to hold a relationship. Written as larger than life because it’s fiction and drawn up so deliberately like a character in a sitcom or as a mirror of this kind of male hero, Hazel simply made me sigh in resignation and not in a good way.
Unlike the usual style of Christina Lauren’s that compelled me to read what this writing duo has done so far, the first person narrative, the huge touch of the insane in this rom-com, this book started as a rough ride for me, oddly so because of its very light-hearted feel that just didn’t leave me clutching my sides in laughter. It did get somewhat better as Josh and Hazel find their groove together first as good friends, but I couldn’t really hold an interest in a book where the protagonists obliquely get closer together while dating others.
In short, it’s a story that will appeal to many, but it isn’t one for me.