*I received a digital copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: They Hate Each Other
Author: Amanda Woody
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 9, 2023
There are plenty of words Jonah Collins could use to describe Dylan Ramírez. “Arrogant,” “spoiled,” and “golden boy” to name a few. Likewise, Dylan thinks he has Jonah accurately labeled as an attention-seeking asshat who never shuts his filthy mouth. Their friends are convinced Jonah’s and Dylan’s disdain for one another is just thinly veiled lust—a rumor that surges like wildfire when the two wake up in one bed after homecoming.
Mutually horrified, Dylan and Jonah agree to use the faux pas to their advantage by fake dating. If they can stay convincing long enough to end their “relationship” in a massive staged fight, they can prove their incompatibility to their friends once and for all. But the more time they spend together, the more their plan begins to fall apart—and the closer they come to seeing each other clearly for the first time.
They Hate Each Other is an enjoyable Spring 2023 read about Jonah and Dylan, two long sworn rivals who’s assumptions of on another and personality differences have lead them to long-term opposition of one another. Hence the book title. These two couldn’t be more opposite: one is wealthy, the other poor; one is white, the other a mix of Afro-Latino and Mexican American; one struggles with deep-seeded anxiety and the other is the rock for those around him. Their differences have kept them from knowing one another for so long. As the only known out bisexual teens in their school, their peers have made it their mission to bring these two together, despite their discord. A story of fake dating, ensues.
But, you know, the fake dating can only last for so long before true love blooms. This novel follows the trope to a T. Though Dylan and Jonah may not be ready to admit it, their feelings for one another run deeper than they ever imagined—and they aren’t feelings of disdain. There is much sweetness to follow as these two work through their feelings and come to know one another.
I quite appreciated both Jonah and Dylan. They are both charismatic narrators in their own ways and their stories and intensely compelling. Filled with highs and lows, they are both victims in varying ways, but both seek to actively tackle their struggles, even if that process takes time. They are also their to support one another through, as their romance blossoms, and their unshakable devotion to supporting each other is incredibly endearing. While their characters are quite different, it was a bit of a struggle to tell their voices apart. I did find myself getting lost as to who the active speaker was in each narrated chapter. The peripheral friends and family, too, get lost in the background of the book. While there, they are only partially developed and often don’t support the protagonists or the main plot, in an overly meaningful way.
I did quite enjoy this book. It’s got some steamy vibes towards the end, more appropriate for older teen readers, but at it’s heart it is a simple and sweet storyline with two very endearing teen protagonists on their own journeys to understand themselves, reconcile their pasts and uncertain futures, and, at the core, find love where they can be their truest and most beautiful selves.