Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: The Hating Game, by Talli Roland

Remember my interminable Kindle thoughts? I now have a Kindle! My birthday pressie arrived a couple of weeks ago and I was a very happy reader.

Unfortunately, the following day I caught a stomach bug and was laid up for most of the following week. I have rarely been so grateful for a piece of technology, because I could just order books as I needed them, from the couch, without having to dispatch minions to the nearest bookshop.

One of the first books I bought for the Kindle was Talli Roland's
The Hating Game, which has been garnering great reviews since its release in December. I love Talli's blog so I suspected I'd like her writing voice - and I did.

The Hating Game
, for those of you who have been in solitary confinement lately, is about Mattie Johns, a smart and ambitious businesswoman who takes part in a reality TV show in the hope the prize money will save her ailing business. She doesn't know that the men on the TV show are all her exes - nor does she know whether they are there for a second chance or to get revenge. . .

Although the plot was great, my favourite thing about The Hating Game was the characters - not just Mattie, but the secondary characters. I often judge books by the 'best friend' character. William Goldman said once that in life, no one is 'the best friend' - we all believe the camera is on us. That came through in spades in The Hating Game, and not just in Jess, the actual best friend (who really could have had a book of her own running alongside this one, a la Midnight Sun). Every character had their own story and their own journey (with the possible exception of Silver, the TV exec who made Mattie, hard-nosed businesswoman that she is, look like a baby chinchilla - and if she had grown as a person I would have enjoyed the book much less!). The secondary characters didn't take away from Mattie; they just made the world of the book seem much fuller and richer.

Mattie was brilliantly written too - there were moments when I wanted to throttle her, but overall, in spite of a near-total lack of cuddly traits, I really liked her. Even her ambition and ruthlessness (not traditionally endearing qualities!) became likeable once I got to know her. It was also nice to read about a heroine I could respect as well as like! It's impossible not to admire a woman who, in spite of her total desperation, won't just lie down and take whatever life hands to her.

I also loved the humour of the book. The situations were funny, the characters could be very funny, but there were no attempts to shoe-horn in bad jokes followed by multiple exclamation marks . . . the humour arose naturally from the situations and from voice, which is how I like my humour in books.

Overall a cracking read, and one that I'm sure I will go back to. I noticed today that The Hating Game was back in the Top 100 on Amazon.co.uk, and so it should be. Long may it stay there :)


  1. Yay! I made it over - and how lovely to see this after a tiresome week of computer battles. :) Thank you so much, Ellen! It's always a bit unnerving when blog buds read my book, am I'm SO glad you liked it! Thanks so much for taking the time to write a review, too.

  2. No problem Talli, I was a bit unnerved myself but I was worried about nothing, I really loved it :)

    Btw, I should point out that even though I was sick, my brain was its usual self!

  3. Great review of a fantastic book!

  4. I love seeing writers take elements of modern society and skillfully craft stories around them. I wouldn't have thought of using a reality show as the basis for a novel, and I can't stand them myself, but I really like the idea of seeing how it all looks from the point of view of the person in the show.

  5. Glad you guys liked the review, and the book :)

    Paul, the reality TV element in the book is very well done - pleasingly mad but scarily plausible!

  6. I'm almost done with the book! It's really good! I love when I get to a new chapter, because of the statistics each one starts with!
    Too funny!

  7. I loved the statistics too :) I found myself looking forward to them and wanting to text them to people!


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