Book Review: Love On the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Good morning! Today I bring you a book review of LOVE ON THE BRAIN by Ali Hazelwood, my second foray into STEMinist romance. Like THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS, I found it entertaining and might even like LOVE ON THE BRAIN a smidge more!

Author: Ali Hazelwood
Series: None
Age Category: New Adult/Adult
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publish Date: August 23, 2022
Print Length: 368

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Official Synopsis

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis–with explosive results.

Like an avenging, purple-haired Jedi bringing balance to the mansplained universe, Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project–a literal dream come true after years scraping by on the crumbs of academia–Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. And sure, he caught her in his powerfully corded arms like a romance novel hero when she accidentally damseled in distress on her first day in the lab. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school–archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

Now, her equipment is missing, the staff is ignoring her, and Bee finds her floundering career in somewhat of a pickle. Perhaps it’s her occipital cortex playing tricks on her, but Bee could swear she can see Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas…devouring her with those eyes. And the possibilities have all her neurons firing. But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

My Review

As with THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS, you need to read LOVE ON THE BRAIN with the mindset that some scenes will seem unrealistic and hyperbolic. If that’s a skill you have, congratulations, you’ll probably enjoy this book. Thankfully, I feel my brain is flexible enough to flip that skill switch. So I enjoyed this book for what it is: a STEMinist romcom with a vendetta against standardized testing.

I don’t know enough about standardized testing to comment on that issue, so don’t mind me as I gloss over that topic in this review. The test in question here is the Graduate Record Examinations, which is often required as part of one’s application submission to graduate school. From what I understand, though, it’s not a great tool with respect to gatekeeping admission to those who seek to continue their education past the college undergraduate level.

Overall, I think I liked this book a smidge better than THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS. The premise of Bee’s and Levi’s relationship was a little less awkward in comparison. Granted, it involves a workplace relationship of two people at the same level of leadership. Undoubtedly some may not approve of these types of relationships. But keep in mind these characters are two consensual adults that know how to separate work from pleasure. And I think the author makes that very clear. Frankly, I thought the behavior of Bee’s Research Assistant was way more inappropriate than Bee’s workplace relationship.

I thought Levi, the lead male main character, was less of a jerk than Adam from THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS. Don’t mistake me–he still comes off as a jerk at the beginning. But as the story progresses it becomes a bit of a commentary on how one doesn’t always know what’s going on behind the scenes. That is, perception vs. reality. However, that doesn’t completely absolve the person who acts as less than cordial.

I liked the subplot of subterfuge, which was unexpected, but easier to read about than sexual harassment. That’s all I’ll say about that to keep the lid on the mystery. The chemistry between Bee and Levi is great, especially once they begin to open up to each other. I’m not a fan of the miscommunication trope. So, I love that they more or less communicate their thoughts to each other. There is a more or less realistic undercurrent of that trope in the beginning, but it settles itself organically.

The only aspect that I didn’t appreciate was Bee’s stereotyping of cisgender males. The generalizations are repetitive and a bit heavy handed in the beginning. And I found myself getting annoyed because there are many cisgender males who are feminist allies. It’s the bad eggs that give one grouping of people a bad name. Just because a female main character bashes guys because of one bad relationship and her own individual experiences in academia/work doesn’t necessarily mean that MC is a feminist. Bee is a feminist, but this type of character keeps the perception of feminists as angry, bitter individuals. And that’s not what all feminists are. Some of her wry sarcasm is accurate, but those generalizations aren’t defining characteristic of all cisgender (white) men. End rant.

Anyway, if you enjoyed THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS, chances are high that you’ll likely appreciate LOVE ON THE BRAIN, too. It’s a fairly light, easy, and entertaining read. The takeaways are that it champions healthy relationships; equity in higher education; and taking a woman’s voice at face value, not second guessing it.

Rating: 4
Content warnings: sexism, sex, gaslighting (flashbacks)
Reading format: Library paperback

For additional thoughts about LOVE ON THE BRAIN, check out reviews by One Book More and Star-Crossed Book Blog.

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I absolutely LOVED reading this review! A lot of that had to do with the fact that it seemed really heartfelt and honest, rather than just a bubbling-over rave as I’ve mostly seen on bookstagram. I had a tough time reading The Love Hypothesis, but you’ve made me wonder if maaaybe just maybe I’d enjoy Love on the Brain a bit more. Thanks for sharing!

Great review. I kind of want to read the book just for the GRE bashing. I HATE that test, and there are so many more important factors to success in graduate school that work as better predictors.

Your reviews are always so thoughtful! I really enjoyed TLH and I’ve been looking forward to reading this even though I’ve heard some fairly mixed reviews from people. I personally hate the GRE cos I had to take it and it was awful (and I didn’t end up using it anyway cos I went elsewhere)! 😂 But this does sound like fun and I do love the sound of the romance. Great review!

While I didn’t see myself reading this book, I genuinely wanted to know what you had to say because of how great your reviews are! And it’s wonderful to know that you enjoyed this read! (I’m also not the biggest fan of the miscommunication trope, so that’s a bonus for me as well.) A friend of mine has LotB, so I can see myself asking if I can borrow their copy when I want to have a fun read!

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[…] first review I posted on my blog in 2023 was Love On the Brain by Ali Hazelwood. But I don’t know if it’s the first review I technically wrote in 2023. I tend to have […]