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When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £50,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?
When I first heard about Talli Roland's debut novel I was intrigued. A book set around a game show where a character gets to meet up with some of her exes. It sounded fantastic. And then when I saw the cover, I got even more excited. I wasn't totally sure I liked it, but it grew on me more and more until I found that, actually, I loved it. So when the lovely Talli offered me a very early copy of her novel to review, I immediately said yes because I was dying to read this unique-sounding book! On my first day off of the week, I decided to start this one and I wasn't disappointed with the book at all.
The Hating Game, as I have said, is one of the most unique books I have ever come across. It's basically Blind Date, with exes, in book form. It is nothing I have ever read before, and I'm very intrigued as to how Talli came up with the idea for the book. We're thrown into Mattie's world immediately and we find out that not only is her business struggling but thanks to her ex, Kyle, she's barely got any clients left. Wannabe executive producer Nate goes to see Mattie hoping to find himself a better job than the one he already has, but is suddenly struck with a fantastic idea for a show: take one woman - Mattie, throw in four of her ex-boyfriends, and give them a second chance at romance. He pitches it to his boss, Silver, who agrees before having to convince Mattie. Mattie, with a ton of money worries agrees immediately, thinking that a week of dating losers is an easy way to make some quick cash. But what Mattie isn't told, is that it's her ex-boyfriends she'll be dating. And suddenly, things aren't as simple as they first seemed.
See? Isn't that the most genius plot you've ever heard? I was sucked in immediately, into Maddie's world, into the world of what it takes to make a TV show, and I found it rather unputdownable. With such a complex plot, there is a lot of twists and turns as the book progresses, there are some dark moments, a lot of light moments, and it was basically like being on a very enjoyable rollercoaster. And I don't even like rollercoasters. I truly had no idea what the madcap producers of the show Baz and Nate were going to do next, nor did I particularly know if Mattie would stick the entire thing out. Surely there's only so much a girl can take? The dark side of the book was very more-ish and it built and built as the book progressed and it suddenly seemed to be a matter of time before it all exploded everywhere, harming everyone, but Mattie more than all. The suspense was well built and despite the fact I knew where it was all undoubtedly heading, I was still surprised at what happened.
I absolutely loved Mattie. She's fierce, she has a right attitude to her and she doesn't let anyone get in the way of the life she's built for herself. She's also learned that being Mrs Nice Girl isn't all it's cracked up to be as far as romance is concerned so she's got her love-em-and-leave-em routine down to an art form! She's the kind of girl everyone aspires to be, and she doesn't hold back or mince her words and she was just awesome. Honestly, there aren't enough words in the world to describe just how lovely Mattie is despite her chilly exterior. Of all of her four exes, Charlie, Giovanni, Adam and Kyle, the only one I took to was Kyle. He seemed really really lovely, despite the accusations against his name, and after a few false starts, I began to really like him. Charlie and Giovanni were fairly forgettable to be honest, and I just found Adam strange. I really liked Jess, Mattie's best friend, she seemed so lovely, if a bit naive. As for the producers of The Hating Game, the only one I could stomach was Nate, the rest were just hungry for money and ratings.
I thought The Hating Game was incredibly well written. It's told in third-person, switching from Mattie, to Jess, to Adam, to Nate, to Baz and it helped to create a full and proper story, as it managed to convey every single aspect of Mattie's experience from every angle, giving us some exclusive looks at what was coming for Mattie before Mattie knew it herself. I've really found myself blown away with Talli's debut novel. She's a fantastic story-teller and I could barely stomach to put the book down to take my dogs for a walk. I just wanted to continue Mattie's story and find out how it all ended. I wasn't disappointed with the book at all, I had no niggles, no qualms, I thought the ending was great, and I really can't wait to see what's next from Talli, she could become a huge Chick Lit star, there's no denying it.