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Literature / The Hating Game

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This is just another one of the games we play...

The Hating Game is a 2016 romance novel by Sally Thorne.

Nemesis (n.)

  1. An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
  2. A person’s undoing;
  3. Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job… But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.


The Hating Game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Apology Gift: After he makes Lucy cry, Josh sends her roses and an anonymous note stating 'You're always beautiful.' She assumes they were from her date.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Pretty much Josh and Lucy's whole dynamic.
  • Betty and Veronica: Danny is the Betty to Josh's Veronica for Lucy. Josh even invokes this trope, saying Lucy has to give Danny a chance and decide she doesn't want the 'Nice Guy' before he'll move forward with her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Lucy is, if not polite, at least understanding to everyone note  over the course of the story. When she goes off at Josh's father towards the end of the novel for negatively judging Josh without even trying to get to know him, she goes off.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Josh to Lucy, to the point that he won't even smile at her.
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  • Control Freak: Joshua, to the point that he wears the same shirts in the same order every two weeks. It turns out he was just doing this to get a rise out of Lucy.
  • Country Mouse: Lucy's family owns a strawberry farm, and she worries people see her as this.
  • Cute Bookworm: Lucy.
  • Doting Parent: Lucy's parents clearly adore her. Their strawberry farm (and certain strains of their strawberries) are named after her, and Lucy's father refuses to respect Josh enough to call him by his real name because Josh has been mean to Lucy.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Joshua teasingly calls Lucy 'Shortcake' because of her family's farm. Josh's boss calls him 'Doctor Josh' in an effort to shame him for dropping out of med school.
  • Extreme Doormat: Lucy, to everyone except Joshua. He mocks her for this.
  • Full-Name Basis: Josh and Lucy insistently call each other 'Lucinda' and 'Joshua.' When they begin to call each other 'Lucy' and 'Josh,' it shows they are softening to each other.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: After she confesses her feelings, Josh references his painting his bedroom to match Lucy's eyes as this.
  • Heel Realization: Josh has one when Lucy melts down at him while on her date with Danny. He then starts making an effort to be nicer to her.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Danny.
  • Love Martyr: Justified and downplayed. Lucy is nasty to Josh as a defense against his being unfriendly, while he continues to push her buttons because it's the only thing he can think of to try to get her attention.
  • Married to the Job: Lucy. She has so much work to do that she has trouble taking time off, and she doesn't make enough money to be able to afford to visit her family regularly.
  • Paintball Episode: The company spends a day at a paintball arena as a team-building exercise.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Joshua is a mild example. Though he never violates her privacy, he does track what Lucy wears every day and he painted his bedroom to match the color of her eyes.
  • Stepford Smiler: Lucy. She's lonely and adrift, but puts on a happy face and tries to get along with everyone.
  • The Bet: A variant. Lucy and Josh both agree to quit if the other person is promoted to the new department head position.
  • Twice Shy: Josh is used to women using him for his body and then leaving him for a Nice Guy, so he's very wary of getting his hopes up about Lucy.
  • The Snark Knight: Joshua.
  • Tsundere: Joshua. He typically runs tsun-tsun towards everyone; once Lucy gets sick, he starts becoming dere-dere towards her in private.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Josh was like this prior to the events of the novel, but he grew out of it. He aims to help Lucy shake this habit off as well.
  • Write What You Know: Lucy and Josh work in publishing, something an author like Sally Thorne is likely familiar with.

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