Friday, September 9, 2022

Review: Love on the Brain

By Marisa Appleton

Meet neuroscientist Bee Königswasser, who lives her life by a simple motto: What would Marie Curie do? As Bee is offered a dream role on a project for NASA, she has to face her arch-nemesis, Levi Ward. Throughout grad school, Levi made his feelings for Bee perfectly clear - he hated her. How can they possibly work together? As their project – and their relationship - gets complicated, Bee learns to trust Levi. Is Levi softening into an ally? Or could their new relationship be something more?

In Ali Hazelwood’s newest release, Love on the Brain, she focuses on Dr. Bee Königswasser, a neuroscientist at NIH. Bee lands her dream job at NASA where she is tasked with designing helmets for astronauts. Bee, and her sidekick/assistant Rocío, make up the neuroscience team. Her arch-nemesis from grad school, Levi Ward is in charge of the engineering team. Between them, they are tasked with creating these groundbreaking helmets which are based on each individual astronaut's brain. Now, I’ll admit, there was a lot of science talk in this book that I didn’t fully understand. I do, however, fully appreciate Hazelwood’s representation of women in STEM. Bee faces a lot of common problems faced by women in STEM and academia in general. She is ignored, mansplained to, and talked down to. I’m sure almost all women can identify with the problems that she faces. Bee does not let these stop her. She questions Levi about the lack of progress on their project, which leads him to reveal a few secrets which could derail the whole project. 

While this book is definitely similar to Hazelwood’s debut novel, The Love Hypothesis, the plot is more developed. This novel focuses on a different area of science but contains similar themes of academia. Most importantly, this book contains everyone’s favourite trope – enemies to lovers. Once Bee learns that Levi is not intentionally sabotaging her project, they slowly develop a friendship. The problem that I had was that Bee is incredibly naïve. She constantly talks about how Levi hated her in grad school when this is obviously not true. She fails to mention her failed engagement but doesn’t grasp that Levi thinks she's married. While this does add to the enemies to lovers theme, I found it quite annoying how Bee refused to acknowledge the fact that Levi was blatantly in love with her. Even when they eventually become lovers, Bee seems to have this notion that they are just friends. This offers a change to the stereotype that women become more emotionally attached than men. Of course, as with any great enemies to lovers novel, they have a happily ever after. 

I really enjoyed reading Hazelwood’s newest novel, she offers a light, enjoyable story that is perfect for a relaxing read. I did feel like this book was a little bit like The Love Hypothesis all over again. If you enjoy an enemies-to-lovers story, this book is definitely for you! 

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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