Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is the kind of rom-com we need


Sweet as all get out, but with some legitimately thought-provoking looks at standard tropes, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is a great rom-com novel.

Tonally speaking, your humble reviewer can’t think of two books released in the same year by the same writers that are as different as Love and Other Words and Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating from Christina Lauren. Josh and Hazel is the newest release from the pair, sent to Culturess for review, and yours truly is happy to say that it’s flat-out adorable.

Of course, that doesn’t quite cover everything, so let’s dive a little deeper. Josh Im and Hazel Bradford have a history — in the sense that they know each other from college, not that they dated then. Now all grown up, the two of them reconnect and find that it’s a lot of fun to try double blind dates … but of course, because this is a romance novel, they’re actually meant for each other.

However, the book doesn’t give them instant chemistry, which is a strength. Hazel is extremely upfront, which puts off Josh at first. Indeed, a lot of words like zany and even crazy get thrown around about her, and the manic pixie dream girl trope is explicitly name-checked (and deconstructed, because Hazel gets to have character development and has some legitimate worries about how others speak to her because of her perspective on life). Instead, they start as friends and then stumble into a relationship despite their best intentions to do otherwise, and if you enjoy a good execution of that sub-genre… well, you’ll find it in this book.

Suffice it to say that this reviewer stayed up late just to finish reading, which does not always happen these days, being that she’s an adult who has to get up in the morning to go to work.

This is a bit smaller of a positive, but the relationships between Josh, Hazel, and their parents really stood out as well. It’s not always something that makes it into romance these days, but positive relationships are great to see.

At the same time, though, there are a few missteps here. Chief among them is the occasional overuse of telling us how a character would act or heavily justifying certain actions. Hazel and Josh — as well as the supporting cast — are generally well-defined enough that it becomes unnecessary and somewhat glaring considering how tightly-written the rest of this book is. (It’s short, but mostly avoids the problem of rushing into things.)

dark. Next. Review: Night and Silence

All in all, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating may very well continue the resurgence of romantic comedies in media, and frankly, we’re here for it.