Review: Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood
Love on the Brain
Ali Hazelwood
Publisher: Berkley Book
Publication Date: August 23, 2022
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
Rating: 1.5 Stars


CW: Gun violence; misogyny; cheating

Going into this book, I knew we would likely not be friends. I truly hated The Love Hypothesis, and Love on the Brain follows nearly the exact same formula. So why did I read it, you may ask? 

Well, I’m apparently a sucker for punishment, and I wanted to understand the hype. Plus, I felt like I had to give Ali Hazelwood another chance as she’s still a relatively new author. But I won’t fall for that again as this book 100% confirmed that Hazelwood’s writing and stories just aren’t for me. 

Before diving into everything I didn’t like, I will say that up until around the 90% mark, I liked this marginally more than The Love Hypothesis. I thought it was going to be a 2.5-star read for me. And then the ending happened, and I completely lost all patience for this book (we will get into that below). 

So without further ado, here’s why this book didn’t work for me:


If you saw my review of The Love Hypothesis, one of my big issues was the writing style, and I had that issue with this book as well.

First, apparently, no one has taken away Ali Hazelwood’s italic button. One of my big critiques in The Love Hypothesis was the sheer number of random words italicized for emphasis, which continued in this book. By my count (and I did count), there were more than 630 words randomly italicized, almost two per page. I know italics can serve a purpose and help understand a character’s voice and tone, but this was excessive. The italics were everywhere – in dialogue and outside – and not limited to one character. Once you notice how many there are, it’s hard to unnotice.

Second, the tone in this skewered too cutesy and childish. It’s hard to believe that Bee is 28 years old when her voice comes across as much younger. I had this same issue with The Love Hypothesis, and I think Hazelwood’s writing style and tone are just not for me. Her writing style would be better suited to YA than adult romance. 

This book fared a little better than The Love Hypothesis regarding the descriptions, but Hazelwood continues to rely on the same archetypes (she’s so small and quirky; he’s big and broody) as she did in her first book. Bee and Levi and Olive and Adam felt nearly interchangeable, and I would like to have seen her do something different.

Finally, I did find a lot of the writing quite clunky. Hazelwood relies on certain sentence structures too much, and they are repetitive. For example: 

“Levi was busy. Everyone was busy. Academia was nothing but a bunch of busy people running around busily.” 


“He looked furious. And big. Furiously big.” 

Now, after reading two books by Hazelwood, it’s clear her writing style and I do not gel, and I don’t think we ever will. 


I liked this plot marginally more than The Love Hypothesis, mainly because the main relationship is less problematic. HOWEVER. The ending of this book was trash. I literally COULD NOT. 

Seriously, who approved that ending? It came out of nowhere. The “villain” had no setup (why did this book even need a villain?) – and it was unnecessarily dramatic. Like my god, the dude pulled A GUN out and threatened to murder Bee for the most unbelievable reason. I wanted to throw the book across the room. 

Outside of the truly outrageous and terrible ending, this book did have a lot of subplots, and I’m not sure all of them were necessary. 

First, you have the central romance between Levi and Bee, which is all based on a misunderstanding and miscommunication (more on that below). But then we also get the plot with Project BLINK, including NASA and NIH wanting to cut funding and a private company fast on their heels. Then, there is the entire Twitter subplot with @WhatWouldMarieDo and @Shmacademics. Finally, there was like a weird subplot involving a possibly fake cat? Honestly, there were way more cats than I expected in this book.

The Project BLINK storyline felt like an important one to include and one I enjoyed. It felt like a very realistic look at the politics at play in big academic institutions like NASA and NIH, and the whole race to perfect the technology to receive the patent felt spot on.

But the Twitter subplot? That felt superfluous and didn’t add anything to the story, romance or character development. I honestly forgot about the Twitter subplot until it would randomly pop up again. I also felt it was SO obvious that @Shmac was Levi and didn’t help Bee look that smart. 


I hate romances where both characters do not say “I love you” to each other. And Bee NEVER says “I love you” out loud to Levi. She only thinks it in her head in the last sentence or two of the book.

I think that sums up the dynamic of the romantic relationship in this book, as it’s all based on miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Bee’s convinced that Levi has HATED her for all these years, yet when he tries to correct her, she steamrolls over him with her assumptions about his actions, furthering the misunderstanding and miscommunication. If she would just let him SPEAK, she would have understood that she was projecting a lot of her feelings onto him. It takes way too long for them to have an actual dialogue.

I did see a little spark of attraction between Levi and Bee, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the lack of communication. They both had different expectations of where their relationship was going. When Levi tries to talk about their relationship, Bee steamrolls over him (do you see a theme?) and assumes they want the same thing. My god, this man has the patience of a saint when dealing with her. 

When it comes to the sexy scenes, they were CRINGE. I don’t find Hazelwood’s sexy scenes all that sexy. I still think The Love Hypothesis takes the cake for the worst line in a sex scene, but this one comes pretty close:

“I’m totally okay with him staring at my small breasts as though they’re something wondrous, with him kissing them until his lips are plump, until I have to pull at his hair, until I’m so wet, I feel it trickle down my thigh.”

The sex scenes also rely on the same archetypes as The Love Hypothesis with him being SO BIG, and unfortunately, we get more than one sex scene in this book, so it feels more cringe. 


When it comes to the characters, I did like Bee and Levi more than Adam and Olive. 

Bee is still not my favorite, but she has more depth than Olive. Her personality isn’t for me, but I liked that she had a stronger backstory that shaped her approach to relationships. After being cheated on by her ex-fiance, she never wants to get attached to anyone again. That felt deeply connected to her childhood when her parents died when she was young, and she bounced around from relative to relative without a place to call home for long. She craves stability but doesn’t want to form attachments because she knows how easily things can end.

While I appreciate that she had more depth, she was a steamroller to those in her orbit. She doesn’t let other people speak up around her, and she has tunnel vision regarding her perception of situations. 

I did like Levi a lot more than Adam. Something about him radiated warmth to me, and he was a driving force behind my enjoyment of this story in the beginning. He genuinely seemed like a good guy. I felt we saw that reflected in his relationship with his friend’s widow and child. He seemed to put others before himself, which was nice.

However, I will also say just because he liked Bee in the past but didn’t know how to express those feelings doesn’t justify his past actions. He didn’t need to be rude to her because he couldn’t tell her how he felt. But I forgave Levi in the end, as he was apologetic for his actions.


I hope this review doesn’t come off too harsh, but I had a lot of issues with it, and I always try to provide a rationale, especially when I rate a book so low.

After reading this book, I think I can officially declare that Ali Hazelwood and I do not vibe – and that’s okay! Not every book or author will work for everyone. Knowing this, I’ll probably not pick up her books moving forward, as I know they’re not my style. 

If you loved this one, I’m glad you enjoyed it! It just wasn’t my cup of tea. 

Let me know what you think!

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