Loathe at First Sight
Loathe at First Sight, the first adult novel by Suzanne Park (The Perfect Escape), is a hilarious romcom chock-full of snark and social commentary. Melody Joo is new to the gaming business, but she's determined to prove herself as a production assistant, in spite of her racially tone-deaf "sulky toddler" of a boss, rampant sexism in the office and the attentions of her insufferable (though increasingly attractive) white intern Nolan, the boss's nephew. When Melody jokingly suggests a first-person shooter game "featuring shirtless male strippers" trying to survive the end of the world, her "pitch" is taken seriously, and suddenly Melody is in charge of Ultimate Apocalypse. Violent threats from Internet trolls, the toxic atmosphere in the company, her Korean immigrant parents' attempts at matchmaking and the increased attentions from her smart, funny and really hot intern are enough to throw anybody off their game. But with snarky comebacks, a no-nonsense attitude and unflagging determination, Melody is up for the challenge. That is, if she can keep her mind off of Nolan.
Park takes aim at the pervasive sexist culture in the gaming industry as well as the casual racism BIPOC individuals face every day, all while her protagonist navigates the unknown territory of mutual attraction. The palpable tension between Melody and Nolan is delicious, turning from mutual dislike to a forbidden attraction at a believable pace and all without taking away from Melody's personal and career-related accomplishments. With such opinions as "a salad is a giant, colorful bowl of disappointment," Melody is a delight to root for, as is the forbidden romance that builds to a satisfying conclusion. --Jennifer Oleinik, freelance writer and editor