Love, Inc. by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout

Publisher: Hyperion Children’s Books

Release date: January 4, 2011

Pages: 432

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Zahra has a lot on her plate—she’s just transferred high schools, her parents have split up, and her grandmother is trying to convince her to become a “better Muslim”. When Zahra is sent to group therapy to help cope (something she totally doesn’t need, if you ask her), she becomes friends with Kali (a spunky flirt) and Syd (a rebellious scenester). The three girls soon discover that they’re all dating the same dude, and they start formulating their plan for revenge. The destruction of the cheating jerk’s car goes so well that others soon enlist Zahra, Kali and Syd to help with their relationship issues! Thus, Love, Inc. is formed!

My thoughts: The premise of Love, Inc. reminded me a bit of John Tucker Must Die, so I knew I had to get my hands on it and write my essay. I love it when girls join forces to take down a jerk! Though the revenge part of the story was pretty awesome, Love, Inc. wasn’t all about vengeance. Zahra and her friends realize that they’re just as good at giving relationship advice as they are at serving up just desserts. I loved this positive spin! It’s a bit unrealistic to assume that people would actually pay teen girls for love advice, but I must say I really enjoyed reading about it! The girls learned quite a bit about love, and they gave some genuinely good tips!

The characters in Love, Inc. were a blast, too. I loved Zahra’s inner struggle with being half Pakistani and half Scottish—I haven’t really read anything about teens dealing with balancing two cultures, so Zahra’s story was a breath of fresh air. Kali and Syd were interesting, too: their clashing personalities made for some really entertaining banter! The three girls got along really well, and I enjoyed their camaraderie and excellent teamwork.

Love, Inc. sounds like all fluff, but there are some serious aspects to the book. Each girl goes through her own share of personal problems—Zahra with her heritage, Kali with her Mom, and Syd with her Dad and dog—and they all have their parents’ separation in common. These not-so-fun aspects of the story were really well done; each girl’s struggle was believable and handled with grace.

The last thing I’d like to mention is, of course, the love in Love, Inc.! Zahra had an almost endless supply of love interests, the lucky girl! Each boy was fun to read about, and although I had an inkling of whom she would end up with, I wasn’t truly certain until the last few pages of the book. And I’ll just say—she ends up with the right guy. I loved his personality! Kali and Syd’s love interests were cute, too, though their love lives took second string to Zahra’s (she was the narrator, after all).

Overall, Love, Inc. is a light, fun read that put a smile on my face. Its overall concept was a tad unrealistic, but the authors managed to keep the story grounded with the personal struggles of each girl. I’d recommend Love, Inc. to any chick-lit or contemporary YA fan—I certainly had a great time reading it!

4/5 stars