Book Review: The Dating Game by Sandy Barker
Abigail Jones has a secret identity, Anastasia Blabbergasted, the hilariously sarcastic journalist who writes clickbait recaps of reality TV shows to pay the bills while Abigail dreams of being a Serious Investigative Journalist. Asked (more ‘bullied’, tbh) into going undercover on dating show The Stag (literally The Bachelor with a name change) she takes on a third identity, ‘Doe’ Abby. Only a couple of the show’s producers - including the dishy Jack - know she’s not really there to win the Stag’s heart.
This is both darkly funny, borrowing from some of the more ridiculous moments of real-life reality shows - I just about died laughing reading about Marie-Alice the ‘diverse’ redhead, and I’ve never even watched The Bachelor, so if you have, you’ll probably pick up on a lot more funny moments - and at times painful to read, as Abby comes to the slow understanding that the twelve Does in Stag Manor are being manipulated at best and Stockholm Syndromed at worst, into turning on each other over a guy who isn’t worthy of any of them. The one thing I feel was missing was an honest conversation between Abby and Jack where Jack admitted that he didn’t feel good about what the show did to the contestants emotionally. Yes, Jack wanted to move on to bigger and better things, but he was still complicit and he needed to express more remorse for that, for me. He had a few moments of jealousy - over situations he’d literally set up! - which made me want to smack him upside the head and tell him to get over himself, too.
My favourite part about the book was the female friendships which Abby formed, particularly with Becca and Kaz, and the clever denouement where the Stag got exactly what he deserved. However, that’s actually a problem, because this is a rom-com. The romance is supposed to be both the central theme and the best bit, and I wasn’t quite sold on Jack. So although I enjoyed the read and thought it was very clever and funny, I can’t give it more than four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.