The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
For our reviews, we use a cup system from one to five, with the smaller cups representing half. So, this particular book has received a two and a half out of five possible stars! The way I consider it, one to two is ugh, two to three is meh, and anything above that is WOW! Sort of bummed that my first review for this site is a “meh,” but what can you do? Away we go!
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.
A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?
Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.
Maybe it was a bad idea to begin this book with expectations. Isn’t there some cliché about expectations only leading to disappointment? There has to be. I’d only heard amazing things about The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (which will henceforth be abbreviated “Stat” since “TSPoLaFS” isn’t really catchy or convenient to type), and I was stoked to read it. So stoked, in fact, that I drove to a library half an hour away to acquire the book. I imagined myself swooning over this book, since it’s oh so romantic. I pictured myself buying a copy and wearing it thin by reading and rereading it. I wanted so badly to love it.
But I didn’t.
I didn’t even come close to loving it.
Here’s what Stat has going for it: hot British love interest. And hot British love interest’s semi-amusing, kind of funny dialogue. And, well. Did I mention the hot British love interest?
Because I really did like Oliver. Then again, I’ve also liked the versions of Oliver present in every single other realistic fiction. You know, Augustus Waters, Peeta Mellark (although that was dystopian, but still), even Noah Shaw (and I couldn’t stand Mara Dyer): clever, smart, quick-witted, and painfully attractive love interests. The thing is, all of those boys are fantastically memorable in their own way, and Oliver? Well, he’s just kind of there. He was amusing, for sure, but nothing made me root for him or swoon over him or feel bad for him.
Which leads me to: the lack of tension in Stat. I firmly believe that the complete and utter lack of tension in this novel is what made me dislike the main character, Hadley, so much, and ultimately the novel itself.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Hadley really doesn’t want to go to her father’s wedding in London. Oh, wait—I forgot. This is mentioned only about a thousand times in the first three chapters alone. So, Hadley is bitter about her father’s soon-to-be remarriage, and this Flight of Destiny that brings her and Oliver together is just the lead-in to the horrible, miserable, big, bad, scary wedding. I think that sentence alone had more tension than the entire novel. Like, I caught on that Hadley doesn’t want to go to the wedding, thanks. And the more time it was repeated with various rewordings, the less I really cared what happened to Hadley, or if the wedding sucked.
It was in this respect that it seemed like the third person POV did a disservice to the story. The narration felt completely detached, so much so that I couldn’t connect with Hadley at all. I didn’t think she was sympathetic, and I found it hard to feel sorry for her, because ugh, her stepmother is just SO nice, and her dad is trying SO hard to redeem himself for cheating on her mother, and how dare they try to include her in their wedding!
I guess I can’t say for sure whether or not Hadley could’ve been more likeable had the story been told in the first person from her point of view, but as it stands, I sort of pegged Hadley as the type of girl who’d be really obnoxious to her mom in the dressing room at the mall and make a huge scene and be a total capital-B Brat. Because, in the end, regardless of what happens, that’s what she was. A brat.
Neat fact! Stat also makes an incredible drinking game. Take a shot every time you encounter the word “dreading” in relation to the wedding. It’ll be tons of fun!
Now, let’s take a look at this line that comes on page six of the story: “But being four minutes to your flight seems just a little too convenient, maybe a tad suspicious…”
That right there could summarize the entire book. Everything about it was a little too convenient. So convenient, in fact, that it was worthy of eye rolling. Like, isn’t it just so clever that the woman sitting in the same row as Oliver and Hadley has been married for fifty-two years and creates the most perfect segue for the two—still strangers at this point—to discuss their views on love and marriage? Isn’t it so unique that Oliver just so happens to remind this old woman exactly of her husband?
I understand that the novel needed scenes like these to push the story forward, but so many of the plot points felt completely contrived. For example, at the end (***SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER!!***) when Hadley sees the father tucking his son into bed through the window, and lo and behold, there’sOliver! Oliver, who preciously relayed a story about his dead father involving bedtime and a night light to Hadley on the airplane. (***END SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER!!***) Like, wow, isn’t that convenient!
There were a lot of nit-picky things I found in this book, too. Typos, weird sentence structures, the like. But then there were inconsistencies, like at the beginning of the book, when Hadley misses her initial flight and fears that her parents will be suspicious, and that “this might fall onto the very short list of things they’d actually agree upon.” Uh, yeah. Hadley’s parents were never anything but respectful about each other. Not once was I under the impression that they completely despised each other and couldn’t possibly agree on anything. Also, Hadley’s so-called claustrophobia. I’m pretty sure she diagnosed herself from WebMD or Wikipedia or something. It didn’t feel genuine in the least. The fear of small spaces could do so much in this novel—an airplane, for instance, is a very small place—but the claustrophobia was treated more as a quirk. As something to set Hadley apart, since really, not much else does.
I wish I liked this book. I wish so much that I hadn’t expected something mind-blowing when literally nothing in this story surprised me. It was kind of like a really corny ABC Family original movie—watchable (or in this case, readable), but you kind of wish you had DVR, because it sure would be nice to fast-forward through all this boring stuff and just get to the spot where they kiss.
But then even that’s a let down.