REVIEW: Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

REVIEW: Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

I was so excited when Love & Olives popped up as one of the Riveted Lit Free Reads in December. Love & Luck is still one of my favourite YA contemporaries of all time, and I thought Love & Olives was sure to impress me just as much.

Unfortunately, I found Jenna Evans Welch’s third novel to be a bit of a struggle to get through.

Love & Olives follows a girl called Olive – sorry, Liv – who is looking forward to going away for the summer with her boyfriend before he goes to college. Her plans get quickly rearranged, though, when a postcard from her dad arrives out of the blue inviting her to spend the summer in Greece with him.

Her dad, who she hasn’t seen in almost ten years.

When Liv arrives in Greece, she is nervous about being reunited with her father and can’t imagine what it’s going to be like. She definitely doesn’t imagine being met by his (sidekick? cameraman? friend?) Theo, who is almost as gorgeous as Santorini.

It isn’t long before Liv discovers why her dad has invited her to Greece – and why Theo keeps shoving his camera in her face. They’ve been approached by National Geographic to film a documentary about the lost city of Atlantis, her dad’s lifelong obsession… And the reason that he abandoned Liv to return to Greece in the first place.

Will Liv be able to put her conflicting feelings about Atlantis behind her to help her dad make his documentary, or is this going to be the worst summer holiday ever?

My main issue with Love & Olives was that it bored me. The beautiful, sunny location of Santorini is a decadent setting, and the way that Jenna Evans Welch describes it makes me want to visit someday in the future, but it’s the kind of setting where characters are lazing around enjoying the sun and it made me feel restless.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a fair amount happening in this book… It’s just that when you get to the end of it and realise you’ve read 500 pages, you wonder how such a little amount of action stretched to such a length.

I was hooked at the beginning. I enjoyed meeting Liv, discovering why she was so against the postcards arriving from her dad and beginning to discover the list of things that he left behind. However, when she actually reunited with her dad my interest waned, and it didn’t come back in to shore.

The reason I loved Love & Luck so much was because I didn’t feel bored for a second. In my review for that book I mentioned that the story was pushed along ‘incredibly quickly’, and that was a huge selling point. That was the way things felt at the beginning of Love & Olives too, but then the pace meandered along and – sadly – that isn’t the kind of contemporary novel I enjoy.

I might have felt differently if I’d picked this up in the summer months, or had been able to read it on a beach somewhere exotic, but unfortunately I was so excited about this book that I didn’t think the cold weather would dampen my enjoyment of it. It was fun to learn more about the Greek islands and the myth of Atlantis, but Liv and Theo are not a couple who are going to stick in my mind as vibrantly as Addie and Rowan do.

If you enjoy slow-paced contemporary novels with luxurious settings, I’d highly recommend checking this one out. However, if you like reading contemporaries that you can fly through very quickly, I’d suggest trying Love & Luck instead. I still gave Love & Olives three stars because it wasn’t a bad book and I do really like Jenna Evans Welch’s writing, but it didn’t really do anything for me and I had no strong feelings towards either the characters or the plot.

At least I still have Love & Gelato to pick up at some point in the future. Fingers crossed that will impress me more than the last books in this series of companion novels!

Thank you for reading,