The Break-Up Artist
by Philip Siegel
Publication Date: 29 April 2014
Harlequin TEEN, Hardcover, 319 pages
Source: eARC from Publisher via NetGalley
Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash.
Some work at the mall.
Becca Williamson breaks up couples.
Becca knows from experience the damage that love can do. After all, it was so-called love that turned Huxley from her childhood best friend into a social-world dictator, and love that left Becca’s older sister devastated at the altar. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Becca strikes back—for just one hundred dollars via PayPal, she will trick and manipulate any couple’s relationship into smithereens. And with relationship zombies overrunning her school and treating single girls as if they’re second-class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even Becca’s best friend, Val, has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.
One night, Becca receives a mysterious offer to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and raw football team’s star player, Steve. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date—starting rumors, sabotaging cell phones, breaking into cars…not to mention sneaking back into Huxley’s good graces. All while fending off the inappropriate feelings she may or may not be having for Val’s new boyfriend.
No one said being the Break-Up Artist would be easy.
Thank you Harlequin TEEN for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Most stories involve some kind of journey – be it physical or psychological – where at the end, the main character or characters learn important lessons. Although The Break-Up Artist did have all that, the lessons learnt had been rather mild and anticlimactic, especially if the story is applied to real life. There were numerous problems with the book (over-exaggeration and clichés being the most noticeable) but somehow towards the end, the plot turned for the better and was actually pretty redeeming.
My first impression of The Break-Up Artist was that it sounded utterly original. I still found the idea of a teenage girl earning money from breaking up couples entertaining but realized that such a thing probably won’t happen in real life. Firstly, for that to occur, the setting would need to be pretty extreme, whereby single people are discriminated badly by those in relationships like in this book. That simply doesn’t happen much in real life because who really cares that much about other people’s love life, or lack thereof?
Basically, the first thing one should do when reading this book is to turn a blind eye to the unrealistic setting.
As for the protagonist, Becca, she might come off unlikeable due to her unethical ways of getting cash but I found her more naïve than anything else. She trusted and looked up to her elder sister, Diane, so much it was kind of sad. It seemed that Becca’s jaded attitude towards love and relationships all derived from Diane’s failed wedding and throughout the whole book, while watching her schemes unfold, all I felt was pity that she did not have a better role model of a sister.
On the other hand, the fault was not all on Diane either as what she went through had been utterly devastating too. Oddly, the parts of the story that impacted me most had been the ones that revolved around the secondary characters, like Diane, Huxley (Becca’s ex-best friend) and Val (Becca’s current best friend). They each portrayed such different roads which relationships can take and it was certainly one of the best aspects of the book. I found that pretty enlightening; being able to see various types of romances played out side-by-side.
That being said, the plot was expectedly average with the large amount of focus on the characters in the book. However, Becca’s break-up schemes were still impressively well played, the girl knew what she was doing! Or at least she does when it comes to the technicalities of good plotting. Her understanding of people in general was definitely pretty rusty, or else she would not have been breaking people up to begin with.
Ultimately, The Break-Up Artist was not a love story, but a story about love; what’s real and what’s not, the diverse stages of romantic relationships, the love between friends and family. Despite not being anything that I would get insanely excited over, it was an eye-opening read and some of the scenes were pretty sweet, in retrospect. I’ve heard there might be a sequel coming up and since Becca had changed for the better at the end of this novel, I’m quite positive I’ll be reading that too!