I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel
Series: The Break-Up Artist #1
Published by Harlequin on April 29, 2014
Genres: Young Adult
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.
When I started reading The Break-Up Artist, I was expecting a sort of light, fun read that poked fun at the typical coupling up that happens in high school. What I found it to be, thought, was a story that was a bit darker than I anticipated. (That’s a good thing.) Becca’s resentment of relationships mainly stems from her sister’s pain after being left at the alter. That experience left a pretty deep scar on Becca, and it’s one that her sister encourages. Her big assignment, to break up the school’s “It” couple, is the corner stone of the events that eventually challenge the foundation of Becca’s cynicism. While there was certainly a lot of witty dialogue and a dose of humor, I also found it to be quite serious in places. Becca’s view of her family and her sister’s inability to move on also keeps Becca from moving away from her obsession with break-ups. It was compounded by her best friend’s new relationship and Becca’s view of how much being a a relationship can turn you into a “relationship zombie”. While some aspects of the story veered into the realm of being a little too far-fetched, the idea behind it was solid.
The thing is, Becca is not entirely likable. I wish there were more unlikable characters in YA, to be honest. I don’t mean the old “mean girl gone good” trope, I mean a truly unlikable and complicated person. I saw it in SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY and I also saw it here, perhaps to a lesser extent. What Becca does is terrible. She has been swept up in her sister’s depression and seems to use her side business as a way to comfort herself and her sister as the whole family deals with the fall out of the broken engagement. I found the skewed reasoning and bad decisions helped me to see Becca as a whole person. Becca was hurting, too, and this was her way of dealing with it. Her character development was painful at times, but that is what made this book more interesting, to me. The idea that to be in a relationship means to lose yourself is something that I think a lot of teens deal with, as well as the pressure to be in a romantic relationship. I appreciated Becca’s confusion and resentment of everything that having a boyfriend means to her. The Break-Up Artist was an interesting story that provided a lot of food for thought as well as characters that I felt I could see as real and flawed people. If you’re looking for a YA book with a different take on relationships, I would definitely give this one a chance.