Series/standalone: A second book is in the works!
Acquired: Via Netgalley
Summary (from Goodreads): Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples.
After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the dreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.
One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she'll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity.
No one said being the Break-Up Artist was easy.
My review: The story is what sold me on The Break-Up Artist. This was actually one of my 2014 debut author picks from 2013, and when I saw it go up on Netgalley I had my fingers crossed non-stop until I got approved. Thank you, Harlequin!
This is a truly unique story and Siegel has a lot of fun with it. The only thing I can think of that's vaguely similar is Allison Van Diepen's The Oracle of Dating - though her character's business is pretty much the polar opposite of Becca's! It's always a good thing when a novel has such a different story and it makes for a really refreshing read, which The Break-Up Artist definitely is.
I do have a couple of quibbles with this one and they are both character-related, though the positives far outweigh the few problems I did have.
Firstly, I found Val's character arc a little over the top, to the point I found her becoming a bit of a caricature towards the end of the book. I get why she acted the way she did but I think it was a little too much - I feel like her actions could have been reined in but still had the same effect.
I had a bigger issue with the mysterious person who wants to orchestrate the break up of Steve and Huxley. Throughout the book I was trying to figure out who it might be and what their reasoning behind the request could be but when we did finally find out I was pretty disappointed. I do think it's asking a bit much to expect us to believe that particular person would have enlisted Becca's services and I did feel this was the only unbelievable part of the story, which up until that point had felt so real.
However, my two character issues are only little problems rather than huge issues with plot and neither of these quibbles are enough to make me dislike the book at all. The Break-Up Artist is a funny, entertaining and well-written debut that makes me excited to follow the author's future work. In the questions at the end of the proof he does mention he's working on a second book that follows Becca's life, which I'm really looking forward to. The Break-Up Artist ties up enough loose ends up that it would work well as a standalone but there are also a few questions I was left wondering about, so a second instalment is definitely something I'm excited about!
Final thoughts: I had a blast reading this novel, it feels like a classic contemporary YA and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.