Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Break- Up Artist | Philip Siegel

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

Non-Spoiler Review

In the past couple of days, I've read many books that I've just been so content with, that no part of it annoyed me. This book surprised me with situations and scenarios that I have previously experienced and resurfaced so many different feelings of anger. Not only was it interesting to watch Becca complete the task of breaking up couples, but it also brought up subtle questions of loyalty, jealousy, and true friendship. It's extremely realistic in the sense that everyone was flawed and there was always a gray area of who could be trusted. I really enjoyed this book and if you think it sounds interesting you should definitely check it out! 

Spoiler- Filled Review

There were so many parts of this book that made want to pull my hair out, but in a good way. I thought Becca was a relatively strong character, but I may just be thinking that since she reminds me so much of myself. Breaking up people for a living is obviously not the most respected profession, but she didn't do it with the intention of malice; she genuinely believed she was helping people, which she was. She was hypocritical at a lot of the points throughout the story, although rather than break down her personality, it served as a building point. Becca is constantly criticizing anyone who is "boy-crazy", especially her best friend Val. However, in the middle of the story, she finds herself being "sucked into the vortex of having a boyfriend", leading her to believe that even she was susceptible to it. Though Becca did maintain an attitude that suggested she was superior to the others around he, I believe she was completely justified, considering that the rest of the school females didn't seem capable of holding an intelligent conversation.

Speaking of Val, she was easily my least favorite character in this book. The first couple chapters she was always complaining about not having a boyfriend, and being so lonely, which in itself made me want to strangle her. Then she bumps into Ezra for a millisecond and suddenly she's in love, yet she's not confident enough to talk to him directly, she needs Becca's help. Then once she and Ezra start dating, the only thing she can ever talk about is Ezra. And then, to top it all off, she blames Becca for not spending enough time with her. I could not stand her at all. 

I had such mixed feelings about Ezra throughout the book. At first, he seemed alright, a nice guy, but more of a background character. As he became more and more involved in Val's life, I couldn't take him seriously primarily because of the "I could see myself falling in love with you" crap. I will admit however, that I could see Becca and Ezra together for a good part of the book. But as soon as he said the same "I could see myself falling in love with you" line to her, I knew it was all over. 

I don't know what it is about this school that makes having a boyfriend a necessity. It's almost a caste system based on who you're dating, with the singles at the very bottom. The need to date someone popular consumed most of these girls to the point where that was the only point of conversation. 

The fact that the whole book wasn't showing Becca's development from hating love to falling in love herself was in fact surprising. I was predicting that she would fall in love and realize that what she's been thinking all along was a mistake. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. During the beginning of the book, she believed that every high school relationship was bound to doom. That none of it was real and all of them were going to break up at some point anyways. However, as the story progresses and she continually attempts to break up Steve and Huxley, she begins to understand that although a majority of the couples aren't real, there are a select few that are. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Becca's initial pessimism towards love and the idea of a relationship. And I loved hearing her scheme about how to break up different couples, including the gossip dossier and secretive spying. I think it would be really interesting to have a companion novel maybe from Huxley or Val's perspective, to try and rationalize their incessant obsession with boys.